Thursday 11 November 2010

Steamy Windows: water sports for adults

All guests at the new Banyan Tree Samui are entitled to a one-hour Rainforest Experience session in the spa, according to the in-room materials.

Yeah, whatever, I'm more interested in kayaking, snorkelling or just lazing around the plunge pool in the villa. Or even just staying in bed in our villa, it's so damn comfortable.

But at the urging of my companion, we hop on the golf buggy to the spa. The buggy ride in itself is an adventure, as the gradients on this 89-rai block of seaside land verge on the vertical at times. I'm sure this guy was a stunt driver in Police Academy! In fact, this remarkably steep hotel site was chosen for the propitious 'Turtle Rock' which the owner believes will bestow long life on all guests. It is a feat of engineering in itself that the resort was built within just 2 1/2 years, as all the buildings are propped up on pillars to maximise their outlook over the South China Sea.

Wooooooo! Weeheeee! We are like kids on a roller-coaster at a summer carnival. Screech! The buggy deposits us at the Spa.

The receptionist gives us an overview of the Rainforest Experience, a signature innovation first introduced to the chain's property in Sanya in 2008, and subsequently rolled out to a few new properties including Samui.

'Ten unique hydrothermal therapy experiences,' the receptionist tells us. Indoor water sports for adults is my translation.

First off, you walk down a pebbled corridor, lined with bamboo. Sensors are activated and you are showered with alternately hot and cold jets, like a monsoonal downpour. Then you enter the main chamber where Enya-esque music soothes your inner beast. 

Here, a series of herbal saunas, steam rooms, showers, drench buckets, and hydro-massagers await you. We were given suggestions on how long to linger in each, but it's up to you to tailor your experience how you want. I love the herbal steam, and revisit that a couple of times. My companion spends far too long (I think) in a shower that directs jets of water at strategic parts of her body that are not usually massaged in public, jing jing

To my disappointment, I find the jets of water aimed too low to do me any similar good!

Then out of the sauna and we pour crushed ice cubes over each other, and slip the odd one down each others' costumes.

Next it's into the warm pool, where we fire up a range of massagers that bubble and squirt and pour and gush water at various angles. I love the sensation on my neck especially. We move along the pool and lie on submerged recliners, as our bodies are tickled by gentle streams of water. Finally we reach the last station, which are raised day beds, heated to more than body temperature. The smiling assistant brings us a drink as we lie there.

Then I notice a funny thing. Both of our chests are heaving. As though we've been, um, how shall I say this ... exerting ourselves. Our hearts are both thumping. So all this hot-cold, in-out, round-a-bout treatment has really got our blood pumping.

We feel wonderfully alive after our trip to the Rainforest ...and we still have the buggy-ride back to look forward to!

Stu travelled to Koh Samui with assistance from Bangkok Airways

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