The science of medicine is simple. It begins with an investment at the cellular level with and to everything we know in our hearts to be good. I felt this investment in me from the moment I began to plan my visit to Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa in Thailand for a detox retreat Koh Samui style. Kamal meaning “lotus,” and alaya meaning “realm,” I learned once I arrived that the name embodies the essence expressed at Kamalaya; it is one of encouraging growth and discovery of self and spirit, of “feeling life’s potential,” and of learning about the vitality of your body and all of the beautiful ways you can feed it – heart, body and spirit, with natural and loving medicine.
The land that Kamalaya is built on is sacred land, land loved for a long, long time by monks and other indigenous people who gave more than they took and you can feel this from the moment you step through the front gates of the property. The Monk’s Cave, found near the holistic spa and treatment centre, has been lovingly kept in-tact, and serves as a beautiful reminder of ancient times. It is the heart of the place, both literally and symbolically because of the energy felt in the cave. It is the perfect place to wander into and sit quietly and meditate or just listen. Candles, offerings, pillows and incense are available as well as many spiritual relics and alters to show your devotion. The Thai culture is a gentle one, one of grace and humility, and gratitude. Everyone I met during my stay at Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary is in service, fully and unconditionally, in service with love and devotion.
I arrived to receive my very first of many fresh chilled lemongrass cloths and a tropical welcome drink. This combination, and others with various scents and herbs, became a cherished part of my stay and I will always associate the smell of lemongrass with the healing that I experienced at Kamalaya.
Because Kamalaya is devoted to wellness, every guest that arrives is given a personalised program based on their needs and intentions if they desire this type of experience. The sanctuary and the team are composed of various disciplines and practitioners of holistic medicine with treatments ranging from Ancient Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and many other global schools, to Reiki and Thai Massage. The mind, body and spirit healing approach takes place at the “cellular level” with an initial Body Bioelectric Impedance Analysis which measures vitality. From there, guests meet with a naturopath who consults with them one-on-one regarding their stay, program and intentions.
My visit to Kamalaya came on the heels of a 7-day detox retreat in Phuket, and my hope was to follow the detox with additional mind, body, spirit healing and guidance on how to continue the healthy lifestyle on my own in the future. My consultation with the naturopath was personal and gave me an overall plan for the week of my stay which included diet, exercise and various treatments provided by the team at Kamalaya. I left this initial consultation feeling incredibly happy to be there and in loving hands for my planned stay ahead.
My Pool Villa was centrally located on the property within walking distance to the spa, the monk’s cave, yoga platform, beach and pools and all of the restaurants on property. It also had an incredible view of the beach from the private jungle deck with plenty of room to enjoy a nap or journalling and sunset tea gazing in the afternoons.
My favourite part about this suite, and what makes it unique to any other room at Kamalaya, is the inner, private courtyard with an outdoor bathing pool and waterfall. This courtyard connects the separate living room space, the outdoor bathroom space and the separate sleeping space, and it provides the perfect private respite with the sound of water which you can hear from the bedroom.
Every bit of my stay was catered to the holistic plan set in place on the day I arrived. Because I was transitioning from my detox, caution was given to go slow, eat intentionally and enjoy the spa treatments. A schedule of treatments per day was waiting for me in my villa when I arrived, along with a plate of fresh, organic fruit.
The luxurious living space provided plenty of room to do just that, live. I enjoyed the open-air shower and melted into the king-size bed each night with the glow of the courtyard and pool and the sound of the water lulling me to sleep.
Organic Detox Cuisine
I will never forget the food at Kamalaya, and that Kamalaya taught me that food is indeed medicine. Not only is the menu completely guided by wellness, but the guiding principles of the program encompass everything that healthy eating is. Among the principles of this food are that the food is served as close to its natural state as possible. With very little additives, or processing or preserving even. No artificial flavours, or colours and low in sugar, sodium and fat. The quality and freshness of each of the ingredients could be tasted in every bite, and the creativity of the chef inspired me to try new things to substitute for the things that had become part of my everyday diet. I also fell madly in-love with Thai fresh coconuts.
