ES­CAPE TO THE CBD

Fancy a week­end break? Why bother to catch a plane when there’s a wealth of op­tions right on your doorstep

Business Traveller (Asia-Pacific) - - CONTENTS - WORDS VALERIAN HO

For­get the has­sle of flight de­lays and treat your­self to a stay­ca­tion where you can dis­cover a dif­fer­ent side to Asia’s busi­ness cities

Tag­ging a few days of leisure onto a busi­ness trip is be­com­ing more and more pop­u­lar, and it’s amaz­ing how dif­fer­ent a city can look through the eyes of a tourist. The same is true for those of us who live in Asia’s busi­ness cities. Next time you’re in need of a week­end break, con­sider some­thing a lit­tle closer to home, and check in to a city re­sort. Once you’ve swapped the board­room for a sun lounger, re­placed meet­ings with mo­ji­tos and turned the 6pm con­fer­ence call into a to­tal body mas­sage, you’ll en­joy all the ben­e­fits of a week­end away with­out hav­ing to go any­where.

STAND­OUT LEISURE FA­CIL­I­TIES

Lux­ury ho­tels of­fer so many leisure fa­cil­i­ties these days, it’s en­tirely pos­si­ble to en­joy a re­lax­ing week­end in the heart of a city’s cen­tral busi­ness dis­trict (CBD). Grand Hy­att Hong Kong is one such ex­am­ple. Con­ve­niently lo­cated next to the Hong Kong Con­ven­tion and Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre, the ho­tel’s 11th floor is ded­i­cated to life­style pur­suits with a whop­ping 7,400 sqm of well­ness fa­cil­i­ties. The Plateau Spa of­fers ten gor­geous spa suites with a menu of re­lax­ing in-room treat­ments de­signed for re­ju­ve­na­tion. Guests here also have ac­cess to the 24-hour fit­ness stu­dio, out­door heated pool and gar­den area, and al­fresco pool­side din­ing at The Grill.

Far­ther east on Hong Kong Is­land, Ho­tel Vic on the Har­bour is a brand-new lux­ury life­style ho­tel sit­u­ated on the wa­ter­front in North Point. All rooms of­fer stun­ning har­bour views – but the well­ness fa­cil­i­ties are par­tic­u­larly en­tic­ing. A rooftop in­fin­ity pool with sauna and steam room is a per­fect es­cape from the city be­low, while the 24-hour gym boasts high-tech equip­ment that will ap­peal to the most ar­dent couch potato – an ex­am­ple be­ing two state-of-the-art vir­tual re­al­ity fly­ing ma­chines by ICAROS that gam­ify your work­out. Great F&B out­lets, tech-savvy fa­cil­i­ties, lo­cal hotspot itin­er­ar­ies and di­rect ac­cess to a new shop­ping des­ti­na­tion (open­ing soon) round out the of­fer­ings.

If rooftops are your thing, then you also need to check out the re­cently opened Can­deo Ho­tels Tokyo Rop­pongi and its lovely Sky Spa. In­door and out­door on­sen-style pools – with sep­a­rate fa­cil­i­ties for men and women – of­fer breathtaking views over the city through floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows. Guests can en­joy soak­ing in the baths, steam or sauna, while tak­ing in land­marks such as the Tokyo Tower. (Note: guests with tat­toos will not be al­lowed en­try.)

An­other high-fly­ing venue is the Cordis Shanghai, Hongqiao, par­tic­u­larly for those whose dream break in­volves a tip­ple or two at a so­phis­ti­cated pool deck such as Con­nec­tion 12. In ad­di­tion to panoramic views of the busi­ness hub and be­yond, the pool bar of­fers an ar­ray of fine wines, whisky, cock­tails, cham­pagne and gin. Guests can also re­treat to the ho­tel’s Chuan Spa one floor down for some true hol­i­day-style pam­per­ing.

