Over the last two years, self-care and well-being have become buzzwords in our collective zeitgeist like they never have before. And if you're looking for a practical kick-start -- yours truly included -- you may want to consider Banyan Tree Veya Phuket, the new well-being resort by the world's leading hospitality group Banyan Tree Group. It is an intimate pocket of 23-villa resort dedicated to personalised and flexible well-being concept, located within the vast 89 acres of Banyan Tree Phuket.
(Photos: Banyan Tree Veya Phuket)
Although I checked into Veya, the grand open-air contemporary Thai lobby area of Banyan Tree Phuket caught my eyes first with towering Banyan trees, grand spaciousness, reflecting pools and an overlooking lake view. Do come back here when the sky turns twilight as the ambiance will become even more enchanting with the evening glow. The Veya's side will greet you with a view of the big and beautiful swimming pool before you'll be ushered to your accommodation on a golf cart.
My well-being journey started before my arrival. Guests will receive a questionnaire that can help determine the experience they would have. There's only one type of accommodation called Veya Pool Villa and I met my well-being expert Liz for a personal consultation on an oversized daybed. She gently guided me through Veya's concept based on eight pillars ranging from Physical Vitality, Harmony with Nature to Learning and Development. Based on my answers, I got a booklet of tailored activity schedules corresponding to my profile. Although I don't think I'm overly sensitive about my girth, it was nice that questions about weight were never brought up. It felt like an easy breezy chat.
Veya Pool Villa.
The villa lives up to its "sanctuary of rest and restoration" tagline. Within its 140m², you have a lush garden, a spacious living room/bedroom, a sizeable bathroom and a walled-in terrace with a private 17.5m² swimming pool, a heated jet pool and sun loungers. Besides total privacy, there are small in-room amenities to facilitate your journey such as a yoga mat, an exercise stretch band, a singing bowl, binaural music to induce relaxation and sleep and even an alarm clock that gently wakes you up with mimicked sunrise. There are also morning and evening rituals to help your start or end your day on a good note. Think of sniffing kaffir lime leaves to awaken your sense or mixing your own scrub for a soothing and moisturising showering session. Attention definitely has been paid to small details to immerse you in the journey and you'll want for nothing.
Activities provided by Veya aren't merely about getting fit or physical exertion as there are various ways to fine-tune your body and mind.
Curiously named Conscious Grounding proves that connecting your bare feet with the grass and walking while closing your eyes can be quite a meditative and yet challenging experience. Start your day by finding your zen with Ocean Breath session on Bang Tao beach as you learn how to breathe the salted air consciously and mindfully. Surprisingly, I enjoyed Thai Herbal Therapy where I learned how to make a look prakob (herbal ball) and took it home as a DIY souvenir.
I sweated during (and survived) Core Pilates and Circuit Strength. The latter, which you may already guess, is a full-body workout that involves a group rotating through different exercises for a minute each. These activities are led by different practitioners either in Veya's centre or at designated spots. If you're an outdoorsy type, get on cycling tracks shaded by towering trees to truly appreciate the vast and lush land of Banyan Tree Phuket.
Set next to the swimming pool, Veya restaurant is dedicated to healthy plant-forward recipes for a flexitarian diet. The namesake features lunch and dinner menus of Asian and Mediterranean influences that showcase both flavour and finesse. Think Seared scallops served on silky red capsicum purée, succulent grilled Snow fish with orange and tamarind sauce, bok choy and macadamia cheese and savoury bowl of Spicy tuna poke and soba with Sriracha, avocado and pickled ginger.
If you're looking for something more indulgent, head to Banyan Tree Phuket's side for an elegant Thai dinner at Saffron and have your camera ready for their rice trolley. Or enjoy a full-on breakfast buffet at The Watercourt. Go straight to the beef noodle station and get seats on the wooden platform built over the lagoon. However, if you want to start your day on a healthy note, Veya has several choices of breakfast sets that you can enjoy in your own villa.
Veya Pool Villa.
While away an evening in style with a Thai-style boat tour that takes you through Banyan Tree Phuket's tranquil lagoon, its neighbouring properties and the sunset sky on Bang Tao beach and back at the pier near The Watercourt. After an eventful day, you can get pampered and blissed out at Banyan Tree Spa.
My stay ended with a reflection session with Liz back in my villa, complete with a note on suggested stretching and the exercise stretch band to continue my well-being journey at home. You see, Veya, which means "to weave", aims to provide you with well-being tips that you can integrate into your daily life.
You can board a shuttle bus or boat to explore Laguna Phuket, which already has plenty to discover, to start with. There are many eateries and beach clubs dotted along Bang Tao beach if you prefer to take it easy and not venture far.
A stay at Banyan Tree Veya Phuket allows you to access the best of both worlds -- keeping track on your well-being or indulging a little. Book the "Veya Experience" for at least two consecutive nights to enjoy daily breakfast for two, private well-being assessment, well-being itinerary, daily rituals and B5,000 resort credit per night redeemable at all eateries of Banyan Tree Phuket, Banyan Tree Spa and Banyan Tree Gallery. Visit banyantree.com/thailand/veya-phuket.