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An endless array of holistic therapies at this tranquil island spa

I generally have a rule of not visiting the same place twice. I prefer to expand my horizons and challenge myself to see and do new things. However, I recently returned to Kamalaya in Koh Samui. Our more dedicated readers may remember I went to Kamalaya last year to do a detox program. Well, this year when the time came to take a break after a seriously demanding year, I could think of no better place to do it than Kamalaya Koh Samui. In fact, Kamalaya wellness retreat is of such a high standard of excellence that I can foresee returning again and again.

My overall goal on this trip was to reconnect with myself, and bring back some tools to my daily life that would encourage balance and long term wellness. So this time, rather than detox, I chose to do a program called Asian Bliss – a program combining the Asian holistic therapies of Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Reiki, Pranayama (yogic breathing), Naturopathy and various spa treatments including Thai Massage, Herbal Compress Massage, and traditional Asian hand and foot massage. I also added on private yoga instruction – I have a couple of tight, low mobility areas in my body and I wanted to address with specific areas with a yoga routine that I could do at home or in a hotel room.

Also this time, Paul came along with me. Paul chose the Relax & Renew program which was a combination of massages (1-2x / day featuring a variety including Oil Massage, Indian Head Massage, Hand and Foot Massages, Thai massage, etc) and he decided to add on an acupuncture session as well. Paul had just been in the US for a while and was hoping to get back into a healthy pattern and lose a few kilos. The steaks and beers and other heavy foods during his visit to Texas had taken their toll, and he was feeling a bit sluggish.

(If you are not sure which program would benefit you most before booking, naturopathic doctor meets with you upon arrival for a complimentary consult and can help advise and guide you.)

In our opinion, the therapies at Kamalaya are unparalleled. The therapists are of the highest caliber, trained on-site by management. And the specialists, like the TCM doctors and Ayuvedic practitioners are highly skilled. Further, Kamalaya enhances their staff from time to time with visiting practitioners who are best in class in their fields. For example, I saw Dr Song when I was there, a TCM doctor who had recently completed an 8-month sabbatical in China enhancing his TCM knowledge. I was astonished when just by reading my pulse, he was able to tell me about every health concern that I had (stiff and painful shoulder, insomnia, low energy, headaches, etc…). I spent 2 hours with Dr Song where he used acupuncture, moxibustion, and bonesetting (spinal manipulation similar to chiropractic). Even though our appointment was only one hour long, he told me that I was not going anywhere until we addressed my core physical issues. And I slept that night….for the first time in 3 months…soundly, without interruption and woke up with a feeling of refreshment that astonished me. (If you would like to try Tai Chi or Qi Gong, Dr. Song also teaches these at Kamalaya.)

Similarly, the Ayurvedic therapies are stunningly good. I think my hands down, favorite treatment at Kamalaya is the Indian Head Massage – on both visits, I enjoyed this, and myself and other guests all consistently rave about it. And now it is Paul’s favorite too…he was so blissed out that over lunch we sat quietly mesmerized by the sea and saying very little…just enjoying a deep sense of ultimate relaxation. Also, I tried Shirodara (a massage where warm oil drips onto the forehead continuously) and Royal Ayurvedic Massage. The Avuryedic treatments were consistently high calibre with an intuitive and experienced therapist who adeptly reads the body and adjusts the treatment to uniquely fit the individual.

Beyond the programs themselves, we enjoyed yoga and pilates classes, the steam cavern and the fantastic spa cuisine at Kamalaya. I don’t know how they manage to do it, but the food is absolutely and unequivocally delicious. They manage to keep it super healthy (with an emphasis on high quality proteins like fish and chicken, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and healthy, flavorful grains) while not losing any flavor.

The result is that every meal is thoroughly satisfying without feeling like one is sacrificing. And beyond the food itself, meals are served in a tranquil environment overlooking the hills of Kamalaya and the sea, so not only is the body nourished, the view itself provides a deep sense of serenity at mealtime.

For those of you who might want to splurge, there is that option as well with chocolate soufflés, wine and more available. Kamalaya is not about deprivation.

While all of this might sound like what one would expect for a spa of this caliber, there is something special about Kamalaya… a feeling that is ephemeral yet consistently present. Maybe it is because everyone that works on site is trained to level 1 in Reiki, or maybe it is because the spa itself is built around an old monks cave.

Its hard to put one’s finger on it, but this is clearly a magical place in which to take a step back from the demands of the world and take on a unique wellness journey and reconnect with oneself. It’s no wonder that they have recently been awarded Best Wellness Retreat by Spa Asia Crystal Awards and Best Destination Spa by Asia Spa Baccarat Awards.

After a week at Kamalaya, we felt renewed and rejuvenated…clear of mind and pure of body. Paul lost a few kilos (without actually being on a weight-loss program) and was decidedly chilled out. I was sleeping soundly and that nasty, persistent pain in my shoulder was gone. But not only that, we also brought back many tools to help us make the feeling long lasting. I have finally made the switch from coffee to green tea. We are cooking more at home, inspired by Kamalaya’s cuisine. I have embarked on a 6-day a week exercise program with a focus on yoga. I have vowed to make massage a weekly part of my routine and so far, I have managed to keep this vow. Sure it is only January (you might skeptically observe), but I am realizing more and more that health is a choice…something I learned at Kamalaya. And as Karina Stewart, one of the founders says, “we can either take a proactive role with regard to our own conditions or take the consequences of living a life of lower quality.”

If you are considering a spa or wellness retreat we would, without hesitation, recommend Kamalaya Koh Samui. Whether you want to Detox, try the Ideal Weight Program or simply relax was Paul did with the Relax & Renew program, Kamalaya is treat for yourself not to be missed.

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

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