If your resolutions for 2018 include shedding stress, getting fit and losing weight, Banyan Tree Phuket is a good place to start.
The serenity of Banyan Tree Phuket is a tonic for the overworked, the tired and the depleted.
Its secluded villas and luxuriant greenery complement a menu of revitalising activities and treatments. Within a few short days, you could treat your muscles, skin, stomach and soul before re-entering the fray.
The entrances of Banyan Tree, the Spa Sanctuary and Laguna Golf Phuket face each other. It’s an easy move from golf to a spa treatment to lunch and then back again in the afternoon.
Banyan Tree Phuket guests don’t need a map to find the golf course. In fact, if I veer off the bike path between my villa and lunch in the main building I could accidentally clip a golfer.
A striking image on the course are the caddies, women dressed in pink and green uniforms and hard-core sun protection who dish out course intelligence. In Thailand, it’s compulsory to take a caddy with you. It’s good for the players and good for local employment. While most are not golfers themselves, many have been caddying here for decades and their knowledge is extensive.
Laguna Golf Phuket and Laguna Golf Academy draw players from around the world. Expertise on hand at the academy includes two PGA golf coaches, a golf-specific fitness trainer and Trackman video analysis.
Set against a backdrop of the Phuket mountains, the 18-hole course is a par 71. The course has water hazards and undulating fairways and is suitable for players of all abilities and ages.
Or so I’m told. I’m not a golfer and I can’t testify to the experience. Instead, I head to the yoga pavilion to stretch myself in other ways.
I put myself through the Pilates class and then, an hour later, I’m back for pranayama yoga. The classes are small and suited to both beginners and more experienced devotees.
The main yoga pavilion was being renovated during my visit, ready for Banyan Tree’s wellness push in 2018. The resort’s Sense of Wellness program features streams of fitness, stress management, cleansing, massage and Thai wellness.
It’s a mix ’n’ match holiday to encourage healthy lifestyle changes with flexibility for clients to change tack. This is a holiday resort after all, not prison.
Like many holiday destinations around the world, a cooking class helps guests connect with the food they’re eating and the culture behind it. I join a class with Chef Gai. Also in the class are three fun would-be cooks who visit Banyan Tree around this time every year to escape high-pressure jobs in Hong Kong. It’s a delightful two hours spent chopping and stirring to create three simple but gratifying dishes.
Then there is the famed Thai massage. On offer at Banyan Tree are Balinese, deep-tissue or Thai massage. Prices start at 5000 Thai baht ($200) for 60 minutes.
Massage can be carried out at the resort’s Spa Sanctuary or in the guest’s villa. I try both during my stay. Despite the convenience of not having to leave the villa, I enjoy the greater sense of ceremony at the Spa Sanctuary.
The Spa Sanctuary also offers beauty, skin and relaxation treatments featuring Ayurvedic oils and herbs from India.
For the fit and focused, the Laguna Phuket Triathlon is Asia’s longest-standing triathlon. It was first run in 1994 to showcase the resort. On November 19, the 24th annual race drew more than 700 individual pro and age group athletes representing more than 40 nationalities. The day before, Laguna hosted 1000 fun runners to raise money for charity.
Banyan Tree Phuket is the kind of resort that makes eating delicious fresh food and taking an exercise class feel like an indulgence rather than a grind. A breakfast buffet of fruit, cereals and Asian cuisines and restaurants offering local seafood complement days on the golf course and luxury spa treatments.
Being active and eating mindfully are not everyone’s idea of a fun holiday.
But if your resolutions for 2018 include shedding stress, getting fit and losing weight, Banyan Tree Phuket is a good place to start.