Built around a cave temple that once served as a meditative retreat for Buddhist monks, Kamalaya Koh Samui manages to top many other wellness retreats that I have been to. This is largely because its focus isn't only to provide you with a peaceful sanctuary that is an escape from the rest of the world but also to help you find a deeper understanding of yourself. The thoughtfully prepared food, great service and the company of the people there make Kamalaya overshadows a regular beach holiday to no end.
Entering Kamalaya is a little like walking through a jungle in the film Jumanji, not in the sense that one encounters the jungle hazards seen in the movie, but in the way that this distinctive health and wellness retreat has been set amidst raw lushness. The resort rests high up on the slope of a mountain, so you can get an eyeful of the vast sea around Koh Samui and its rolling green hills. In addition, its premises extend all the way down to a tranquil secluded beach. With all this, it only seems natural for one to want to stick around here.
All stays at Kamalaya come with a complimentary naturopathic consultation. After you get a chance to settle in, you'll go through a bioelectrical impedance analysis, which will be used to assess your body composition (in particular body fat and muscle mass percentage). This will be followed by a private consultation with a naturopath to address your physical and mental concerns, as well as to decide on a nutrition plan to follow while staying at the retreat.
Guests can choose to enrol in multi-day programmes (the resort offers 17 in total) that are geared towards various goals — to detox, relieve stress and burnout, enhance sleep, achieve better fitness, practise yoga or attain emotional balance. All treatments are carried out with a focus on holistic practices that are at a much deeper level than just relaxation or physical pain relief. They also help individuals to understand themselves better so that they can identify the root causes of the problems that they have. Rates start roughly at B29,220 per person for a three-day package. Guests can choose from a total of 76 rooms and villas, which include Beachfront Villas, Plunge Pool Villas, Rock Top Pool Villas, Sea View Suites and Hillside Rooms.
The five-night Embracing Change Programme that I was in, included full board, three therapy sessions, two acupuncture treatments, complimentary access to several daily holistic and fitness activities, round-trip airport transfers and daily spa treatments. I stayed in a Villa with Sea-View and it was very spacious, big enough to fit four people. It had a soft pink colour tone, simple decor and no TV, to allow guests to immerse themselves fully in the experience.
As for my daily wellness programmes, they were planned such that they incorporated fun and also enough downtime in between. I really enjoyed my time at the wellness sanctuary and would highly recommend trying an acupuncture session. The spa treatments were also top-notch (the 90-minute vital essence oil massage and the 60-minute Indian head massage are a must!). During the stay, guests can also take part in many wellness activities that the retreat offers on a daily basis, including Pilates, yoga, chi gong, tai chi, fitness and tea-sharing ceremonies.
When hunger strikes, head to the big wooden house perched atop a hill that overlooks a vast, imposing coast. That is where the health-focused restaurant, Soma, resides. They consider food to be much more than merely a source of nourishment and instead celebrate it. Just the range of cold-pressed juices and smoothies alone will make you spin, not to mention the good selection of appetisers, main courses and desserts. The daily changing menu caters to people with different dietary restrictions. It has symbols that indicate whether a particular dish is vegan, dairy-free or gluten-free.
Elsewhere on the 38,400m² property, are three spacious swimming pools, a lunch cafe by the beach, a library, a fully-equipped gym set on a hilltop with a panoramic view of the ocean and a wellness sanctuary (where all the therapies and spa treatments take place).
This wellness retreat is all-inclusive and has the intention of bringing you closer to equilibrium, in terms of both mind and body. While you're free to venture out anytime you like, I would highly recommend that you take advantage of everything that the property offers within its space, during your time there. Besides, there is a wonderfully pristine stretch of beach (that hardly anyone used during my stay) within the premises, where you can get plenty of sun.
Kamalaya is a place that really exemplifies the term "wellness retreat". Everything is in its place, but it doesn't feel rigid or forced. To some, the idea of withdrawing to a quiet, secluded space to rest, detoxify and rehabilitate oneself can be hard to grasp or perhaps even daunting. But the staff and programmes at Kamalaya can quickly put them at ease. Guests can certainly expect a sense of deep comfort and unpretentious hospitality that makes them feel at home and want to go back time and again.