If you’d like a lit­tle more ac­tiv­ity in your itin­er­ary, there are a grow­ing num­ber of “ur­ban re­sort com­plexes” that of­fer a lit­tle more ex­cite­ment. Hy­att City of Dreams Manila, for ex­am­ple, is housed within Parañaque’s En­ter­tain­ment City, which of­fers var­i­ous en­ter­tain­ment, gam­ing, din­ing, re­cre­ation, spa, fit­ness cen­tres and shop­ping un­der one roof. A high­light here are the two night­clubs: Pan­gaea has dance tiers, ex­otic an­i­mal-skin fur­nish­ings and ta­bles en­cir­cling a ro­tat­ing grand-pi­ano DJ booth; while in Chaos, club­bers are en­ter­tained by ac­ro­bats and per­form­ers along­side world-class DJs.

Ma­cau is an­other city that shines when it comes to en­ter­tain­ment com­plexes. Stu­dio City has an ar­ray of fun and ex­cit­ing fa­cil­i­ties: the 4D sim­u­la­tion “Bat­man Dark Flight” ride lets you join Bat­man as he bat­tles through ex­plo­sive ac­tion and heart-stop­ping gun­fire on the streets of Gotham City. Af­ter this, head over to the Golden Reel – the world’s high­est fig­ure-eight Fer­ris wheel – to en­joy a city view from 130 me­tres up.

FAM­ILY-FRIENDLY CHOICES

If you’ve got kids in tow, noth­ing ramps up the ex­cite­ment lev­els like a themed suite and fam­ily-friendly fa­cil­i­ties. At Hong Kong’s

Gold Coast Ho­tel, the range of spe­cial themed rooms is guar­an­teed to be a crowd­pleaser. Your child could be­come Jack Spar­row in the Pi­rate Room, sur­rounded by waves, sea an­i­mals and trea­sure chests, as well as sleep­ing in the jel­ly­fish palace. Or per­haps the Di­nosaur Room or Princess Room would be more fit­ting, com­plete with cre­ative tea sets that fea­ture canapés de­signed as dragon eggs and tiaras. Mean­while, at Hong Kong’s Dorsett Wan­chai the Ocean Suite play­fully turns an or­di­nary gue­stroom into a mag­i­cal un­der­sea world, dec­o­rated with marine life cud­dly toys and cus­tom fur­ni­ture. The Sony 4K 3D Ex­pe­ri­ence Suite is an­other fam­ily-friendly op­tion, kit­ted out with Sony gad­gets such as a Plays­ta­tion, Blu-ray home the­atre sys­tem and LED TV. Lit­tle ones also re­ceive a snack box and a Dorsett teddy bear upon check-in.

If Hello Kitty elic­its shrieks of de­lights, then the Hello Kitty-themed rooms at the lux­u­ri­ous Keio Plaza Ho­tel Tokyo (in the heart of Shin­juku) should be on your radar. Decked from head to toe in pink and white and awash with Hello Kitty para­pher­na­lia, the Princess Kitty room of­fers a fairy­tale ex­pe­ri­ence for both kids and adults, while the more pop-art Kitty Town rooms are per­fect for those who want to ex­plore Tokyo with their favourite car­toon hero­ine.

For the ul­ti­mate themed suite, hop over to Hong Kong Dis­ney­land Re­sort – ac­ces­si­ble from Cen­tral in just 30 min­utes. Three themed ho­tels of­fer 1,750 rooms of fun. At the Dis­ney Ex­plorer Lodge, lit­tle guests can dive into their in-room Ex­plorer’s tent, grab their loaned ukulele to head to mu­sic classes, and en­joy a spe­cial as­sort­ment of snacks. A raft of other ex­pe­ri­ences are avail­able to cater to your child’s par­tic­u­lar needs, from the “Lit­tle Dis­ney Princess” to the “Iron Man Room Dec­o­ra­tion Pack­age”.

