Situated at Bang Tao Bay on the north western coast of Phuket Island, Banyan Tree Phuket is tucked away in a tranquil corner of the Laguna Phuket property, Asia’s first integrated resort.
Before I head to the Spa to indulge in a Banyan Tree Phuket signature treatment, I am first paying a visit to the Banyan Tree Spa Academy to get an insight into the philosophy behind this initiative and to experience the training facilities firsthand. The first of its kind in Thailand, this Academy was opened in May 2001 with the objective to train competent therapists to meet the demands of the Banyan Tree Spa’s rapid worldwide expansion. It is evident that the extensive training and development of its therapists are of utmost importance, along with upholding their accreditation by complying with industry standards and practices. One of the company’s corporate social responsibility missions is to “Empower People” and Banyan Tree Spa Academy was clearly set up with this mission in mind.
My visit begins with Pimsiri (Senior Marketing Services Executive), Savittree (Training Manager) and Kanjana (Trainer) giving me a tour of the Academy facilities which included human anatomy classes, massage/treatment training rooms, English classes and the kitchen area where students learn how the properties of different natural herbs and spices compliment and mix with the spa treatment products. The training programme encompasses all areas of spa therapy. To date, the Spa Academy has trained over 1,900 therapists for all Banyan Tree Spas and Angsana Spas globally. All therapists have the opportunity to periodically return to the Academy for ongoing training to keep improving on their skills.
Next I was privileged to have a practical session on Thai massage skills with the three delightful ladies mentioned above. Much to my surprise, I was asked to change into a full therapist uniform. It was at that moment I realised that this visit was going to be more “hands-on” than I had first anticipated!
The session started with a discussion on the importance of meditation for the therapists. This is practiced so the therapist has a complete sense of calm before commencing any treatment with a client. I loved this concept because it’s beneficial to both the client and the therapist. Savittree went through a range of exercises with me designed to strengthen the thumbs, hands and arms, specifically tailored to ensure that the therapist can sustain strength throughout the entire massage.
With Kanjana happily volunteering to be my client, she makes herself comfortable on the massage table so we can begin my Thai massage technique training. Thai massage blends rhythmic massaging with subtle stretching and compressions to stimulate energy flow. After I have learned a range of these technical moves, I am thinking that Kanjana is one brave lady letting me experiment on her! Starting at her feet, then legs, I am guided from standing with my feet on the floor, to “seamlessly” moving up onto the massage table, something that is harder to do than it sounds! Working through the muscles along the spine and shoulders, we finish with the traditional spine stretch. It’s fascinating to learn that the body has so many intricate areas that require such detailed, focused attention.
At the completion of my session, I have to say I certainly have a new appreciation of the Academy’s dedication and commitment to excellence, and I will definitely have more admiration for the therapist and their skills upon my next treatment.
A very special thank you to Renee (Director of Marketing Communications) for making the Academy experience for Golf Kitchen possible. I am looking forward to indulging in one of the signature spa treatments, “The Royal Banyan”. To Pimsiri, Savittree and Kanjana, I really appreciate you for taking the time to show me a comprehensive and very insightful overview of the Spa Academy. What a memorable experience!