Kamalaya, Koh Samui – spa review

All-in-one location with the world’s top specialists
Kamalaya Koh Samui  spa review
Matthew Wakem

Ganesha – the jolly elephant-headed god of new beginnings – greets guests. By the lotus pond in the lobby, they sip cups of blue butterfly pea tea beneath the serene gaze of a reclining Buddha. Even for those who have just stumbled in from a lengthy journey, it’s impossible to resist being enveloped by a nurturing sense of calm.

Kamalaya, which turns 16 this year, is the brainchild of a former monk and dealer in Asian art, who was inspired by the discovery of a hermit’s cave in these wooded grounds. It forms the heart of the retreat, in which bedrooms and villas are tucked amid granite boulders, lush vegetation, ponds and waterfalls that tumble from the top of a hill down to the Gulf of Thailand. One can only wonder at the logistics of building here, on steep land where more than 40 species of medicinal plants grow wild.

Matthew Wakem

A walk with a herbalist brings a new respect for the benefits of mulberry, tulsi, the moringa tree and other exotic flora. The setting of the wellness centre is glorious. Sure, there are saunas, steam rooms (a rather splendid one in a cave), gym, Pilates studio, yoga pavilions surrounded by fluttering prayer flags and instructors to bring visitors to the peak of fitness. But Kamalaya triumphs for the range of its programmes, which expertly combine Ayurvedic, Chinese, Indian and Thai therapies, along with more prosaic Western diagnostics, to ensure the optimal outcome. In the week-long Balance and Revitalise itinerary there’s a blend of soothing shirodhara and reiki, along with the more vigorous chi nei tsang, the hugely beneficial Taoist deep abdominal massage that unblocks qi and leaves you walking on air. Among the more sought-after offerings is Personal Mentoring, from which even the most sceptical derive benefit.

Matthew Wakem

These highly bespoke sessions are led by therapists trained in both clinical psychology and more spiritually focused Indian tradition. Gentle probing seeks to unlock the source of behavioural patterns and resolve inner conflict. Along with group sessions of yoga and mindfulness and a stream of visiting specialists, the diet of self-improvement is never-ending. Speaking of diet, the choice of superfood-laden dishes is worth the trip alone. Inventive salads are an explosion of unfamiliar flavours, designed using the principle that food is most healing when close to its fresh, natural state, cooked meals are prepared gently and slowly to preserve the wealth of vitamins and nutrients. Rooms are elegant and unfussy: all natural materials, stone and teak, with ocean views and perfumed forest as balm. Soulful yet earthy, professional yet relaxed, this is a destination spa with a gorgeous hotel attached.

Healing Holidays (healingholidays.com; +44 20 7843 3592) can arrange a seven-night Relax & Renew programme from £2,599.00 per person sharing, including transfers, full board accommodation and inclusions of the Relax & Renew programme.

Healing Holidays Exclusive Offer: Book a seven-night programme and enjoy a £150 spa voucher.

Like this? Now read:

Thailand: the perfect 2019 itinerary

Best destination spas in the world 2018 | Readers’ Travel Awards 2018

article image
Where to unwind and reboot at the world's dreamiest destination spas, as voted for by you in our Readers' Choice Awards 2021

Best islands in Thailand

The 11 best islands in Thailand
Gallery11 Slides
View Slideshow