Beauty and lifestyle………………………..
(Featured in Masala Lite Magazine in September 2012, Thailand)
[For original click on the link below]
Are the hour-long massages at your fabulous resorts just not enough? Why not book a trip dedicated solely to rejuvenation and good health? REENA KARIM rounds up yoga retreats, wellness spas, and Eastern and Western healing centre around the region.
KOH SAMUI: Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa Resort
Facts: Kamalaya means “lotus realm”, a symbol of the unfolding of the human spirit. Set against the Samui coastline and filled with earthy touches, such as thatched roofs and locally crafted cement tiles, this multi–award winning sanctuary is built around a cave that was once used for meditation by Buddhist monks.
House specialty: Kamalaya offers a wide range of medical detoxification programmes that address issues from stress relief and burnout to weight management and sleep imbalances. The spa uses a blend of therapies and treatments from the East and the West—Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, naturopathy, and homeopathy—for both physical and emotional restoration.
Facilities: The resort features an Indian-style, ghat-like swimming pool, with stone steps surrounded by lotus ponds and cascading waterfalls. The 59 tiled-roof rooms have wide sliding screen doors made especially to enjoy the cool ocean breeze. Also on the property are a fitness centre, a herbal steam room, an art gallery, a restaurant, a café, and a tea lounge.
Gourmet spreads: Co-founder Karina Stewart and chef Kai Mueller base their menu on Eastern healing traditions and the latest nutritional findings. The produce is organic, and there is an extensive selection of vegetarian options and baked, steamed, and grilled dishes.
Price pinch: The Introduction to Detox package starts at B56,100 for three nights per person, inclusive of treatments such as a detox scrub and wrap, lymphatic drainage massage, oil and foot massages, sauna, and a treatment based on the Taoist holistic health tradition of Chi Nei Tsang. kamalaya.com
KOH YAO NOI: The Paradise
Facts: This boutique beach resort and health spa is situated between a private beach and tropical hillside on an island between Phuket and Krabi, an ideal spot for a yoga sojourn.
House specialty:With the main offering here being yoga, you can partake in two hatha sessions daily at the open-air sala overlooking Phang Nga bay, taught by medically trained instructors, who cover postures, asana combinations, alignment, and pranayama techniques. The spa also offers hot stone treatments, massages, foot reflexology, body scrubs and wraps, Balinese, Maui Maui, Thai, and Indian head massages.
Facilities:The resort features deluxe Jacuzzi studios and pool villas with modern amenities and Asian-inspired thatched roofs. In between yoga sessions and spa treatments, sign up for scuba diving, kayaking, mountain biking, jungle trekking, or rock climbing.
Gourmet spreads: Their three beachfront restaurants serve Mediterranean, Thai, and vegetarian dishes. A nutritionist monitors cleansing programmes for detoxification, special dietary needs, and calorie control.
Price pinch: Prices start from B19,500 for a deluxe studio on a shared basis for a five-night yoga vacation. The package includes full buffet breakfast, 10 yoga classes, two traditional Thai or aromatherapy massages, unlimited use of the herbal steam room, and a swim/snorkel excursion. paradiseyoga.asia
UTTARAKHAND: Ananda in the Himalayas
Facts: A short flight from Delhi to Dehradun, followed by an hour’s scenic drive
through the Himalayan foothills will get you to Ananda in the Himalayas. Awarded
Best Spa 2012 by Condé Nast Traveller UK, this restored palace is dedicated to
healing through a holistic approach.
House specialty: Guests can choose between therapeutic treatments based on traditional Indian practices of Ayurveda, yoga, and meditation. There are also facials, body wraps, and aromatherapy. The spa also offers the latest European and Thai treatments.
Facilities: Formerly a restored viceroy’s palace, the resort features a spa, 75 deluxe rooms, suites, and three villas with sunken bathtubs overlooking the Ganges and the mountainside. The 24,000-sq ft spa houses hydrotherapy facilities, an outdoor temperature-controlled swimming pool, a gym, an amphitheater, a library, and one of India’s oldest billiards tables.
Gourmet Spreads: The two restaurants and three lounges serve up Asian, Ayurvedic, and Western cuisines. Ananda offers its special “rejuvenation cuisine” that follows the principles of Ayurvedic diet, where individuals are categorised into body types, such as vata, pitta, and kapha, depending on their medical condition and lifestyle.
Price Pinch: Book Himalayan Bliss or Couples Connect for three nights, and get a complimentary visit to Rishikesh. Rooms start at USD580 per person per night, including accommodation at the Palace View room, individual wellness consultations with doctors and spa therapists, three special meals, complimentary airport transfers, use of all hydrotherapy facilities, and scheduled activities. anandaspa.com
BANGALORE: Shreyas Retreat
Facts: An hour’s drive away from Bangalore, this hidden gem was named one of the world’s best spas by Vogue India. This is where you get to experience an ashram life through chanting classes, meditation, yoga, community service, farming, and a vegetarian diet.
