Thailand has many renowned wellness retreats to choose from, whether you want secluded hideaways or easy to reach weekend getaways
Pavana Chiang Mai Resort
Nestled within lush natural surroundings, the grounds of the Pavana Chiang Mai Resort encompass over 100,000 sq.m on the hills of the Mae Rim countryside, just 30 minutes from Chiang Mai city. With a unique blend of Lanna architecture, comfortable accommodation (from deluxe suites to five-room villas), and comprehensive wellness programs, it truly is an oasis for those who seek a holistic approach to inner and outer transformation. By combining the ‘Five Habits to Longevity’—namely cleansing, eating properly, exercising, breathing and mind-purification—the wellness programs are designed to help balance body and mind, and can be personalized to fit the health conditions and needs of each individual. Guests can take advantage of the full range of activities, including daily morning yoga and meditation sessions, while indulging in five-star comfort. The detox and fasting programmes are conducted under the supervision of the in-house doctor, and to accommodate different diets the restaurant offers regular as well as raw food options.
RarinJinda Wellness Spa & Onsen Resort
The Rajarinda Spa group has two acclaimed facilities in Bangkok, but for a proper wellness getaway visit the RarinJinda Wellness Spa & Onsen Resort in Chiang Mai. Housed in a 140-year-old antique Thai teak wood home, this boutique resort offers four categories of 35 luxurious deluxe and suite rooms. Embellished and decorated with both modern amenities and stylish antiques, all rooms are decked with private verandas with Doi Suthep mountain and Ping River views. The facilities include a well-equipped wellness spa, fitness and yoga studio, as well as an outdoor swimming pool, hydrotherapy tub, whirlpool with chromotherapy, rainforest steam and sauna, and Japanese-style Onsen bath. In addition, an alternative medicine specialist and nurses are also available on the premises to provide consultation and guidance.
Ananda Wellness Resort Yoga & Detox Center
Offering yoga retreat and yoga teacher training packages, as well as detox programmes that assist in getting rid of harmful acids and toxins, clearing out blockages, and generally improving circulation (which benefits emotional, mental, and spiritual states), the Ananda Wellness Resort Yoga & Detox Center is a place to really focus on one’s health. The accommodations are not über-luxury, but the bungalows, private rooms, and dorm rooms all include air conditioning. Water therapy amenities consists of a salt water swimming pool—free of all chlorinated products—and a relaxing herbal steaming sauna, and the resort’s Love Kitchen has a full selection of fresh vegetarian and vegan items on offer.
Orion Healing Centre
Set on an idyllic beach, the Orion Healing Centre grew from a small bungalow by the sea to a full-service health retreat, complete with herbal steam room and a vegetarian/vegan restaurant serving raw and living food, superfoods, whole food, sattvic-yogic meals, and Thai vegetarian cuisine. Meanwhile, the healing programmes here embrace many different yoga styles and modalities, such as reiki, Theta healing, chakra balancing, and Taoist body work (yoga and reiki teacher training courses are offered as well). Another aspect of their holistic rejuvenation approach is a wide range of comprehensive detox regimes—including juice fasting—which last from 11 nights all the way up to the 28 nights Renew & Revitalize package. Or, if your schedule doesn’t allow for so much time away, try the four nights Fasting & Colonic Cleansing programme. As for accommodations, they run the gamut from dorm rooms and basic bungalow units with fan only, to larger one-bedroom bungalows with air-conditioning, balcony, living area, and other amenities.
This resort definitely lives up to its name, as it’s located on a secluded private beach, and is almost inaccessible by anything other than a boat. Most guests at The Sanctuary sign up for package treatments, such as the popular 3.5 Day Detox which includes everything from Psyllium husk and bentonite clay purification “shakes” to daily organic coffee colonic flushes. The resort also offers yoga, meditation, and other healing therapies, and the accommodations range from simple dormitory beds to exotic and romantic houses inspired by traditional Thai architecture. There’s also something called Detox Accommodation, which is only available for those undertaking a detox or wellness package, as the bathrooms have been modified for colonic treatments.
