Set on a sprawling 89 acres of land, Banyan Tree Phuket is an extensive haven of luxurious villas and lush greenery. But it never used to be that way. What now stands as a remarkable paradise was once an abandoned tin mine before the establishment of the luxury resort in 1994. Today, the abandoned tin mine at Bangtao Bay, Phuket, is a developed integrated resort complex known as Laguna Phuket that houses a number of hotels from Banyan Tree Phuket to Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket. As the first Banyan Tree Resort, its construction marked the beginning of a legacy. To date, Banyan Tree Group has developed to encompass over 70 hotels and resorts around the world, with plenty more on the way.
Banyan Tree Phuket’s villas are inspired by Thai architecture, with steeply inclined roofs and open-air spaces. Nestled around the saltwater lagoon of Laguna Phuket, the resort was envisioned with the concept of pool villas at its core—a vision thought out of necessity when the beachfront spaces were fully occupied by other properties. Each lavish villa has a private pool, offering guests the perfect tropical retreat with a sense of intimacy. Guests may elevate their experience by booking one of the DoublePool Villas that spans a vast 1,300sqm. Each villa is surrounded by a wading pool and a 15m infinity pool that overlooks the serene lagoon.
The flight to Phuket may not have been long but I was in dire need of a spa regardless. The spa rooms are designed as quaint pavilions, creating a secluded oasis that offered me liberation and privacy. The award-winning spa focuses on holistic healing and incorporates ancient health and beauty practices that have been passed down for generations. From floatation therapy to delicate stretching techniques, Banyan Tree Phuket has them all. Other wellness experiences include an apothecary workshop, yoga, meditation in the form of ‘grounding’ and a Thai cooking class.
Beyond its wellbeing activities, the resort offers an array of restaurants to explore. Saffron, a Banyan Tree signature restaurant, provides authentic Thai flavours with a unique modern twist that more than satisfied my cravings. The red curry with crab meat and Phad Kaprao Nua (wok-fried Australian beef tenderloin with basil and chilli) in particular had my heart. The Watercourt, which overlooks the Lagoon, is also worth checking out for its Phuketian seafood dinner. Meanwhile, Veya is unlike any other restaurants in Phuket, offering a unique dining concept concentrated on conscious and plant-forward cuisine.
A breakfast buffet is available as usual but Banyan Tree Phuket knows how to take it up a notch. Forget breakfast in bed—breakfast in the pool is the way to do it here. The in-villa floating breakfast, available in either Asian or Western style, is not just a feast for the senses but one for the eyes too. It’s the textbook definition of an Instagram-worthy moment.
Cherishing Timeless Heritage
Last year, Banyan Tree Group launched its Stay For Good programme, which aims to provide travellers with authentic and immersive experiences. This initiative comes with a commitment to foster a deeper connection with each destination. Dedicated to honouring the heritage and traditions of the local culture, the programme offers an active contribution to create more opportunities for its local communities. “We believe that travel should be about more than just a vacation. It should be an opportunity to explore new perspectives, gain fresh inspiration, and immerse oneself in the culture and heritage of the places we visit,” says Adhiyanto Goen, head of communications of Banyan Tree Group. “Our Stay For Good programme offers just that—an opportunity to connect with local communities and contribute to the sustenance of their precious heritage.”
Shortly after breakfast, I embark on my Stay For Good journey by exploring the vibrant coastal village of Bangtao. Along the way, I stop for a coconut drink and sample some of the local fruits as well as a delicious organic herbed rice—a Southern Thailand delicacy known for its nutritional and medicinal properties. Soon after, I take a ‘leisurely’ trek up a hill where I bask in the panoramic views of Phuket (after much heaving and breathing). There, I spot local red mud crabs, which are a testament to the community’s commitment to the preservation of its ecosystem.
Although I’m not able to explore it all, Banyan Tree has a lot more to offer in its Stay For Good programme. For those into art and architecture, Phuket Old Town is a unique hub filled with brightly painted, century-old Sino-Portugese townhouses. Guests can also visit the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary or participate in Tak Bat, also known as alms giving, which helps to support the local monastic community. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can even discover the local market in Pasak and explore the grounds of Muang Temple. The options are endless.
That night, a barbecue dinner is arranged in a two-bedroom DoublePool villa. It is a delightful feast of delicacies next to the free flow of alcohol and coconut, which are always more than welcome. As the night comes to an end, the lingering aroma of sizzling flavours intertwined with the gentle night breeze creates the perfect culmination of an idyllic retreat. What I’d give to be back in that pool, sipping a Mimosa once more.
More photos of Banyan Tree Phuket