A Touch of Eastern Promise in the Med...
Benidorm. It doesn't exactly ring bells of escapism does it - more reputably, hen parties, stag do's and handkerchief hats. There was a definite whiff of a pre-vows knees up on arrival at Alicante airport. Hot pants, hair extensions, pink fluffy tiaras, Angel by Thierry, Eau de Lambrusco... I'm not one to judge - they were in good spirits - they looked like they were having the time of their lives, it was actually quite heartening to watch and may even have rekindled thoughts of my Essex teenage years...
But I wasn't here to reminisce. I was braving the boisterousness of Benidorm to uncover its hidden secret. A serene Mediterranean retreat, full of Eastern promise...
Hidden in the foothills of Sierra Cortina - 20 minutes away from the hullabaloo of the high rise Solanas and alcopop discos - amongst 90 sprawling acres of olive and pine trees lies a perfectly manicured Mediterranean retreat.
The secluded Balinese style suites and villas, array of Asian-Med bars and restaurants and Thai sculptures and artifacts that scatter the oasis of hypnotic waterfalls, vibrant tropical gardens, ancient bonsais and turquoise infinity pools of Asia Gardens, cleverly transport you from the Espanyola seaside to a long haul Eastern hideaway. It's a tranquil taste of Thailand - and it's just a few jet-plane hours away...
All 312 rooms, suites and villas are individually designed with wellbeing in mind; calming muted tones, crisp white Egyption cotton sheets, an extensive pillow menu, and platters of exotic fresh fruits. In our Deluxe Suite we found an extremely comfy kingsize bed, large lounge area and a balcony with pretty garden views. The Asian influenced black slate bathroom had a walk in monsoon shower, tub and a good selection of own brand products.
The super serene Thai Spa sits in the basement of the main building and hub of hotel. Candlelit corridors lead to a cool swim through indoor-outdoor pool & Jacuzzi complete with 'lifeguard' Buddhas perched along the edge. The treatment rooms comprise of four beautiful Thai stilted treehouse style huts and five indoor contemporary massage suites. There's also a Hammam, relaxation terrace, hair & beauty salon and manicure suite. All therapists at the Thai Spa are trained at Wat Pho, the national centre for the teaching and preservation of traditional Thai medicine.
Asia Garden's own herbal brand and Thalgo
Thai Massage. I'm given a special 'Choot Nourd' the traditional, loose fitting cotton Thai massage outfit and shown to one of the outdoor pagodas. Lying flat on the futon the therapist uses a combination of thumb and palm pressure on my arms feet and legs to relax the muscles. A much needed back stretch and cracking follows with a pressure point back and shoulder massage then yogic stretches. The treatment concludes with a shiatsu head massage then hands on healing. Bird songs and tricking waterfalls create a calming ambience and I leave completely de-stressed and well stretched - almost feeling like I've had a really great yoga class!
Other Treatments Include
Balinese Massage, Four Handed Thai Massage, Herbal Body Scrubs and Thalgo Facials.
Nine bars and restaurants scatter the gardens, including Palapa for fabulous fresh fish grills, tapas and salads. Zen for pizza, burgers and kids meals. Koh Samui for delicious Asian à la carte (try the Lobster Curry) In Black for international gourmet dining. Take pre dinner cocktails by the tree at Bonsai.
Tai Chi , yoga, pilates, aqua-gym, cycling and riding. There's also Jack Nicklaus golf course adjacent to the resort.
For the Kids
An array of activities at the Pirates Kids Club and Pirate Boat, including face & finger painting and mini olympics. There's a children's pool area and a babysitting service.
A walk in the lush tropical gardens and brave a trip to Benidorm for a cocktail and 'hen watch' it's actually quite fab!
Words: Lisa Stokes
British Airways operates flights 17-18 times a week from Gatwick to Alicante. Fares start from £55 one way or £113 return including taxes and charges. Hand baggage only fares start from £39 one way and £78 return. For further information or to book visit www.ba.com.
Rooms at Asia Gardens from 200 Euro and suites from 600 Euro based on B&B for two sharing.