Travellers looking for a life-enriching healthy holiday are often found making the pilgrimage to Kamalaya, Koh Samui’s award-winning wellness sanctuary and holistic spa resort. There are 54 accommodation options, ranging from hillside rooms with breathtaking views, to private pool villas near the beach. The plethora of programmes are grouped together under such categories as Healthy Lifestyle, Detox, Yoga, and Stress & Burnout, or—for a more personalized experience—the resort’s team of naturopaths can create custom programs utilizing holistic medicine, spa, and healing therapies.
The resort may strive for purity in its organic menu and programs, but the atmosphere is far from strict or puritanical. Meals are held at the “community table” in the wooden restaurant, perched at the height of a hornbill’s nest in the middle of the jungle, and here guests form an ad hoc support group every night and, believe it or not, nobody fiddles with their phones. The rules are not rigidly enforced, but guests are discouraged from using their cellphones and laptops in the public areas, and most visitors find this to be a great relief and stress remover. In this way, Kamalaya allows you the pleasurable opportunity to reconnect with other people, which is highly unusual in this digital day and computer age.
Overall, the Kamalaya concept is so vast and far-reaching, combining all the different programmes with all sorts of other activities—from the age-old disciplines of tai chi and meditation, to new-age esoterica like Tibetan singing bowls and mandala art—juxtaposed against all the latest breakthroughs in science, nutrition, and bio impedance analysis, that it defies any attempts to sum it up it in slogan-sized summaries. Far easier to grasp is that the retreat has few peers in the world of wellness and seems destined to become a prototype for the future of health-conscious, soul-seeking travel.
As a pioneer in healthy programming for the body, breath, and mind for almost 15 years, the Samahita Retreat is known as one of the most authentic yoga teaching locations worldwide. This lifestyle retreat centre features a variety of guest room options, four dedicated yoga salas, an indoor cycle studio at the beach, an open air fitness and sea-view loft, a detox and wellness centre, a juice and coffee bar, and Sattva Dining, their celebrated buffet–style health-food restaurant. The resort is also smoke and alcohol free, which for some might be an added bonus.
Thanyapura Health & Sports Resort
The island of Phuket is a great place to relax and unwind, but health-holidays have become a booming business here as of late, with the internationally acclaimed Thanyapura Health & Sports Resort standing out as perhaps one of the island’s most unique properties. Here the primary focus is on fitness and sports training—for some at an Olympic level—offering access to all sorts of state-of-the-art facilities. Guests can practice their breaststroke alongside international swim teams doing laps in the 50-metre and 25-metre Olympic pools, improve their backhand at the indoor and outdoor tennis courts, work out indoors using the 900 sq.m of gym facilities, practice slam dunks on the beach volleyball court, or get their “kicks” in the Muay Thai training ring or the FIFA standard football pitch. And all the while the hotel’s team of expertly qualified instructors and attendants are on hand for instructions and coaching.
But it’s not all just about working up a sweat. Health conscious guests can also take advantage of rejuvenating wellness programs that edify both the body and mind. Through personalized treatment programs, which include a unique combination of health education, detox, weight-loss, natural intravenous therapies, anti-ageing therapies, customized nutrition plans, physiotherapy, as well as a diverse range of yoga and mindfulness meditation classes, Thanyapura promotes overall well-being for the body, mind, and soul. For overnight guests the recently upgraded 37-room Garden Wing is designed to create a secluded and tranquil place to nurture the mind, body, and soul, and includes a unique private detoxification room equipped with the ‘Angel of Water’ open system colon cleansing machine (using purified water), and exclusive access to Khun Khao Restaurant, which serves plant-based cuisine daily for in-house guests. Meanwhile the nearby Pool Wing offers a choice of 77 comfortable modern rooms, as well as an outdoor lounge area around the central swimming pool. And for all guests the resort’s all-day dining restaurant DiVine has a menu full of delicious and nutritious Thai and Asian food, Western food, vegan and vegetarian food, raw food, and even alkaline food and brain food.
