Hide And Seek Hedonism

Writer Stephanie Shiu | May 15, 2019

Even in well-loved tourist spots, seclusion is within grasp, and you needn’t venture far to find it. Trisara sits hillside, cloaked by lush forest, with enviable views of the Andaman Sea, yet lies 15 mere minutes from Phuket International Airport. Tucked within the picturesque cove shaded by palms, the resort’s appeal lies in subtle lavishness without the overwhelm, thanks to its boutique nature.

Each pool villa overlooks garden or ocean creating your own self-contained piece of paradise. Concealed by tropical foliage, teak and sunning decks become your backdrop whether breakfasting or sun worshipping, while traditional Thai interiors boast high ceilings and generous bathrooms with showers indoors and out. The luxury nooks were built to prioritise privacy, and are roomy enough – particularly if you’re escaping a spaced-starved city – to feel like a residence in its own right.

Sumptuousness has been part of the Trisara identity since its inception, but since then, offerings are increasingly geared towards the wellness-minded traveller. Gone are the days of flopping on a beach with a beer says Anthony Lark, managing director and general manager, who has seen thriving demand for active options. From Muay Thai to private tennis lessons and every water sport imaginable, resort pastimes reflect this new mindset. As an independent property, there are fewer layers of approval to work through, which is conducive to creative activities, which can then be more readily incorporated.

Moving On Up

An example of revamped fitness is Trisara’s version of beach bootcamp. I was asked to take off my trainers, and ushered towards the jetty instead, where a speedboat whisked me away to a nearby private beach. What could be more exclusive, and scenic, than a shoreline all to yourself, accessible for only a few hours a day during low tide?

Fluorescent fitness props contrast with the leafy greenery mirrored on the water’s surface, and trainer Khun Moss awaits at the most idyllic exercise set-up I’ve ever seen. Warming up with laps is hilarious while sinking into sodden sand, each footstep cavernous. A similar thing happens when attempting mountain climbers, a huge well forming at my feet; ‘climbing’ becomes
near impossible. Though uneven footing makes lunges, squats, planks and isometric holds atop a rock more challenging, taking in the elements while doing so makes time whizz by.

For a less intense and more cultural start to the day, Rue Sri Dat Ton, a little-known healing modality is Thailand’s answer to qigong or yoga, to boost vitality and relieve muscle aches through stretching and a series of postures. While courses are offered in Bangkok’s Watpo Thai Traditional Massage School, it’s on the cusp of becoming a lost art, so I relish the chance to learn the poses. Khun Maew, who also happens to be spa manager, closes the session with a walking meditation around the yoga sala. It is not a walk in nature as I anticipated, rather dissecting each step – from your heel lifting, to the foot being suspended mid-air before finally making contact with the ground again – a painstakingly slow exercise in mindfulness. Focusing solely on each movement distracted from the mozzies swarming around my legs lest I swat them and shatter my newfound Zen. 

Ease into evening with a yoga session with Khun Mam, who customises the practice, taking individual ability and preference into account. I favour the dynamism of vinyasa while my partner prefers the holds in hatha. She incorporates sun salutations as warm-up before moving into strength-based poses and balances so there’s something for each of us, expertly navigating the sequence around injuries. The invigorating session closes with breathing exercises for grounding, and we move with better fluidity afterwards.

Amazing Graze 

Refueling is a delight given the resort’s delicious fare, providing another excuse to avoid venturing out from your lair of luxury. Breakfast is served at The Deck, the resort’s all-day eatery, shaded by palms and perched over the beach, the demolition site of many a dragonfruit smoothie bowl and toffee Danish. On Sundays, the space buzzes with live jazz for its famous brunch consisting of seafood and barbecue favourites. 

Thai fare is not the usual pad Thai and green curry. Local restaurant, Seafood, prides itself on homestyle recipes passed down the generations, which you’d be hard-pressed to find outside households in the area. Mama’s Recipe Set Menu takes the agonising out of ordering so you can try everything. Standouts are the Phuket lobster with turmeric, salt, chilli, garlic and coriander, and vermicelli sautéed with water mimosa and shrimp oil. You’ll be stuffed, but the young coconut ice cream with traditional toppings of pumpkin, roasted peanuts and palm seeds is worth saving room for.

The culinary star though is Pru, Phuket’s only Michelin restaurant. All produce comes from its dedicated Pru Jampa farm, a 16,000sqm space on the northeast coast where vegetables, herbs and flowers are cultivated. Seafood and dairy products are also sourced locally. Unfortunately it was closed for Songkran during our visit, but is apparently so popular resort guests are not necessarily guaranteed a spot; reservations are therefore essential.

Spa Unravel

After immersing yourself in the healing properties of sea and sand, amping up your workout glow and being nourished with greens plucked from the land, there’s only one thing left to do in the pursuit of wellness – unwind at Jara Spa. Literally and figuratively centred around a ficus tree, its ethos is based on five pillars: Root, Trunk, Branch, Blossom and Spirituality. Like a plant, the soil requires looking after, its core calls for strength, and external beauty flourishes only once inner peace is instilled. 

As such each treatment aims to rejuvenate by balancing energy, providing stability and physical renewal while pleasuring the senses. Spa junkies are in for a treat with a selection of experiences comprehensive enough to combat the effects of hectic city life. Jara Pampering, as the name suggests, is their bestselling beauty-focused offering, comprising of
a Sodashi Body Scrub and Wrap, Samadara Facial, Four Hand Massage and mani-pedi, finishing with an aromatherapy bubble bath, champagne and chocolates served back in your villa. If health is your main concern, Jara Well-Being combines fitness in the form of yoga and a PT session
with relaxation through meditation and a Thai Luk Pra Kob Massage and Pure Radiance Facial. Both are six-hour extravaganzas.

The slightly shorter five-hour Jara Local incorporates Rue Sri Dat Ton and walking meditation, along with a Thai massage lesson. The Samunpai Scrub and Wrap was so heavenly I drifted off in my cocoon of jasmine, cananga, turmeric and plai immediately, and had to be woken to rinse off the skin-nourishing concoction in preparation for the Thai Thermal massage. The latter combines aromatherapy with heated Himalayan salt warmed in a traditional clay pot for a detoxing effect.

Only have time for a single treatment? The 90-minute Royal Trisara 6 Hands Massage marrying Swedish and acupressure techniques and the application of a warm herbal compress is our pick. The resort’s signature offering goes a step further with three therapists led seamlessly by a leader. Unlike four-hand massages, in which the slightest off stroke is noticeable, having three different sections of the body worked on feels strangely in sync. Best of all, with these lengthier treatments, six hours can be savoured at once or spread out during your stay so you can customise the experience. The resort’s intimate vibe and local slant on health-conscious offerings – understatedly indulgent at all times – gives it an edge. 

www.trisara.com

The luxury nooks were built to prioritise privacy, and are roomy enough – particularly if you’re escaping a spaced-starved city – to feel like a residence in its own right.
~ Stephanie Shiu