*****UPDATE****** Six Senses Sanctuary closed on July 31, 2011
Just as luxury resort group Six Senses was ahead of the curve with its sexy castaway fantasy resort in the Maldives, Soneva Fushi, Six Senses Sanctuary - Phuket is a spa fantasy that lasts for days, even weeks, depending how long you want to stay. We only had four days but that was enough time to understand why this destination spa is so popular, it goes way beyond pampering. The experience starts as soon as you arrive of the private island of Naka Yai, just of the north-east coast of Phuket in Phang Nga Bay. There’s no lobby, no queues, just walk up the postcard perfect jetty and head straight for the spa for an extensive assessment.
A daily programme is worked out that must include at least two treatments each day. From there, a personal butler takes you to your beach villa that comes with private pool, steamroom, indoor/outdoor show, sea views and a luxe bed that ended up providing the best sleep in memory. This is heaven for spa trekkers. No stress, complete relaxation, super healthy organic food and not one but four spas – Thai, Indian, Indonesian and Chinese – to experience.
What to wear is yet another thing that you don’t have to worry about here. Everyone wears organic cotton pyjamas so save the Pucci and Gucci for Mykonos. These PJs are perfect in the tropical heat. Six Senses is very good at shedding away all the chaos of modern life.
There’s no news channels (just movies from their library), moving from spa appointment, to meals and back to the villa. The place makes you so aware of how you live, what you put into your body, stress levels and what is really feels to be relaxed.
It would be easy to spend the whole stay holed up in the villa. The aesthetic is Fred Flintstone meets very stylish designer, no sharp edges, nothing overly processed. it’s all about beautiful organic forms and a connection to the natural world.
The rooms feature signs made with coconut husks, sugar palm leaf thatching, earthy tones, textured walls and natural light. There are 61 villas and two ubervillas - the Enclave and the Retreat on the Hill that regularly house royalty and megawatt celebrities in their palatial compounds.
Here, most of the food is grown on the island or sourced locally. Meal options include a “fishetarian” diet or raw foods (think raw vegan food -nothing over 46 degrees Celsius). Buffet breakfast includes a line up of fresh juices for every cure and every day the menu changes. Fat content and calories are noted. Days quickly fall into a rhythm of treatments, organic food, workout sessions and alternative therapies from iridology to blood analysis. The day is followed by perfect rest and deep, deep sleep. Be warned, it can be hard to get to early morning yoga or kayaking because the bed is so comfortable.
Each spa its own little universe, with a gateway into sublime interiors, with surrounding outdoor spaces perfectly complementing the experience. It is so far removed from the concept of the spa with a fountain out front, rows of treatment rooms out the back. Six Senses has gone all out - the ground level Thai-style massage beds, an Indian colonics chambre, the perfect Chinese bamboo garden and pavilion for the post-treatment cup of tea. It would take weeks to try every treatment and to add to the top therapists on staff, internationally recognised trainers and practitioners jet in for guest residencies too.
By day three, there is no such thing as stress, just complete relaxation. I only had four days here, many extend their stay and cancel other plans and it’s easy to see why. The destination spa has an incredible future for travellers looking for a total escape, no tweets, no email, no junk food. Six Senses also understands that a spa doesn’t have to mean one ‘flavor’ of treatment. At Naka Yai, recent visiting practitioners include triathletes, pilates, reiki masters and top personal trainers. This fresh approach to spas is also happening at other Six Senses spas including a new Paris property opening on the rue de Castiglione next month. The brand is continuing on from success at resorts in Doha, Barcelona, Portugal, Jordan, Oman and the Maldives. The Six Senses brand is set to conquer the spa world again with a palatial spa opening in Marrakech in Morocco that opens in 2011. Can’t wait. - Bill Tikos