I stayed at the Sanctuary for a week in December with a friend. We were on a 5 day detox plan and had an air-con bungalow, right behind the beach. There are so many different ways to stay at the Sanctuary, from packages like mine, to sleeping at a nearby hotel and just popping in for classes and food. It really depends on what you're coming for, whether it's simply to soak in the relaxed spiritual atmosphere or if you want to dive into a radical cleansing program like I did. Here are my thoughts on the different aspects of the Sanctuary:
The resort: it's located on a remote beach, far away from the chaos of Koh Phangan, but easy to reach with a long tail boat from the main full-moon party beach. The architecture is beautiful and truly in harmony with the natural surroundings. The yoga and meditation rooms are stunning, built around huge forest trees, with natural light, soft music and plenty of space.
The beach: not the strong point of this place. I might depend on the season, but there were lots of waves, strong currents which brought in debris that didn't make swimming very appealing. I didn't even step into the water during my stay but I was entertained with the rest of the activites. Don't come here if you're looking exclusively for a beach holiday.
The room: perfectly clean and wonderfully located just a few steps from the restaurant, the spa, the detox centre and the beach. I did not envy those who had to walk up the hill to reach their rooms and was very grateful I had decided to pay a little extra for this location!
The yoga and other activities: we took part in the a lot of the activities that were planned for the week: daily yoga, meditation, ayurveda talks and so on. Everything was really well organized and very professional. Extremely happy about this. We even signed up for extra sessions with some of the professional healers that were working at the resort (tantra and iridology) and were very happy with the outcome. If you can, go to the Sunday afternoon gathering where the staff presents the weekly schedule and plan ahead.
The spa: Pretty little place practically built on a tree, nice staff but not the best massages. I'm a regular in Thailand and I know that there is a lot more to massaging than rubbing oil into your skin.
The detox centre: the centre is run by Mr Moon, an extremely friendly Thai man who greets you when you arrive and remains in charge of your plan during your stay. This was the first time I went on a colon cleanse so I might be a little negative because I didn't know what I was getting into...Moon was available but not thourough, efficient but did not inspire medical knowledge. He expected us to take the shakes and pills without asking what was in them, why were were taking them and what we should expect. I guess a lot of people just have faith in the general concept of colon cleansing, but it wasn't enough for me. The staff at the centre is extremely polite and everything worked like a clock, but the attention wasn't "personal", it was just a general procedure that was supposed to work for everyone. I didn't like the colonics, I thought they were too invasive, too harsh on my body and they didn't make me feel in any way better. I gave those up after a few days and stayed on a "gentle cleanse", which involved fasting and shakes (no more caffeine-water colon cleanses). I just think that the staff should give you a more thourough interview on arrival and assess each person's situation separately, instead of throwing you in the detox chain.
The restuarant: great place by the looks of it and the menu seems fantastic, unfortunately I never ate there because I was on a detox plan!
Overall: superb place, impressive organization (the yoga teacher will remind the people that are fasting at what time they should take their pills during the class...!), super friendly staff, great relaxed atmosphere (spiritual but not too new-age), mediocre detox plan.
I will definitely come back, maybe on a yoga retreat combined with a gentle cleanse.