Research studies have shown how being in nature can have profound effects on our health and wellbeing. Add to this amazing design and architecture and you have a crop of new hotels delivering truly transformative experiences. If you’re looking for a spark of inspiration or a meditative getaway, put these three stunners, located in breathtaking natural settings and boasting serious design creds, on your bucket list.
Shishi-Iwa House, Karuizawa, Japan
Design afficionados have been drawn to Karuizawa’s salubrious environs, an hour by train from Tokyo, where Shishi-Iwa House, a collection of intimately crafted retreat “houses” by Pritzker Prize-winning architects, fuses a mastery of contemporary architecture and art with culinary tastemaking and a deep connection to nature.
Founded on the notion that architecture can impact emotion, it is home to three architectural masterpieces: SSH No.01 and SSH No.02 by Shigeru Ban opened in 2018 and 2022; SSH No.03 by Ryue Nishizawa opened this year. These are the first hotel projects for both architects. Guests can choose to stay in any of the three houses, which are a few minutes apart on foot.
Located within a wild forest and bird sanctuary, activities include nature hikes, exclusive tours to farms and wineries, and a farm-to-table experience at Shola, the in-house restaurant.
Rissai Valley, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, China
Embark on an extraordinary journey to Rissai Valley, nestled in the remote and untouched beauty of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in southwestern China. Ritz-Carlton Reserve offers a true disconnection in this rare and secluded gem that is the country’s “valley of nine villages.” Immerse yourself in the rich Tibetan culture while surrounded by the majestic landscapes of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Jiuzhaigou Valley.
Rissai Valley’s intimate villas offer magnificent views of the snow-capped Minshan mountain range, lush forests, and ancient Tibetan villages. Time here is as much an inner journey as an external one. Technicolor lakes, spectacular waterfalls, and lush mountains provide the backdrop for both quiet reflection and outdoor adventure.
JW Marriott Jeju, South Korea
Jeju Island is one of South Korea’s most captivating destinations, renowned for its unique cultural heritage and awe-inspiring natural wonders. It is home to UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Hallasan Mountain Natural Reserve and Geomunoreum Lava Tube System. The recently opened JW Marriott Jeju, designed by the legendary award-winning architect Bill Bensley, sits on a clifftop. With direct access to Jeju’s famous Olle Trail, guests can go on scenic walks along the coastline, overlooking the mesmerizing ocean and Beomseom Island.
The resort offers transformative experiences, from morning yoga and meditation sessions to engaging in Jeju’s tea ceremonies and wine tastings. And if you’re bold enough, join Jeju’s haenyeo women divers, who venture into the ocean’s depths without oxygen masks.
Written by Georgia Winter.