AN AQUATIC ES­CAPE

Recharge from the pres­sures of big-city life at The Naka Is­land, A Lux­ury Col­lec­tion Re­sort & Spa, Phuket.

DestinAsian - - DISPATCHES - For more in­for­ma­tion, visit nakaisland­phuket.com

Well­ness en­thu­si­asts bound for Phuket should make a bee­line for The Naka Is­land, A Lux­ury Col­lec­tion Re­sort & Spa, Phuket for a re­ju­ve­nat­ing stay like no other. The re­sort’s Spa Naka has re­cently scooped up four ac­co­lades at the World Lux­ury Spa Awards 2017, re­flect­ing its high stand­ing among thou­sands of pro­fes­sion­als in the hospi­tal­ity in­dus­try. These awards in­clude the ti­tles for Best Lux­ury Spa Vil­lage in Asia and South­east Asia's Best Lux­ury Day Spa; it was also named as Thai­land's Top Lux­ury Hide­away Spa and the Best Lux­ury Coun­try­side Spa in the nation. Guests at Spa Naka will be pam­pered with the lat­est of­fer­ing on the spa menu, a one-to- one Watsu ex­pe­ri­ence that com­bines shi­atsu pres­sure points, gen­tle stretches, and the sen­sa­tion of weight­less­ness while float­ing in a 35° C pool. This cre­ates a calm, sooth­ing en­vi­ron­ment that al­lows for deep phys­i­cal and men­tal re­lax­ation in just a few min­utes. Dur­ing Watsu ses­sion, you’ll ex­pe­ri­ence a re­duced heart rate, deeper and slower breath­ing, and a no­tice­able drop in mus­cle ten­sion. Watsu is an en­er­gy­boost­ing treat­ment that has a wide range of ben­e­fits: elim­i­nat­ing fa­tigue, aches and pains, stress, and sleep dis­or­ders, while im­prov­ing blood cir­cu­la­tion, joint range of move­ment, breath­ing, and body tone. Each guest who signs up for the treat­ment will be left in the ca­pa­ble hands of Som­chai Wetchakul, who has nine years of knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence as a cer­ti­fied Watsu prac­ti­tioner un­der his belt. Lo­cated off the north­east­ern shores Thai­land’s most pop­u­lar is­land des­ti­na­tion, The Naka Is­land, A Lux­ury Col­lec­tion Re­sort & Spa, Phuket of­fers guests a wel­come respite by the An­daman Sea. The bou­tique re­sort takes its name from the idyl­lic set­ting on Naka Yai Is­land, which lies within easy reach of Phuket In­ter­na­tional Air­port via a 20- minute drive and a five- minute speed­boat ride. Sweep­ing views over Phang Nga Bay and back to­ward Phuket can be en­joyed from the prop­erty, where guests bed down in just 67 vil­las ap­pointed with plunge pools and trop­i­cal gar­dens. Thai cui­sine and other fla­vors of the re­gion are cel­e­brated at a four­some of restau­rants and lounge bars, while recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties are fo­cused on the re­sort’s nat­u­ral en­vi­rons with hik­ing, bik­ing, wa­ter sports, and snor­kel­ing all avail­able right on its doorstep.

tion­ably placed cross­walks, shad­owy tun­nels, and dis­used tracks made nav­i­gat­ing the area around the sta­tion an un­pleas­ant prospect for pedes­tri­ans. Peo­ple tended to stay away, and the neigh­bor­hood took on a some­what di­lap­i­dated char­ac­ter as a re­sult.

But Seoullo 7017 has brought en­tirely fresh per­spec­tives on the district, as well as new means of ex­plor­ing it. Walk­ways now lead di­rectly from the park into glis­ten­ing new build­ings that seem to be multiplying, as well as to his­toric mar­kets and sights in the vicin­ity, like the city’s old gates and walls. Taken in at leisure from above at dusk, Seoul Sta­tion’s quasi-Moor­ish main dome, the LED py­rotech­nics splashed across of­fice tow­ers, even the traf­fic lights, meld into breath­tak­ing vis­ual crescen­dos. Cars are forced to nav­i­gate around broad pedes­trian is­lands where chil­dren can now roam (rel­a­tively) freely.

While not with­out its de­trac­tors, Seoullo 7017 is ad­mirable in terms of what it says about the city’s pri­or­i­ties. By adapt­ing an ob­so­lete over­pass that was widely viewed as an eye­sore, the gov­ern­ment hopes to show it is “mov­ing past an era of ram­pant de­mo­li­tion, based on the idea of eras­ing and writ­ing a new his­tory” to­ward a “new era of ur­ban gen­er­a­tion that seeks to re­pair and reuse,” says Lee Soo-yeon, gen­eral man­ager at the Seoullo 7017 Man­age­ment Of­fice.

“The open­ing of Seoullo 7017 marks more than the birth of a new at­trac­tion,” Lee adds. “It’s a dec­la­ra­tion that Seoul be­longs to the peo­ple, and does not cater only to the ve­hi­cles that fill its streets.”

Of course, if sheer

scale is what you’re after, Seoul can cater to that too. The city’s other land­mark open­ing of 2017 was the Lotte World Tower, the lat­est ad­di­tion to the global su­per­tall­skyscraper fam­ily. Viewed from a dis­tance— easy enough to do from just about any­where in the city—there’s some­thing al­most sin­is­ter in the way the tower looms over the sur­round­ing de­part­ment stores and apart­ment blocks, like so many pe­ti­tion­ers gath­ered humbly at its feet. Get a bit closer, and it’s eas­ier to ad­mire the build­ing’s ob­vi­ous grace; the way its bul­bous base ta­pers into a del­i­cate “lantern” tip that flares to life at dusk; the pale glass ex­te­rior de­signed to evoke Korean porce­lain.

At 555 me­ters, Lotte World is not the tallest build­ing on the planet (it ranks fifth). But it is the high­est in Korea by a long stretch and has a few other ver­ti­cal records up its sleeves, in­clud­ing the world’s fastest el­e­va­tor and high­est glass­bot­tomed ob­ser­va­tion deck. The lat­ter, at 500

Clock­wise from above: Re­lax­ation by the sea; a Royal Hori­zon Pool villa; the re­sort’s award-win­ning Spa Naka.

The walk-through aquar­ium at Lotte World Mall.

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