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One with Nature

Neena Dhillon • February 7, 2018

Photos: One with Nature

New spa resorts around the world are enhancing and maximizing outdoor settings with planning and design that actively facilitates a relationship between humans and an unspoiled environment. Studies show that time spent in nature has the power to reduce mental distress, allowing the brain to recover from the nervous irritations of modern city living, resulting in restoration. “Taking moments to tune into yourself, whether watching a sunset, being in the ocean, or walking through a park, continues to be a trend for those seeking rejuvenation,” says Susie Ellis, chairman and CEO at Global Wellness Institute. With this in mind, here’s a look at five major spa openings where the design and treatment approach supports and promotes this relationship.

Oberoi Hotels & Resorts
For Oberoi Hotels & Resorts’ latest opening in India, the group’s goal was “to create an environment where healing happens easily and effortlessly,” according to Kate Sim, head of spa operations for Oberoi. Surrounded by more than 8,000 acres of protected natural forest located at the foothills of the outer Himalayas, the Oberoi Sukhvilas Resort & Spa, Siswan Forest Range, New Chandigarh—designed in-house in collaboration with consultant Rosaline Freedman—the tranquil, 12,000-square-foot space is situated at the highest point of the resort and is inspired by Rajasthani architecture. It boasts two sunlit courtyards—one of which is planted with medicinal herbs—private therapy rooms, hydrotherapy pools, Turkish hammam, Ayurvedic facilities, and an outdoor platform for yoga and meditation.

The specially curated programming, too, reflects the healing process, including forest bathing, “which invites guests to follow an inner trail through our verdant woods,” Sim says. “A walk such as this, sans any gadgets, is a nourishing practice as is learning to live in harmony with the circadian rhythm and benefitting from functioning in natural light.” Along with herbal treatments, meditation, and hammam scrubs, moon bathing under the stars in private outdoor spa pool is another activity Sim encourages that embraces connectivity.

Il Castelfalfi
Inspired by the colors, materials, and sensations of their native Tuscany, architects Massimiliano Morlacci and Filippo Burresi were guided by the natural landscape around Il Castelfalfi when it came to realizing the design of this new 5-Star spa hotel. “We made the landscape the protagonist of all interior spaces on this architectural project, as a privileged and dominant focal point,” notes Morlacci. “Wood, stone, and iron are the materials of Chianti farmhouses, while warm and enveloping hues of the harvest period have informed our choice of fabrics and chromatic schemes.”

The Tuscan hotel’s La Spa facility ranges more than 3,280 square feet with the changing colors, lights, and atmosphere of the surrounding countryside deliberately reflected in the pools as well as the interiors through the use of large contemporary glass panes. Tranquility is transmitted through the senses and combines with the striking sunrises and sunsets to ensure guests can relax and catch their breath. While the picturesque scenery is drawn inside La Spa, guests can take yoga classes and shiatsu treatments outside in the parkland to further immerse themselves in nature.

Six Senses Zil Pasyon
Spanning more than 19,000 square feet, the spa at Six Senses Zil Pasyon on Félicité Island in the Seychelles has called for the incorporation of the unique character of the site into the overall masterplanning. According to Apiwat Anukularmphai, the company’s corporate creative and design director, “the wellness journey through the spa enhances the spirituality of guests by connecting them to the nature around them and to themselves. Designed to accentuate the island’s beautiful environment and topography through its materiality, texture, and form, the spa is an integral part of the ecosystem. By mirroring the existing landscape, guests feel they are one with nature.”

The journey from the arrival building to one of five self-contained treatment villas includes passage over a suspension bridge installed beneath a cave and surrounded by majestic rock formations to capture the sound of ocean waves. Interiors take their cue from the island landscape’s dramatic textures and moods, each offering a different experience inspired by the ocean, rocks, or caves. The common factor, though, is the uninterrupted view of nature thanks to the placement of villas between and on top of the rocks or floating above the ocean. “Even the yoga pavilion is built outside among lush foliage complete with expansive sea views,” says Anukularmphai.

As part of its layered approach to the spa experience, there are two-hour journeys available in the villas influenced by the energy of the ocean, the physical characteristics of the towering boulders, or even the sense of elevation. These are translated into pioneering treatments that harness natural ingredients, spiritual ceremonies, and work on the body’s seven chakras.

Rudding Park
It took several incarnations of the architectural plan before Rudding Park’s owners Simon and Judi Mackaness were prepared to sign off their $13.8 million spa facility, a 14,760-square-foot addition to their established Harrogate hotel in the UK. “We wanted to create a spa here that would sit embedded within the existing landscape, complementing our limestone buildings while making the most of the surrounding mature trees as a canopy for the Roof Top Spa,” says Simon.

Working with Leeds-based architectural firm Enjoy Design, as well as a contribution from DLG Architects, the family’s vision entailed digging down into the existing ground to lowly position the multistory glass complex into the site. This means the facility nestles seamlessly into the woodland setting, enhanced by landscaping from Matthew Wilson. The Roof Top Spa Garden is a particular highlight. Both owners traveled with Wilson to the Netherlands to select substantial birch trees, beech hedging, and planting such as salvia to construct a scheme in step with the maturity of the gardens around the newly constructed space. As such, the green sight lines from the panoramic sauna and indoor-outdoor hydrotherapy pool are generous and undisturbed.

Space is another key factor to the ethos of the spa. On the basement level, home to 11 treatment rooms, four adjacent mind and sense zones include a visual room where guests can absorb scenes of lapping waves, meadows, and mountainous landscapes projected onto a mood wall. And while the design (overseen by Judi Mackaness in partnership with Horsley & Feather) is contemporary, there are witty nods to the natural world with metallic accents that add vibrancy to the material palette of oak, stone, copper, and glass.

Fivelements
As a follow-up to its award-winning flagship Bali destination, Fivelements has unveiled its first urban retreat in the green hillside of Hong Kong’s Sai Kung district, as part of New World Development’s Hong Kong Golf & Tennis AcademyFivelements, Hong Kong, comprises a 6,500-square-foot wellness center with complementary north and south gardens that have the energy of a tropical sanctuary. The Royal Tea Lounge “overlooks a terraced garden of tropical foliage, fruit trees, flora, and medicinal plants,” explains Fivelements vision director and cofunder Lahra Tatriele. “The 12 wellness suites in addition to our Sakti dining room have been specially cultivated to provide a link to nature indoors through the use of stone waterfall features, natural curved walls, and fittings made from unprocessed materials such as renewable bamboo, recycled timbers, rattan, and reclaimed wood.” Handcarved volcanic stone bathtubs dress most of the suites, while sustainable practices are standard at Fivelements, including low-flow water fixtures, unbleached cottons, and the rejection of bottled water onsite.

To their Bali location, Fivelements has attracted early adopters of the wellness trend, specifically stressed high-flyers seeking to bring about lifestyle change through a reconnection to nature. Now, it brings this concept to people who live in urban environments where “wellness services are needed the most,” adds Tatriele.

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