Bangkok's first luxury destination spa, the Sukhothai, offers a wickedly indulgent "Five Elements Cleanse and Purifying Ritual," in which Tibetan and traditional Chinese medicine mingle with ginseng and lotus blossom. The treatment begins with a pebble and herb foot wash that evolves into a water-chestnut body cleansing. The purifying sage, licorice and chrysanthemum bath mixture softens the water for total surrender. After I emerge, the therapist massages me with warm Tibetan oil and then wraps me in healing clay. The bed is broad, so there's no chance of floundering limbs - such a buzz kill. The treatment finishes with an argan oil body moisturizing, which means you're greasy and loving it.
This relaxing ritual relieves stress and improves circulation -spot on after a 20-hour flight. With roots set in five elements of metal, water, wood, fire and earth to harmonize the body's energy, this treatment also draws on traditions of its host location and culture.
Caught in a dizzying whirl of dusty backpacks, hawker-stall cuisine and a milling mass of humanity, the Sukhothai offers a soothing urban sanctuary. Grand architectural gestures are spread over a bountiful six acres and recall the 12th-century Kingdom of Sukhothai. Think Old World temple meets contemporary luxury. Though the hotel is large, the design creates a sense of private space, so the pace is contemplative rather than harried. Every detail is conducive to reflection. Despite high-tech digital perks in the suites, the hotel still follows traditional lines, such as the near-ceremonial turning-down of the bed each night. Refresh your senses at the luxurious 25-metre infinity outdoor pool, set within a lushly landscaped tropical courtyard.
The Sukhothai Bangkok at 13/3 South Sathorn Rd.; Bangkok, Thailand; 66-2344-8888; sukhothai.com; $222 for 2 1/2 hours.
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