Coming from a perspective of people and culture in a group of travel brands in Melbourne, Simone Thannhauser discovers serenity in Thailand. She also learns new techniques to re calibrate her inner balance at Kamalaya, an alluring wellness sanctuary and holistic spa on Koh Samui, a resort that values human connections and enriching people’s lives.
The lowdown on Kamalaya in Thailand
Nestled in the lush green hills of Thailand overlooking the South China Sea is the serene wellness sanctuary known as Kamalaya, one could be forgiven for thinking they’d been dropped into a scene from Dante’s Paradiso. The setting is so serenely beautiful and a perfect destination for a much needed unwind, either alone or with company.
From the moment my friendly driver (a Buddhist local with a wide smile and great sense of humour) dropped me within the Kamalaya property I was captivated.
The 45-minute drive from Koh Samui airport in Thailand is a tantalising introduction to the rich tapestry of religions and cultural landmarks that define the ‘Island of Smiles’.
The property itself marks the intersection of the three life elements of air, water and earth and it’s buildings are architecturally designed with both character and functionality. The resort’s villas stretch out over 10 acres of undulating hills and one is immediately struck by the fact that the buildings are built around or to incorporate the terrain rather than as an imposition upon it.
This striking detail is actually an important reflection of the whole ‘Kamalayan’ philosophy – a fundamental respect for nature.
Mine was an expansive villa with panoramic sea views and various open plan living areas.
In the humid climate that is 365 days in Thailand, the accommodation was exceptionally comfortable with efficient air conditioning as well as ceiling fans to cool the room. What really struck me was that every detail was considered and consistent with the Kamalaya emphasis on guest experience.
This genuine care is prevalent at every single step in the journey and one is made to feel so special by all employees who so clearly enjoy their work and feel valued and looked after. From the fresh little daisy on my pillow each morning to the lit candles I returned to in the evenings, the ambience was unsurpassed by anything I’ve experienced before.
A massive King-sized bed and pillow menu set the scene for restful nights. The villa was enhanced by an external shower enclave adorned with greenery and exquisite bathing amenities.
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The facilities at Kamalaya are truly 6 star and cater for every range of holistic fitness activities and wellness programs (of which there are many variations).
It’s hard to choose the standouts because they’re all truly incredible, however it would be remiss not to highlight the outdoor yoga studio set amongst the treetops, the mosaic-tiled steam ‘caverns’ built around the natural mountain rock formations, and the original ancient Buddhist prayer cave for reflection.
The cuisine at Kamalaya is truly exceptional, drawing on both Eastern and Western healthy palate options and is freshly prepared by professional onsite chefs.
Guided by the owners’ wealth of knowledge of traditional Chinese Medicine, the menu aims to educate and inspire guests to develop a more thoughtful and enriching relationship with food. In line with the notion that ‘a healthy outside starts from the inside’, all dishes are seasonally crafted and nutritionally balanced to ensure not only tastebuds are tickled but visually the dishes pop!
Whether it’s a ‘raw’ food breakfast with a turmeric ‘shot’ and plenty of local fruits or an evening meal of seared Salmon on a bed of quinoa, every meal is perfectly apportioned to establish and maintain digestive health.
One of the most wonderful features of Kamalaya is the vast array of activities on offer and the flexibility to attend any or all of them.
Guests are free to unwind poolside with a good book and a fresh young coconut or alternatively be immersed in any number of on and off-site activities ranging from holistic fitness sessions to tours of the major local Buddhist temples.
Spirituality is a key component of the Thailand local culture (with Buddhism guiding 90% of the islanders’ beliefs) and the stories recounted by the locals are intriguing, insightful and full of symbolism and drama.
Point of difference
For me, Kamalaya is the pinnacle of wellness havens anywhere to be found: both in terms of its facilities and programs but even more importantly on a human level it is unparalleled.
Coming from a perspective of people and culture at the Connections Group in Melbourne, which is my world back home, the value and authentic care the owners and management show towards their employees is more akin to that shown to family members than to staff. All employees are free to use the facilities and enjoy restaurant meals as any guest would, and this is an incredibly generous reflection of the resort’s philosophy of valuing human connections and enriching people’s lives.
I felt truly special from the moment I booked the trip and received pre-welcome emails, all the way through my personal journey of reflection and relaxation to the post-visit expressions of care.
The cherry on the cake (or rather, the coconut shavings on the dairy free chocolate mousse) was a surprise pre-packed, chef-prepared meal to have at the airport in place of the less healthy meal options normally on offer. Kamalaya is the most ‘true to purpose’ destination I have ever experienced in all my travel adventures. I can’t wait to return.
10 Words Or Less …
Kamalaya’s tagline ‘feel life’s potential’ sums up what’s in store.