Women these days are expected to be multi-taskers and take it all in our stride. In reality, juggling work, friends, home and trying to stay relatively sane and healthy in the midst of all takes its toll in the form of burnout in some form or another. I had reached that point and was seeking refuge; a retreat where I could escape for a few days, clear my head, recharge my body, restore my health and gain back my sense of perspective and energy for life. Having visited Kamalaya in Koh Samui before to try their exceptionally restorative Detox programme, I knew that nowhere else on earth could as effectively be trusted to help me de-stress and re-focus.
Nestling on a secluded spot on Samui’s South East coast in its own bay Kamalaya demands relaxation, sheltering you from the island’s outside temptations. The open-sided restaurant at the top of the resort hosts breezy, delicious breakfasts and dinner. Winding paths meander down the resort’s steep hill aside a trickling stream, where villas stand attentive to the beauty beyond. My home for five nights was to be an incredible 1-bedroom beach villa. Soothing, luxurious and circled by a magnificent terrace and private path down to the beach, it was to play host to numerous hours spent simply sitting and contemplating. With 59 rooms in total though, Kamalaya offers an accessible retreat model as the quality of the all-inclusive programme doesn’t vary, but price is adapted according to room type.
Arriving at night, I dined alone in the restaurant, choosing to eat off the incredible detox menu I had relied on my last visit. Whilst the normal menu has a healthy focus, I embraced the chance to eat healthy, light and wholesome vegan food for five days, cleansing my body as well as my mind.
My Asian Bliss programme started in earnest today. I popped along to that morning’s complimentary class; meditation. It was the perfect initiation into the relaxed state of mind required here, I embarked on the rest of my day able to willingly switch off from work and adhered to the no phone policy in public areas.
Lunch alone at Amrita Café, the poolside café with cooling salas and delicious food had my brain leaning towards over-activity to compensate for the solitude. I resisted and tried to enjoy the nutritious benefits of my delightful meal; this time round, a chilled cucumber and avocado gazpacho followed by a pumpkin curry. A 90-minute oil massage in the afternoon eased the tension out of my body and escorted the distracting thoughts out of my brain.
I chose to dine solo again at night; whilst there are couples and groups of friends present, many come to Kamalaya alone. For me, this solitary time is part of the process. I could have chosen to sit at the community table and chat with fellow lone travellers, but this trip for me was about me-time, which I heartily embraced.
Another early start woken by the sun rising over the sea. I attended a Pranayama class focusing on breathing as a tool for relaxation. Day Three was comparatively busy as I delved deeper into my Asian Bliss experience; sampling more of the traditional Asian healing treatments. A soothing hand massage and expert Chi Nei Tsang reiterated the sheer expertise of the therapists and the therapeutic nature of my Asian inspired treatments.
The wellness centre is the healing hub of the whole resort. With spa rooms dotted around the hill, guests wander around in sarongs with serene expressions on their faces. I ambled down to the beach and sat on the oversize swing seat to watch the sunset, where I had a real moment of clarity. The day’s treatments helped clear the clutter out of my mind and reminded me that sometimes we just need to stop thinking and just go with it.
In bed by 8:30, I managed an impressive 11 hours of sleep. I was well and truly in the rhythm of Kamalaya now. My brain slowed down, my body shed its tension and overactive worrying was relegated for more important issues such as quiet contemplation and a newfound aptitude to fall asleep absolutely anywhere.
I was greeted in the spa like a friend with the genuine warmth radiating from the staff. The day was filled with yet more wonderful treatments; another sauna, another Chi Nai Tsang, a foot massage and an incredibly peaceful head massage.
My final day scared me slightly as I was so deeply relaxed, so unrecognisable from the harried, stressed version of me the week before that I worried what leaving the resort will do to me. I had reached a great place mentally. Whilst the issues that were plaguing me before hadn’t been solved, I came to the realisation that constantly worrying about and overanalysing them won’t help. With this new mind-set I embraced my final treatments, especially the Ayuverdic massage which with its sweeping, oil infused strokes seems to be invigorating me to face the real world again.
Kamalaya’s newest programme is one called Embracing Change, the first of their offering to focus on emotional wellbeing and life fulfilment. I was intrigued by the mentoring side offered and signed up for one session with Vinodh, an incredibly wise and warm gentleman from India who had spent time as a monk. As a slightly guarded and somewhat cynical person, I was dubious about how much I could benefit from this session. But Vinodh’s insight and way of looking at things was honestly transformative. In just 60 minutes, he exposed the unnecessary complications I add to my life and conversed with me about the need for awareness, embracing emotions but not letting them govern you. Vinodh’s advice was invaluable and I could have talked with him for hours, making it clear why many suffering terrible blows in life escape to Kamalaya seeking its restorative effects and his sage advice.
I watched my final Kamalaya sunset a transformed person. My life is back in perspective, my physical and emotional wellbeing restored and a resolution in hand to maintain this newfound outlook and not let the monotony of everyday life wear it away. I sat there content, and knowing that at times of need, whether they be physical, spiritual or emotional, I will always look to Kamalaya as my personal sanctuary.
A 5-night Asian Bliss programme, including all treatments, food, drink and transfers, starts from $2,800 SGD. www.kamalaya.com
Special Sassy Offer: Book a 3 day wellness program (Intro to Detox, Relax and Renew or Personal Yoga Synergy) and only pay for two nights. Plus receive a complimentary private Pranayama or Meditation session. Valid from now until 30th November 2014. To redeem, quote SASSY on booking.