Words: Tori Leckie, www.fitchicksandfastwomen.com | Photos: Kamalaya Koh Samui, www.kamalaya.com
I think I’m safe to assume two things about every reader of DO IT NOW Magazine. Firstly, we all hope to live long and active lives. And secondly, we’re sometimes excellent at working hard, training hard and playing hard but when it comes to downtime, quality rest and relaxation, we score an epic fail.
Photo credit: Kamalaya Koh Samui, www.kamalaya.com
I know I’m not the only stereotypical type A out there. The thing is abundant sleep, nutrient-dense fuel and a break from high-impact training and our hectic 24/7 lives really does bring us improved performance in the long run (no pun intended). It certainly helps to recharge the batteries, reboot our systems, improve our motivation levels and create a surge in our overall health, vitality and wellness levels.
I’ve just returned from one of the most idyllic spots on the planet, where I’ve been doing just this. Tucked away in a beautifully secluded spot in the southeast of Koh Samui, Thailand, award-winning wellness retreat and holistic sanctuary Kamalaya is the sort of place you dream about, you know, when suffering in a long race and you transport yourself far away to utopia. This is Kamalaya!
Centred around a Buddhist monk’s cave, the place is perched on a hill, overlooking the ocean and wrapped up in tropical vegetation, streams, boulders, rocks and trees.
Photo credit: Kamalaya Koh Samui, www.kamalaya.com
It’s a sanctuary where beyond the stunning villas nestled amongst the trees, beyond the incredible food, beyond the hospitality and friendliness that redefines both, beyond the perfect pools and idyllic beach, is a world-class wellness centre where you can immerse yourself in complete and utter decadence to soothe your body, mind and soul. With programmes like Detox and Stress & Burnout to Personal Yoga, Optimal Fitness, Emotional Balance and Embracing Change, you’re truly spoilt for choice.
Beyond your chosen programme, there’s a weekly timetable of other activities to dip in and out of as you wish. Think group yoga, meditation, Pilates, tai chi, circuits and various wellness workshops. The gym is fantastic too and the steam and plunge pools are the perfect place to chill out at the end of the day. There’s a library, art gallery, regular movie showings, cookery classes and regular cultural events, as well as year-round visiting practitioners, all experts in their field who offer holistic healing and alternative medicine treatments.
It was, in fact, a fellow ultra-running friend who introduced me to the place. I was here last September, fresh off the podium from Indonesia’s Bromo Marathon. This time I arrived far from fresh off the podium, but certainly following a crazy few months; think moving country and continent, moving house (again), applying for another residency visa, falling in love… and all whilst trying to keep on top of work, charity, running, yoga, travel and other commitments (phew). But again, within a day, I felt totally renewed. It’s so peaceful, so quiet, a little slice of paradise to detach from our digitally driven lives and give our bodies a well-deserved rest.
An integral feature at Kamalaya is their astounding cuisine. The entire menu has been designed to be healing in function, refreshingly wholesome, uniquely creative and organic wherever possible. All foods and juices are served as close to their natural state as possible. No processing, no additives, no artificial flavours. Fresh herbs and spices are used abundantly and every dish has been designed and created to be low allergenic, low-inflammatory and low glycemic. Everything on offer is ridiculously healthy but somehow, you spend ages pondering over the menu at each meal because everything sounds so moreish.
Junk in, junk out. Quality in, quality out. We certainly can’t ever expect to hit peak performance if we’re not paying attention to our nutrition. The formula for optimal performance full stop requires regular physical activity, plentiful sleep and foods that promote health and wellness, and everything on the menu at Kamalaya does just this.
I find myself recommending Kamalaya to, well, pretty much everyone I know, and for good reason. For those with SA passports, Thailand should be high up on your list when travel’s concerned, as it’s one of the few places that gives an effortless visa on arrival. It really does take a visit to truly discover the sense of calm and peace it invokes, the inward reflection, the physical lightness, the nutritional wellness, the mental clarity… I could go on. The word Kamalaya says it all, kamal meaning lotus and alaya, realm, an ancient symbol for the growth and unfolding of the human spirit.
Finally, back to the start of this article and the assumptions made of all readers hoping for long and active lives and our failure at times to really take time out. If ever there was a place to promote the former and enable the latter, then it is at Kamalaya. It really is.
• Emirates, from Durban, Cape Town and Jo’burg to Bangkok via Dubai - www.emirates.com
• Bangkok Airways, from Bangkok to Koh Samui (one hour shuttle) - www.bangkokair.com
• Kamalaya, Koh Samui - www.kamalaya.com