Watch the tide come in without leaving your bed in a Pool Villa Ocean
At as early a stage as check-in and welcome drink, Hylton Lipkin, executive assistant manager and director of spa reveals, “This is not a hardcore wellness programme” of the FusionVoyage packages, which range from three to seven nights. While more purist retreats are in the works in response to the rise of the wellness holiday, these have been designed for guests who wish to merely dip a toe into a more mindful lifestyle.
The newer sister property to its flagship in Danang features two of the group’s best-loved concepts. Firstly, breakfast anytime and anywhere (a table can be set on the edge of the jungle, for example, though apparently no one has made the request), which means no need for alarms, wake when you feel like it – how an escape should be. Secondly, the enthusiastically embraced ‘all-spa’ inclusive means that every guest is guaranteed two spa treatments each day, which also applies here.
The initial consultation begins with a physical assessment – measuring blood pressure, and using a body fat scale to determine muscle mass, muscle quality, bone mass, visceral fat in addition to weight. Mine are all within the normal range, and I am most smug about having a metabolic age of 19, which without revealing my age, is highly complimentary.
The nutrition portion of the assessment is actually led by the resort’s executive chef himself, Edmond Kwan. Formerly at Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary & Holistic Spa in Koh Samui, he certainly knows the intricacies of spa cuisine. We briefly touch on my questionnaire responses, which indicate my eating habits to be fairly balanced. While a wellness menu is available, chef’s personal recommendation is going with the à la carte offerings, most of which are healthy anyway.
The first spa visit of the day is to experience the signature Natural Living Pepper treatment using Swedish techniques to realign the flow of energy to balance, using custom blended pepper-infused oil from the island. I take my post-pamper glow for the programme-prescribed daily smoothie at Beach Bar, overlooking the slightly overcast but heavenly beach before dinner.
Following Chef Kwan’s suggestion, Hylton and I share the seafood platter for two, which is as much a feast for the eyes with sublimely seasoned squid, crab, lobster, mussels, clams and fish. Having planned ahead I needn’t worry about being too full for the evening treatment, which is done face up. The Natural Aromatherapy Facial focuses on boosting hydration and stimulating cell renewal through the use of antioxidant-packed ingredients. So much indulgence I feel almost sheepish.
Calming Flow Yoga, held in a studio overlooking the river makes for a picturesque start. It’s a good introduction for anyone getting to grips with sun salutations, but first-timers may need more in the way of modifications and posture correction.
Secret Garden’s lavish breakfast buffet was too enticing to stick to my well-intentioned bircher muesli from the wellness menu, its glistening doughnuts and croissants screaming my name. I slightly redeem myself with pomelo salad at poolside eatery Pezca, though if I’m honest, Hylton’s recommendation of sweet potato fries was probably the highlight of lunch.
Pepper continues to be a major theme at the spa with the ‘Pepperation’ workshop in which I learn how to make a body scrub comprising rice powder, ground mung bean, turmeric, pepper (of course) and coconut oil.
This is followed by the Footprint in the Sand foot reflexology focusing on acupressure points to balance and reinvigorate.
Booked in for Fusion Fitness, essentially a workout in water, thankfully at the spa’s smaller, private pool, so no one can witness how long it takes me to run one from one end to the other doing high knees and butt kicks. Using the resistance of the water, my bodyweight and a floating noodle, the change of scene mixes things up. As with the morning’s yoga class, I am the only guest, so chances of a one-on-one session are high for those who prefer privacy.
Like clockwork I’m back at the Beach Bar for my smoothie, the outlet created with the sole purpose of admiring sunsets, and today’s is a stunner. Days tend to be short here and I eat early – tonight okra coconut stew with turmeric rice and bok choy from the wellness menu, before the much-anticipated second treatment.
Tonight’s pick is Tradition of Vietnam, which despite its name takes inspiration from Chinese Tui Na and Thai massage in addition to South Vietnamese techniques. Vigorous and using just the tiniest amount of oil, it’s an antidote to sore, overworked muscles, and perfect to cap off another incredible day.
This morning starts back in the studio with Suong for a Stretching Yoga class, which sounds deceptively easy. For the first time during the stay I am amongst other guests, two of whom appear not to have any experience and struggle with the more challenging poses, looking as if they may have benefitted from being given a beginner option. Perhaps best to join if you have a class or two under your belt already.
It’s amazing how quickly midday extravagance becomes part of the new norm, and hard to look past the Natural Living Pepper massage, which I manage to squeeze in another time. Afterwards at Pezca, salmon with pineapple sauce, cabbage and rice from the wellness menu hits the spot, providing fuel for a kayak down the river. Meandering around the resort could be considerd a moving meditation of sorts, the only noise being the swish of the oar, babble of the stream and odd bird squawk.
Actual meditation follows with Suong at the yoga studio, which she explains is designed to facilitate a good night’s rest. Lying on the mat with a pillow supporting my head, and her calming voice in my head telling me to let go proves too much – I peak early and crash. There’s not much of a sunset, but the smoothie has become habit, and there’s something soothing about sitting on the beach listening to rain pelt my umbrella.
The last supper consists of bánh xèo, a delicious seafood crepe wrapped in rice paper along with fresh greens and dipped in fish sauce. I may also have ordered chocolate cake. This encapsulates the experience – a wellness taster with a generous sprinkling of hedonism. So if you’re not ready for vegan and daily colonics just yet, consider this your more achievable stepping stone.