‘Mindfulness’ and ‘Hong Kong’ aren’t really two words you’d put in the same sentence, but there is certainly a huge desire for zen in this frantic city. Making a space among the chaos for some reflection and recuperation is the Four Seasons, who last month unveiled “The Art of Mindfulness” programme at three of their city locations: Hong Kong, Hoi An, and Chiang Mai. Compare Retreats Editor Rebecca Cairns takes a staycation in the Four Seasons Hong Kong to see what mindfulness looks like at one of Hong Kong’s top spa hotels.
As city staycations go, the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong is in a prime spot. Situated above the IFC Mall and in between the IFC towers One and Two, the hotel enjoys uninterrupted views across Victoria Harbour. Its Central location means you’re a stones-throw from bars, restaurants, the Harbourfront Event Space and heritage sites like Tai Kwun and Man Mo Temple. If you do want to explore further afield, the hotel is ideally situated above four of the city’s main MTR lines—the Airport Express Line, the Tung Chung Line, the Island Line, and the Central-Tsuen Wan Line—which gives you great access on flight-stopovers too.
Home to 399 guest rooms, it would be easy to think that the hotel is just another faceless brand—think again. The rooms are sleek and sophisticated, fusing together traditional Chinese styles with modern lines, colours and shapes for a timeless aesthetic, and the hotel staff take the utmost care in making each stay personal from little welcome cards to greeting guests by name around the hotel.
Rooms feature one king-size or two double beds, large wardrobe space, writing desk, wall-mounted flat-screen TV with multiple input options for laptops and iPads, and the bathrooms are kitted out with L’Occitaine toiletries, stand-alone showers and huge bathtubs. Request a Harbour View Room—it really is an exceptional outlook, particularly from the higher floors.
The beds are incredibly comfortable, and it’s one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a hotel room. The Four Seasons Hong Kong now offers a ‘sleep menu’ so if you prefer your mattress to be softer or firmer it can be adjusted accordingly.
The Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong features one of Hong Kong’s best infinity pools, overlooking the harbour with a separate lap pool, cold plunge pool, and hot bubble tub. The 24-hour gym features state-of-the-art equipment, and
On-site, the hotel boasts six restaurants and bars for a variety of dining options—The Lounge, Blue Bar, The Pool Terrace, Sushi Saito, the Michelin-star Caprice, and the three Michelin-star Lung King Heen.
The Four Seasons Spa, located next to the pool, is one of the highlights of the hotel and worth a visit whether you’re staying in the hotel or not. The spa offers steam rooms, saunas, and vitality pools for spa guests before their appointment, and a selection of single and couples treatment rooms—request one overlooking the harbour for a unique urban outlook.
The Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong recently launched its ‘Well-Feeling’ initiative, which included a revamp of the menus in consultation with Functional Medicine Specialist and Nutritionist Miles Price. Menu items that meet the ‘well-feeling’ criteria are marked with a small green leaf. This means the dish is sourced responsibly and uses fresh produce, is nutritionally dense and balanced, and is cooked in a way that supports the natural nutrition of the food.
Guests with breakfast included can choose from The Lounge, Blue Bar, or in-room dining. The Lounge offers the well-feeling set breakfast, which includes an egg-white frittata with zucchini, asparagus, tomato and ricotta cheese, sourdough toast, yoghurt and fresh fruit, along with tea or coffee. While it sounded light, I was full through from 9am until dinner and found it energising and satiating.
There are plenty of dinner options around Hong Kong, but it would be hard to walk past Four Season’s in-house restaurant Caprice. The French haute cuisine restaurant was awarded three Michelin stars this year and is recognised on the list of Asia’s Best 50 Restaurants. Caprice’s ‘Well-Feeling’ set menu is not like anything you’ll have seen before—throw away any ideas you have of kale and quinoa, and don’t worry about leaving the table hungry because while the set menu is four courses, there is an additional ‘palette cleanser’, amuse bouche, hor d’ourves, and petite fours to served with tea and coffee at the end.
