A stylish, boutique resort in a UNESCO World Heritage setting
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Beach | Natural world | Relaxation
Between picturesque beaches and hikes to the top of one of southern Japan’s tallest mountains, Yakushima is a tropical island that keeps on giving. It even comes to life with loggerhead turtles and friendly deer. Famed for its ancient cedar forests where trees are up to 7,000 years old, it’s the inspiration for one of Studio Ghibli’s animated classics as, in spring, moss carpets river stones while summer sees the ocean turn into a heated spring to rival any onsen. Cool autumnal flushes are ideal for hikes as winter rains mean the island’s waterfalls are at their most impressive. The resort itself is sited in the quiet southeast, far removed from the bustle of the mainland cities and, indeed, any other hotels.
Individual villas are dotted throughout the resort’s dense forest, each with large windows to make the most of their pretty setting. Choose between mountain, forest or ocean views with the latter enhanced by large wooden decks complete with sun loungers. Rich teak furniture and intricate motifs give interiors a distinct pan-Asian dynamic as bathrooms feature toiletries by THANN, a Thai brand that specialises in solutions sourced from lemon grass and eucalyptus oil. And, as an all-suite resort, expect living areas and day beds while flatscreen TVs and wireless internet lets you stay connected.
Executive chef Takei Chiharu, having trained at a three-star Michelin restaurant, uses only ingredients sourced from the island or nearby Kyushu to create indulgent French and Japanese cuisine. Seafood is sourced directly from Yakushima’s fishermen and vegetables from its farms. Menus also vary seasonally as while you might enjoy tropical fruits in summer, wild plants will flourish in spring as autumn and winter sees crab and lobster mature to perfection. Choose between the more relaxed Ayana – where breakfasts might feature sausages made from Kagoshima black-haired pigs – or Okas, where full-course French menus are prepared in front of you at gourmet open kitchen stations. Think appetizers made from barnacle jelly, squid mousse and seaweed cream sauce or meat dishes of prime beef fillet.
If the island’s sandy beaches aren’t enough, book into a treatment at Sankara’s spa where menus range from traditional massages and foot reflexology sessions to granite hot stone treatments and salt bath soaks. You’ll also find a full complement of beauty treatments along with thalassotherapy innovations. If that doesn’t appeal, there’s a large pool overlooking the ocean, a state-of-the-art fitness room and a lounge complete with library and bar. Refresh with a cold beer as you read up on the island’s unique geography.
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