Sunrise hikes, incredible food, massages in your room, meditation classes, fitness classes from Muay Thai to circuits, and yoga. Sounds amazing right? Right. This was the dream ‘fitness holiday’ which I found while in Thailand in August.
A diet free, active holiday with all the elements of a trip that I love, Phuket Cleanse way surpassed my expectations.
Set in a little villa in a beautiful part of Phuket near Nai Harn beach, Stanton and Melanie, the retreat’s founders, have done an amazing job of creating a wellness holiday that meets everyone’s needs. From people going through radical life transformations, dealing with alcohol or food addiction, emotional or physical health issues, to the likes of those of us who see a 5am sunrise hike as worth every bit of pain of the early alarm, it really has something for everyone.
The daily schedules were crammed full of activities from high intensity interval classes and Muay Thai, to singing bowl meditations and lectures on topics from how to breathe better, how to understand your body type better and food addiction and emotional eating.
Every meal, served as a buffet, was nothing less than a feast, a taste sensation with themes from Moroccan to Thai. Everything is vegan and gluten free which made it a dream for me, when finding gluten free isn’t always easy when travelling, and for the protein cravers, salmon is also served with dinner. Everyone wins. There was certainly no walking away from the table hungry. The philosophy is simple; eat real food and enjoy it. The staff want you to see that healthy eating isn’t bland salads but an array of colours, textures and flavours.
While you can go there and be on a more structured or strict programme, we simply ate everything, drank our morning coffees, had no restrictions and if anything, got some more inspiration for things to cook back home. Ingredients are labelled on all the food as the idea is to help you learn and grow, not to hold any details back.
The training philosophy also won my heart. There is no such thing as boot camp mentality here. No blasting or smashing your body, but a sensible programme of high intensity exercise after breakfast in the morning, then recovery activities after lunch from stand up paddle boarding to cycling. Staff simply don’t allow guests to do more than one intense class a day but want to ensure you stay injury free, and able to keep the activity levels sustainable each day. You can also recover with the infrared sauna, magnesium steam room and ice bath; a lesson in the importance of breathing if ever there was one.
All too often, fitness holidays, detox retreats, weight loss camps, are horrific. They get results in a short time and send the participants home broken mentally and physically, and mostly, all the hard work soon unravels, but this place is truly setting you up with the tools to take this back home with you.
The educational aspect for me is what truly set Phuket Cleanse apart. I love learning more about my body, about how to maximise this amazing machine we live in, and let’s face it, we can never stop learning as our bodies are constantly changing through different periods in our life; through stress, through pregnancy, grief, etc.
So what’s the lowdown?
Where: Rawai, Phuket
When: High season starts in around October and lasts until around February. I travelled in August which technically is ‘monsoon season’ but it was dry mostly. Even when there is rain, you’re so immersed in things to do that the weather, rain or shine, makes no difference to your experience, in my opinion.
How much: One adult full board, all inclusive, starts at $3,000 for a week, $5,000 for two sharing.
Who: For the already dedicated fitties / those needing a radical life overhaul / couples / single travellers / friends.
How long: Guests stay anywhere from three days to three months. It depends on your goals, your travel plans and your budget.
Getting around: During your stay there is so much to do, you may not even want to leave the programme, but hiring scooters and cars around the area is cheap and easy. You are a 10-15 minute drive from the beach and shops.