The hotel’s rooftop infinity pool gives a bird’s-eye view of the metropolis
Opened last year in Sukhumvit close to the upscale shopping district of EmQuartier and Emporium, 137 Pillars Suites & Residences Bangkok may not strike you as a wellness retreat at first. Its convenient location on the quieter side of the neighbourhood means it’s an ideal base for business and leisure travellers alike, and its butler service, in addition to its chic design featuring state-of-the-art amenities, ensures a plush stay. But for those seeking well-being – since Thailand is one of Asia’s top wellness destinations after all – the boutique hotel has a few surprises in store.
Developed by the group’s spa consultant Roger Moore, 137 Pillars’ wellness programme is based on seven pillars of wellness, which covers not only the obvious fitness and diet, but also aspects such as mindfulness, restoration, evolution, expression and social health. The goal is to reintroduce balance to the mind, body and emotions by strengthening all pillars through a holistic programme which is personalised to individual strengths and concerns.
With sleep disorders amongst the most common issues faced by city dwellers, sleep was the programme’s main focus, to the extent that it was made a theme of the property (even the name of fine dining restaurant Nimitr means ‘special dream’ in Thai). Each of the 34 suites has been designed to enhance relaxation with mood lighting, oversized tubs, balconies with rocking chairs and day beds and mattresses boasting optimal support. For guests who arrive early, there are high-tech sleep pods for power naps to ease jetlag.
“Our brainwaves change according to what we’re doing or feeling,” Moore explains. During the day, Beta waves keep us functional and alert, while the slower Alpha waves are present when we are relaxed. Theta and Delta waves occur at different stages of sleep, with the latter generated in deep sleep. If the mind is always active and unable to slow to the Delta stage, the result is disrupted sleep or even insomnia. In contrast, a balanced state of mind and body ensure deep, restorative sleep, which in turn facilitates the body’s healing process and fuel the mind. “Essentially, everything you do during your wakeful hours contribute to your sleep, and so the programme is designed to help you transition from one stage to another throughout the day and night,” he says.
There are few better ways to awaken the body and mind than with sun salutations over Bangkok’s skyline. I’m not a morning person, so getting up for the 7.30am yoga class on the first day was challenging to say the least. But the drowsiness lifted as we gently increased the pace of our practice, and by the end of the session I felt warm, invigorated and completely alert. Boom is an experienced, observant instructor whose bright smile was especially encouraging when I tried to stretch beyond my comfort zone or hold a difficult pose a little longer. An alternative morning practice is tai chi – also a great way to raise energy levels. Depending on the weather, this can be done in the yoga studio with a panoramic view of the city, or in the garden for some fresh air.
Training sessions before lunch or in the afternoon are much more intense – prepare to sweat and be (satisfyingly) sore! The gym offers Fitness Rituals for a maximum of two guests, with classes tailored to your specific level and goals. For a fun full-body workout, Muay Thai is a must, and what better place to learn Thailand’s national sport? The class teaches basic moves of striking, kicking and blocking, which require focus, stamina and agility.
Also on the gym menu is meditation. It may sound curious, but to a large degree training the body is also exercising the mind – paying attention to each movement, synchronising the breath and being in the now. All instructors have been trained in meditation to help you be more present during your workout, whether it’s gentle tai chi, fast-paced Muay Thai or strength-focused suspension training. Or enrol in a meditation class and learn to heighten your consciousness through sitting, standing, lying or walking meditations.
Follow a vigorous session with a massage at Nitra Spa to soothe sore muscles. I am recommended the Aqua Therma Massage, performed atop a warm water-filled mattress while lying face up. The massage is ideal for reducing delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and the warmth facilitates detoxification, though if you are sensitive to heat, it’s a good idea to mention that when booking so the therapist can lower the temperature of the mattress in advance.