Atmanjai Detox & Wellness Centre
Billed as Phuket’s only beachfront wellness spa with private cleansing rooms, the Atmanjai Detox & Wellness Centre offers guests a healthy stay at a spectacular oceanfront location—right on Chalong Bay. The centre is a friendly, relaxing environment where guests can participate in safe, proven, effective programmes that improve health, vitality, and happiness via detox, yoga, fitness, and wellness programmes. Clients have the choice to stay either at The Friendship Beach Resort onsite, or at Atmanjai’s luxury sister hotel the Serenity Resort & Residences (just a 5-minute walk along the beach). Choose a Deluxe Room or the Luxury Serenity Suite, or opt for a shared dormitory-style room which features two single beds—ideal for those looking to meet new people while at the same time reducing the cost of their trip. Guests also have access to the swimming pool, fitness centre, and watersports equipment for kitesurfing and paddle boarding. Meanwhile the aptly named Supernataural Restaurant is an open-air seaside eatery offering fresh juices alongside vegan, vegetarian, and raw food dishes.
Amatara Wellness Resort
If you’re looking for a 5-star luxury, bespoke experience—against the gorgeous natural backdrop of Cape Panwa—then the Amatara Wellness Resort should fit the bill. The spacious and stunningly designed 22 pavilions and 48 suites each feature private balcony sea views, while each of the 35 pool villas offers guests a private swim area. Conceptually the overall “experience” is one of total wellness, and offers an all-inclusive program combining organic and nutritional food at The Retreat, the dedicated restaurant, along with personalized wellness exercise and leisure activities—from yoga, Pilates, and fitness, to a steam room with an infrared sauna. In addition, all Amatara programmes include an unforgettable Thai Hammam Experience, which brings together traditional Turkish and Moroccan bathing practices with the wisdom and gentleness of Thai spa therapies.
Tree Roots Retreat
A relative newcomer to the wellness holiday scene, Tree Roots Retreat (which began operations in October of 2016) has nevertheless proven itself to be both a popular spot for health and fitness buffs looking for a laid back getaway that’s not too far from Bangkok. They offer a range of fitness, conditioning, strength, and relaxation courses, as well as easy access to the nearby shores of Mae Ram Phueng Beach.
The accommodations consist of nine nicely furnished bungalow units which look out onto a private pool and garden. The rooms do not have TVs, however, which may be problematic for some but if you’re serious about the “retreat” aspect it’s a definite plus. Another bonus for true solace seekers is that children are not allowed, although pets are definitely welcome.
Alongside these cozy bungalows, Tree Roots also offers a wide spectrum of fitness facilities. At the far end of the property there’s a well-stocked gym—open 24 hours a day—and directly above is an indoor room for hot yoga, and an outdoor terrace for regular yoga. The other main exercise area is a large open-air covered platform with a complex network of 10 colourful Yoga Fly hammocks hanging from elevated supports. Aerial yoga is big part of the fitness programme here, and a qualified aerial yoga instructor teaches every weekend. Another unique training option offered here is the Crazy Monkey Defense Program, which is described as the “yoga of martial arts”—it’s more about self-preservation than self-defence, and tapping into your own “warrior spirit”. There’s also other physical regimens on offer, including Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, surfing, and stand-up paddle boarding (the nearby calm ocean waters are perfect for the latter).
Tree Roots is the vision of founder Aaron Le Boutillier, who believes mindfulness, movement, and meditation can best be experienced through a combination of martial arts, cardiovascular-intense exercises, and the beauty of architecture, landscaping, and design. Incidentally, don’t bother bringing a book to read as Aaron—a former bookshop owner and book collector (and celebrated author)—has over 40,000 on the premises. They’re literally everywhere… from the rooms, to the restaurant, to the on-site indoor library.
Compiled by Bruce Scott