After a great flight with Emirates to Bangkok and onward with Bangkok Airways, I arrived at Koh Samui’s most popular wellness sanctuary a little after 10am. I very much looked forward to immerse myself in a 3-night Relax & Renew program, and make the most of the resort’s scheduled activities.

Transfers to and from the airport are included in every wellness package, and my driver was waiting when I walked out of Samui’s tiny terminal. Located on the less developed Southeastern tip of the tropical island, the journey to Kamalaya takes approx. 45 minutes.

Every guest following a structured program receives a wellness consultation upon arrival (and departure) as well as a Body Bio impedance analysis. In short, the Bio test measures your body composition and assesses your tissue and fluid compartments to see if everything works as it should. A good result is associated with a good immune system and longevity, whereas a less than favourable outcome can be cause for concern. Your individual score is discussed during your wellness consultation to ensure your program and treatments are entirely customised to your needs and wishes.

Shortly after my welcome drink I’m whisked away by my friendly consultant, Francois. Due to issues with my back, I was unable to receive the Thai massage which was quickly replaced with a more suitable Ayurveda treatment called Kati Vasti. (Note: you may have to pay the difference if the new treatment is more expensive). We discussed my goals (relaxation and some more relaxation) and planned my treatment schedule around the resort’s daily activities. My first two pamper sessions were booked for later that day – a very welcoming thought after the long journey to Thailand – and as soon as I settled into my villa, I ventured outside to explore the resort grounds and facilities.

Kamalaya Lap Pool
Kamalaya Lap Pool

Calming vibes and breath-taking views

Kamalaya is like a little village in the jungle, built on a sloping hillside with peaceful little rivers, ponds and mini-waterfalls throughout. You’ll find yoga pavilions, in- and outdoor treatment rooms, quiet zones, a fitness studio, yantra hall, lap and leisure pool, steam cavern, hydrotherapy pools and plenty of relaxation areas dotted across the lush greenery. The accommodation is a variety of beautiful villas (some with a plunge pool), tranquil sea view and garden suites, a few penthouse suites and hill-side ‘houses’, each in a different price category.

Nature is everywhere, and something to embrace as part of your journey to ultimate relaxation. There’s something magical about open-air showers, relaxing in the hydrotherapy pools amidst the forest and planting your bare feet in the grass during a Qi Gong lesson. The yoga pavilions have brilliant views of the surrounding greenery, tropical hillside or Gulf of Thailand below.

View from Kamalaya
View from Kamalaya

My sea view villa is huge and spotless, and with a large patio, L-shaped sofa, the most comfortable bed and a yoga mat for a private practice, it has all the creature comforts you may need. The spacious and well-equipped outdoor bathroom comes with a rain shower, toilet and vanity area. Some accommodations have indoor bathrooms which can be requested upon making your reservation.

Kamalaya Sea View Villa
Kamalaya Sea View Villa

Disconnect to reconnect

I am grateful there is no TV and only 1 hour of free WiFi. Any final urges to check Retreat Here’s social media accounts or emails quickly disappear and my usually ‘busy brain’ starts to slow down. Kamalaya takes great pride in encouraging guests to fully switch off so they can tune in with themselves and the resort’s natural surroundings.

At 3PM I head to the Wellness Sanctuary that offers beautiful views of the sea, and I’m guided to one of over 25 treatment rooms by my masseuse, Beem. My first treatment is the Lotus Blossom Body Scrub & Wrap followed by the Vital Essence Oil massage. Both treatments are absolutely divine and the oil massage ends with one of the best head massages I have ever had. Seriously, if you’re after a good head massage, ask for Beem!

Massage with a view at Kamalaya
Massage with a view at Kamalaya

Most people I come across are solo-travelling women from all over the world, taking a time-out to relax, indulge and wanting to invest in themselves. There is a huge communal table in Soma restaurant – the place to be for breakfast and dinner – which was occupied most of the time by fellow health enthusiasts wanting to meet and connect with like-minded people. The Alchemy tea lounge, which is open between 2pm and 6pm for snacks and light meals, has humongous daybeds where you can chill out with other travellers and take in the peaceful vistas. Everyone is incredibly friendly and most guests have this ‘happy-glow-lucky-face’ of someone who has just had the best spa treatment in the world, which in this case is true!…

Dinner that evening is Cobia fish with crab meat on mashed cauliflower and some lavender tea before bed. Feeling rather sleepy from the travels and relaxing treatments, I went to bed ridiculously early and slept like a dream..

