by Kristie Rodgers
Revitalizing the mind, body, and spirit is the central purpose of destination spas, with guests rarely leaving the resort once they have checked in. Thailand’s first and best, the Chiva-Som International Health Resort, in Hua Hin, offers more than 150 treatments focused on relaxation and rejuvenation, stress relief, detoxification, and weight loss. Guests undergo an extensive health consultation upon arrival, and a program is specifically created to match their goals.
There is a three-night minimum stay, although most guests stay a week or more, and nutritious spa cuisine, activities, and treatments are included in the rate. Another famous destination spa is the Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa in Ko Samui.
Because spa resorts tend to provide an array of non-spa activities too – from elephant and water-buffalo riding to mountain climbing – signaturetreatments at destination spas also cater to travelers who may be suffering from some painful aftereffects.
Travelers can easily find day spas – stand-alone operations not attached to resorts or hotels. Many hotels also offer treatments to non-guests on a per-session basis. Most day spas are in Bangkok and include the stylish Being Spa, Pirom Spa, the Harnn Heritage Spa, and Spa of Qinera.
Despite Thailand’s long history of therapeutic massage and natural healing – including nuad paen boran (traditional Thai massage), medicinal herbs, and natural springs – the country offers unique, cutting edge treatments. Thai spa treatments are meant to be both relaxing and rejuvenating, and offer holistic healing which invigorates not just the body, but also the soul.
Expect to see anything and everything on a spa menu, from Tropical Sprinkles and Tranquility Mists at the Banyan Tree Spa, Phuket, to their famous four-hand Harmony Banyan treatment, where two therapists work on the client at once. Other frequently visited spas, such as the Six Senses Spa and Anantara Spas offer versions of this indulgent treatment.
While some treatments are indigenous to Thailand – the traditional Thai massage, for example – others such as hydrotherapy, thalassotherapy, aromatherapy, and Ayurvedic treatments, can be found all over the world. Thai masseurs do not make use of any oils or lotions for their massages and a traditional massage is given to the client who is asked to lie on a mat or mattress.
Many spas have also developed their own signature treatments. The Four Seasons Spas, for example, have an array of sensual offerings connected to the cycles of the moon, with exotic treatments that should be experienced only during certain lunar phases.