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Find Rejuvenation on Vacation

By SHIRLEY BRADY

If the final year of the millennium is already starting to stress you out, take a relaxing break by booking yourself into one of Asia's nirvana-inducing and serenity-enhancing spas. With a wealth of wondrous locales and aaaaah- inspiring treatments on offer, there's no time like the present to do something nice for yourself.

Since opening in 1994, the spa at The Oriental in Bangkok--located just across the Chao Phraya river from the hotel--has been frequented by celebrities (Goldie Hawn and Pierce Brosnan are regulars) and other tranquillity seekers. Three-day/two-night hotel/spa packages start at $1,425, while couples can opt for the $2,375 "romantic getaway," with Thai-style massages, facials, foot-fondling and herbal wraps. The three-day packages include round-trip transfers by limo as well as a class at the Oriental's famed cooking school. For shorter stays, there are five half-day programs (priced from $125) and six full-day programs (from $215 to $610). The spa is usually fully booked weeks in advance (with preference given to the hotel's guests), so reserve ahead by calling 66-2-439-7613.

A four-hour train journey south is Asia's first dedicated health resort. Chiva-Som, which means "haven of life," was founded by Thailand's former Deputy Prime Minister Boonchu Rojanastien. Every visit begins with a medical evaluation, and a program is developed to match the individual goals of each guest; activities might include yoga or early morning t'ai chi. Visitors can also get tuned and toned to their heart's content courtesy of the invigorating plunge pools and steamy saunas, or choose to snooze in a relaxation lounge and then space out in the water flotation room. A three-night "Asian dream" package starts at $768 per dreamer (double) with accommodation in an ocean-view Thai pavilion. To book (this package or others, such as the six-day stress-management program), contact the Chiva-Som at 66-32-536536.

Thailand is also home to the Banyan Tree Phuket, voted the world's best spa in the most recent Conde Nast Traveler readers' awards. Situated on what was once a tin-mining wasteland, this beachside spa features villas (with private garden, jacuzzi or pool) and a banquet of traditional Thai healing therapies. A number of special packages are available until March 31. The three day/two night Banyan Tree Experience, priced from $830 to $1,330, includes massage, tennis and wind surfing. Find out more by calling 66-76-324374.

Other relaxing options to consider include a three-night/four-day spa package at The Regent Resort Chiang Mai in northern Thailand ($1,060 for a double; tel. 66-53-298181); a luxurious spa getaway in Bali at the Four Seasons' sister properties at Jimbaran Bay (for a water-based range of treatments) and at Sayan, where the emphasis is on earth-based and herbal healing. The Four Seasons' special spa package (starting at $475 a night) has been extended until Dec. 24; call 62-361-701010 to book the feel-good facilities at either location. The Ritz-Carlton group's first Asian resort, also located on Jimbaran Bay, has been winning accolades for its spa program, which was inspired by Balinese traditions (bookings at 62-361-702222). May you find harmony--and return in peace.

S P E C I A L
R E P O R T :

More information about spas in Asia






Daily

February 8, 1999

The Envelope, Please
The 1999 OAG global airline of the year awards

Web Crawling
This month sees the launch of three major frequent flyer programs to replace Asia's disappearing Passages plan

Short Cuts
Travel agents were outraged at Delta Airlines' decision last month to slap a $2 surcharge on domestic tickets not booked online

Detour
The Hotel Vajra is a calm oasis overlooking crowded, chaotic Katmandu

POLL
Are you getting the most out of your frequent flyer program(s)?



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