Virtuoso Life - May/June 2018 - 80
On the Sanctuary Wellbeing
menu: Multiple yoga classes.
gorgeous retreats, tucked into lushly landscaped coastal complexes with open-air
yoga pavilions, juice bars, and pristine sunset perches. One of the originals is Banyan
Tree Phuket, a 175-villa escape opened in
1994 on the island's quiet northwest coast.
I'm excited to try the resort's new Sanctuary Wellbeing program, available to
guests staying in the Spa Sanctuary, a serene hideout away from the main resort,
comprising 12 spacious villas with oversize private plunge pools, steam showers,
and "floating" bedrooms surrounded by
lotus ponds. Guests work with one of Banyan Tree's well-being consultants to create
their own personalized retreats, consisting of fitness classes, healthy-living workshops, and mindful, distinctive-to-Phuket
experiences - plus daily Thai massages.
My consultant, Elizabeth, arrives as I'm
settling into my villa, wandering around
in a blissful, jet-lag-induced haze, deciding whether my first float should be in the
pool or the showstopper of a soaking tub
in my private garden courtyard. Elizabeth
guides me through a one-page questionnaire to help determine my plan for the next
four days. She asks what my goal is while I'm
here: Do I want to be free, light, fit, or open?
I want to be all of them, I think.
She shows me Banyan Tree's wellness holy grail, a calendar of 50 different
weekly activities. She recommends Slow
V I RT U O S O L I F E
Stretch - a nice way to ease into my stay -
plus Posture Alignment and a Hearty
Recipes cooking class. I tell her Ocean
Breath sounds interesting too. Oh, and
Thai Boxing Basics. And what is Conscious
Grounding? I collect my feel-good, selfimprovement experiences with abandon. If
this is mindfulness academy, I'm gunning
for "most likely to succeed."
There's no time for pool or tub before I'm
off to my first session, the private posture
alignment. A trainer assesses my spinal
health and declares it OK, with the exception of my slightly rounded shoulders, a
trait my mom will also gladly point out.
She spends the next 45 minutes guiding me
through exercises I can do at home to help.
At the end, I ask her if I passed or failed, and
she laughs without answering. I rush past
the pool area and on to my stretch session in
the gym, wondering why three other guests
are in here when it's so nice outside. But I'm
also one of these people.
The next morning, I head to Bang Tao
Beach - a public stretch of sand across a twolane street from Banyan Tree - for a guided
meditation session, during which I struggle
to disconnect while simultaneously mastering proper abdominal breathing. Then
it's cooking class at the Watercourt restaurant overlooking the resort's lagoon, where
I'm certain the chef notices my poor knife
skills, and I accidentally get a bit of red chili
in my eye. A woman breezes by outside on
her loaner bike, surely headed for the beach.
I miss my villa.
My restorative getaway is stressing me
out. I'm falling into the same habit I've come
here to take a break from: overcommitting
myself in an attempt to do it all. Sure, everyone has their own speed on these types of
READY, SET, FEEL GOOD
Stay as busy - or relaxed - as you'd like at these spa resorts.
Guests in the Spa
Sanctuary villas at
Banyan Tree Phuket
their villa's open-air
sala) or access to
the new Sanctuary
Everyone gets fresh
juice shots in the
tea, and nightly inroom sleep rituals.
Spa Sanctuary villas
from $849, including
breakfast daily and
lunch or dinner
Get sweaty in a
or find inner peace
on your own while
journaling and skygazing at the 496room La Cantera
Resort & Spa in San
are vast at dinner
too: The resort's
include Tex-Mex at
Primero Cantina and
classic fine dining at
from $240, including
breakfast daily and a
$100 resort credit.
Terme di Saturnia
Spa & Golf Resort
neighbors geothermal springs dating
to the eighth century
bc. Soak when you
want, or enroll in a
the waters into
medical and holistic
from $362, including
breakfast daily and a
$100 hotel credit.