House specialty: Don’t miss the chocolate-based exfoliating scrubs and body masks.The resort has a wide selection of Thai, Indonesian, Swedish, Ayurveda, aromatherapy, and deep tissue massages.
Facilities: The Shreyas features three en-suite pool and garden cottages along with eight rooms with tented canopies. The property also has an outdoor yoga and meditation hall, nature farming, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, a steam room, and a gym.
Gourmet spreads: At Shreyas, the management practices a strict vegetarian diet for detoxification purposes. The meals are, however, cooked with flavours from India, other parts of Asia, southern Europe, and Mexico. Meals are served at specific times in the dining halls or on the lawns. Alcohol is neither served nor permitted. If you’re looking for some drinking-shinking, this is not the place for you.
Price pinch: 60-minute Rejuvenation massages start from USD65. You can also sign up for packages and retreats from three to 21 nights, customised for each guest’s individual requirements. There’s also a three-night Wellness for the Soul package with a pool or garden cottage at USD1,180.
AROUND THE REGION
VIETNAM: Six Senses Con Dao
Facts: Located on one of the islands in the Con Dao archipelago, a 45-minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City, this retreat inspires you to appreciate the slow lifestyle amidst of a nature reserve.
House specialty: The Holistic Six Senses Spa offers the Vietnamese Spa Experience with a green tea scrub, a natural Vietnamese facial, and a massage. Their signature treatment includes a body polish using local almonds, oatmeal, yogurt, and a nourishing body wrap, consisting of honey, milk, and white clay. Guests can also choose treatments focusing on health, beauty, and stress reduction.
Facilities: Accommodation comprises 50 pool villas with outdoor bathrooms and private infinity pools. The heart of the resort has a market place and a traditional Vietnamese fishing village typically found in the countryside. There’s also a gallery, an activity centre, a library, and a bar.
Gourmet spreads: The resort has two restaurants that serve international and Vietnamese cuisines. Don’t miss the BBQ with market fresh seafood, sirloin steak, lamb fillets, and organic duck breast. Arrangements for private villa barbecues can also be made upon request.
Price pinch: Their signature Vietnamese Journey treatment is priced at B5,904 and green tea scrub at B1,135. Take a detoxifier package for B5,600, which includes Foot Soak, Herbal Detox Bath, a scrub and wrap, and Body Therapy massage. sixsenses.com
BALI, INDONESIA: COMO Shambhala
Facts: A 90-minute drive from Denpasar Airport, this residential wellness retreat is a flagship of the COMO Shambhala group, an award-winning global holistic health company. The estate, located a short drive away from Ubud town, is built into jungle clearings above the Ayung River.
House Specialty: The estate draws water from a natural spring that is locally known for its healing properties and used for therapies and treatments. Their specialty is a Balinese-inspired therapy, Warm Muscle Wrap, featuring hand-crushed rice and spices breaking down cellulite. Also on offer are massages, facials, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, and shiatsu.
Facilities: Featuring 30 rooms and suites, the Retreat also offers private villas, each with its own vitality pool. There are also water gardens next to the Ayung River with additional treatment pavilions, a swimming pool, a yoga room, a pilates studio, a sauna, a fitness centre, and an outdoor jungle gym.
Gourmet spreads: Combined with local organic cuisine, the chefs prepare healthy meals with low fat and little salt at COMO Shambhala’s two restaurants. Also available are options ranging from south Indian to Italian, raw vegetables, and plenty of fresh food.
Price pinch: The Vitality Package (USD850 for two persons) includes a two-night accommodation at Terrace Suites with daily breakfast, one 60-minute massage therapy, together with daily activities like yoga, estate walks, and rice-field treks. comoshambhala.com
HOW TO CHOOSE
5 questions to ask before you go
WHY Identify the purpose of your trip. Do you want to quit smoking? Reduce cellulite? Detox? Get radiant skin? If the resort offers consultations, give them a call to help you choose the right program.
WHERE A day spa is great for one or two treatments and escape for a few hours, while a resort provides a range of treatments and wellness programs over several days or weeks.
WHERE Can you afford to pay for the treatments as well as the tickets to an overseas destination? If not, why not go local? Are there other attractions you can squeeze into your wellness trip?
WHO Do your homework about the retreats and resorts. Don’t just read their own websites. Read independent reviews online to get a full picture.
HOW MUCH Keep a budget in mind. Don’t forget to include plane tickets, excursions, and other expenses.
EW OR WOW?
Bizarre spa treatments from around the world
Geisha nightingale excrement facial
Get your face smeared with bird droppings, sanitised of course! Products made with the droppings allegedly cure acne and give flawless clear skin, and Victoria Beckham is said to be a fan. wawaza.com
Elephant massage in Thailand
Try relaxing with the 100kg leg of an elephant on your back. The elephants have been trained to give you back rubs and the occasional trunk tickles. See them in action at the Mae Ping Elephant Village, Chiang Mai. elephantvillage.com
Knife massage in Taiwan
Have multiple machete or butcher knives pounded on to you for stress relief. Feel the irony! Can be found at street corners in the Shilin night market in Taipei.