Photo by Sara Dubler on Unsplash

Rejuvenating Thailand

By Brandon Schultz

As Thailand continues to relax its Covid-era entry requirements and affordable luxury remains as prevalent as ever, Southeast Asia’s LGBT-friendliest nation couldn’t be more appealing for a romantic wellness getaway in 2022. The Land of Smiles, whose economy depends heavily on tourism, consistently devised creative pandemic solutions that have protected its population throughout the global crisis while still allowing travelers safe entry to the natural bounty and rich culture that has long made it a bucket-list destination, better positioning the country to welcome back a steady influx of guests anxious to escape the most emotionally draining two years of their lives. Whether your ideal Thai-tinerary is set on the Andaman Sea to the west, the Gulf of Thailand to the east, or in the central capital of Bangkok, here is where to stay to find romance or wellness on a restorative vacation this year.

West Thailand

private villa with a view of the patio and infinity pool.

COMO Private Villa

Photo courtesy of COMO Point Yamu

​The dazzle of Phuket’s picturesque coastline and neighboring islands is undeniable, and a stay at one of COMO Point Yamu’s private hillside villas overlooking Phang Nga Bay offers exclusive respite between days spent at each. From indulgent baths for two in your spa bathroom’s soaking tub to champagne sips at sunset in your private infinity pool overlooking the bay, you could easily sequester yourselves in serene seclusion at the property but do at least step out to explore a couples treatment at COMO Shambala spa. For the ultimate romance on the water, splurge on a private yacht charter from Blue Voyage Thailand to explore some of the region’s best beaches and islands while your personal crew prepares drinks and bites throughout the journey. If you have an important question to ask your special someone on this vacation, the stunning sunsets at sea provide an ideal backdrop!

Partially under development on the island’s interior, the sprawling Tri Vananda wellness community primarily offers luxurious private homes on its 230+ acres of mature nature (only 15% will be developed and no vehicles are allowed—it’s strictly golf carts here), but it’s already offering wellness retreats that allow you to take advantage of its integrative wellness programs, wetland nature reserve, all-organic farm, and world-class restaurant, Jamba, which serves artful plates of zero-waste recipes from Iron Chef Thailand winner Rick Dingen. Here, you’ll find a lush paradise within Phuket rarely discovered by the flocks of tourists who spend their days entirely on the sands and sea around the island’s famed coastline, and you may find new sides of yourselves, too.

East Thailand

aerial shot of soneva kri private villa in Thailand showing a partially covered swimming pool and living space.

Soneva Kiri private villa

Photo courtesy of Soneva Kiri

Just off Thailand’s eastern coast in the Gulf of Thailand, the tiny island of Koh Kood is home to dozens of accommodations, but the unrivaled luxury of Soneva Kiri brings superior romance that won’t be topped elsewhere. Book the property’s charter jet to arrive at the tiny outdoor airport on Koh Mai Si before a quick boat ride to the resort’s welcome pier for maximum exclusivity. From here, check in to a personal beachfront villa that not only contains your own stretch of sand on a quiet bay, but comes equipped with private outdoor living space that includes covered dining and kitchenette; a full-service outdoor spa bathroom including two outdoor showers, a whirlpool tub, and massage chaise; and sprawling decks with soft and hard seating along a swimming pool larger than many homes (consider booking a floating meal here for a truly special experience). While you’ll never feel crowded by the property’s other guests, you can escape them entirely with a meal in Soneva Kiri’s signature treepod. Hoisted to the canopy in an oversize bamboo nest enveloping your table, your meal here is delivered by acrobatic servers on a zipline as you gaze out from the treetops across the water, equally inspiring by day or night.

Central Thailand

view of the RAKxa wellness and medical retreat villas, artificial river, and dock.

Relax and rejuvenate at RAKxa

Photo courtesy of RAKxa Wellness and Medical Retreat

Bangkok may be better known for bustling activity and raucous nightlife than for wellness and tranquility, but Bang Krachao, just 30 minutes from the city center is an artificial river island oasis known locally as the “green lung of Bangkok,” and here you’ll find a wellness facility unlike any other. The brand new RAKxa Wellness & Medical Retreat experience is an ultra-personal journey that begins with comprehensive health assessments including medical consultations, wellness consultations, and a fitness assessment. From here, an individualized program ranging from interdisciplinary spa treatments to medical wellness regimens like cryotherapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy is scheduled around your mindful meals and relaxation among the gardens, by the pool, or in your villa retreat.

Villas are designed for total tranquility by day with open spaces, neutral tones, and private gardens complete with grounding trails, and the villa’s smart system monitors not just temperature, but humidity, carbon dioxide level, and air quality for an ideal interior. The discrete kitchenette is stocked with a daily regimen of teas and juice boosters to regulate body and mind throughout the day, and blackout curtains surround the plush bedroom for uninterrupted sleep (even the smart system’s screen comes with its own blackout hood for bedtime). Programs here can include as little as one night, but 5- and 7-night itineraries are more effective whether you have targeted goals or just want to completely reset and recharge together.

