Picture this: a beach of white sand that curves to clasp the Indian Ocean. Palm trees fluttering at the edges of your vision. The crash and sigh of the waves in the distance. I open my eyes and that’s what I see. I open my ears and that’s what I hear.
My senses breathe in amber incense, hot ginger and tropical forest air. I’m standing in the spa at the Banyan Tree, Seychelles and I’m blissing out.
Sure, I love my sense of adventure – canyoning, surfing, skiing and even skydiving – but right now I’m brushing up another few types of “ing”: dreaming, easing, thinking and blissing. (Hey, if they can make up words for combining wet rocks and adrenaline, they can make up words for combining almond oil, acupressure and paradise, right?)
An Independent Review
The Banyan Tree Spa in the Seychelles lives on Intendance Bay on the “main” Seychelles island of Mahé. Main in these parts means less than 60 square miles, with a total circumference of a few hours’ drive at rush hour. Mahé feels rather overlooked by visitors in the dash to reach one of the smaller, far flung islands. Wills and Kate, after all, didn’t honeymoon on Mahé; they wanted somewhere more secluded.
We, of course, were no different – well, except for the inherited wealth, dress sense and complicated family history – flying off to Desroches Island simply as soon as we could.
Yet before the return to Europe, the Banyan Tree invited us back for one last night and, oh achingly-soothed now sweet-scented muscles, was I glad they did.
Only eight miles from the airport, the resort overlooks Intendance Bay in a way that stops you from realising you’re in a resort. Dense vegetation lines the beachfront, with only a few villas visible on the mountainside behind.
Fuming waves pulp, pummel and punish the shoreline, sending me flying through the foam when I’m only waist deep. It’s like being a child again, washed up in the surf and the surprise of the powerful Indian Ocean, a Lilliputian when compared to the boulders that stud the shoreline. Raindrops and thunderclouds have haunted us all week but here, instead of a horizon of watery ghosts, the waves of the vast Indian Ocean feel like a frothy fluid playground
A quick sprint through the sand takes me the 20 metres or so to my room, or to give it its full title, my Beachfront Spa Pool Villa. The foliage blocks the view of the sea, but then it does protect the beach from eroding and provides shelter for nesting turtles, so I’m not complaining.
I’ve looked for turtles all week, so when one nonchalantly zig-zags up the sand later that same day I complain even less. So much so, I veer into negative complaining, an ugly concept in reviewing terms, because it translates into reams of gushing, unadulterated praise. Ah, to hell with it, this place deserves it.
Back on the sand, the hotel staff measure the turtle’s tracks and shield it from curious tourists. I scramble around in the sand taking photos from a safe distance before sprinting back to my BFSPV (that’s Beachfront Spa Pool Villa to you.)
In fact, my race to photograph the turtle leaves precious little time to enjoy my private swimming pool, massage pavilion, steam room and jet pool before it’s time to race to the spa. Oh, the agony, the inhumanity, the sacrifices I must endure…
“Which incense would you like, Madam,” asks the Thai therapist, opening a treasure chest of scents.
Her soft voice doesn’t break my spell so much as add to it. High on the mountainside, we’re in an open-air spa and I can see, hear and feel the Indian Ocean thrashing into the sand.
I soak my feet among soft frangipani petals before stretching out for a Thai Classic massage.
It’s different to the massages I had in Thailand, where I wore cotton pyjamas and no-one seemed to brandish oil. Key parts remain the same: the deep pressure, the chiropractic positions, the intermittent blocks on my femoral and brachial arteries inducing rushes of blood to my limbs. No doubt I’ve made it sound too clinical, but that’s really not a bad thing. In fact, clinical – in a scientific sense – is very, very good when it comes to this kind of healing.
We move onto scented oil and longer, more relaxing strokes.
The knots, the twists, the pain from lugging lenses and carrying cameras finally eases away. Of all the massages I’ve had in my life, and with my feeble spine there have been plenty, this is one of the best.
I’d even go so far as to describe it as the second best massage I’ve ever had.
The waves of the Indian Ocean rise for another chorus and amber incense fills my senses.
Right now, I feel no pain.
This, I believe, is what they call blissing out.
The Banyan Tree Spa Seychelles – Summary
Summary: Luxurious palm-fringed relaxation in the heart of the Seychelles.
Highlights: 30 min drive to the main airport, spectacular service, muscle-melting open-air spa, exquisite finishing touches.
Room for improvement: a wider variety of dining options during the day would be a plus.
Disclosure: I received food, accommodation and a spa treatment on a complimentary basis from the Banyan Tree Hotel. However, I went back – and paid – for a second Thai Classic treatment. It really was that good. I flew with Air Seychelles and the trip was arranged by SeyExclusive. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to undo all that relaxation and hunch my shoulders over a computer screen for a few more hours…See you soon!