Greetings from the married side! After a magical four-day celebration in Carmel Valley, CA, we packed our bags and went to South East Asia for an 18-day honeymoon.
We started with a relaxing three days at the luxurious Banyan Tree Phuket. We stayed in the Spa Sanctuary area, where each private pool villa comes with unlimited massages(!) and 6000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor space. I normally wouldn’t dedicate a whole blog post to a hotel, but this one deserves the mention!
This was my first Banyan Tree experience, and they delivered. Every single detail was carefully curated, the user experience was wonderful, and the service was fantastic. The only area of improvement for service would be the slow check in and out process – 15 minutes each time. Also the wifi was really buggy – but we shouldn’t be on our devices anyway!
The In-Villa Massages – We had unlimited massages, and these were literally the best massages we’ve ever had! The standard massage started off with a green tea & honey foot scrub, followed by 60 minutes of a strong Swedish massage, ending with ginger tea, fruit, and yogurt. This massage goes for 5000 baht ($145) at their spa, so the unlimited option was a great deal. My husband had three in one day even. We switched it up on the last day and asked for a traditional Thai Massage. This was also very good, albeit a bit painful! It’s a good amount of stretching, and “light” pressure is still fairly strong.
The Grounds – The landscaping and architecture were stunning. I’ll let the photos do the talking.
The Amenities – We were welcomed with tea and cookies at check-in, and then received a jade elephant duo and a bottle of sparkling in our room as a honeymoon gift. Unlimited glass bottled water and tropical fruit were refreshed daily.
Our shower doubled as a steam room. We had a choice of four sheet and pillow types. There was an outdoor bath, shower, hot tub, and of course the pool.
A large daily breakfast buffet was included. The spa sanctuary rooms also came with complimentary afternoon tea in a stunning glass tea house.
Daily turndown service came with thoughtful romantic touches. One night they set up the massage area with candles and massage oil. Another night the outdoor bath area was staged with salts and kaffir lime. Every day the incense and burning oil were swapped out for a new scent.
The Food – I didn’t expect much from resort food, but this was better than average. The included breakfast buffet was the best food we had at the resort. The eggs had deep, beautiful orange yolks. The fresh fruit included mango sticky rice. There were savory stir-fry dishes, including a great pad thai. They also had a nice yogurt and compote selection – I tried the unique banana and prune compotes which were quite sweet but delicious. The honey came off a honeycomb. For people who want sushi for breakfast, there were a few sushi options as well.
The room service was also solid. We had flavorful, spicy pad ke mao, bright banana leaf salad, and green mango wrapped jumbo shrimp.
We ate dinner at their star restaurant Saffron, which was ironically the least satisfying and most expensive meal (~$90 USD for two) of the stay. The flavors were diluted for the non-native palette. Medium spicy was not spicy at all, everything had too much sugar, and they were strangely stingy about rice portions. Dare I say my homemade tom kha ga (chicken galangal coconut soup) was better than theirs!
Lunch options were sparse, basically the cafe at the golf course and the pricey Japanese restaurant by the spa. I enjoyed the cafe yum som-o pomelo salad and the crispy spring rolls.
The Drinks – Happy hour included the first drink free. The cocktail menu had classic cocktails that took them a while to make, but were pretty good. Wine was incredibly marked up. I saw $7 bottles in the U.S. listed for the equivalent of $100 USD! Living near Napa Valley, we knew the difference between the good and bad Napa wines so we went for $11 cocktails instead!
Even with the watered down food offerings, our stay here was absolutely incredible. We didn’t want to leave! Perhaps we can come back for a future anniversary…