Top Phuket spa resort treatments
Himalayan salt caves; singing bowls; pranayama: these terms may read like a roll call of mysterious, other-worldly phenomena.
They are in fact some of the restorative spa treatments and therapies available at Amatara Resort & Wellness in Phuket, Thailand. One of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia, Phuket is well-known for its world-class beaches, island-hopping excursions and lively nightlife; it was recently listed by TripAdvisor as among the world’s ten best islands.
Amatara Resort & Wellness is a Phuket spa resort located just 25kms from Patong Beach, the island’s tourist heart, but feels a world apart. A luxury resort with a new onsite health retreat, it offers an indulgent yet accessible spa experience to suit the needs of individual travellers: from week-long wellness programs (accommodation and all meals included) to one-hour treatments for those after maximum relaxation impact in minimum time.
Whether you are feeling toxic, tense or just plain tired, Amatara is the perfect place to take time out and emerge a better version of yourself. Here are four holistic Phuket spa resort treatments at Amatara that are hard (or impossible) to find in Australia.
Thai hammam experience
‘A major point of difference between Amatara and other Phuket spa resort treatments and programmes is the hammam, which is included in all our programs’, explains Phoebe Boonkerd, the resort’s Wellness Director.
‘It has health benefits that cover so many areas: immune-boosting, detoxification, muscle relaxation, vitality support; it reboots the body.’
The Thai hammam at Amatara is the only one of its kind in the world. A breathtakingly beautiful space, it is sultrily lit and tiled with thousands of glittery little mosaics. The massive heated marble slabs that are the centrepiece of the hammam weigh 1.2 tonnes each – crafted and flown in from Bulgaria, it took a team of men and pulleys two days to get them up the steep incline to the spa building!
Authentically Thai in its design and service delivery, the same therapist nurtures you through every step of the sensory journey. Showered, steamed, soaped up and scrubbed, lathered in mud, massaged and given time for contemplation in a room of Himalayan salt bricks, the experience is tension-relieving, bliss-inducing, and has me feeling like I am floating on air when I leave.
Chi nei tsang massage
Centred on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), chi nei tsang is an exotic massage that concentrates on the abdominal area of the body.
Based on the Taoist belief that the stomach acts as an ‘emotional brain’ (due to the multitude of nerve cells and neurotransmitters found within it), this is the part of the body where we hold emotional and physical tension, which if left unattended, can lead to digestive problems, energy blockages, and accumulated toxins over time.
The treatment involves my tummy being poked, kneaded and patted by a therapist to release tension, an action that elicits occasional gurgles and grumbles from my gut. It is slightly uncomfortable in parts – this is normal, explains the therapist, as there is a lot of stress and worry being freed. Afterwards however, my belly feels lighter and softer; and surprisingly, my head and chest too, feel cleaner and clearer.
Tibetan singing bowls therapy
Human bodies are made up on average of 60% water. It seems logical then, that anything with the ability to affect water would have a profound impact on us. Singing bowl therapy is an ancient Asian treatment that utilises the power of sound waves and vibrations to encourage the flow of water in the body, by providing a gentle internal massage to cells and fluids.
Sessions, customised to the client’s needs, are led by Muriel and Raphael, an enigmatic French couple who’ve left glamorous lifestyles in Cannes to train under a world-famous master healer in Nepal. They then moved to Thailand to set up their own healing practice and offer these Phuket spa resort treatments to guests at Amatara.
My stint involves lying on a mattress on the floor, surrounded by several round metal bowls in various sizes (from ones like large pumpkins to more compact rockmelons). A fit-for-purpose mallet is used for tapping the bowls in turn, with each singing bowl producing a different sound that is aligned to a different chakra (energy centre) in the body.
The therapy recalibrates the body and mind to their natural vibrational state, thus relaxing the nervous system and mind, as well as purporting to stimulate healing, heighten intuition and promote clearer vision.
Pranayama (the art of yoga breathing)
Everyone knows how to breathe, right? The notion of a 60-minute session to learn yogic breathing techniques seems redundant, but sitting and staying still, and being in control of one’s inhalations and exhalations is trickier than you think!
The term pranayama is derived from two Sanskrit words, together meaning ‘expansion or extension of your life force’; it is the fourth stage of ashtanga yoga practice (to experience the highest state of consciousness, one is required to attain a total of eight stages).
Amatara’s resident yoga expert, Uttam Ghosh, says that whenever we suffer various elements of disease, it is because the prana or life force is not functioning properly. Hence the purpose of pranayama practice – to help us open up these blockages and balance ourselves.
The easiest and most effective pranayama is ‘alternate nostril breathing’. I start with my right thumb covering my right nostril, and breathe in through the left. Next, I switch to breathing in through the right nostril (covering the left) and exhaling through the left.
After repeating this 20 times, I marvel at how I feel: alert and refreshed, calm and ready to tackle whatever the day throws my way. It’s another of the must-try Phuket spa resort treatments offered at Amatara.
Cindy travelled as a guest of Amatara Resort & Wellness.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Cindy Bingley-Pullin considers herself a writer, wanderluster, corporate bee and happy homemaker. In between analysing spreadsheets in the office and washing cot sheets at home, she pursues her combined passions of travel and freelance writing. Her work appears in publications such as Virgin Australia’s Voyeur, International Traveller and Fitness First magazines, and the Sydney Morning Herald. To date, her travels have taken her everywhere from the ancient Angkor Wat temples at dawn to the soaring skyscrapers of NYC at dusk, and from sleeping under the stars in central-west NSW to dining at Michelin-starred restaurants in the south of France. She has volunteered at an orphanage in India, bathed elephants in the river in remote northern Thailand, waved glow sticks at an underground rave in San Francisco and cautiously navigated an active volcano in Hawaii. The first thing she does when she comes home to Sydney is pop by her local cafe for a decent flat white.