“F*CK OFF!!!” were the first words Shane said after I’d suggested spending a week at a yoga detox camp.
“You’re joking, right…?” Turns out I wasn’t.
We’re both proud meat-eaters who are just as lazy as we are open to a midweek trip to Wetherspoons. So the thought of spending a week at a booze-free, vegan bootcamp sounded more like a prison sentence than a holiday.
But after a convincing chat with Phuket Cleanse boss Stanton, we thought we’d give the “Best detox, fitness & yoga retreat in Thailand” a try – and here’s what we discovered.
IT’S NOT YOUR TYPICAL LADS HOLIDAY?
While most lads were out, getting their d*cks sucked for peanuts in Patong, we were either meditating on beaches or hiking up hills.
We were in bed by 10pm most nights and up again at 5.30am / 6am, for the morning activities.
It’s much better than it sounds.
YOU BURN FAT FOR FUN
By the end of the first week, I’d lost 2kg of bodyfat and gained lean muscle – from doing activities I enjoyed.
Shane’s results were even better, but his tan wasn’t as good.
VEGAN FOOD ISN’T FOR ME, BUT…
I’m a hardcore carnivore. If my plate doesn’t have meat on it, I’m not eating it… Well, at least that’s how I used to feel.
Phuket Cleanse has taught me that a raw vegan diet is so much more than rabbit food.
The chefs somehow managed to conjure up some seriously tasty meat-free dishes using veggies and spices.
I’d be lying though if I said I didn’t struggle some nights. But fortunately, Salmon is on the menu for fussy guests like me, as well as people with muscle building goals – the fish provides an extra protein kick at dinner.
ACTIVITY HOLIDAYS KICK ASS
Phuket Cleanse is jam-packed full of activities. In fact, there’s two activities almost every hour and they run from 6am until 9pm.
There’s more than 20 classes a day, ranging from floating meditations to Muay Thai boxing.
There’s plenty of yoga types to choose from, and regardless of whether you’re superfit, fat or thin, the intensity of the classes are suitable for almost anyone.
So if you’ve packed on some flab over Christmas, you know what to do!
But it’s not all fitness, with cooking masterclasses, cycle clubs, sunrise ocean walks and sunset breathing ceremonies.
And if the weather’s right (more often than not) guests are taught to stand-up paddleboard, which is pretty sick as you can make your way across the warm waters of Nai Harn to the hidden Ao Sane Beach.
Manage to stay on the waterboard for long enough and you’ll have your next Instagram profile pic.
YOGA HELPS IMPROVE YOUR FLEXIBILITY AND BEDROOM GAME
Regardless of whether it’s your first or thousandth time, they love a good stretch here at Phuket Cleanse – and you’ll be bent crazy!
There’s a tonne of activities which are guaranteed to improve your flexibility – and as Russell Brand likes to brag, makes you better in bed.
BIKRAM YOGA IS HARDCORE!
Within 5 minutes of stepping into the Bikram Arena (a hot room full of bendy people) it was clear, I was in trouble.
Participants / victims are instructed to bend their body’s in ways Stretch Armstrong would struggle with.
Admittedly, I wasn’t the only one in the room who was as stiff as a plank but after the 26th and final “series” aka stretch exercises – I was out for the count.
… but despite HATING every second of it, the physical and mental benefits forced me to keep coming back all week…
… helped that I fancied one of the girls in the class, obviously ;)
YOU CAN GET HIGH FROM BREATHING
Yeah, I called bullsh*t too, but then after getting f*cked up during a Rebirth session with Dela, I decided to look into the science behind it.
By the sounds of things, Rebirthing is the spiritual equivalent to Holotropic Breathwork, said to release emotional trauma through conscious and connected breathing.
It’s a pricey extra here at Phuket Cleanse, but if you’ve got FOMO (fear of missing out) like me, you’ll want to experience it.
Some guest claimed they’d ORGASMED during the two-hour long exercise.
Personally, I’d rather get a “happy ending” at the Angels Massage place just down the road for a third the price.
But, each to their own.
THEY LOVE A GOOD ICE BATH… I DON’T
If she’s not cooking up delicious vegan treats or playing Scrabble, she’s chilling in an ice bath. Louella (aka Little Miss Raw) will guide guests through a Recovery Induction, which is essentially a way of warming your body up so you can survive, shoulder deep in FREEZING water for periods of time.
It’s something professional athletes have been doing for years, as it helps speed up your muscle recovery.
I wasn’t so good at it…
IT’S ALL IN THE BREATH
The half Italian / half Frenchman, Bastian, nailed home the importance of breathing during one of his insightful, pool meditation prep talks.
“How long can you go without food?”
“How long can you go without water?”
“How long can you go without air?”
Exactly. Learn to breathe properly.
There’s not a thing he doesn’t know about breathing and more importantly, how you can use it to your advantage.
From stress-reduction and sleep preparations to energy boosts and decreased fatigue.