Beyond all of this, the Kamalaya intention is to educate each guest about this first medicine of food so that we can feel empowered to continue the healthy eating on our own. I loved the clear little signs on each plate and dish during breakfast indicating which menu and choices were part of my personalised program for the week, it made it so much easier but I could see the many, many other options that inspired me to remember these things for when I returned home. I came to love the daily green shots, and freshly squeezed juices that were included in each breakfast. I learned what mung beans are and loved the incredible mung bean gluten-free pasta and a mung bean cake that was absolutely brilliant.
There are three dining options on the property of Kamalaya. The Soma Restaurant which is open for breakfast and dinner and includes a spacious open air dining room with intimate tables and a daily communal table which was a lovely way to meet other guests and share a meal together. The Amrita Café, which is nestled along the lotus ponds and swimming pool with private dining “salas” and intimate alcoves which feel incredibly delicious and offer the perfect daily lunch spots. The Alchemy Bar which is located just above the Soma Restaurant with an incredible view of the water and the perfect spot for an afternoon tea or star-gazing dessert.
Staying Active at Kamalaya
Of course, there are many water sports and adventures off-property to enjoy on Koh Samui but sitting still called to me while I was there. Daily movement invitations are given, everything from yoga and moving meditation on the beach to fitness. The state of the art fitness facility can be visited on your own or you can add personal instruction and there are several pools on property if swimming is your favourite way to move.
I attended an intimate guided mediation one of the nights of my stay. A visiting monk took a small group of us through a sunset heart-opening meditation with devotional chanting and it was so beautiful.
I wandered the property when I had time to move and stopped at all of the little spirit houses and alters I found tucked in every corner. I also spent time in the Monk’s Cave sitting still and chanting and feeling the energy of the ancient space. I met the owner, John Stewart, one morning as I was happily wandering and learned that we have Marin California in common and that his childhood time there inspired some of the design of the space. I especially loved learning that the architect he commissioned took careful care to create works of art, almost like natural paintings, with each window on the property. Noticing the medicine of each natural gift of art was a beautiful part of my stay at Kamalaya.
I found a lookout above the pool and fitness centre with a garden and swing and Tibetan flags and I sat on the swing for a long, long time watching the flags in the breeze and listening to the quiet. There is even medicine in the quiet, in the stillness, of Kamalaya, and I breathed it in and drank it up as if my life depended on it.
The Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary
The wellness sanctuary and holistic spa offers a robust menu of treatments. The personalised plan for my stay included a 60 minute Vital Essence Oil Massage on the first day which was the perfect way to drop into the space and plan for the week. I enjoyed a 60 minute Traditional Asian Foot Massage and a 30 minute Traditional Asian Hand Massage the next day along with a 60 minute Indian Head Massage that I’m still dreaming about. It was a day of pampering, hands, feet and head, three hard-working parts that deserved some extra attention. I especially loved the coconut oil part of the head massage, it was an added bonus to have the extra conditioning for my hair.
I enjoyed several traditional Thai massages during my stay which were the perfect blend of stretching and massaging and left me in a blissed out state. Each time, I was invited into the steam room afterwards and then I took a dip in the three pools which graduating in temperature and were nestled high above the property with views of the water.
On the last day my treatments included a 75 minute Lotus Blossom Scrub and Body Wrap and a 30 minute Chi Nei Tsang treatment which is an ancient tummy massage. It was the absolute perfect way to end my stay and I’m already plotting my return; once every year.
Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary Koh Samui
102/9 Moo 3, Laem Set Road, Na-Muang, Koh Samui, Thailand
Directions: Fly directly into Koh Samui from Bangkok, and take a private Kamalaya shuttle 45 minutes to the property which is located on the Eastern side of the island
The Fit Traveller was a guest of Kamalaya Koh Samui for this stay. As always, the opinions, words and images are authentically our own.
Pat Russo is a Mystic, Muse, and Spiritual Teacher guiding women into their hearts with a journey of softening. She is a published poet, a lover of hearts, and a forever student.
Feeling the impossibility of choosing between her two favorite cities, she considers San Francisco and Paris home.