18 May, 2012

Urban Sanctuary at Banyan Tree Macau

18 May, 2012

My husband (we will call him P.) thought I was insane when I first brought up the idea of a staycation a few years ago. He deemed it ridiculous, a waste of money and absolutely no fun to holiday in your own town.

I knew deep down he would come around someday to the loveliness that is getting away without really going anywhere and recently my someday came. All I needed to do was add 5 letters to the front of staycation to make him weak in the knees and to say yes immediately to my getaway request. Just a small little whisper of Macau had him S-O-L-D, sold and with that our little holiday to the Banyan Tree Macau was born.

Being that Macau is only an hour away made it pretty flexible for our plan to get over there. I selfishly decided to take a half-day on a Friday so I could get pampered in the spa so I made my way over after lunch while P. (poor guy) worked a full day.  Please note, that the poor guy later spent hours gambling the next day (his second true love after me) so I am not feeling too sorry for the man.

The trip over couldn’t have been easier. I managed to get in a bit of work to end my day on the ferry ride over (tip: purchase first class for $50 more for extra room + food!) and once I arrived I whizzed through immigration and jumped right on the bus headed to The Galaxy complex, which is home to the Banyan Tree, Hotel Okura and The Galaxy hotel.

Upon check-in I was greeted by the friendly desk staff in the traditional Thai way that almost made me feel like I just landed in Bangkok. The next thing I knew I was opening the door to my amazing Grand Cotai suite (all the rooms in Banyan Tree are suites!) and right then and there my jaw dropped to the ground. I have heard about the pools in all the Banyan Tree Macau rooms but honestly I never believed they actually did exist. Well, my dear Sassy readers, it is true. My room, and all others I promise you, had a relaxation plunge pool that spanned half of the length of the room.

After getting myself situated in my room, I headed down to the spa for my 2-hour pampering treatment. My word of advice is this. If you can’t splurge on both the hotel and the spa and can only pick one then you must try the spa. It is the definition of an urban sanctuary. Walking back to the treatment room area you go through a bamboo garden courtyard that is identical to something you would see on a beautiful island resort in Phuket. The Banyan Tree spa specializes in making each treatment feel unique and special to each guest. The treatments are inspired by the Chinese Five Elements healing philosophy so you can tap into your own individual needs and pick a treatment that feels right for you on that specific day and the treatment rooms also come with some personal decision making as well. You can select the type of music you want to get you feeling uber relaxed and they have a list of different types of incense they can burn that will help ease specific ailments such as tiredness, stress and anxiety.

Each treatment at Banyan Tree Spa comes with 30 minutes of calm time, which includes a foot bath before and tea with fruit and yogurt after. I had the Classic Rejuvenation treatment which included a 30-minute body scrub followed by an hour massage. Whenever I get a scrub I typically always want to jump right ahead to the massage but I have to say that this one ranked pretty high on my list of scrubs. After the scrub and a quick visit to the steam room followed by a shower I emerged back into the room for my hour massage. Everything was incredible, the strokes of the masseuse were perfect so if I had to say anything picky about the treatment it is that I have become a Kashwere* snob and the only thing missing from a near perfect experience for me might have been the presence of a Kashwere blanket on the massage table and a Kashwere robe to put on my body.  Purely a snobby comment on my end as everything is pretty much up to A+ standards already.

After getting my relaxation on I needed to make a quick pit stop before P. arrived in town. You see, part of my excitement for this tip to Macau was that I was finally able to get my hands on the Happy Bag from Dooney and Bourke that Sabrina wrote about a few weeks ago. As soon as I saw it I became obsessed and have been anxiously awaiting this trip so I could finally make it mine. Dooney and Bourke is located in the Venetian shops so all I did was jump in a cab and make my way straight to the store like a woman on a misson. Within 40 minutes I was back in my room with my new aqua Happy Bag in hand. With about 20 minutes to spare before P. arrived, I popped on my swimsuit and swam around my private plunge pool with a ridiculous smile on my face, happy that it was Friday.

We had made plans to see House of Dancing Water that night, which I highly recommend, so once P. arrived to the room and he oohed and aahed over the amazingness of it we jetted off to the City of Dreams for the show. We really had no intention of making it a big night so after the show was over we both looked at each other and said —- room service! We raced back to the hotel room, jumped into our robes, popped open a bottle of wine and ordered our dinner. It was so nice to just chill in the suite’s living room with a glass of wine in hand and just relax together away from the craziness of Hong Kong.

The next morning we woke up and made our way down to the complimentary breakfast, which was a nice display of eggs, bacon, cereal, noodles, you name it. After a light meal and coffee we went for a quick visit to the hotel pool before we needed to check out.  The hotel pool is enormous and they have a pretty strict policy that it is only for hotel guests so chances are you will only ever see it if you stay at one of the Galaxy properties. I have stayed in other Macau hotels before and this pool is on another level.  The Galaxy has definitely set the bar high when it comes to doing things right and making you feel like you are far, far away from the casinos.

After a quick shower and a sad goodbye to our suite we checked out but not before enjoying a nice lunch at Saffron, The Banyan Tree’s main restaurant. The specialty at Saffron is Thai cuisine and for lunch they offer a set menu or you can order a la carte. I went for the trusty Pad Thai, which was very generous serving, while P. enjoyed the set lunch, which included three courses (appetizer, entrée and dessert). The waitresses were really attentive and I loved how they brought me an empty bowel in case P. wanted to share any of his soup with me. I thought that was a nice touch and it forced him to be nice and share!

All in all our staycation at the Banyan Tree Macau was really lovely. We now are planning on doing a Macau staycation there every three months or so and our current plan is to do a quiet night by ourselves followed by a big night the next night with friends (that is what they call ying and yang baby!).

Also, I will leave you with this. If you can spare the time off then definitely do the half-day on Friday, as it feels so good to get a head start on the weekend and most definitely stay at Banyan Tree Macau. It is the most wonderful sanctuary right smack in the middle of buzzing Macau.

* I have no affiliation to Kashwere, I swear, I just really, really like the brand!

SASSY DEAL: Enjoy one complimentary Afternoon tea when booking a room under Banyan Tree’s Best Available Rate. The offer period is from 18 May 2012 – 30 June 2012 and is valid on Weekdays Only. Please provide the code “BTCNMCSAS” when making your reservation on www.banyantree.com

Banyan Tree Macau, www.banyantree.com, Classic Rejuvination Treatment is priced at $1,600 for 2 hours (90 minutes of treatment, 30 minutes of relaxation).

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