WILD RESPITE

Plush stays pop­ping up in ob­scure des­ti­na­tions give a sump­tu­ous spin to im­mers­ing in na­ture.

The Peak (Singapore) - - Contents - TEXT VIC­TO­RIA BUR­ROWS

Plush stays pop­ping up in ob­scure des­ti­na­tions give a sump­tu­ous spin to im­mers­ing in na­ture.

In our fre­netic lives, in our over-built en­vi­ron­ments, with too many screens and too lit­tle time, many of us yearn to es­cape, at least for a lit­tle while, to some­where serene. We long to be at peace, sur­rounded by na­ture, un­der a big open sky that gives plenty of space for the mind to re­lax and the heart to re­mem­ber what’s re­ally im­por­tant in life.

But, while we want to re­con­nect with our sim­pler selves, not all of us want to sim­plify our ac­com­mo­da­tion all that much. Luck­ily for to­day’s trav­eller, the grow­ing num­ber of lux­ury cab­ins around the world – a se­lec­tion of which is fea­tured in the fol­low­ing pages – of­fers a so­lu­tion: Im­merse your­self in the heal­ing power of na­ture, and re­tire to a beau­ti­fully de­signed space with Egyp­tian cot­ton sheets when you’re done.

“We of­ten talk about hol­i­days as a chance to es­cape the norm and, for many, that norm in­volves reg­u­lar in­ter­ac­tion with peo­ple, fa­mil­iar sur­round­ings and a re­liance on tech­nol­ogy,” says Matt Rushbrooke, head of prod­uct for UK-based be­spoke tour op­er­a­tor In­spir­ing Travel Com­pany.

“Lux­ury cab­ins are the per­fect path to such an es­cape – guests can truly dis­con­nect and re­lax in ex­cep­tional com­fort. There’s a real plea­sure and a restora­tive en­ergy in re­dis­cov­er­ing the beauty of the wilder­ness – see­ing the stars at night, wak­ing up to the sounds of na­ture in­stead of traf­fic, and sim­ply breath­ing clean air. Th­ese most simple of things can feel like a real lux­ury when they’re ‘out of the or­di­nary’ for trav­ellers.”

Lux­ury cab­ins are pop­ping up at ex­tra­or­di­nary sites across the world, from Ja­pan to Swe­den, Aus­tralia to the Amer­i­cas. Even 3,000m up on the Ti­betan Plateau, you can now sit on the pa­tio of your wood cabin, sip a bar­ley wine and honey cock­tail just mixed up by the camp bar­tender, and watch the light change over the grass­lands.

“Nor­den cab­ins are sur­rounded by na­ture,” says Dechen Yechi, who runs the camp with her hus­band, Yi­dam Kyap. “You can sit in your room and hear the birds chirp­ing out­side; in early sum­mer, birds nest in the bushes sur­round­ing the cab­ins. You might also see the oc­ca­sional mother duck and baby duck­lings wad­dling to or from the river. At Nor­den, you’re re­con­nected with na­ture in its true and un­touched form.”

Dechen says it was a chal­lenge to set Nor­den up “here in the mid­dle of nowhere”. To make the cab­ins, of which there are seven, they turned to local car­pen­ters that make the wooden frame­works of tra­di­tional Ti­betan houses. The cab­ins were built in a yard in a neigh­bour­ing town where elec­tric­ity is avail­able, then taken to the camp and as­sem­bled on site.

The cab­ins have wooden floors and are beau­ti­fully ap­pointed, with tra­di­tional-style fur­ni­ture and local an­tiques. Beds have cus­tom­made felt blan­kets. Wood-burn­ing stoves keep the cab­ins toasty, but for guests want­ing to warm up even fur­ther, the camp also has a sauna.

They chose the Sangke grass­lands in Ti­bet’s Amdo re­gion for the lo­ca­tion of Nor­den, as it’s the home­land of Yi­dam’s mother.

“This part of the grass­lands has al­ways been spe­cial to Yi­dam, es­pe­cially with its prox­im­ity to the Labrang monastery, where Yi­dam’s older brother is a monk,” says Dechen. “The monastery is the spir­i­tual cen­tre for local Ti­betans and, so, this site is ideal for vis­i­tors to ex­pe­ri­ence both the grass­lands and the monastery.”

But your es­cape into na­ture doesn’t have to be quite so re­mote or el­e­vated. Hoshi­noya Fuji in Ja­pan is lo­cated on the pine-cov­ered slope of a hill north of Lake Kawaguchi, about two and a half hours from Tokyo. The min­i­mal­ist cab­ins have been de­signed to max­imise the feel­ing of be­ing in na­ture, as well as the stun­ning views

“THERE’S A REAL PLEA­SURE AND A RESTORA­TIVE EN­ERGY IN RE­DIS­COV­ER­ING THE BEAUTY OF THE WILDER­NESS.” MATT RUSHBROOKE, IN­SPIR­ING TRAVEL COM­PANY

of Mount Fuji across the wa­ter.

Each cabin has a gi­ant win­dow fac­ing the lake and, as the cabin’s in­te­rior is min­i­mally dec­o­rated, the view floods into the room un­hin­dered. In front of each cabin is a large pa­tio with a fire­place and daybed, en­tic­ing guests to spend time out­doors.

When guests feel ready to leave the pri­vacy of their cabin, they can head to the re­sort’s Cloud Ter­race, a play­ing field where they can try var­i­ous out­door ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Our Glamp­ing Mas­ter, who re­ally knows how to en­joy the out­doors, guides guests in tak­ing part in our 15 or so ac­tiv­i­ties,” says Sy­ouji Mat­suno, gen­eral man­ager of Hoshi­noya Fuji. “Guests love learn­ing how to chop wood and do­ing aerial stretch­ing in the for­est – th­ese are very simple but popular ac­tiv­i­ties.”

Mat­suno says that while 70 per cent of his guests have tra­di­tion­ally been Ja­panese, the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional trav­ellers stay­ing at the re­sort has risen since Mount Fuji was named a Unesco World Her­itage Site five years ago. In a sharp rise, about half of his guests were from for­eign coun­tries this April.

Most of th­ese vis­i­tors are from East Asia, in­clud­ing China, Tai­wan and South Korea. The num­ber of guests from Thai­land and Sin­ga­pore is also in­creas­ing, as well as guests from West­ern coun­tries.

Mat­suno says that the ap­peal of lux­ury cab­ins is uni­ver­sal. “In mod­ern so­ci­ety, with civil­i­sa­tion evolv­ing and get­ting more com­pli­cated ev­ery day, peo­ple carry so many stresses. We are start­ing to lose our bond with na­ture, and the abil­ity to mean­ing­fully com­mu­ni­cate with our fam­ily and friends,” he says. “Many of our guests are look­ing to once again feel con­nected to other peo­ple and with na­ture.”

Some­times, you just have to get away to get back in touch.

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