I was so impressed with my recent stay at Banyan Tree Phuket that I had to pry my reluctant body out of bed at dawn and ended up trying to walk barefoot along the lawn with my eyes tightly shut straight line. .
That’s not all. This “mindful foundation” class is just one activity in a health-focused schedule that ranges from sound meditation sessions to high-intensity circuit fitness sessions.
Admittedly, when thinking of the Banyan Tree brand, many of us may be nostalgic for the lazy family holidays spent at resorts in the region like Bintan or Phuket. After all, Singapore-based Banyan Tree did pioneer the tropical luxury resort aesthetic in the 1990s and 1990s, making it all the rage for school holiday getaways at the time.
But it’s clear that Banyan Tree’s one-year-old “offshoot brand” Veya (actually adjacent to the Phuket resort and the group’s first hotel launched in 1994) has a completely different focus on personal health than Banyan Tree. . Adhering to the OG concept of luxurious idyllic.
related: Visit Banyan Tree’s COVID-19-inspired wellness hotel
From Angsana to Home Resort
Airplane enthusiasts might also have noticed that the group has launched a number of independent hotel brands over the years – in alphabetical order, from Angsana to the most recent Homm (Homm Saranam Baturiti Bali, pictured above).
“The group’s approach to expansion is ‘broad and deep’,” explained Ho Renyung, Banyan Tree’s senior vice president of brand and commercial. “Breadth refers to the multi-brand approach, while depth involves bespoke experiences, especially for the Banyan Tree brand.”
Ho Renyong, the daughter of the group’s founders Jiang Clare and He Guangping, has played a key role in the group’s development in recent years, while still adhering to its long-standing “purpose-driven” ethos.
“The brand’s mission is to lead a better way of living, which is more important today than ever, as the pandemic and ongoing climatic conditions highlight the interconnectedness of self, other people and nature,” she explained .
Propagating Banyan Roots
The Banyan Tree brand extension, for example, aims to cater to the growing market of niche wellness and eco-luxury travelers by developing unique experiences that fit these preferences.
That’s why, unlike Veya, which focuses on inner journeys, another Banyan Tree sub-brand, Escape, takes a different approach, encouraging visitors to become one with their natural surroundings.
“This connection to nature promotes relaxation, stress relief and a sense of peace, which in turn promotes the well-being of guests,” says Ho.
related: Why He Renyong’s Favorite Travel Is an Inward Retreat
Its first Escape Hotel Buahan, A Banyan Tree Escape, is located in a lush jungle about 30 minutes drive from Ubud, the cultural center of Bali. Its 16 villas feature an intriguing “no walls, no doors” concept, where walls are replaced by sheer tulle curtains, separating guests from the Balinese rainforest and the creepy reptiles that lurk outside.
That said, the team has done their best to keep the bugs under control through natural interventions, such as planting lemongrass throughout the estate and employing a sonar-sonic pest control system.
So, it turns out that when I was lodging alone, the most memorable visitor was a stray kitten looking for shelter from the rain. There’s certainly nothing to fear here.
Attract a wider range of travelers
Mr Ho noted that, in addition to developing Banyan Tree’s offshoot concept, having a set of independent hotel brands would allow the group to expand its reach and appeal to a wider range of travelers.
Back in 2000, the company launched its first hotel brand, Angsana, which interpreted luxury in a more casual way. In addition, the brand extension plan of Angsana Heritage series will be launched in a few months.
Launched in 2015, Cassia focuses on longer stays and offers amenities like fully equipped kitchens. It now has outposts in Bintan and Phuket.
“This (strategy) allows us to build on our existing success in a given country and leverage our understanding of local culture and preferences to create unique and engaging experiences,” she said.
related: 5 New Luxury Hotels in Asia for Your Next Vacation
Combining luxury and simplicity
In recent years, new brands have emerged at a faster rate and with more unique wellness elements. Launched in 2016, the design-led Dhawa evokes ‘playful’ elements through its decor, showcasing its environment.
For example, the atrium of the Dawaiura Hotel Kyoto features a serene bamboo grove, offering guests a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.
Its 8LMENTS spa also offers 30-minute express treatments for busy travelers, such as head acupressure, for quick pampering.
Post-pandemic, this growth strategy puts the group on track to develop more than 50 properties by 2025, doubling its existing portfolio. The company is also preparing to launch properties in new markets, including Busan, Manila Bay and the soon-to-open first Singaporean resort in Mandai.
Other newer concepts include the Folio, a collection of elegantly designed micro hotels in city centres, and the affordable Homm, designed to evoke a sense of home through accommodations.
Among the many independent brands, I have a soft spot for Garrya, which debuted in 2021 and currently has four stores in Asia, including Koh Samui, Thailand, and Xi’an, China.
The hotels are advertised as “modern, minimalist havens in emerging destinations for sophisticated travelers looking to recharge their batteries,” often in “off the beaten track” neighborhoods.
“The market needs an upscale or luxury hotel with simplicity and simplicity at its core. We embrace the concept of slow living, encouraging people to take a step back from their busy lifestyles and focus on what’s really important,” says Ho.
healing in slow life
During a trip to Kyoto in late spring, I experienced this slow life during my stay at the stylish 25-room Garrya Nijo Castle. The hotel is close to a residential area and a little further away from the usual tourist landmarks in the city center, it is indeed refreshing to escape the tourist crowds of Kyoto.
Spacious, aesthetically pleasing rooms with tatami seating areas and full-size bathtubs require a tremendous effort to wake oneself from a relaxing indoor stupor.
But inspired by Mr. Ho’s recommendation, I began to delve deeper into the cultural highlights of Japan’s ancient capital, attending philosophical zazen meditations at the historic Daisen-in Temple, and taking a hands-on class on kintsu to learn how to lacquer and restore beloved ceramic pieces. Gold or silver powder.
As she predicted, the sessions offered a rare opportunity to move beyond what was on the sightseeing list and forge a deeper connection with Japan’s long-cherished culture of contemplation and sustainability.
“The hope is that guests appreciate life better and leave their destination a little bit better than they were on their last visit,” she reflects. I couldn’t agree more.