You’ll need to head back into the city in order to depart and, if Bangkok’s popular dinner cruises aren’t your style, opt for a swanky dinner aboard Sirimahannop, the permanently docked three-masted ship serving elegant meals with the charm of yesteryear and the culinary prowess of today. The chic experience is a perfect re-entry to the busy city that still offers enough privacy for a romantic farewell dinner in Thailand.

Taman Bebek Bali Resort and Spa in Bali, Indonesia

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Photo courtesy of Instagram

Taman Bebek Bali Resort & Spa

​Ubud is a town nestled among terraced rice paddies and lush tropical jungle 25 miles from Denpasar Airport in Bali, Indonesia. This destination has grown significantly in popularity in the last several years, attracting those who love yoga, meditation, tranquility, and experiencing a new way of life. The popular Hollywood film “Eat, Pray, Love” starring Julia Roberts was filmed throughout the Ubud village, making it a popular stopping point for people on all sorts of personal improvement quests.

Staying At The Taman Bebek Bali Resort

Ubud is ideal for those seeking a relaxing getaway. Its sweeping emerald vistas, aromas of incense, and constant calm make this Balinese region an ideal place to take a break, and maybe even find some enlightenment. Just a few miles from central Ubud is Sayan village, a highly sought-after and picturesque area on the ridge of the Ayung River.​

lounge chairs overlooking a pool with mountains and a jungle in the background.

An inviting place to relax at Taman Bebek in Ubud

Photo courtesy of Instagram

Taman Bebek Bali Resort & Spa, in Sayan village, is a perfect place to soak up the beautiful Balinese countryside and culture. This resort, with its villas, gardens, and pool, is located in convenient proximity to the cultural hub of central Ubud, but far enough away to hear only sounds of nature as you gaze out your window at the vast countryside.

Taman Bebek Bali Resort & Spa was originally the home of American musicologist Colin McPhee. Landscape artist and writer Made Wijaya acquired the land in 1983 and rebuilt the cottages. This is when villas, swimming pools, and a lobby/library were added.

All villas have lush gardens with hanging heliconia and other gorgeous tropical flora, and most have views that overlook the river valley over the Sayan ridge. Some areas in these gardens are now more than seventy years old, dating back to McPhee's time.

The spacious Bali-Modern and Colonial-Classic cottages and villas are ideal for those who appreciate nature and crave peace of mind. Accommodations include views of a tropical garden or a spectacular river valley and rice field. Taman Bebek is also conveniently located nearby central Ubud, where the tranquility meets a lively cultural, culinary, and arts scene.

Ubud is known for arts like traditional dance and crafts. There are many museums in Ubud close to Taman Bebek, including the Museum Puri Lukisan, Museum Neka, and the Agung Rai Museum of Art. There is even the famous Monkey Forest Sanctuary, one of Bali’s top attractions, where Balinese long-tailed macaques live among ancient temple ruins.

Staying at the Taman Bebek Resort & Spa allows you access to facilities that include a swimming pool, lounge, wifi, and more. While the Taman Bebek cottages and villas have large windows and a lovely breeze, they also feature air conditioning. There is also complimentary parking available, and a fresh Balinese breakfast is included in most room rates.

Different Accommodation Options At Taman Bebek

The interior view from Made Villa at Taman Bebek

Made Villa

Photo courtesy of Instagram

Bali Aga Villa

These are spacious suites located near the new lap pool and outdoor of Bali Aga Museum of Architecture. Bali Aga Villa suites are the newest and most luxurious of Taman Bebek’s accommodations.

Valley View West Villa

These two villas are a mix between the Queenslander and the Malay house styles, with broad wrap-around verandahs and a spacious garden.

Malay Villa

Malay Villa Wijaya is an authority on regional architecture and wanted this villa to showcase the elegant bungalow style of Trengganu in Malaysia, which was the home of some of Malaysia's most handsome traditional buildings.

Croissant Villa

In 1980 French heiress and Balinese dance aficionado Agnes Yeti commissioned Wijaya to design a cottage in the former garden of musicologist Colin.

Made Villa

Villa Made was designed by Wijaya in the mountain style he calls Bali-Baronial. The thatched, spacious split-level villa has a full bathroom on each floor and a small kitchenette.

Valley View East Villa

These two villas are a mix between the Queenslander and the Malay house styles, with broad wrap-around verandahs, spacious garden bathrooms, and colonial-Dutch interiors.

Royal Villa

This villa was built on the site of musicologist Colin McPhee's original 1950s Bali home, as featured in his book "A House in Bali".

Presidential Suite

In 1995, Made Wijaya wanted a new house to showcase the view of the neighboring site and was keen to flex some architectural muscle. Presidential Villa was conceived in a style that could be called “power dressing,” with help from his partners Gusti Sarjana and Nyoman Miyoga.

When renting this villa, you can get your fitness on track with professional trainer Ketut Ari, who can help you work out and stretch by the pool, or in your room. Various spa treatments from trained therapists are also available.

Enjoy Your Peaceful Stay In Sayan Village, Ubud

Taman Bebek is a truly unique boutique hotel in the heart of Sayan village. It offers amazing amenities at a great value. It is situated in one of the best locations in the Ubud area. It is hidden cozily amongst five-star international brands on the prestigious Ayung River gorge but offers the personalized intimate touch many seek when visiting Ubud.

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