I’ve been to Thailand many, many times. I’ve been through the backpacking ordeal, but I’ve also traveled in style. Yet never have I been as blessed as on this trip, as I got to stay at the Banyan Tree Phuket resort, an exclusive house that had me forget everything I knew about my short life as it is. Banyan Tree houses are known to be very VIP, but this prime resort sets the standard.
I love Thailand, and most people who visited this amazing country feel the same. The cuisine, the culture, the pristine beaches are up to anyones standards. Thailand can be adventurous, young and magical; but when you’re staying at Banyan Tree, you’re signing up for another side of life here.
Encircling the sparkling waters of a saltwater lagoon, right near the beach, the Banyan Tree Phuket resort (which also comprises Banyan Tree’s Spa Sanctuary and Double Pool Villas) is a magical fairytale in Phuket, the Andaman’s most celebrated peninsula. The all-pool villa hotel is a glorious collage of elegant Thai architecture complemented with every modern amenity imaginable. Infused with a healthy cuisine, award-winning spa and wellness activities, the exceptional resorts offers rejuvenation and tranquility with experiences to indulge and soothe all senses.
The Banyan Tree in Phuket – the first house of the renowned brand name – will let you forget about the ocean entirely, as it is beautiful to lie amidst the palm-trees, at your own convenience villa pool, while listening to idle birds chirp and watching the sunset behind the lagoon.
What becomes clear at Banyan Tree is that in Thailand, hospitality is not bound to your wealth: the Thais pride themselves in their service, their generousness and their beautiful, beautiful smiles. The Thais are always incredibly aware of your needs, without ever making you feel alien or humorless. This is the warmth that connects you instantly. A lot of resorts are so keen on privacy and distance, they become unaffectionate. In Thailand, regardless of your income, you will always be treated like a royalty without feeling uncomfortable.
Spa Villa at Banyan Tree
Banyan Tree is quite old already, with some villas being more modern than others, but that just adds to the charm of the fusion of modern and traditional Thai interior design.
I stayed in the Spa Sanctuary of Banyan Tree, a house that is admittedly larger than my own flat in the city. I don’t even know where to start describing this ultra-luxe experience.The Spa Sanctuary had its own beautifully kept tropical garden, a full-length glass windowed bedroom pavilion floating within a private wading pool, a private spa pavilion overlooking the pool, a personal steam room, his-and-hers dressing areas, and outdoor jetpool with outdoor shower. Of course, the villa also came with its own private pool, which was larger than the communal pool of many hotels; a crystal jetpool was neatly set within the pool.
Every morning, breakfast is delivered à la carte to the terrace of the pool, and a 15 minute wake up message is included in the booking. Evening turndown service includes turning on the dramatic pool lights, lighting fragrant oil in the room, and leaving a special Banyan Tree gift on your pillow. If I could go back to only one travel experience in my life thus far, it would be going back to these wonderful two nights at the Spa Sanctuary of Banyan Tree Phuket.
Just for the sake of giving you a complete image: of course top-of-the-line amenities are taken care of at all Banyan Trees around the world. They include flatscreen TVs, Nespresso machines, Wi-Fi and a selection of available bed linens (rayon, linen, cotton, satin) and pillows (feather, synthetic, foam, kapok).
Activities at Banyan Tree Phuket
The Banyan Tree in Phuket consists of three separate types of accommodations: the typical resort-style hotels, the ultra-luxurious Double Pool Villas (yes, they have two pools!), and the Spa Sanctuary Villa. The guests share the same public amenities, like a communal pool, the restaurants and the spas. If you stay at the Spa Sanctuary Villas, you can indulge in unlimited spa treatments in the privacy of your own villa.
But – to my absolute shock – not everybody wants or needs to be massaged all day, every day. Thankfully, those who are looking for a more active experience at Banyan Tree can make use of a full-blown gym at the resort. There are also serene, daily open yoga sessions and complimentary cardio classes for all the guests of the resort.
The hotel will also schedule trips to Phuket if you feel touristy. A trip to the Similan Islands is highly recommended if you get a little stir-crazy when you get too lazy at your private pool. I have to admit: I’m usually a little bit anxious when I’m traveling. I always feel like missing something, I always want to travel further. At Banyan Tree? Psht. I wanted to stay in my Spa Villa forever and ever, undisturbed, in peace, sphered by the smells of roses and flowers and incense sticks.
Golf is not my thing, but if you’re a passionate player, this might be for you. A spectacular display of scenic lagoons, coconut groves and waving fairways, the spectacular Laguna Phuket golf course is set against the glorious backdrop of sea and mountains.
Lastly, we come to my favorite subject: food. At Banyan Tree, you can choose between Thai cuisine at Saffron Restaurant, Japanese cuisine at Tamarind Restaurant, international cuisine at Banyan Café, extensive seafood brunches and communal breakfasts at Watercourt restaurants, and in-villa dining. Every meal is an excellent dining experience.
The seafood brunch that we tried at the Watercourt restaurant wasn’t just a brunch, it was an event. There were about 10 buffet stations, and I admit, we went crazy on the lobster. We had to. There is Thai food, a chef’s station, noodle soup bars, sushi, sliced meats, fruit, continental breakfast, and so on. Food is replenished every couple of minutes, always fresh and comes with complimentary Champagne.
If you’ve come this far reading, you might have noticed that my verdict is a good one. The Banyan Tree Phuket is the most luxurious resort I’ve ever stayed at, and I’ve been to a few (remember the luxury of the Maledives?).
But I do want to make sure you know one thing before finalizing your dream vacation: Banyan Tree in Phuket is not a typical beach resort. You will forget everything about Thailand, about typical vacation things and stay in your wonderful villa for the whole time you’re staying there, just because it’s beautiful. If instead you’re looking for less privacy and more action, you should definitely stay somewhere else. But who would want that?