Exotic cruises to recharge the spirit an urban oasis to revitalise the senses and a wellness sanctuary to rejuvenate the soul and beyond.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Exotic cruises to recharge the spirit an urban oasis to revitalise the senses and a wellness sanctuary to rejuvenate the soul and beyond.

My Reading Room


Dana Koh journeys to the hidden jewel of New Delhi’s crown

There is a magic to India. The kind that grants your wildest wishes and inspires you to pursue brand new horizons. But most of all, it will leave you in awe— starting from the moment you escape into the ITC Grand Bharat, a 300-acre estate and India’s first all-suite offering in the ancient Aravalli hills in New Delhi. The palatial structures, flanked by mazes of verdant gardens and glistening lagoons, call to mind Eastern kingdoms of yesterday year and are a vivid contrast to the rest of sprawling New Delhi.

“Your soul brought you here,” says Leela Isani, the woman I have been invited to spend a long weekend with at this majestic resort, as part of its first Visiting Masters Wellness Retreat. She is a Reiki master, spiritual teacher and holistic healer; and despite my initial scepticism, something in me believes in her. It’s hard not to be swayed when your plush accommodation comes with personalised, monogrammed touches, and a sunset-facing pool.

Such wellness itineraries typically begin with one-on-one conversations to uncover what guests need most out of the experience. After an unexpectedly emotional session, the word “light” is what sets the purpose of my trip in motion—the desire to be relieved of the emotional weight piled on from a high-pressure lifestyle, something many urbanites can relate to. What Leela feels, through her healing touches across my body, strikes a chord: “There’s a lot of untapped energy that’s being bogged down, and there’s a tension in your chest that’s causing you to take mainly quick, short breaths,” she deduces. “For this, we will be focusing on exercises to open up the heart, and awaken the Kundalini,” referring to the sleeping spiritual energy that lies at the base of one’s spine. A range of sessions are planned, from morning yoga with long back stretches; afternoon meditations involving vigorous body shaking and blindfolded dancing; to slow breathing rituals before bedtime. These are interspersed with pampering treatments at Kaya Kalp – The Royal Spa, like the Prana Vitality Massage, where a therapist with “healing hands” employs ancient techniques to encourage Prana (life force energy) to flow upwards, releasing toxins, and restoring inner strength and harmony.

Meals, too, are tailored to one’s needs, as identified by the in-house Ayurvedic expert, Doctor Shree. At the main dining restaurant, Aravali Pavilion, a section of the menu is devoted to Swasthya cuisine, which invokes time-honoured Indian culinary principles of promoting wellness; while an off -menu salad order will get you a selection of vegetables and fruits picked straight from the garden. Infusions of herbs, such as mint and moringa, are perfect for savouring out on the veranda, framed by lofty heritage architecture that’s been built with ITC’s “rooted in the soil” philosophy in mind. I am no Elizabeth Gilbert or Julia Roberts, but eat, pray and love I did at the ITC Grand Bharat. And so should you; your soul will love you for it.
The sacred temples of Myanmar
The sacred temples of Myanmar


Steer your soul towards inner peace with these new wellness escapades at sea.

Equipped with the award-winning Canyon Ranch SpaClub on board, OCEANIA CRUISES has launched the industry’s first fully-integrated wellness retreats on the high seas. While sailing accross the Mediterranean, families can recharge with lots of fun activities and holistic experiences, including deliciously wholesome feasts to fuel you for healing therapies, fitness training sessions and invigorating yoga classes, culminating with a spa treatment or two. What truly sets it apart are tour pairings with off -ship experiences, like in Civitavecchia, Italy, where passengers can luxuriate in the Thermal Baths of the Popes, a thousand-year-old therapeutic tradition for heavenly relaxation. Over in Myanmar, the BELMOND ROAD TO MANDALAY is perfect for individuals who appreciate quiet luxury, and yoga and meditation sessions in nature. Expect voyages of self-discovery led by Brian Hilliard and Shannon van Staden of Mindfulness Journeys, along the spiritually enriching Ayeyarwady River. Besides healthy spa cuisine and a dedicated wellbeing area with spa treatment rooms and a gym, an indoor Observation Lounge and open air deck make great options for private meditations and sunrise sessions. Adding to the journey’s idyllic adventure are group Tibetan yoga and meditation sessions, which also take place on land in rural pagodas.
The river makes for a quaint cruise
The river makes for a quaint cruise


A scenic urban escape awaits in Amsterdam

If there is one quick way to identify how hip a hotel is, take a whiff of the lobby. If there are copious candles wafting Le Labo’s Santal 33, you know you’ve hit fashion jackpot. Le Labo has created the most ubiquitous scent in fashion; a signature smell that you can recognise in every major fashion city in the world. So, what is it doing in the lobby, bathrooms and suites of the Pulitzer in Amsterdam? Well, this charming independently-run hotel, situated along the picturesque Prinsengracht canal and occupying 25 canal houses with over 400 years of heritage, is somewhat of a hidden gem. The Pulitzer is located in the Nine Streets quarter, on the doorstep of the colourful Jordaan neighbourhood—a boutique shopping hub, full of bicycle-friendly paths, and close to the Royal Palace and the museum district. Sign up for fabulous tours, including a personal tour of the Van Gogh Museum (your host will walk you through his life and his most famous paintings), or throw restraint to the wind and indulge in a gastronomic feast that will allow you to sample some of the city’s Michelin star restaurants with a three-course, three-restaurant tour that not only satisfies the tummy, but also your nomadic spirit. After a night out, escape into the cosy-yet-chic Pulitzer Suite, resplendent with its freestanding grand bath tub, super king size bed and view of the gardens. Visit www.pulitzeramterdam.com.