Tired, drained, burnt out, over it? We hear you! Life in Hong Kong can be stressful, but thankfully Okinawa is just a short flight away, and Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island is ready to welcome you, year-round
‘Work, work, work, work, work,’ – Rihanna gets it. Life can feel a bit like that sometimes, and coupled with keeping up a social life at the best brunches in Hong Kong and trying to squeeze in time for my favourite dance classes in Hong Kong, it was really no surprise that I was desperately in need of a wellness holiday to spend some time on myself and my well-being. Enter, Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island Okinawa, who came to my rescue by treating me to their Urizun Retreat Getaway. Yes, this may have been a sponsored stay, but I am legitimately obsessed with this property and Okinawa in general. Find out why below and read our full guide to Okinawa here.
Okinawa: more than sea grapes and sunshine
After a rough start to the year, I jumped at the chance to wing my way to the southern-most prefecture of Japan to discover the newly-opened Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island Okinawa. Nestled away in the north east of the main island, the hotel is an exercise in accomplished interior design by Hashimoto Yukio Design Studio, stellar service and open spaces that will give any Hong Konger the room they need to breathe again.
After a short two-hour flight from Hong Kong, various buses run directly from Naha Airport to nearby the hotel (app. 1.5 hours), and a taxi can take you the rest of the way in under five minutes. Of course, all drivers are helpful and courteous and will point you in the right direction if you’re having a problem – we love Japan!
So tell me more about Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island Okinawa…
Where to start! The hotel is located on a private island that is accessed by bridge, and after driving up the coast from the airport, the views continue to enthrall as you turn into the property that is crafted from the local limestone and juxtaposes against the surrounding turquoise waters just beautifully.
On the left, you can see The Beach House that sits directly on Seragaki Beach and houses larger groups and families. Continue driving up to the main building, and from the minute you step outside, you’ll experience the warmest service you’ve known. And I promise it only gets better when you get inside!
The hotel kindly gave me an upgrade (#livingyourbestlife!), which meant that I could check-in in the Regency Lounge. As I nibbled on the most epic local citrus and sampled my first in-Okinawa-Orion, the staff gave me the rundown on the facilities, which elevators access which floors, and where to eat breakfast – all very important stuff.
When I finally arrived in the room, I was stunned with the views from the balcony, and the best thing is that the property has been designed to ensure that every, single guestroom, no matter the level, has excellent sea views to kick off that recharge feeling ASAP.
Testing out the Urizun Retreat Getaway
It wasn’t long before I had to get out of my plush robe and put down my onigiri purchased from Lawson (the best ever convenience store in the whole world!) though, as the Urizun Retreat Getaway saw me indulging in a treatment at Spa Hanari to decompress post-flight – life’s so tough, right?!
In Japanese, the word ‘Urizun’ roughly translates to: beginning of blooming, and I can tell you, I was ready to feel like I was starting to bloom after the curveballs thrown at me in the weeks leading up to the trip.
Thankfully, the team at Spa Hanari were on hand to pamper me silly. First of all, I indulged in a warm Pittaya tea (that tasted kind of like a warm dragonfruit juice, but delicious) as I selected which essential oil I wanted the therapist to use on my muscles. Having chosen, I was escorted into the treatment room that again had magnificent views of the surrounds, but this time, I got to sit in a gigantic circular tub filled with local herbs and enjoy it in peace for 30-minutes – divine.
After my body was warmed from all that bathing, the therapist started my 75-minute Ryukyu Compress massage that aids in stimulating circulation thanks to a shell ginger herbal ball massager that gently gets deep into the muscles. Honestly, this was one of the best massages I’ve ever had, with the therapist regularly checking in to see about different pressures and manoeuvres she was using on my body. After over an hour and a half of the royal treatment, I enjoyed one more tea, and then went up to take in the views from the room again and binge-watch Japanese MTV, as the red sun set over the water (I’m not even making this up.)
Dinner at Shirakachi
One of my favourite things about travelling in Japan is the food! Having always been pure vegetarian in my last few trips to the Land of the Rising Sun, I was pumped to actually try the seafood this time, along with the unique seaweeds, vegetables and herbs indigenous to Okinawa that help it maintain its place as a Blue Zone, meaning that people there live to be some of the oldest in the world; oh yes, give me that goodness!
The restaurant’s Japanese dining complex Shirakachi incorporates numerous styles of of cooking (Robbata, Sushi, Japanese cuisine and Teppanyaki), as well as a wonderful whiskey bar that can be enjoyed pre- or post-dinner.
As part of the Urizun Retreat Getaway, you’ll enjoy the Shirakachi Shinjimun (infused dinner) that showcases dishes made from seasonal produce, all with healing properties. When I mentioned that I don’t eat land animals, the staff quickly adapted the menu for me, and the feast began.
The meal is served in a modern bento type of way, so that you can mix and try things all at once. Featuring dishes such as Handama Ohitashi–kind of like a more flavoursome version of spinach and served with roasted sesame seeds and pine nuts–I loved the way you learned what each dish was doing for your body (for example, this vegetable is said to be good for iron deficiency and acting as a blood cleanser.)
One of my favourites on the platter was the Warm Mozuku seaweed in vinaigrette that came with a small portion of abalone and needle ginger. This seaweed is revered for its skin moisturising properties, and apparently also cleanses bacteria in the gut, which I am all about. Fun fact: I actually saw this seaweed recurring at multiple restaurants, hotels and convenience stores during my time in Okinawa, and every one tasted slightly different but very delicious.
Dessert incorporated local Beniimo (you might know it as ube or purple yam), the island’s high anti-oxidant superfood that can be found in everything from ice cream to tarts to Kit-Kats across the prefecture. Housed in a Japanese wafer, this treat was infused with apple, and was the perfect end to a dinner that filled me up without giving me that bloated feeling.
It could be said that Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island Okinawa does not do things by halves. At around 7:30am the next morning, I met my yoga teacher and translator at Spa Hanari only to learn that our session would take place in a custom-built yoga studio that overlooks the ocean. As we walked outside to get to the studio, they told me that a pod of humpback whales had been spotted playing near the hotel earlier and that we might see them during the session; I mean, you had me at whales!
The yoga teacher assessed my ability level and learned of my injuries before creating a one-hour class to suit my needs. It was a really lovely session that pushed me, but also took into account by gammy ankle and the fact that I’d been flying long-haul a lot in the weeks prior.
While we didn’t spot any whales that day, we did enjoy a wonderful Shavasana together at the end where you could hear the waves lapping against the coastline.
Breakfast at Serale
Have you even been to Japan if you haven’t indulged in a Japanese-style breakfast? I say no. At all-day dining restaurant Serale, the Japanese buffet is an absolute treat, especially for a seaweed-loving, miso-drinkers such as myself.
I downed a ton of miso soup and green juice before moving onto a plate of seaweed, kimchi, rice, cured mackerel, bitter gourd, more of that delicious mozuku seaweed, lotus root and more pickled vegetables than you could shake a stick at. This is the stuff dreams are made of, people.
And don’t worry, if you’re more of a hash brown, eggs and toast kind of person or a fruit and homemade muesli person, they have you covered too. Yes, Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island Okinawa really thinks of everything.
The Urizun Retreat Getaway package at Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island Okinawa sets out for you to ‘Regain and discover your new self with the power of the indigenous nature of Okinawa’. It honestly does that and so much more.
Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island Okinawa, 1108 Seragaki Onnason, Okinawa, Japan, 904-0404, p. 098 960 4321