He can also teach you to hold your breath for extended periods of time (i.e. free dive training) – the guy’s practically a super hero for breathwork.
YOU GET “ME” TIME
One of the best quotes of the week come from a Welsh Mum, Joanne who said: “When I’m at home, I’m a mother, sister and wife… When I’m here, I’m me.”
You get a lot of “me time” at Phuket Cleanse, and you’ll learn why it’s so important. Sounds cringe, but it’s so true.
I’VE NEVER SEEN TRIP ADVISOR REVIEWS SO GOOD
Don’t believe me? See for yourself… Over 400 reviews, 97% of the ratings are excellent.
Note: The two ‘average’ ratings were back in 2012 and completely out of date – kind of like my “Messiah Costume (below).
IT’S KIND OF LIKE THE BIG BROTHER HOUSE…
It’s how I imagine the Big Brother house to be, but without the cameras and bitchiness.
At first, the thought of eating at a table surrounded by strangers was slightly intimidating.
But the majority of guests come alone so we’re all in the same boat, and as a consequence, conversation is easy.
It’s one of the many things I miss about the place.
Because of the setup, you get close to people you’d never naturally meet.
In my case, an Australian Tech Millionaire, Financial Advisors for Arab Billionaires, White House Business Correspondents, a Welsh Mum who once served in the Navy, and a half-American / half-Egyptian girl who’s obsessed with elephants and chewing gum.
Phuket Cleanse can house up to 40 guests, and you’re spending most of your time with these people, sweating buckets and opening up.
By the end of the week both me and Shane were in bits when we had to leave. Sobbing like Love Island contestants after an eviction.
OH, HOW I MISS THE LOVE LETTER DAYS
My favourite of all gestures here at Phuket Cleanse is probs the “Wall of Love”. It’s basically an area where guests and workers can write private notes to each other – which you can only read the day you leave.
I was genuinely choked by some of the messages. The unsigned “Thank you for letting me feel comfortable enough to be myself” was my favourite. I got a few numbers too ;)
NANA BOWLS ARE A THING
If you haven’t heard of these yet, you probably will soon.
One of Phuket Cleanse’s former managers, Phil Anthony has teamed up with a gorgeous Instagrammer, Jessica Moses, to make some sexy smoothie bowls – which have taken the island by storm.
From Strawberry Bliss to Peanut Butter Salted Caramel flavours – each bowl is stacked with gluten-free granola and not only tastes fantastic – but are healthy too!
You can check out the flavours here: nanabowls.com
…or grab one at Wilson’s on the way back from a gym session (map below)!
HOW TO CHEAT AND GET AWAY WITH IT
If you decided to sneak out at night and stuff your face with burgers and chips you can’t expect great results from the detox and quite simply, don’t deserve them.
Booze, meats, sweets, crisps, caffeine and dairy products are all technically forbidden, but there’s ways and means of breaking the rules, without taking the p*ss.
Aya (the one obsessed with elephants) used to sneak off for a daily ‘Bulletproof Coffee’ at Wilsons.
She said it was amazing and worth it. She still achieved her fitness goals.
Simple and guilt-free solution: Grab a Nanabowl from Wilson’s.
Address: 31/44 Soi Saiyuan Moo 1, Rawai, Amphoe Mueang, Phuket 83100, Thailand
I’d probably save alcohol for the last day, once you’ve undergone your final body measurements.
There’s a great opportunity on the Banana Beach day trip to lay back and enjoy a Pina Colada – if a rum-less coconut doesn’t do it for you.
Rocksalt is a lovely beachfront bar which lives underneath the 5* Nai Harn Hotel.
Happy hour is from 5.30pm to 6.30pm.
Address: 23/3 Moo1, Vises Road, Rawai, Muang District, Phuket 83100, Thailand, Phuket, Muang, Phuket 83100, Thailand
Katarocks is a stunning bar / restaurant which has a gorgeous infinite pool.
Guests get to experience an interesting uphill buggy ride to the main entrance on arrival too.
It’s expensive but serves the best cocktails on the island.
Address: 186/22 Kok Tanode Road, Kata, Mueng, Phuket 83100, Thailand
Phuket Cleanse is a 5 minute taxi ride from Rawai Pier, a place known for it’s quality seafood restaurants.
When you arrive, on the right hand side you have a row full of stalls that sell living fish and crustaceans.
Once you’ve purchased your food, you’ll have the option of several restaurants to your left who will weigh up your food cook it for you.
We barbecued our Prawns and lobsters… Fantastic experience if you can live with the guilt of handing over a living thing for your dinner.
Tip: Stick to brown rice and vegetables for the side dish.
So when our time was up, we’d had our cries, and received our impressive measurements back, we’d both agreed that the experience was life changing.
Not only did we feel fitter, better and revitalised.
I’m still not entirely comfortable calling the experience a “holiday” though – but when it comes to booking my next trip away, this is the EXACT type of thing I’m looking for.