Great expectations accompany everyone who visits the lush and fabled country of Thailand. Part of the magic of this part of the world is the five-star resort Chiva-Som, near the royal city Hua Hin, just a few hours outside of Bangkok. It will have you dazzled beyond belief with an opportunity to practice the triumvirate of mind, body and spirit rejuvenation, as our globe-gallivanting Lance Avery Morgan learns.
It’s known as the new in retreat of the internationally rich and famous. Secluded? Certainly. Worth the long flight to Asia? You bet. Translated from Thai, Chiva-Som means Haven of Life. And for good reason. This retreat is indeed a haven of life for reviving the entire mind, body and spirit for a total sense of renewal. Created to both challenge and encourage, this resort offers medical and holistic treatments as well as the pampering environment of luxe spa treatments, so week’s rejuvenation endures into a lifetime of healthy memories.
From bustling Bangkok, take a three-hour drive to the Gulf of Thailand (or a 25-minute private plane ride, or a 40 minute helicopter hop if you’re feeling very adventurous) and suddenly you’re in the tropical paradise and opulent surroundings of beachfront Chiva-Som. Serene waterfalls and indigenous Thai pagodas mixed with contemporary architecture blend to make this a luxury resort environment rarely seen in the western world. From the moment you’re welcomed to the lush seven-acre paradise with a cool lemongrass tea, you can’t help but want to take to dive into this healthy environment for all it’s worth. Many Americans are looking to Asia for spa treatment inspiration now and in the United States many popular treatments are Asian, so most guests arrive already understanding what they do.
Want to drop some pounds and get in shape in one week’s time? Here’s the place where that’s most likely to happen. Chiva-Som offers a menu of 200 fitness, physiotherapy, holistic, medi-spa and spa therapies aimed to help you restore, rejuvenate and redirect. The path to fitness encompasses both an Eastern and Western-inspired approach. From aqua aerobics to gym workouts to water sports to beach Pilates to yoga, Tai Chi and Thai boxing, each activity helps create a physical foundation for a choice of holistic therapies. Chinese medicine, acupuncture, ayurvedic medicine are administered by physiotherapists, naturopaths, chiropractors and other specialists to aid your healthy journey.
The essence of rejuvenation is of course, a harmonic frame of mind and a sense of balance. Here at Chiva-Som, from the gourmet cuisine to the attentive service, you’ll feel right at home the very first moment you arrive. Since Chiva-Som takes health very seriously, you can expect an initial consultation with a medical professional to evaluate your wellbeing goals upon arrival. Your blood pressure is taken and questionnaires are offered to ensure that every treatment helps you make the most of your stay. To help the transition when you arrive, you’ll be escorted to Jet Lag Therapy, a 95-minute head to toe treatment that will make the challenging time difference seem like just another day at the beach. After the foot massage, facial, and oxygen treatment, you’ll enjoy the sense of peace seems to radiate from every fellow guest you might encounter.
YOU LOOK GORGEOUS. WHAT DID YOU DO?
And if you’re thinking of indulging in typical resort cuisine, think again. Here you’ll find only the healthiest vegetables, fruits and lean meats available that are prepared with some of the most delectable and rare spices found anywhere in the world. With this mix of Thai and Western approaches, fat-free and salt-free are the golden rules here to sustain weight maintenance. Dinner is no different. Because of the country’s exorbitant luxury import tax on wine and spirits, expect to have only fresh mocktails, made of fruits and juices, to supply quick energy boosts throughout the day.
You have a choice of dining in the more formal Emerald Room, or on the patio or poolside to absorb more of the spa ambience. Spa robes and swimsuits are de rigueur, so expect this relaxed attitude at mealtime, too. Want to learn how to cook like a true Thai resident? Sign up for a cooking class where you’ll learn to prepare a low-calorie soup, salad and entrée in about an hour and a half. After you’ve learned your way around a curry salad, it’s time indulge in more pampering treatments.
While pampering means different things to different visitors, Chiva-Som’s definition is exquisite service that tends to any need that might arise. From a dip in the cold plunge pool to de-stressing on the relaxation chaise lounges, you’ll have options of how to re-energize before choosing another of your detoxifying treatments. With over 40 treatment rooms and dozens upon dozens of expert spa technicians, almost anything you can imagine is available.
