Looking for a pre-Christmas getaway that will recharge the batteries before the fun and festivities arrive? The travel experts at Mr & Mrs Smith have selected three Asian hotspots for the festive season that showcase the continent in a trio of different ways: Tokyo’s inimitable big city draw, the awesome volcanic vistas of Yogyakarta, and the coastal charm of Koh Samui, where it’s still possible to carve out a slice of Thai-style beach paradise.
So get ready to do some quirky Christmas shopping amid the neon-lit street scenes of Shinjuku, chill out and eat well (no turkeys or roast spuds, mind!) in Indonesia, or savour some seaside glamour in Koh Samui…
Park Hyatt Tokyo, Japan
Best for: Big city glamour that’s not lost in translation
Style Celluloid sophistication
Setting Chic Shinjuku
The grande dame of accommodation in the Japanese capital, Park Hyatt Tokyo has it all: sweeping city and Mount Fuji views, sumptuous spa treatments and that sizzling sky bar, the New York Bar & Grill, where Scarlett and Bill clinked glasses in Lost in Translation. Here, you can blow the budget on Oscietra caviar, prime rib-eyes and Hokkaido scallops. Further a Scarlett ‘n’ Bill-style flirtation by cosying up in a booth (bookings are recommended) or toast the Shinjuku skyline with a LIT (Lost in Translation), a hardcore sweet and sour mix of sake, sakura liqueur, peach schnapps and cranberry juice.
Once you’ve snapped the obligatory skyline shots, have a dip in the capacious soaking tub (all of the blissfully minimalist rooms have one) then head out on the town for some fun, Tokyo-style: try Two Rooms for a yuzu or shiso mojito, or the 10-seater Amanogawa at Keio Plaza Hotel to sip on one or two of the 40 sake varieties on offer. But don’t drink too much, as there’s plenty of sightseeing to be had: get your culture fix by taking the subway to the Meiji Jingu Shrine (it’s the largest Shinto shrine in Japan) where you might catch a traditional wedding in progress, then shop, shop, shop in Shinjuku; good bets include cavernous, multi-floor department stores Takashimaya Times Square and Tokyu Hands, which sell everything from sushi-making equipment to kawaii (cute) mementoes including sumo wrestler Japanese seals, Hello Kitty everything and tabi (split-toe socks) for those geisha moments!
P.S. Need more Tokyo inspiration? Check out our city guide here!
MesaStila, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Best for: Spa-ing, recharging and getting away from it all
Style Red-hot coffee plot
Setting Volcano-ringed plantation fields
Set in a pristine coffee plantation with 22-acre gardens in a deliciously isolated spot, MesaStila in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, is a wellness retreat featuring a host of mouthwatering treatments: go local by opting for the invigorating Coffee Scrub or the Javanese Lulur, which includes a hydrating yogurt application, then get steamy in one of the country’s only hammam baths.
Though the remote 22-villa property is perfect for retreat-ers (it offers plenty of specialist programmes from Executive Recharge to Cleansing), you can still get your caffeine fix, as homegrown Java coffee is one of the resort’s specialties. Health fiends will approve of MesaStila’s wholesome cooking techniques, which result in guilt-free dishes such as steamed scrambled eggs and baked snapper. Even the kerupuk udang (Indonesian prawn crackers) are cooked in heated volcanic sand to keep the fat levels low.
If you can tear yourself away from the solid teak four-poster in the Plantation Villa or the large balcony in the Arum Villa overlooking Central Java’s volcanoes, don your cycling shorts and pedal around the local villages to reach the slopes of Mount Andong, go for a moderate cycle around the tea plantations near Mount Sumbing, or push yourself to the limit with a tough descent up Mount Merapi.
Akaryn, Koh Samui, Thailand
Best for: Thai feasting and serene snorkeling
Style Natural wonders
Setting Heavenly Hanuman Bay
Set on handsome Hanuman Bay, one of the last secluded patches of Koh Samui, boutique beauty Akaryn is all homespun luxury, with each of its 52 suites housing soothing white-and-wood interiors, sumptuous stone-carved bathtubs and a private pool.
Ready to eat? Keep it local at the Legend restaurant, where traditional Siam food including Isan-style minced chicken salad with lime, chilli and fresh mint is served in an intimate wooden house. Alternatively, beef things up at Ochos fine-dining steakhouse, where orders including Chateaubriand and Black Angus prime ribs are served on hot lava rock (just remember to save some room for the mint pana cotta!). Not hungry? Indulge your wellness whims at the spa buffet where, for THB3,000, you can enjoy as many treatments as you desire between 10am-12.30pm and 3-5.30pm. If you’ve stayed out in the sun too long, treat scorched skin to the Sunburn Soother Wrap; alternatively, get in the tropical spirit with the Coconut Body Scrub. Continue the feel-good factor with a free yoga session on the beach.
Itching to put those PADI skills to the test? Hop on a speedboat to Angthong National Marine Park (it’s an hour away) for dazzling snorkelling and a stop-off at Talay Nai, a landlocked saltwater lake, on the return journey.
To find more city slickers, country classics and coastal stunners, visit www.mrandmrssmith.com or call the expert Travel Team on 800 905 326.