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
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.
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