SPA OF THE MONTH Tropical spa
Absolute Sanctuary, Koh Samui, Thailand
It might be famous forbeing a party island, butKoh Samui is also a haven of wellbeing,known as the ‘island of healing’. And ifyou’re looking for a relaxed but activespa holiday, Absolute Sanctuary couldbe the destination for you. This popularfitness wellness retreat is known forits fun, down-to-earth approach andflexible programmes, all in a gorgeous,tropical setting.
After a tough winter, I was desperate fora relaxing retreat. I wasn’t feeling strongenough for a full-on detox or a dedicatedfitness holiday. I needed somewhere torelax and let my body and soul recharge.Absolute Sanctuary promised both sparelaxation and fitness, and as hard or softa detox as I wished. You can choose froma range of packages, from weight loss,fitness, yoga and Pilates to detox andspa. The seven-day Harmonising packagesounded perfect and offered enough timeto join in fitness classes or yoga if I fancied.Nestled on a lush hillside, overlooking thesea, the resort is barefoot luxury at its best,with beautifully decorated guest roomsranging from the standard to spacioussuites with four-poster beds and hugebathtubs and sea views. I was impressedto find two yoga studios, a gym, Pilatesreformer studio, spa centre and astunning infinity pool.
Absolute Sanctuary, Koh Samui, Thailand Photo Gallery
Every day at Absolute brought a scheduleof different treatments. On my first day, Iwent from infrared sauna to invigoratingcoffee scrub, followed by a herbal wrapto slough off my dry skin and prepare mefor a soothing aromatherapy massage.Another day, I had a reiki session followedby a heavenly oxygenating facial.Frequently during the treatments, I driftedoff into a deep sleep, thanks to the magichands of the skilled therapists, the soothingmusic and gorgeous aromatherapy scents.A tinkling of a bell and cup of steamingginger tea would gently rouse me backto my senses.The huge spa menu offers holistictherapies, including emotional freedomtechnique, cranio sacral therapy and Bachflower remedies, plus every manner ofmassage, from Thai to Indian, and a vastchoice of pampering and anti-ageingPevonia facials and body rituals.My husband opted for the Fitnesspackage, so I’d float by him as he headedfor more active pursuits, before we met upon our sun loungers by the gorgeousinfinity pool for yet more snoozing, thistime covered in sun screen rather thanessential oils.
As I grew stronger, I drifted towards theretreat’s yoga studios. I loved the gentleearly morning detox class. It began at8am with a half hour of pranayama andmeditation, followed by an hour of slowasana practice. Some of the other classesI tried later in the day were more dynamicand challenging, focused more on calorieburning than spirituality, but always welltaught with a focus on alignment. The hotyoga class proved too much for me – withinminutes, I was dizzy and my mat wasdrenched in sweat, but the number ofpeople in the class suggested I’m in theminority. Absolute Sanctuary is Thailand’sleading yoga teacher training and retreatcentre, so you’re in good hands.
The resort’s Love Kitchen creates deliciouslow-calorie, organic dishes rich insuperfoods and wholefoods. The smallportions of healthy, delicious food suitedmy fragile state. My Harmonising packageincluded a couple of juice days to be takenwhen I felt like it. The juice and smoothiemenu was incredibly tempting withconcoctions such as the Banana Coco-dream, a blend of frozen banana, freshcoconut flesh and its water blended into acreamy delight. Although I wasn’t detoxingin the fasting sense, the clear, vibrantnature of the food and absence of coffee,alcohol and sugar helped my body feellighter and more energetic.
Neom Organics Real LuxuryBody Oil, £35 for 100ml;neomorganics.comJust the product for helping youcreate a ‘spa-at-home’ feel for bodyand mind, this body oil from top-notch brand Neom Organics,contains antioxidant-rich vitamin E,safflower oil and inca inchi oil (therichest oil in omega 3), so your skincan’t help feeling super smooth andbeautifully hydrated. Jojoba, rose andelderberry extracts also help ensureyour skin is beautifully nourished.The heavenly scent is created by acomplex blend of the purest possibleessential oils, including lavender,jasmine and Brazilian rosewood, allexpertly blended to help you feelcalm and banish stress. Simply applyit after a relaxing bath or shower,then relax for a while– that’s an order!Also in the newrange of oils are theDaily Superskin BodyOil, Energy Burst BodyOil and Perfect Night’sSleep Body Oil, so youcan choose the onethat suits your needs.
This is a perfect retreat for couples orfriends – one can relax while the othergets active. It’s not so ideal for singlesas the mingling is limited.
A stay costs £899pp sharing a superiorroom for a three-night Rejuvenating SpaHoliday; absolutesanctuary.com.
‘IT WORKED FOR ME’
H&F’s Emma Lewis tries amindfulness facialWhat? The 60-minute SöndMindfulness & Alkaline Facial, £80Where? Blush + Blow salon, 197New King’s Road, London;blushandblowlondon.com‘As a busy working mum of twowho exercises a fair amount, my skintakes a battering and I struggle withcombination skin and finding time towind down and de-stress. So when Iheard about a facial that’s especiallybeneficial if your skin’s going througha period of sensitivity (or you sufferfrom rosacea or eczema) and includesa calming mindfulness audio at thesame time, I had to give it a go.‘Miranda, my therapist, started bygently massaging my neck andshoulder area. During the treatment,she used several mineral-rich alkalineskincare products, including adetoxifying zeolite and bentonite facemask that draws out impurities forclearer, smoother skin. Keeping skincells in their natural pH range, I foundout, means they can take in moreoxygen, have improved blood flowand can regenerate more effectively.‘Meanwhile, a recording of a verysoothing man’s voice told me to relaxmy eye area, then my jaws and so ondown my body and up over my scalpand talked me through some breathwork to help me fully relax while notletting my mind wander to my longto-do list, work worries or schedulefor the week (as would normallyhappen in these situations).‘It was very relaxing and I nearlyfell asleep, which is impressive asit was in the middle of a busy day.Afterwards, my skin felt deeplycleansed and plump without feelingsticky and I had a healthy glow. Ifonly I could have one of thesetreatments once a week (sigh)!’