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I needed some time-off. Time off from the world, from long work days followed by longer dinners, from my computer(s), from my cell phone, from happy hour cocktails… I wanted a real break where I could nourish my body and empty my mind. I did a lot of research and asked around….I was thinking maybe yoga ashram in India, maybe Chinese medicine retreat in Northern Thailand…in the end I discovered the best of both worlds, Kamalaya in Koh Samui, Thailand.

Kamalaya calls itself a “wellness sanctuary and holistic spa.” And with a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor, a Naturopathic doctor and a Director of Medicine with a background in Western Medicine, they offer the most comprehensive approach to wellness I have seen. And all within a tranquil seaside setting that will leave one breathless. The entire center is cut into the hillside in such a way that it seems it was always destined to be there – the villas and the other Thai-style structures blend with the natural environment in a way that is completely serene and organic.

While there are many programs to choose from at Kamalaya (or simply none at all, just enjoy the experience), I chose the Detox & Cellular Rejuvenation program…lured by the promise of correcting imbalances and emerging with pure, cleansed system free of toxins and enhanced cellular function. My 7-day retreat cost 60,400 THB ($2784 SGD / $1673 USD), plus accommodation and included all my meals, approximately 3 spa treatments a day and any of the many available fitness classes available. My program started with a thorough medical evaluation by a skilled nurse and then a consultation with a Naturopath. Also included in my package was a regimen of low glycaemic, vegetarian diet, colon cleansing, herbal supplements, protein shakes and spa treatments specially chosen to further encourage the detox process in the body.

The cuisine of Kamalaya
Kai Mueller, the Executive Chef of Kamalaya, expertly supervises all spa restaurants. Kai managed to repeatedly turn out inspired healthy cuisine that feels at once pure and clean yet also nourishing and satisfying. I had the opportunity to spend some time with Kai for a cooking lesson and he showed me how to make 3 of the recipes I most enjoyed while I was at Kamalaya, the Shitake Carrot Soup, a Vegetable Maki Roll and a to-die-for smoothie called CocoLoco.

The spa at Kamalaya
The detox program is supported by spa treatments designed to enhance the detoxification process. All done from a birds eye view overlooking the placid sea, I enjoyed the Vital Essence Massage, Lymphatic Drainage Massage, Asian foot massage, Thai body massage, Herbal Detoxifying Body Scrub and Wrap and many more outstanding treatments. My favourite though was the Indian Head Massage…based on the ancient healing system of Ayurveda, this treatment is used to massage and relieve tension from shoulders, neck, back and scalp. The massage is sublime with a rich, yummy smelling coconut oil my therapist uses firm yet gentle pressure to release tension. A tip for women – leave the coconut oil on your hair for an hour before shampooing and you will experience the most glossy mane of hair.

I do want to spend another second talking about the colon cleansing part of the program. Having never experienced a colonic, I was quite nervous about the process. Will it hurt? How does it feel during and also after? Is it healthy? After taking 3 colon cleanses during my stay, I can say that it is absolutely safe (administered by registered nurse) and painless. And not only that, it really is an integral part of the process – I felt healthy and full of vitality, with a level of natural energy that surprised me.

The people of Kamalaya
In this most exotic and beautiful of settings, the staff exhibited a level of service I have yet to see anywhere else in Thailand…after day one, they remembered my name, the juice I preferred at breakfast and even the book I was reading! And because I was by myself, I was invited by the staff to join the “community table” at mealtimes. This was a specially designated table where those travelling alone could take meals and chat with other guests.

It was here that I had the opportunity to have breakfast with one of the founders, John Stewart. John is an American who has been in Asia since age 16, studying in the Himalayas with a spiritual guru and yogi. John and his wife found the Kamalaya site during a time of mourning after the guru’s passing, and in meditating upon the site, felt moved to build what is now Kamalaya.  In John’s own words, “Kamalaya was created to offer a nurturing environment to guests, so that people feel immediately intrigued, full of excitement, and at the same time welcomed, comfortable, and at ease, like they are in a magical little village.”

More about Kamalaya….

Kamalaya invites guests to “reconnect with life’s potential” and integrates ancient and contemporary holistic medicine and healing traditions. Guests can choose a la carte services, embark on an individual wellness program or join a group retreat.

Treatments include:

  • Practices from Traditional Chinese Medicine, such as Tui Na, acupuncture; Western Naturopathy, Herbal Medicine, Homeopathy, Ayurvedic therapies (shirodhara, Kati Vasti, etc), Sound healing, emotional and spiritual healing, as well as the more usual spa treatments.
  • Wellness programs: Asian Bliss, Balance & Revitalise, Detox & Rejuvenation, Ideal Weight, Introduction to Detox, Optimal Fitness, Personal Yoga Synergy, Relax & Renew.
  • Signature Wellness Retreat: Essential Detox
  • Holistic Fitness: daily classes may include yoga, tai chi, chi gong, pranayama, Pilates, meditation and spirit dance.
  • Retreats & Events: In addition to Kamalaya’s signature wellness retreats, hosted retreats with visiting specialists range from corporate workshops to events in meditation, spiritual philosophies, yoga, dance and the arts.
  • Spirit Cave: At the heart of Kamalaya is a cave that once served Buddhist monks as a place of meditation and spiritual retreat. This cave is available for meditation or as a quiet place to sit and reflect.


Kamalaya Koh Samui
102/9 Moo 3, Laem Set Road, Na-Muang
Koh Samui, Suratthani 84140 Thailand
Telephone: +66 (0) 77 429 800
Fax: +66 (0) 77 429 899

All photos provided by Kamalaya from their media kit. Copyright © by Kamalaya Co.Ltd. All rights reserved.

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