The perfect start

.. After a good 9 hours sleep (how I needed that!) I start the day with a Pranayama session at the Yoga Pavilion. Even though I am quite familiar with many breathing techniques, I learned some new ones which I have been practicing ever since. Pranayama truly calms your body down, which in turn quiets your mind, and I’d love to share them with you. So stay tuned for a ‘Pranayama Techniques’ article on the blog soon!

Breakfast is delicious (as is all food to be honest) and consists of a huge healthy buffet with wheat-grass shots, copious amount of fresh fruit and juices, a DIY healthy milks/yoghurt station with plenty of seeds, nuts, goji berries and detox muesli. There are different types of breads and jams (the good stuff, no unhealthy flours here), avocado dips, artichokes, pumpkin dip and hummus and if that is not enough, there’s an a la carte menu too.

All meals and drinks (except alcohol, of course) are included in your stay as part of you wellness program. Besides the regular healthful menu, Kamalaya offers an ‘uber-healthy’ detox menu for people on certain cleanse and weight-loss programs. Although I wasn’t on either of those programs, I tried to stick to the detox menu anyway, because you know – when in Rome.. Every single dish I tried was filling, delicious and re-energising.

Healthy cuisine Kamalaya
Healthy cuisine Kamalaya

Beyond relaxation

My spa services for the second day are the Traditional Asian Foot & Hand Massage as well as the Indian Head Massage. Just like yesterday, the treatment room itself is beautiful with a view of the sea and relaxing music in the background. Though both massages were equally great, my favourite was the head massage as they seem to send me into a dream-like realm. Based on the ancient Ayurveda healing practice,  the head massage is received seated to ensure as much tension is relieved from your shoulders, neck, back and scalp. Following the initial foot rub (they clean your feet prior to each session), the spa therapist drenched my head with coconut oil for the actual head treatment. It concluded with pressure point therapy on the face to further improve circulation and the whole experience left me beyond calm. Added bonus: soft and silky hair the following day!

My final pampering on day three consisted of Kati Vasti (Ayurveda treatment for your back) and Chi Nei Tsang (detoxifying abdominal massage). Kati means ‘lower back’ in Sanskrit, where the focus is predominantly on releasing chronic tension in your back. The therapist applied a medicinal paste in a ring on my lower back, exactly where I had a prolapsed disk, and then poured warm Ayurvedic oil into the centre. After 30 minutes, I got to enjoy a back massage followed by hot steamy towels to further encourage relaxation.

The Chi Nei Tsang therapy that followed has made me re-think my opinion of abdominal massages as I never was a huge fan. The massage is based on the Taoist theory that your ‘gut’ is a ‘second brain’  and it is used to treat a wide range of imbalances in your system such as tension, stress and digestive issues. The movements of the therapist’s hands increases your circulation and thus promotes healthy organs and re-balances the nervous system for a calmer mind. The whole experience was very soothing and a far cry from the uncomfortable ‘ab-massages’ I’ve previously endured.

Kamalaya Chi Nei Tsang Chinese Massage
Kamalaya Chi Nei Tsang Chinese Massage

Feeling rebalanced

In between my pampering sessions, I wrote in my Kamalaya journal (part of your welcome gift bag), practiced Yoga and Pranayama, avoided touching any digital devices, breathed in the fresh air, relaxed by the pool, had more tasty food, chatted to some fellow Melburnians, joined a Qi Gong session and finally finished reading my book.

I felt relaxed, refreshed, re-energised and motivated to continue to eat healthy and introduce a digital detox in my daily life!

The only negative aspect of my stay is that it wasn’t long enough, as I could’ve easily spent another month in this peaceful place. If you are looking for a place where you can truly switch off, immerse yourself in nature, indulge in professional spa treatments, holistic therapies and personalised wellness programs whilst reconnecting with yourself and/or like-minded people, Kamalaya is the place to be.

For more information about Kamalaya’s wellness programs and prices, please contact Retreat Here.

Sabijn Linssen was a guest of Kamalaya.

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