A trainer leading a laughing exercise. Photos © Banyan Tree Veya Phuket Resort
It was early morning when I felt moist grass beneath my bare feet. Surrounded by trees, I closed my eyes and walked down the yard. I concentrated on breathing, but my mind kept wandering elsewhere. Burdened by the past and the future, I’m never able to live in the moment.
A pool villa. Banyan Tree Veya Phuket Resort
“Be more conscious of the surrounding,” said a trainer calmly. He told me to slow down and focus on each step. Birds were chirping here and there. I felt as though I had touched the Earth for the first time. It could not be more refreshing.
This dawned on me during a course of conscious grounding. It is a form of meditation that awakened me at a beachside sanctuary. Banyan Tree Phuket recently launched the world’s first well-being line, Banyan Tree Veya Phuket Resort, inside its hotel to offer a soul-searching experience to vacationers.
A lagoon inside the property. Thana Boonlert
Design and facilities
Far from the hustle and bustle of city life, Veya is introducing the concept of conscious living. Upon arrival, I found a 150-year-old banyan tree. Its canopy forms the heart of the 250 rai property. Surrounded by lagoons, buildings evoke Thai contemporary architecture. In particular, gable roofs reminded me of traditional houses.
If you look at a map, Veya is a 23-villa island of its own. Guests can use the spa and explore multiple cuisines. Given its expanse, they can travel by bike or ride in buggies, but some may enjoy strolling. It is a five-minute walk to Bangtao Beach.
Banyan Tree Gallery showcases handmade products from communities. Thana Boonlert
My 140m² villa included a living room bedroom combo and a spacious bathroom with a dressing area. By using earth tones, the chamber creates a warm atmosphere. A welcome letter and an acai bowl greeted me on an oval table. I laid on a comfy day bed and absorbed binaural music.
Then, the king-sized bed beckoned me. It is adorned with an iconic banyan leaf overhead. You can also read a book in an armchair. Surrounded by a lush garden, the villa has a 17.5m² swimming pool, heated whirlpool and white deck chairs.
I took a bath and fell asleep until a bell rang in the afternoon. Before checking in, I had to complete a lifestyle assessment. A wellness expert came in to suggest room for improvement. It builds on eight pillars, ranging from diet to harmony with nature, which translates into more than 50 activities per week.
I was encouraged to work out and create a small garden at home. I should also read a book and write a gratitude journal every night.
Conscious grounding. Banyan Tree Veya Phuket Resort
To my surprise, staff dropped in to offer rest rituals every day. I enjoyed a soothing bowl of fresh kaffir lime, lemon and essential oil. A set of cleansing scrubs was also relaxing. It is made of pandanus juice and avocado. Coconut salt, fresh milk and yoghurt produce granular yet soft textures.
Apart from wellbeing programmes, the resort sells local crafts to support communities and preserve heritage. Nestled in the main lobby, Banyan Tree Gallery has a wide range of handmade products from lotus-shaped ceramic plates to celadon elephants. Even abandoned beach wood is turned into decoration.
On the other hand, those looking for adventure can take a boat trip. Just less than an hour from Panwa pier, Banana Beach (Koh Hey) has a wide range of adrenaline-pumping activities like parasailing and kayaking. You can also enjoy the white sand beach and clear blue water.
Banana Beach offers adventurous activities. Thana Boonlert
Signature restaurant Saffron offers Thai cuisine with a twist. Appetisers were delicately arranged on a plate of yum pla salmon (seared salmon with crispy pork crackling and spicy citrus dressing) and pho pia poo sauce mamuang (crab meat rolls with mango salsa and sweet chilli dip).
Tom kha hoi shell (grilled scallop in coconut broth) could be richer in flavour but gaeng kati puu gub bai cha plu (crab meat and betel leaf in red curry served with Thai vermicelli noodle) provided the full length of taste. It became my favourite main dish.
Meanwhile, Veya also offers Asian and Mediterranean cuisines. To be honest, I am not familiar with them. Quinoa salad is a good starter, but green gazpacho soup is not impressive. It is a cold dish of asparagus, cucumber, melon, long bean and edamame.
Le Petit Chef presents an innovative French culinary experience. Its interactive cinema shows how each dish is created. I watched the chef struggle to catch a sea creature excitedly before the real dish of homard, lobster and sauteed asparagus was served.
A 150-year-old banyan tree forms the heart of the property. Thana Boonlert
Opening this month, Banyan Tree Veya Phuket Resort offers well-being experiences for vacationers in need of more than holidays. It is a haven of peace and self-reflection. It is priced at 12,800 baht (down from 19,200 baht) per night. You will receive a credit of 10,000 baht per night and room service, including meals.
Banyan Tree Veya Phuket Resort 33, 33/27 Moo 4, Srisoonthorn Road, Cherngtalay, Amphur Thalang, Phuket 83110. Call 076-372-400 or visit banyantree.com/thailand/veya-phuket.