Phuket Cleanse Review

Words: Emma Gibson

I have a confession to make

I’m not very good at moderation in anything. So while I understand a little of everything is a great approach, I tend to holiday flat out. For me that could mean literally lying very still for a week, taking a few steps as possible between a villa and the beach, or it could mean getting as fit as possible, getting my heart rate as high as possible, for seven days straight. 

Words: Emma Gibson

I have a confession to make

I’m not very good at moderation in anything. So while I understand a little of everything is a great approach, I tend to holiday flat out. For me that could mean literally lying very still for a week, taking a few steps as possible between a villa and the beach, or it could mean getting as fit as possible, getting my heart rate as high as possible, for seven days straight.

So what better person to write you the ultimate guide to Phuket Cleanse? I have to say up front, that the goal of Phuket Cleanse is to get you moving, so if you’re really looking for a completely slothful holiday full of booze and buffets groaning with fatty foods, this is not the place for you. Having said that, you don’t have to be scared that the only exercise you’ve done in the last year has been putting your hair up in a ponytail or man bun and you’re going to discover you can’t keep up. Phuket Cleanse really does have something for everyone. I personally perfected the art of “disappearing gracefully” on a couple of mornings when I felt like a nap was more warranted than a two- hour hike. And you know what? That’s OK!!

The best advice I can give someone wanting to know if it’s the right place for them, is to tell you about two very firm friends I made while I was there and we never did the same day’s activities. Linda is an accomplished runner and fitness addict who likes to super set her sessions backing up a hot yoga session with crucycle at home on a regular basis. Jacinta was there to really reset after a particularly stressful time at home. So Linda would start with the amazing sunrise yoga session at 6.30am and pretty much pick all the high intensity sessions for the day, intermingled with some new yoga techniques she’d never tried before and came to love. Jacinta got more out of the PC experience by mingling yoga, a gentle hike and the occasional cardio session in a day interspersed with massage and pool time and some desperately needed sleep. In the whole week I think I only did two sessions with them actually together. That’s just how personalised your program can be and also a testament to how great the communal eating is, as you get to catch up on how your day has been so far and what’s up next. 

You can check out a typical weekly activity schedule on their website and it is, frankly, overwhelming. But this is where the team at Phuket Cleanse comes in. The staff is all exceptionally experienced (often 20 years plus) coaches and trainers, so they know when to push you, when to get you to pull back, and they treat each training session as an opportunity to train your mind and body, focusing on correct technique and your mental attitude. Darren and Andrew, who possibly run the hardest physical training sessions, also run separate sessions to focus on managing your own fitness program once you return home and injury management. There’s a genuine sense of your long-term wellbeing being the primary focus. Darren was definitely a favourite of mine as he’s done the hard yards of not looking after himself and really hammers home that we’re all a work in progress.

So don’t stress yourself out before you even arrive. You’ve paid good money for a reason. Literally everything is taken care of. And it all revolves around you. When you get to the Phuket Cleanse main villa (after being collected from the airport) you’ll be given a delicious meal and reviving juice and put to bed if you get in late. Or, if you’re a morning arrival, the team will start your schedule as soon as you’re settled in and ready. You’ll attend an orientation to introduce you to the program, including the diet, exercise and wellness programs, meet with the fitness coordinator to work through your goals for your stay, any injury concerns and some recommendations for the classes best suited to your current level of fitness. You’ll also meet with the resident nutritionist Craig whose enthusiasm for (and encyclopedic knowledge) of what ails you (or not) and how to fix it, is nothing short of inspiring. 

In a ‘typical’ day you could: watch the sunrise from the Rawai pier in a session of Yoga Magic; HiiT the Stairs; do an Aquafit session; train with local Muay Thai trainers; try Hot Bikram yoga; visit the Phuket Raw Gym for a TRX session; have an ice bath and herbal steam; get in a strength and agility session; go kayaking at the beautiful local beach; learn about how stress can affect your weight; have one of your four complimentary in-room massages; then relax with an audio meditation to put you soundly to sleep. In between there are infra red sauna, oxygen and ice bath sessions to aid your detox and recovery.

Phuket Cleanse's Food  Phuket Cleanse's Food

Of course, all of this activity requires fuel for your body, and Oh, the food! (and this is coming from a girl who can do pretty wicked things to meat) Every delicious vegan meal is prepared for you and served buffet style, including fresh juices and protein shakes (also available during the day whenever you feel like a boost) and even fresh coconuts. You’re never going to get hungry at Phuket Cleanse. There are cuisine themed nights from Mexican to Thai to Japanese and Greek. Fresh, clean eating at its best, with enough variety in the completely raw vegan dishes to prevent even the most dedicated carnivore from pining for a steak. In fact, after a week there my only craving was for seafood. 

If you love a good juice and you have a really expensive juicer that you bought in good faith to use every morning, but you finally got fed up with cleaning it and you’ve hidden it in the bottom cupboard so it stops staring at you with guilty juicer eyes, then you’re going to have the best week or two of your life. 

The Detox Juice menu is described by founder Mel as: “her work in progress on the world’s biggest and most exciting menu” and it’s not hard to believe. The menu runs to about 20 pages already and includes juices, raw soups, elixirs, drinks and wellness ‘shots’ with delightful and cheeky monikers like Elvis’s Thai Lover, The Seductress, The Beet Goes On and You Make My Heart Skip. 

In between all the activities to get you physically moving, there are plenty of sessions to focus on why you felt like reset in the first place. In the evenings the sessions focus more intensely on your internal and spiritual health, from the effect of hormones on our weight to discussions around the effects of light on our sleep (turn off the screens in bed people) to crystal bowl singing and meditation. All of this describes roughly half the things you can get up to and there are also cooking classes to ensure you can replicate favourites like superfood chocolate and truffles when you get home. 

But here’s the thing. Nothing is compulsory. Even though Phuket Cleanse has grown over the past few years they’ve managed to keep a family atmosphere and a feeling of a one-to-one relationship with their guests, best evidenced by the number of guests who have become repeat visitors. So, the always friendly staff will encourage you to participate in as many activities as are available, but are also delighted to see you soaking up the rays poolside at the main villa with a book. 

If you look online, it’s hard to find a bad word written about Phuket Cleanse. A 2015 travellers’ choice award winner, the glowing reviews are endless. Once you’ve paid for your chosen package, it’s truly all inclusive: from airport pick up and drop off; accommodation and daily laundry; your fitness consult and program; all classes and activities; all food and juices; four massages per week along with the educational and cooking class. 

Even the beautifully appointed rooms are specially designed for you to get as much glorious sleep as you need, with ambient mood lighting, block out curtains and air-conditioning and not a TV in sight. If you really want a break from it all, don’t bring your laptop, bring a book or two or just sleep, although there is wifi available…


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