But as much as we adore the mini hu­mans in our lives… we also adore time away from them. The ideal fam­ily-friendly re­sort there­fore needs fa­cil­i­ties that can keep the kids en­ter­tained all day while mum and dad check out the spa. At Shangri-La Ho­tel, Sin­ga­pore, the new Buds by Shangri-La of­fers 2,150 sqm of fun in its mul­ti­pur­pose kids’ play­ground. In ad­di­tion to an im­mense in­door climb­ing frame and out­door play­ground with a gi­ant pi­rate ship, there’s the Muddy art room, the Stage mu­sic stu­dio, Bake cook­ing class­room and a Tod­dler Zone for tots un­der four.

At the Sher­a­ton Grand Ma­cao Ho­tel there’s en­ter­tain­ment for the en­tire fam­ily, with three gor­geous out­door pools to choose from (in­clud­ing a shal­low wad­ing pool). Lo­cated on the Co­tai Strip, guests are also sur­rounded by awe-in­spir­ing fam­ily-friendly shows such as The Mon­key King, from the fa­mous Chi­nese novel A Jour­ney to the West, with dance, ac­ro­bat­ics, drama, mar­tial arts, magic and other thrilling Chi­nese el­e­ments. As well as be­ing fam­ily friendly, the ho­tel also has a wal­let-friendly of­fer in the form of its SPG Kids Pass. For MOP200 (US$25) a day, chil­dren be­tween six and 12 can en­joy the XIN lunch and din­ner buf­fets, FEAST break­fast, lunch and din­ner buf­fets as well as the Bene kids menu – so your lit­tle ones will have happy tum­mies to fuel their ad­ven­tures.

ES­CAPE FROM THE CITY

With a lit­tle added ef­fort, you can ramp up your stay­ca­tion to the next level by ex­it­ing the city lim­its and ex­plor­ing the area be­yond. In many Asia-Pa­cific cities, even a half-hour trip from the CBD will trans­port you from an ur­ban jun­gle to a peace­ful lake­side par­adise or trop­i­cal beach des­ti­na­tion. The Fair­mont Yangcheng Lake fits the bill. In just 30 min­utes from Suzhou or an hour from Shanghai, you’ll be trans­ported to the gor­geous set­ting of Yangcheng Lake. Ac­tiv­i­ties on of­fer in­clude learn­ing how to make rice dumplings, cap­tur­ing crabs, vis­it­ing or­ganic farms and ex­plor­ing lo­cal cus­toms and tra­di­tions.

To es­cape the bus­tle of Sin­ga­pore, mean­while, take a 50-minute ferry ride to reach The San­chaya in Bin­tan, In­done­sia. This beau­ti­ful re­sort has nu­mer­ous suites and vil­las where you can en­joy re­lax­ing in the gar­den or loung­ing be­side a pri­vate beach­front in­fin­ity pool. There are also lots of ac­tiv­i­ties for guests, in­clud­ing stand-up pad­dle­board­ing, pri­vate man­grove for­est tours and scuba div­ing.

Al­ter­na­tively, hop on a ferry from Sin­ga­pore to a dif­fer­ent nearby is­land and you can en­joy the Radis­son Golf & Con­ven­tion Cen­tre Batam, which of­fers a fab­u­lous week­end get­away pack­age with a range of on­site and off­site ac­tiv­i­ties. Adults can en­joy two spa ses­sions dur­ing their stay, join yoga and zumba classes, or prac­tise their swing on the golf driv­ing range. Chil­dren, mean­while, will be en­ter­tained with face paint­ing, candy art or Plays­ta­tion games. There’s also archery, Seg­way tours and cook­ing classes, or you can join a jun­gle trek and river cruise out­side the prop­erty.

Plateau Deluxe Room at Grand Hy­att Hong Kong

ABOVE AND BE­LOW: Cordis Shanghai; and Gold Coast Ho­tel

FROM TOP: Radis­son Golf & Con­ven­tion Cen­tre Batam; and The San­chaya

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