If, like me, you tend to pull a face and shrug when Macau is mooted as a weekend break, then you may want to read on as we’ve uncovered a very Sassy staycation that is a million miles away from the brash bling and bright lights of the casinos.
The Banyan Tree is well known as a spa resort, with properties typically situated in areas of natural beauty such as the Seychelles and Thailand. This makes the fact that they’ve picked the humungous Galaxy resort as their Macau outpost all the more remarkable. Put simply, there is nowhere quite like this in the rest of Cotai casino-land, and from the moment you walk through the doors you’re transported to a tranquil retreat. From the décor, to the spa-scented air, to the discreet music, this place screams (or should that be murmurs?) refined relaxation.
Rooms at The Banyan Tree are both huge, and almost absurdly luxurious. My standard Grand Cotai Suite came complete with a vast bed that was around the same size as my entire Hong Kong bedroom, a plush, pillow-strewn lounge area, a deep Japanese onsen-style wooden soaking tub, and most insanely lavish of all – an in-room relaxation pool; perfectly heated to a constant 27 degrees, and measuring a good 4 or so metres in length. Just. Wow.
I managed to tear myself away from the room briefly, to check out the large indoor pool on 31st floor for a few laps, and although I’d heard that Saffron, The Banyan Tree’s Thai restaurant, is well worth a visit, the lure of a robe and slippers was just too great and so room service and a soak in the pool with a book won the day.
I did get to Saffron for breakfast the following morning, where the buffet offered a good Chinese and Western selection with fresh cut fruit galore, and all the usual hot and cold options. I even noticed bottles of Prosecco at the juice bar – presumably for those starting their day with a celebration after a big win at Galaxy the night before!
After breakfast and a quick swim in the stunning outdoor pool, it was time to head to The Banyan Tree Spa to maximise on the relaxing holiday vibe. Obviously, being renowned for their spas, this was always going to be something special. The décor is reminiscent of a Thai pavilion, with a live bamboo garden growing in the centre of an indoor courtyard, water features gently tinkling away in the background, and large sofas to lounge on whilst sipping tea. Treatment rooms are spacious, and bathrooms feature steam showers to help you start un-knotting your body before you hop onto the massage table.
I opted for the Summer Spa package, which consisted of a 60-minute long massage plus a 30-minute long facial, although you can also opt for a body scrub if you need to get bikini-smooth in a hurry. Both facial and massage can be tailored according to preference, and suffering as I do from ‘writer’s slouch’, (a self-diagnosed condition gained from slaving away over a hot laptop!), I selected the Lomi Lomi masasage. This firm treatment sees the therapist using their forearms and even elbows to deliver a really deep tissue massage and rid you of stubborn knots. While at times the massage was (predictably) a little intense, my therapist was super-attentive, checking constantly that I was comfortable and adjusting the pressure to make it bearable. In fact, it was more than bearable… it was heavenly, and I quickly zoned out while I made the most of the pleasant pummelling. Massage transitioned seamlessly into facial, which included a thorough cleansing, scrub, massage with oil and finished off with a light and easily-absorbed moisturiser which left me glowing and ready to go sans makeup.
After all that indulgent relaxation, I was pretty reluctant to head back to the ferry, so I lingered a little longer for the second part of the spa package – afternoon tea in the Banyan Lounge. With traditional English, Macanese or Chinese tea menus on offer, this makes for something a little different to the usual scones-and-cream option. Presentation-wise, the tea was something to behold, as the light-as-a-feather cakes were served not on a cake stand, but suspended in a birdcage above my table. It really doesn’t come much more girly than this, and my only regret was that I couldn’t quite manage a second chocolate mendiant before calling it quits.
If you’re looking for a total immersion relaxation experience, they don’t come much better than a stay at The Banyan Tree. There is no need to let the outside world penetrate your Zen calm, even for a moment, but if you do want a little more buzz, then the Galaxy complex is right there on your doorstep, offering dining and shopping options galore, not to mention the gambling tables if want to let out your inner high-roller.
This would make for the perfect mama’s weekend away, a couples retreat away from the munchkins, or even a family stay for those with slightly older kids, as the capacious rooms allow for flexible sleeping options with enough privacy for everyone. Alternatively, like me, arrive alone and immerse yourself in a whole 24 hours of peace and pampering. Bliss.
Rooms start from MOP 2599 per night for a Grand Cotai Suite. The Banyan Tree Summer Spa Package costs MOP 1600, and includes a choice of body scrub, or facial, plus a massage, followed by a Spa Afternoon Tea set at the Banyan Lounge. For more information, check out the website.