It took Asia, where the inclination is to bridge the body and the mind, to produce the ideas governing the modern spa. When Singapore’s Ho Kwon Ping first introduced Banyan Tree Resorts, he tapped into a need in many international travelers to alleviate the stress of modern life by reaching through sensual indulgence for spiritual goals at exactly that point where mere relaxation transcends into serenity.
Ho once said that, “the overriding drive of hotel operators should be to remain faithful to their local identities and provide an authentic experience of their heritage and culture.” For Banyan Tree, and the other spa brands that emerged to compete with it, that authenticity is often re-enforced in the spa treatments employed.
However spiritual, the trail that Ho blazed also has its material advantages. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the global wellness tourism market was worth $494 billion in 2013. The sector grew 74 percent faster than tourism overall from 2012 to 2013.
The first Banyan Tree opened in Phuket in 1994, and the brand reached a climax in Ho’s home town of Singapore with the Banyan Tree Spa Marina Bay Sands.
That spa is almost a laboratory of treatment innovation. The new spa menu recently added 17 new treatments to make 49 total treatments. It has 15 individually designed rooms with the sort of views you’d expect from the 55th floor of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, which is the highest Banyan Tree Spa in the world.
Available exclusively at Banyan Tree Spa Marina Bay Sands, Phuket, Bangkok and Samui, the Signature Master Therapist Experience draws upon an elite group of Master Therapists to tailor a 90-minute massage using signature Banyan Tree massage techniques. One Banyan Tree innovation, the 150-minute Tropical Rainmist, combines a Rainmist Steam Bath and cascading Rain Shower to uplift the senses as a prelude to the body treatment that follows.
The Banyan Tree Lang Cô is an all-pool villa resort, designed in the style of a royal Vietnamese court. The resort’s 90-minute Cajuput Healer treatment begins with a ginger jasmine rice enhancer made with ginger, jasmine rice, milk, olive oil and cajuput oil. The treatment enlivens and refreshes the skin.
Just an hour’s ferry ride from Singapore, the Banyan Tree Bintan offers the Javanese Lulur, a treatment usually reserved for Javanese brides before their wedding day. The 150-minute treatment purifies and conditions the skin with a Lulur body scrub, yogurt and fresh milk.
The Banyan Tree Bangkok’s 150-minute Banyan Toner, which is designed specifically for busy women, includes a body salt scrub followed by a toning massage to support muscle tone and reduce cellulite. The treatment culminates with an algae gel body wrap and facial to plump and rehydrate the skin, leaving it firm, smooth and glowing.