Skip to main content

A journey to find your sixth sense

By Phil Han, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Spa resort aims to provide guests with sense of well being and inner peace.
  • Holistic approaches are brought to the forefront with innovative treatments.
  • The resort is free of meat and guests dine on fishetarian spa menu.
  • Six Senses Sanctuary Spa is located off coast of Phuket, Thailand.
RELATED TOPICS

(CNN) -- The idea of leaving your Blackberry behind and switching off all your senses to the outside world is a hard concept for anyone, let alone someone like me who is constantly glued to a stream of twenty-four hour news.

Now we've all heard of the raft of day spas that dot most major cities around the world, but how much can we really unwind and find our true inner spirit with a four hour spa treatment?

If you truly want to take a stab at disconnecting from the outside world and have the chance to re-center your mind, body and spirit, more drastic measures are probably necessary.

You may have heard of the Six Senses brand of luxury hotel -- the boutique chain has properties in places like Oman, Vietnam and the Maldives, but one of their newest properties in Thailand is where you need to look if you want a chance at true relaxation.

The Six Senses Sanctuary Spa is located on a small island about 20 minutes off the coast of the popular tourist spot of Phuket, making it feel like it is literally in the middle of nowhere.

The resort believes in a few basic guidelines including no children, no alcohol and no mobile phones in public places.

The sanctuary as the brand calls it, also aims to offer guests a chance to enrich their lives through the complete immersion of a healthy diet and a string of structured programs ranging from early morning yoga class, dozens of spa treatments and countless exercise programs tailored to suit you.

On first glance it might not seem like much of a holiday with structured programs and a lack of alcohol, but after only five days the results spoke for themselves.

Immediately when you arrive at the dock, you are made to leave your outside life behind. Each guest bangs on a gong before entering the hotel which is to symbolize both your arrival and departure from two different worlds.

I was quickly brought to my spa inspired villa and shown what would be my home for the next four nights. There were no televisions or high tech gadgets, but instead, an emphasis had been placed on wellness and relaxation.

Each villa is equipped with a private plunge pool, steam room, outdoor shower and meditation sala -- all the things you could possibly need to unwind.

Also waiting for me would be the only thing I would be wearing around the resort -- my own set of organic cotton spa clothes -- a simple loose t-shirt and very baggy yoga pants. Now this is the way to travel so no need for heavy suitcases.

I was also given my 'schedule' for the next five days and after some initial hesitation I was reassured that this was only a suggested plan and I could do as little or as much as I wanted to.

"I was escorted to the tea sanctuary where I simply sat with a warm cup of ginger lemongrass tea and listened to the sound of frogs croaking in the surrounding pond."

My preferred way of getting around the island was with my personalized bicycle and that's just what I took to get to my very first scheduled stop -- a meeting with my wellness counselor who would help me structure what treatments I should take.

After divulging my habit of fast food meals, heavy drinking and somewhat stressful lifestyle, I was told that I needed to detox and unwind. She told me she didn't have the cure, but she definitely had the steps that would take me to where I should be.

My first appointment would be for a traditional Indian oil treatment called Ayurveda. The treatment involved the steady pouring of warm oil onto your forehead and is meant to help heal the mind and relax the soul. It felt absolutely amazing and after only a few minutes of the hypnotic dripping, I quickly floated off into a dream-like state that I had rarely felt before.

Immediately afterwards I had a more traditional detoxifying massage which helped rid my body of harmful toxins and gave my immune system a bit of a kick start.

At the end of the both treatments I was escorted to the tea sanctuary where I simply sat with a warm cup of ginger lemon grass tea on half a dozen cushions and listened to the sound of frogs croaking in the surrounding pond. This was my idea of bliss.

After only my first six hours of being at Six Senses, I felt years younger and in many ways, much happier. To think I had four more full days of this.

Other treatments included a traditional Hawaiian massage set to music called Lomi Lomi and a remarkable hot stone massage with rocks from the mountains of Nepal.

There are also the usual range of facials, body scrubs, soaks and even hydrotherapy colonics.

But perhaps the most interesting treatment I was able to take was something called Watsu. This is a remarkable treatment which is performed in a large swimming pool of warm water. The therapist supports your weight during the entire process and you are made to feel as if you are floating in mid-air. After only a few minutes in the water with my eyes closed, I quickly forgot where I was.

Some people say the treatment mirrors the feeling of a baby in their mother's womb and my therapist told me that some have even been brought to tears because of it.

Odd, but extremely relaxing and really a trip on the senses.

When it came to the food, the meals were divine... even if it was officially classified as low calorie spa food.

Delicious vegetables curries were immaculately presented and I don't think I have ever tasted food so fresh. On a number of occasions I would order second servings as it was just too good.

Head chef Bryan Burger knows what he's doing.

Fresh fish was a plenty and there were loads of amazing Thai inspired dishes that tasted like nothing I had had before. Breakfast included egg white omelettes, exotic fruit and freshly baked breads. Lunches were also ever changing and over the course of my stay, I never ate the same thing twice. All you can eat fresh sashimi sushi was probably my favorite.

Here's the catch though -- guests only have a choice between a fishetarian spa menu and raw food cuisine. That means no red meat, lamb, pork or chicken for you meat lovers out there.

The thing is, I didn't miss meat for a second and after one meal at the Six Senses Sanctuary spa, you probably won't either.

Instead of having the intoxicating feeling of being 'full' after lunch or dinner, I felt energized and ready to take on anything.

If you want to be able to take some of the 'food' home with you, Burger offers cooking classes in an underground cavern which is a highlight.

The resort has meditation salas dotted around the area making it far too easy to simply get lost in your own thoughts.

The wellness center is always open and welcoming and spa director Spring Chang is also available for a chat whenever you need someone.

She's an expert in what treatment will solve that pesky headache or upset stomach.

And if you think you've had enough with spa treatments and holistic well being you can always take a swim in the ocean, go for a bike ride around the island or if you so desire, escape on a day trip to Phuket.

But perhaps the most fundamental and important aspect about Six Senses is that the staff don't want you to forget what you learnt after setting off the island.

It really is about growing from the building blocks of a healthier life that started when you first got there and even though more than three months have passed since I left, I am still building on those lessons.

Hopefully one day I might find that sense of balance that some people call the sixth sense.