From the four-hands Thai massage, to the invigorating Swedish massage, acupressure and deep tissue massages, the combination of treatments is limitless. Add a selection of Shiatsu, reiki reflexology, aromatherapy, scrubs, wraps and facials and you’ve achieved what might be close to nirvana. Ken Rosen, the Chiva-Som on-staff Chinese medicine expert shares, “Many people come here to stop something like smoking or over-eating. Or they have a lack of energy they want to improve. You name it. Sometimes, we’re even a last resort.” Dr. Thom, the aesthetic doctor at the spa is on hand to offer any cosmetic procedures that might also be desired. Thom says, “Here we’re about image improvement and improving self esteem. When many of our patients return home, the usual response is, ‘You look gorgeous. What did you do?’”
One of the five daily treatments I encountered which seemed uniquely life-enhancing was the flotation tank. Shaped similar to an Apollo 11 space capsule, I entered the dark, calm, tiled-lined pool with a sense of abandon. The combination of sea salts that help detoxify and the three-foot water level immediately offers a sense of floating weightlessness. An hour and a half of becoming one with the water seemed like ten minutes, but oh, the sense of calm it offered stayed with me for the rest of the stay.
It’s quite an international crowd who flocks to Chiva-Som. Over 40% are Europeans, according to the spa. Along with them, you’ll meet Asians, Russians, Americans and just about any other nationality that loves pampering. Your fellow guests, even though glamorous, are usually hard to find on the grounds. With all the choices of activities, classes, meals and treatments, you may miss visiting royalty at lunch. Or perhaps not even notice the David Beckham of Russia sequestered in the corner at dinner with his supermodel girlfriend. But they are there, enjoying the same comforts of five-star elegance as you. They, too, are staying in the same luxurious suites and villas on the grounds with the finest linens and toiletries. And the perfect bed for at least nine hours of sleep. You see, when you come to this haven of life, everyone tunes into the good habits in life, like proper exercise, supreme culinary habits, arising early, turning in early and well, leading the best life possible.
The best thing of staying a week in one of Thailand’s finest resorts? If you’re like me, you’ll most likely see a weight loss of at least 10 pounds during your stay. With the humid warmth and the rigorous activities in which you participate, plus the healthy mindset and beyond spectacular food, you can expect a week in paradise you won’t soon forget.
A TREAT TO RETREAT
Chiva-Som International Health Resort offers 13 wellness getaways, including five new 10-night retreats, and hyper-specialized programs to meet guests’ individual health goals. The new retreats range from broad detox getaways to targeted retreats to address specific health issues, including cancer, migraines, stress, high blood pressure and weight.
Cell Vitality retreat
This retreat has been carefully created to support guests who have recovered or are in remission from cancer. This treatment is developed and crafted by wellness experts for each guest to help regain appetite through dedicated dietary plans, stimulate physical and mental wellness and promote cellular health.
Cranial Relief retreat
The Cranial Relief retreat is crafted for guests who suffer from migraines and life-disrupting headaches. Combining holistic and physiotherapy treatments, guests will discover how to regain stability through meditation, specific exercises that promote cranio-facial muscle relaxation and a special dietary plan of fresh, organic and nutrient-rich foods.
Master the ability to control stress, mood and overall wellbeing with the Emotional Wellbeing retreat. Created for guests who feel over-stressed or who lack energy, this retreat is designed to rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit. A holistic approach will guide guests on a journey including acupuncture, mind and body therapy, healthy eating, regular fitness and a stable sleeping pattern.
Escape tension-causing routines and release the mind and body to discover true inner peace. The Tension Release retreat is carefully designed to help guests who suffer from high blood pressure to regain a restorative balance in life. Through nutritional consultation, guests will discover the simple steps to controlling salt intake, maintaining a healthy weight and the appropriate use of dietary supplements to support cardiovascular health. Furthermore, the personalized fitness activities can enhance energy and reduce weakness and fatigue, providing a complete path towards tension release.
Effectively lose weight and begin a journey toward a healthier lifestyle with Chiva-Som’s Sustainable Slimming retreat. Begin with a comprehensive program of physical activities to activate weight loss in a controlled and healthy manner. The Chiva-Som culinary team will support the program with nutrient-rich cuisine, while physiotherapists guide guests towards correct posture and increased flexibility. Upon completion, guests will be equipped with the necessary tools, knowledge and a sense of empowerment to sustain their optimal weight going forward.