Beyond the Senses
The Phuket Gazette.
For seven years in the 1990s the once-prolific rock star Prince underwent a well-publicized identity crisis. He changed his name to a symbol. That never quite caught on, leaving people to just call him "The artist formerly known as Prince". Very soon after he was simply called -Tafnap-.
Recently undergoing an identity metamorphosis of its own is the Six Senses Destination Spa on nearby Naka Yai island. However, they have done a much better job of it than ol' Tafnap.
The vast majority of global hotel chains suffer from a corporate culture obsessive-compulsive disorder. Each property they manage must fit into a box. For them, the property must be either economy, midscale, upscale, luxury, resort, hotel, retreat and/or boutique. That's their "box".
If they come across one that doesn't fit into their box – square peg, round hole comes to mind – well, it's nothing that a hammer can't make short work of fitting it into a pigeonhole where it was not intended to be in the first place.
Likewise, hoteliers are often staid and more often than not find it difficult to leave the warmth and comfort of "life in the box".
Every now and then they take a few cautious steps outside their comfort zone, but that usually ends up in them stampeding – not tip-toeing -back their safe little world.
But a brave few don't turn back. These trail blazers head into the unknown. Enter the Six Senses team.
For those not in the know, the Six Senses is one of Phuket's most innovative, creative and inspirational properties to come along in years.
What remains a mystery is why it's rarely mentioned, or has the same buzz as many of the well-heeled, well-known resorts on the west coast have.
Is it the east coast inferiority complex coming to the fore? Or more likely both customers and travelers not knowing what a “destination spa” is all about.
Things are changing, though, with General Manager Lionel Valla at the helm and a name change to Six Senses Sanctuary Phuket.
The reinvention combines a wellness retreat, spa treatments, fitness programs in lush natural surroundings.
Organic gardens are grown to feed menus developed by world-class chefs specializing in raw food, fishtarian dishes (no meat and no eggs) and some meat dishes.
This may sound a bit niche and perhaps a little touchy feely, but frankly speaking the property taps into a market that is becoming increasingly more health conscious.
And yes, there are still those wonderful private pool villas, massages and the accouterments of what Thailand does best – bare-foot luxury.
As part of the new name game, the resort is offering Thai resident rates until December 26. So for an overnight stay, a weekend get-away or some private time, Naka Island is closer than you think.
Steven Roberto of Ambrose Wines just returned from a stay and my ear is ringing with all the praises for what he considered to be one of his top hotel experiences ever.
Word is that a series of special wine dinners will be on offer in the coming months as well.
For me, I've always considered the resort to be one of the best in the region and hopefully with its new identity, more visitors will take a bold leap forward into the unknown instead of a vanilla holiday with four walls, wash basin and a bed.