DAY ONE // We arrived last night after a heavy boat ride across the waves from the tiny island of Koh Tao, feeling rather salty and windswept. Kamalaya Spa Resort is a truly beautiful sight to behold, the treetop villas scattered amidst a heady tropical rainforest that winds down the hill towards the sea. Kamalaya is renowned as an award-winning wellness retreat and health sanctuary, a mecca for the rich, famous and those just wanting to hit ‘refresh’ on their current lifestyle.
The reception area is vast, and you could be forgiven for feeling like you’ve walked onto the set of Jurassic Park. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the thatched roof, stone floors and high wooden frame, and the lush surrounding gardens with buddhas and stone elephants sitting resplendent amongst the ferns. We are given a tonic drink on arrival, vivid green with a sprig of mint – you can tell it’s good for you just by looking at it. Clive, the resort manager, warmly greets us as we check in, and the reception staff show us to our room nestled up on the hill. Everything is taken care of; the special treatment has already begun.
Having chosen one of the more modest suites, it is comfortably cosy and sweetly laid out, with an incredible view out across the palm-swept bay. The mini-bar is stocked with sesame seed treats, herbal teas and designer waters – notably lacking in beer and spirits. A bowl of mangosteens and fresh limes sit by the bed, waiting to be eaten after a long session in the Yoga Pavilion.
We stand by the window and drink in the gorgeous scenery below. The water is beautifully calm off shore, as a small reef breaks the surf 300m from the beach. Later that evening, we lie in the soft white sheets of our bed and look out across the water through the sheer mosquito netting. It’s not just the humidity that catches your breath.
DAY TWO // Our second day at Kamalaya is peaceful and pleasant as we physically start to slow down a little. At 7.30am, I tiptoe past my sleepy husband to take my very first Tai Chi class, which proves to be far more physical and certainly more enjoyable than I imagine. The waves softly lap the beach below as our hands sweep through the air, transitioning gracefully to the next movement.
After class, I finally manage to drag my man out of bed, and we enjoy a gorgeous vegetarian breakfast banquet overlooking the bay at the restaurant. I choose to make my own bircher muesli with goat’s milk yogurt, oats, almond milk, fresh seasonal fruit and raw honey.
We follow that with a session at the naturopath, who puts us through a rigorous assessment. She happily concludes that we are both in great shape and youthful for our respective ages, but stresses that as enter the next stage of our lives – fast-paced careers, children, mortgages and general busy-ness – we will need to take greater care to manage the current balance we maintain. We heed her message, and count our lucky stars to be in such good health now.
After a gym session in the functional fitness centre, we make our way down to the crystalline white sand beach, where we lay on sundeck chairs and the staff bring us icy cups of water under our umbrella. Whilst my man takes off for a long run along the beach, I sit back and enjoy the morning sunlight dancing across my skin as I read my book.
Lunch is equally leisurely; we wander back past the extravagant stonework and underwater caves to a private thatched pavilion by the pools, and feast on super-fresh prawn Pad Thai and a lighter version of a spice-laden chicken panang curry. The juice I choose is delicious, aptly named the Kamalaya Detox Juice: freshly extracted coconut water, ripe pineapple and Thai basil.
We enjoy the luxury of a long nap after lunch, and wake up with minutes to spare to sprint across to our evening stretch class. The sun dips behind the horizon as we sit in lotus pose, hands relaxed by our hearts, humming a resounding AUM in sync with the class. I decide to try the detox option at dinner, a nourishing green vegetable soup seasoned with kaffir lime, galangal and lemongrass. Afterwards we lie on the bed back in our room, drinking in the stillness, and enjoy the sounds of the crickets and the waves coming through the window.
DAY THREE // Our third day at the resort is sweetly pleasant and unhurried. I wake up early, prepare a small cup of sweet lime tea and eat a sesame seed bar before heading to a flow yoga class. The Thai teacher, Siri, is patient and instructive with her students as we transition from one pose to the next, and although I’ve felt on the verge of a cold the past few days (what some might argue is the effect on a body that is slowing down after a period of stress) I am feeling wonderfully warm and physically revived following the class.
I try out the buckwheat pancakes at breakfast, which are utterly delicious with homemade pineapple, strawberry and blueberry jams, as well as a cheeky dollop of warm whipped butter. At times I felt a tad rude sitting there eating non-detox food at a health retreat, but I have come to a little realization the past few days as I looked around at all the California hippies, London rockstars and heavyweight executives: I’ve underestimated how much I’ve already achieved a sense of balance in my own life. I can happily consider myself a healthy individual at a healthy weight and disposition. So, what am I doing here?
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve noticed I now fit a little better in my shorts since being here, and I certainly feel far more relaxed and energised than I did on arrival. But I’ve always yearned to sign up to one of these detox/yoga/spiritual retreats and emerge feeling sparkling and wonderful. The irony is, I’ve learnt that so much of this is already in reach — that I’m already capable of feeling sparkling and wonderful, all the time.
Revelation? Maybe. In any case, I am quietly happy lying here on the sunloungers, lapping up the last bit of sun we will get before returning to the chilly Autumn air in Melbourne.
Kamalaya Spa Resort
102/9 Moo 3, Laem Set Road, Na-Muang
Koh Samui, Suratthani 84140 Thailand
Note from Victoria: I wrote this several years ago, after a visit to Thailand and my very first (and long-anticipated) visit to a health retreat at Kamalaya. I adore this place and would absolutely love to go back – so much so, that I was inspired to start creating my own retreats, recreating the good habits that were developed at Kamalaya. Wellness retreats are a wonderful way to reboot your life and get back on track, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Should a spa resort in Thailand feel a little out of your reach right now, we encourage you to sign up to our newsletter and find out about our next HQ Getaway Retreat, to be held in the Yarra Valley early next year. More information will be up on the blog shortly…! V xx