Plates are well-portioned, and as part of the Well Feeling initiative, have been approved for their nutritional benefits and the quality of the produce and cooking techniques. The menu varies, but on our visit we started with Alaskan crab and caviar, followed by dover sole fillet in a white wine sauce; pigeon breast cooked with cocoa nibs; and to finish, a millefeuille of banana and chocolate. It felt like an extremely decadent meal, yet neither of us felt the usual bloat or guilt that usually comes with an indulgent meal like this: the dishes were generally carb-light, protein-heavy, and with sauces and garnishes providing bursts of flavour and healthy fats.
While I was at the Four Seasons Hong Kong, I experienced their new “The Art of Mindfulness” retreat programme. This two-night programme includes bed and breakfast, the set Well-Feeling menu at Caprice, a half-day spa experience for two, and a tea ceremony, in addition to access to the hotel’s pool and gym facilities.
The half-day spa experience begins with a floral bath in the spa’s premium couples suite overlooking Victoria Harbour—a half-hour soak in a tub of rose petals and lavender with some of the best views in Hong Kong. Once I was showered and robed, the masseuse entered the suite to begin the two-hour vital energy crystal healing massage with a sage ceremony—the burning sage is used to cleanse the body spiritually and emotionally. I was then instructed to choose a crystal, which would help channel my energy throughout the massage.
The massage is a multi-sensory experience, which uses the touch of the masseuse and the tactile holding of crystals, the smell of the aromatherapy oils, and the sound of Tibetan singing bowls to all create physical and emotional calm. Beginning and ending with chamomile tea, and situated in a zen space with views over Hong Kong, the five senses are all catered to in this spa experience bringing about a profound sense of relaxation.
Guests should aim to get into the spa early to enjoy the relaxing water facilities, or make time to relax afterwards in the vitality pool and sauna. Following the spa experience, The Art of Mindfulness retreat extends guests serene state with a meditative tea ceremony with Hong Kong Cha Dao master Resham Daswani. The tea ceremony is informal and relaxed, but structured and methodical: the experience is best enjoyed in silence, and Resham will serve a minimum of three rounds of tea, in between which guests are invited to meditate and reflect. After your energy healing session, you won’t have much difficulty getting into the zone.
While I was visiting the Four Seasons Hong Kong, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a class with Santina, a visiting Ashtanga Yoga Teacher and one of the Four Seasons Hong Kong Spa’s “Masters of Wellness” practitioners. Check in with the spa as to who is visiting while you are there—it’s well worth planning your visit around any specialists who pique your interest, as the Masters of Wellness series brings together the best of alternative wellness from Reiki practitioners to astrologers.
Beyond “The Art of Mindfulness” programme, the Four Seasons Hong Kong offers Tai Chi sessions, fitness classes hosted by Joint Dynamics, in-suite private yoga, and monthly full-moon meditation (led by spa manager Shoshana Weinberg) for guests interested in deepening their wellness experience. Guests can additionally get one-off passes for some of Hong Kong’s best boutique fitness studios, including WeBarre, XYZ and H-Kore.
Expect to feel pampered and refreshed. The Four Seasons has restructured every aspect of guest hospitality to incorporate wellness into the rooms, dining outlets, guest services, corporate offerings, as well as the spa and fitness facilities to create a mindful and nurturing environment ideal for wellness staycations and healthy stopovers alike.
The sleep menu. In a world where one in three of us are suffering from insomnia at any given time, it’s so important to get a good night of shut-eye. Enjoy your own DIY sleep retreat with Four Seasons super comfy mattresses and get the beauty sleep you deserve.
Because the Well-Feeling menu is integrated into every dining outlet in the hotel, you don’t need to select where you’re dining based on being healthy or not—there’s that option in all of them. This is perfect if you’re travelling with a partner less-inclined towards ‘healthy’ or ‘diet’ options, but the big secret is, often these items are the best on the menu. The Well-Feeling breakfast option at The Lounge is one of the most filling breakfasts around, and don’t worry about the idea of doing an entire wellness menu at Caprice—it’ll leave you wondering why everyone isn’t on the wellness bandwagon.