I travelled to Thailand for a wellness retreat. Here’s how it went

I travelled to Thailand for a wellness retreat. This is how it went

Imagine a serene tropical setting coupled with daily yoga sessions, meditation classes, healthy meals, and spa treatments – these were just some of the highlights of the program I did at Absolute Sanctuary, a wellness retreat on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand.

The retreat is designed to provide guests the space to reconnect, recharge, revitalise and re-energise.

I was here to experience the five-day reformer Pilates program, as a new and excited convert to the practice. In case you’re wondering, reformer Pilates uses a reformer machine – a sliding bed attached to springs that increase or decrease the level of intensity – to offer a dynamic, full-body workout that focuses on strengthening and toning.

After a series of flights from Melbourne, I landed in the tropical open-air airport of Samui, a small island in the Gulf of Thailand. After I collected my luggage and made a quick change into tropical weather appropriate attire, I was greeted by the Absolute Sanctuary driver who had a warm smile and, thankfully, an air-conditioned SUV.

Absolute Sanctuary wellness retreat Thailand
Absolute Sanctuary wellness retreat Thailand
Absolute Sanctuary wellness retreat Thailand

Introduction to the wellness retreat

Following a 20-minute drive to the retreat, I was warmly welcomed by the staff, who handed me a cool towel and a welcome drink (non-alcoholic, of course – this is a wellness retreat after all).

The check-in formalities took place and my luggage was whisked away to my room as I was treated to a tour of the entire resort which featured a pool, yoga studio, sauna, day spa, Pilates room, cafe, juice bar, lounge and gym.

Along the way, I was introduced to the health practitioner Aurelie, who ran a simple health check to review my blood pressure, weight and height, followed by a quick chat about my lifestyle.

With the grounds tour complete, I headed to my room which would be home for the next six nights. I had a few minutes to take in my new surroundings – an inviting freestanding bathtub, a crisply made king size bed, and complimentary water, tote bag and yoga mat.

There was no time for lounging around though, as I was due in the Pilates studio for a foundation class. This was to prepare for the program which would begin the following day. Here I met Kevin, who would take me through the next five days of classes. He gave me detailed instructions and shared the language of Pilates, showing me how to adjust the reformer machine and my body for specific movements.

The program was fully inclusive of meals, and on my first evening I enjoyed a healthy dinner at the on-site Love Cafe. I then headed to bed to rest, conceding that my program looked like a marathon, not a sprint.

Absolute Sanctuary wellness retreat Thailand
Absolute Sanctuary wellness retreat Thailand
Absolute Sanctuary wellness retreat Thailand

What to expect from the fitness and wellness program

Day one began with an optional meditation class which I thought might position me well for the schedule ahead. The class was held indoors, due to a tropical downpour, and was followed by a relaxing yoga class.

Feeling very zen, next on the program was the morning session of reformer Pilates. Kevin was a strict instructor yet accommodating to ensure all participants could join in through varying levels of difficulty.

A short break in the program allowed for lunch and an inclusive visit to the day spa for a relaxation massage. Another reformer Pilates session in the afternoon and I had successfully made it through the first day.

The fitness elements of the program repeated for the next three days of the retreat, which was an intense but rewarding routine to get used to.

Dotted throughout the program were various spa treatments including a traditional Thai massage where you don lovely cotton pyjamas and are gently stretched on an open-air daybed.

Absolute Sanctuary wellness retreat Thailand
Absolute Sanctuary wellness retreat Thailand
Absolute Sanctuary wellness retreat Thailand

Free time and extra activities

Between program breaks I was able to take some time for relaxation by the pool and enjoy the sunshine as I sipped on fresh coconut water – supplied directly from a coconut.

In the evening, the retreat offered a complimentary bus trip to the local night market. This excursion took me into town to do some shopping and enjoy local street food.

The resort was walking distance from the beach so, on occasion, I added a morning beach walk to see the sunrise over the ocean.

The resort also offered other excursions including a temple tour and a visit to Choengmong Beach, and I was able to fit these into my program. There were also a series of talks and workshops available to guests, such as an introduction to yoga nidra, astrology and palmistry.

Absolute Sanctuary wellness retreat Thailand
Absolute Sanctuary wellness retreat Thailand
Absolute Sanctuary wellness retreat Thailand

The perfect balance of fitness and relaxation

I made it unscathed to the final day after bending and stretching my way through reformer Pilates and yoga classes. The remaining time allowed for recovery and relaxation, including one last massage before the flight home.

I enjoyed my last colourful smoothie and delicious healthy lunch of my favourite menu items – a vegetable burrito and fresh baked carrot cake – and bid farewell to the lovely staff.

The verdict? I’d highly recommend a wellness program such as the one offered at Absolute Sanctuary. There was the perfect balance of relaxation and fitness, with a strong focus on tailoring the workouts to each individual’s goals.

The convenience of the inclusive package which included all meals, spa treatments and fitness classes, made it easy to focus on self-care. I walked away from the retreat feeling refreshed and reformer Pilates initiated, able to return to reality and continue these wellness practices in my daily life.

Disclaimer: The writer was a guest of Absolute Sanctuary for the five-day reformer Pilates bootcamp.

Danielle Phyland - writer - SHE DEFINED

Danielle Phyland

Danielle Phyland is an avid traveller and loves to explore all corners of the globe.

With a professional career in tourism and business development, she loves experiencing the hospitality of local businesses.

A casual crafter and passionate home cook, Danielle is based in the creative northern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.