How does fine-honing a skill while indulging yourself at a new vacation spot sound? Going on a holiday is all about taking in new experiences and soaking up the culture of the unknown spot as much as you can. So why not participate in some of the dedicated workshops or lessons where you can learn different skills unique to the place you’re visiting? Strike two birds with one stone by choosing to stay at one of these hotels, perfect for hobbyists on a getaway. While it sounds counterproductive, given that you’re supposed to rest and relax on a vacation, trust us when we say these lessons are nothing but fun.
Text: Mavis Teo
Additional text: Zoe Zeng
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For The Tea Drinker: Cameron Highlands Resort
During colonial times, the Cameron Highlands at 1,500 metres above sea level, was a popular retreat with the British in Malaya who were escaping from humidity. This chapter in history can still be seen in the architecture of local hotels and even the afternoon tea that they served. The most luxurious of these hotels is the Cameron Highlands Resort, complete with French doors, plantation shutters, high timber-beamed ceilings and a destination Spa Village. The tea drinking culture remains today as the highlands are also home to tea plantations. The hotel offers tea experiences like a visit to Boh Gardens where guests learn how the Manipuri and Rajghur jats varieties of the Camilla Sinensis tea leaf are grown, processed and packed as the robust and honey-coloured BOH tea popular in Asia. From $213.
Cameron Highlands Resort is at By The Golf Course, 39000 Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia, Tel: +60 5491 1100.
Photo: Cameron Highlands Resort
For The Yogi – Somatheeram Ayurveda Village, Kerala, India
Many hotels and resorts offer yoga classes or even yoga retreats, but to really get into the subject, a true aficionado might want to head to where it all started: India. Check into Somatheeram, which offers a few disciplines of yoga, and meditation, for both new yoga converts and even instructors seeking to update their skills. To call this place located in Kerala, the heart of ayurvedic medicine in the country, is not an overstatement. Besides guests and staff, you will find a whole army of skilled doctors, practitioners, chefs, therapists, lecturers and yoga and meditation instructors dedicated to help you improve your yoga poses or health. Guests usually check in for one to two weeks to emerge renewed and rejuvenated. From $2,275 for a seven-night package.
Somatheeram Ayurveda Village is at Kovalam, Thiruvananthapuram 695501, Kerala, India, Tel: +91 471 226 8101.
Photo: Somatheeram Ayurveda Village
For The Surfer: Six Senses Laamu, Maldives
Six Senses Laamu is the only resort in the remote southern Laamu Atoll — one of Maldives’ top surf destinations and a 35-minute plane ride from Malé. Suffice to say, this is where you would want to check into if you are a surfer or fancy becoming one. Luxury surf operator Tropic Surf handles the surfing activities and instruction at the resort. Whether you are a noob surfer who has yet to ride your first break or an experienced surfer, there are surf breaks around the resort, or a short boat ride away, for every level. The best part is it’s so remote, you might not even see another surfer for miles. After a hard day of riding the waves, there are four restaurants that serve honest, healthy food derived from sustainable sources to dine at, and Six Senses’ most famous product – their destination spa, to relax in. From $1,180.
Six Senses Laamu is at Olhuveli Island, Laamu Atoll 15090, Maldives, Tel: +960 680 0800.
Photo: Six Senses Laamu
For The Equestrian: Coworth Park, Ascot, United Kingdom
Owned by the Sultan of Brunei, an avid horseman, this property under the Dorchester Collection is in the affluent, leafy town of Ascot in Berkshire county, just 15 minutes away from Ascot Racecourse (home to the Royal Ascot). Spanning 240 acres, it boasts of a gorgeously restored 18th-century Georgian house, an equestrian centre, well-trained horses (and good instructors), two polo fields and plenty of picturesque parkland for trail rides. It also has an eco-luxury spa and a Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant amongst four F&B outlets. Soft furnishings made from mohair, cashmere and bed linen with equestrian embroidery and equestrian-themed artwork lend a sense of place to the property, scoring brownie points with horse lovers. Polo is run by Guards Academy, a favourite with the Royal Family. Prestigious tournaments that are played at Coworth include the Cartier’s Queen Cup. Do not be surprised if you run into family members of the Bruneian royal family such as His Royal Highness Prince Abdul Mateen. From $733.
Coworth Park is at Blacknest Road, Sunningdale, Ascot SL5 7SE, Tel: +44 1344 876 600
Photo: Coworth Park
For The Chef: Domaine de Manville, Provence, France
It’s not as if you’d need another reason to visit Provence, where there are glorious foods and wines, friendly locals and scenery straight out of a Cezanne painting. But Small Luxury Hotels member Domaine de Manville located in the Alpilles Natural Regional Park immortalised in paintings by Van Gogh, offers an extra excuse for the aspiring masterchef. Executive Chef Matthieu Dupuis-Baumal teaches how to cook mushrooms, truffles, foie gras or bake cakes every other weekend in group classes. Dupuis-Baumal is also available for private ad hoc cooking classes which you could start with a visit to the local markets to pick local produce. The décor of the hotel is equally sumptuous. While it has retained the Provencal country charm, the hotel incarnate of this former cereal farm epitomises understated luxury with free standing copper baths and statement-making chandeliers. From $400.
Domaine de Manville is at 13520 Les Baux-de-Provence, France, tel: +33 490 544 020.
Photo: Domaine de Manville
For The Wine Conoisseur: Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, Tuscany, Italy
For wine lovers, nothing quite beats tasting a wine where it is made. Especially when it’s on an 800-year-old property in picture-picture Tuscany, with views of the rolling hills of UNESCO-listed Val d’Orcia. Owned by the Ferragamo family (of the luxury shoe and clothing brand Salvatore Ferragamo) and managed by Rosewood Hotels since 2015, the property offers luscious accommodation in a beautifully restored hamlet with a castle, church and houses within the working wine estate famous for its Brunello di Montalcino. Guests can take part in cellar and vineyard tours of some of its 152 acres of vineyards led by winemaker Cecilia Leoneschi, and indulge in barrel and even vertical tastings of old vintages dating back to 1967. From $1,206.
Castiglion del Bosco is at Località Castiglion del Bosco, Castiglione del Bosco, 53024, Tuscany, Italy, yel: +39 0577 191 3001.
Photo: Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco
For The Mixologist: The Franklin, London, United Kingdom
If you enjoy cocktails and want to impress guests by mixing their drinks at the next party you throw, you may want to think about booking a room at this hotel the next time you’re headed for London. It’s Italian-owned, so the restaurant is helmed by an Italian chef who dishes out the most authentic risotto, and you can expect your bed sheets to be Frette. The Small Luxury Hotels member located in posh Knightsbridge is designed by Bond girl Anoushka Hempel (the designer behind the Six Senses Duxton in Singapore) whose signature of dark and sexy is evident in the monochromatic interiors. An award-winning Italian mixologist fronts the bar and conducts a cocktail masterclass that teaches you basics such as how to use bar tools, combining flavours and how to roll, stir or shake a cocktail. At the end of the masterclass, you even get a certificate to prove you know your poison. From $496.
The Franklin is at 24 Egerton Gardens, Chelsea, London SW3 2DB, tel: +44 20 7584 5533
Photo: The Franklin