Recover from Christmas excess at a Thai spa

Thailand might seem a long-way to go for a massage. But with peace, tranquility and year-round balmy weather, it's the perfect place for a New Year detox. Natasha Langan visits a luxury yet eco-friendly spa.

Thailand might seem a long way to go for a massage, but judging from the number of high-end spas that have opened across the country in the last decade that isn't putting many people off.

For years now every glossy magazine list of the world's best spas has included Chiva-Som, much loved by celebrities for its focused health and weight-loss programmes, home-grown organic food and stunning coastal location in Hua Hin, a few hours drive south of Bangkok.

But once you've made it to Thailand, why not keep going to one of the islands? The perfect place for a New Year detox is Phuket, a spa lovers' haven of peace and tranquillity, with year round balmy weather. Phuket, blessed with clean beaches, tranquil bays and tropical inland forests, is the largest of Thailand's islands.

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It is encircled by the clear Andaman sea, with its world-renowned diving sites and the protected Ao Phang Nga National (Sea) Park, which is home to Phang Nga Bay and Tapu Island made famous by James Bond in The Man With the Golden Gun.

And the best place to go when you get there? I chose the Banyan Tree Phuket, an eco-friendly resort created from what was previously a tin mine. It comes with an 18-hole golf course, a selection of top-class restaurants and hordes of personal butlers pandering to the whims of occupants of the Double Pool Villas, but it's the spa that is the star of the show.

Treatments take place in private pavilions, with the current top favourite being the three-hour Tranquillity Rainmist Experience. This combines body scrubs and a milk body mask with steam and rain showers followed by a massage.

If you can tear yourself away from the luxury offered by your hotel (the island is packed with four and five-star resorts, all with a spa of some kind), there's plenty to see elsewhere. The markets in Phuket town offer endless food stalls where you can sample the local cuisine and it's worth visiting the old part of town with its array of mansions and shops reflecting the Portuguese and British influences on the island since the 16th century.

If you're looking for something that involved more than idling around, you could try big-game fishing. We spent a day with the Wahoo Big Game Fishing Company. Lines trail behind the boat and the minute you get a bite you are helped to land your fish. Hemingway it is not there are no day-long struggles with a big fish but we did end up with a fantastic lunch of fresh yellowfin and longtailed tuna sushi.

Kuoni Travel (01306-747008) offers seven nights at the Banyan Tree from £3,036 per person.