LUXURY RESORTS: Westin Siray Bay Resort and Spa, Phuket,
After a gruelling year my other half and I were on a mission: to reduce stress and sooth our souls before Christmas . But could Thailand work its magic? As soon as we arrived at the Westin resort on Siray Bay, we knew we had made the right decision. Our cab pulled up and we entered a vast open-air reception area, scented with white tea aromatherapy candles, as high wooden ceiling fans stirred the lazy air overhead.
After being led to sofas overlooking a private moonlit bay, we were handed moist refresher towels and fresh tropical juice. This hospitality, coupled with the tranquil atmosphere and warm evening breeze was a welcome relief after the 12-hour flight from Heathrow.
We soon discovered that the Westin Siray Bay is all about wellness - each of the 261 sensory-rich rooms boasts their signature Heavenly Beds and Heavenly Pillows for a tip-top sleep, while the Heavenly Bath and a rainforest shower are located behind floor-to ceiling glass - with optional remote-control blind - so you can soak away while watching the sunset. Plus selected suites (ours included!) feature a private plunge pool.
The Westin's Heavenly Spa is the perfect place to bliss out and I made full use of the menu. My favourite was the Ayurvedic Shirodara treatment. After a 15-minute steam room, my therapist Unda served me delicious golden apple tea and washed my feet in warm rose water. For the treatment, I had to lie face up on a massage couch with my eyes closed. Warm coconut oil was poured on to my third eye chakra from a copper pot hanging above my head.
This was followed by a head, neck and shoulder massage, which sent me into such a trance that I got the shock of my life when the fire alarm went off thanks to the overexcited steam room next door. But it didn't take me long at all to settle down again. Afterwards, I had to leave the oil on my hair for at least one hour, so I went and paddled around in our plunge pool until dinner.
Shirodara at the Westin costs 2,210 bahtfor 45 minutes, but there are other ways to achieve a similar state without spending a penny. One of my favourite past-times was drifting in one of the tree-hung hammocks on the private beach - meditating for hours - or exploring the rock pools on the shore. The resort also offers beach yoga or you can float around in one of three pools.
The area around Phuket is one the best places on Earth to get back to nature.
Detox delightsThere is no rivalling Thailand for its super-fresh healthy food and the Westin offers the best at breakfast alone! Their Superfoods Breakfast- including such tropical delights as dragon fruit, lychees and watermelon, with fresh guava juice - made getting out of bed a major event. For our final night at the resort, we feasted on sushi, lobster and prawns at Westin's EEST restaurant, but the real place to eat like kings is on the street. Phuket boasts many hidden foody gems, such as the ultra-cheap Uptown Restaurant, where our favourite dish was the fresh papaya salad. The open-air food market in Phuket Town centre was the best place for fresh seafood, like seabass with ginger and spring onion.
Getting back to natureThe area around Phuket is one the best places on Earth to get back to nature. Butterfly sanctuaries abound and there are various eco tours and treks both inland and to the nearby islands of Khai Nok, Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh, where the film The Beach was made. John Gray's Sea Canoe (johngray-canoe.com), offers a romantic sunset kayaking tour for 3,950 baht. One of Phuket's most important contributions to nature conservation is the Gibbon rehabilitation centre near Bang Pae Waterfall, about 20km from Phuket Airport. There is no entrance fee and the hours are 9am-4.30pm.
From sweet Ghekkos and chirping crickets to the scuttling hermit crabs patterning the fine white sand, it's hard to avoid getting close to nature in Thailand. Add to this the simple healthy food, hot days and balmy nights and a spa treat or therapy to be found on every corner, and you have the perfect mind, body, spirit rejuvenation combination.
|Check in: Westin Siray Bay Resort and Spa, 21/4 Moo 1 T.Rasada A.Muang, Phuket, 83000, Thailand
Ultimate Luxury: Having a pool on your balcony and the amazing Indian Shirodara treatment on offer in the Heavenly spa.
|Most Indulgent Moment: Whole lobster for dinner in the 5* EAST restaurant
|Junior Luxies: The Westin Kids Club near the Horizon Pool welcomes kids from 4 to 12, to make sure the parents have a chance to relax!
|Dress code: From beach bum in the day to cocktail cool at sunset
|Luxury Resorts Links :
www.starwoodhotels.com/westin , www.tourismthailand.org
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