We were already fans of Fivelements Hong Kong, which in its debut year took home two accolades at the annual Prestige Beauty & Spa Awards. But now we’re seriously thinking about signing up for a membership at the adjacent Hong Kong Golf & Tennis Academy, which features two additional restaurants, world-class golf and tennis pro trainers and apartment-style accommodations so comfortable, we actually overhear a member deciding to stay overnight on a lunch-hour whim, declaring she needs only make a quick trip home – five minutes away – to get her toothbrush. (A figure of speech, certainly, as the HKGTA provides the nicest complimentary bamboo toothbrushes.)
High-end toothbrushes are nice, sure, but no reason to run away from home. That golf course is, though. I’m at the HKGTA for a weekend staycation, and although I have two left feet and two left hands, I’ve been placed under the tutelage of coach Billy Martin, who in his 30 years as a golf instructor has worked with the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Jack Grout, Jim Flick and Gardner Dickinson. None of them, I’m sure, have exhibited my utter lack of coordination. Using a mind-boggling array of body-scanning technology and other tools, Martin gets to work, analysing my grip, my stance and anything else worth tracking. And somehow, one hour later, the club is connecting with the ball, which is flying in the air to land a respectable 20 or 30 feet from my putting point. I’m definitely not going pro anytime soon, but I am motivated enough to return to the driving range the next day before I leave, where I discover that golf is in fact a nice outlet for aggression, once you learn how to hit that little white speckled abomination.
I’ll tell you what’s even easier than golfing, though – everything else that happens at the academy. Which includes eating lots, getting massaged and then emptying my mind to receive the sonic benefits of a Tibetan singing bowl during a meditation session. Oh, and there’s also sleeping, lounging on the terrace and watching TV. In fact, after being on site for just a few hours, when I log on to Netflix, I think to myself, “I wonder what movies and TV shows Netflix shows in this country?” But of course, I’m still in Hong Kong. My one-bedroom accommodation is a full apartment, complete with a terrace that overlooks a gigantic swimming pool – there are larger set-ups as well, from a slumber-party-ready dorm-style lodging that can sleep up to eight in bunk beds, to two- or three-bedroom abodes for families.
Fan Guan, the academy’s Chinese restaurant, is a lovely, elegant affair, but Cafeteria is really where it’s at – get your canteen classics here, from Caesar salads to Hong Kong-style pork-chop rice and more. There’s also the Academy Lounge, which has a private room that can be booked for events, and would be perfect for a small-group whisky tasting session, or perhaps if the Kingsman crew were to call an emergency council meeting…
Absolutely do not leave the HKGTA without stopping in at Fivelements – the treatments, it goes without saying, are lovely, but what’s really worth investigating are the ad-hoc events and specials the venue hosts. This month alone, there’s a visiting water-healing specialist, a gong-meditation workshop on the 19th, specialised yoga classes with visiting practitioners, a monthly dinner club outing at the vegan restaurant, Sakti (though you’ll have to wait till next month, as May’s dinner club took place on the 5th) and a special Sakti Sunday brunch that’s open to outsiders on the 27th. You won’t turn your nose up at plant-based dining after that.