I was fortunate to visit the Banyan Tree, Sanya (China), as they had kindly agreed to host a one-day spa management conference for Wynne Business. This beautiful property is comprised of a huge and dramatic pavilion/lobby with open-air restaurants and bars on several levels and winding walkways leading to the 49 villas. After a day of teaching, I was looking forward to enjoying a spa service at one of the largest spas in the region.
My treatment began with the Hydrotherapy Experience circuit of water treatments, one of only two in the entire Banyan Tree chain and certainly the most elaborate water amenity area in Hainan—in fact, the resort won an award for this very feature at the Spa China Awards earlier that week. To begin, my Thai therapist, Kitty helped me into a sarong. The first step is the Rain Shower Corridor, a succession of five different showers in a tiled hallway; you step under each one in succession, and enjoy the varying pressures and sprays. This step lasts a few minutes, and you are now fully drenched. Next, Kitty escorted me into a Thai Herbal Steam chamber, a completely tiled room where she had set up a towel on a bench for me. Once she had me settled in the warm, fragrant steam, she brought me a bottle of cold water and a washcloth encrusted with ice. She also left me with a Tibetan chime and instructed me to ring it when I was ready to move to the next step. The next step was a Swiss shower and the Warm Dip Pool. After a relaxing soak in the hot bubbling water, I moved to the Spa Jet Pool, which was temperate water and also had four hydro-massage jets arcing out of the wall above the level of the water, so you could position yourself for a nice head, neck, and shoulder massage.
After these soaks, I was escorted to the Hammam room. While it was designed with a belly stone in the center, it was more of a steam room with tiled seating around the sides. When I was finished steaming, Kitty escorted me to the warm shower. After this final cleansing, I changed into a robe and slippers and sat in the relaxation area, sipping tea and gazing at the water wall. Now it was time to move onto the hands-on portion of the treatment, so Kitty escorted me outside to the treatment villas, of which there are eight ringing a small lake. Each Villa has two separate treatment suites, each containing a large treatment room with two tables, a shower, a toilet, a seating area, and another adjoining room which houses either two vichy tables or a Thai massage mat. The two sides of each Villa are connected by a kitchen/dispensary containing all of the back-of-house needs. The back wall of the villa is floor to ceiling glass, covered with sheer curtains, with the option of black-out curtains as well. There is also a large outdoor tub, set into the waters of the lake, which is reached by a few stepping stones. The treatment rooms are named for local flowers, such as chrysanthemum and osmanthus.
Kitty seated me in a comfortable chair, which was surrounded by orchids. She offered me a beverage, and then I was shown a tray of seven different varieties of incense and I was able to choose the one that I wanted (bergamot). My treatment began with a relaxing footbath, after which Kitty escorted me onto one of the treatment tables. She performed a full body scrub, and then let me relax while she prepared a shower. After rinsing, I returned to the table for an incredibly relaxing Balinese massage. In the Thai fashion, Kitty’s size belied her strength; she performed a complete body massage, scalp massage, then massage of each of my feet, with a combination of effleurage and pressure points, actually climbing onto the table and using her body weight on occasion, and after two hours of working on me, did not appear to be the least bit tired. She was warm and gracious throughout, regularly inquiring as to my comfort and needs. After the service was completed, she again seated me in the comfy chair and brought me a bowl of chopped fruit with some yogurt to pour over it, a delicious snack which I enjoyed as she neatened up the treatment room.
Spa Director Annie Jiang and her team are very well-trained and prepared to deliver the ultimate in guest care. After my service, I was so relaxed I asked for one of the ubiquitous electric buggies to drive me back to my villa so I could melt by my personal pool. The Banyan Tree Sanya definitely provided a high-quality, polite, and friendly staff and spectacular property, and I hope to return in the future.—Written by Lisa Starr, who is in China to attend the China Spa Summit