My Journey to a Wellness Sanctuary
by RACHEL TSAO
Tucked away in the beautiful island of Koh Samui, Kamalaya is one of the world’s top health and wellness resorts. Founded by John and Karina Stewart, a former monk and a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine respectively, this resort is a sanctuary like no other. It transcends traditional definitions of hotel and spa, delivering an experience that not only relaxes, but also opens, reconnects, nurtures, and heals. As its translation, “Lotus Realm”, suggests, Kamalaya is truly a symbol for the unfolding of life’s potential.
Every visitor begins his or her journey with a wellness consultation at the Wellness Sanctuary. This consultation allows guests to work one-on-one with a practitioner to help them meet their health goals. For me, I wanted to work on building more muscle by, specifically, increasing protein intake. It can be challenging at times getting all the amino acids I need on a plant-based diet. But the consultant made it incredibly easy for me, pinpointing every protein-packed dish on the menu so I knew exactly what to order for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during those couple of days. My favorites were the Mung Bean Risotto, Pasta, Vermicelli, and Vegetable Cake. This muscle-building journey, however, did not just end here. Her advice and personal story were what truly motivated me to increase protein consumption in the long-run.
At Kamalaya, visitors are offered the opportunity to tailor a program that helps them achieve their health goals. There are programs that support healthy eating, weight management, stress relief, and emotional balance. I was on the three-nights Personal Yoga Synergy program, where I practiced yoga with a private instructor everyday.
The program was completely tailored to my own goals and interests. I knew I wanted to focus on upper body strength, which was why the majority of poses I was taught targeted my arms and abdominal muscles. I also requested to learn some more advanced poses, such as the Sirsasana (headstand), Bakasana (crow), and Astavakrasana (eight-angle). It definitely took me time to finally be able to grasp the foundations of these poses. However, I am, more than anything else, so grateful that this trip to Kamalaya presented a chance for me to not only deepen my yoga practice, but also to forge a deeper connection with myself and my body through it. There really is no better place to immerse yourself in yoga philosophy than here in Kamalaya. The resort offers a sanctuary in the midst of Koh Samui’s idyllic landscape and natural beauty, to cultivate mindfulness and a sense of self-awareness.
Eating healthy can be delicious, and Kamalaya certainly demonstrates that. Its Detox cuisine is 100% vegan, designed for individuals who are looking to cleanse their bodies. The menu includes everything, from Raw Pad Thai and Sweet Potato, Green Apple & Leek Soup, to Grill Yellow Mung Bean Cake and Roasted Pumpkin & Sunflower Seed Dumplings. My favorite has to be the “BPZ” Open Face Vegetable Sandwich–a slice of rosemary coconut bread topped with beetroot, pumpkin, and zucchini, and a generous helping of mung bean hummus.
We cannot forget about the smorgasbord of delicious desserts. There’s the Thai Young Coconut Agar Jelly, Coconut Apple Crumble and the Peach & Apricot Cobbler, all of which are vegan. The best part is, there are no strict rules–no calorie-counting, to be precise. While this menu is designed for detoxification and weight management, it does not deprive the guests in any way. In fact, guests are encouraged to have whatever their hearts desire from the menu. Kamalaya’s philosophy is rooted in sustaining one’s personal journey towards health and happiness. Thus, the menu offers an extensive list of nutritious and delicious foods to choose from, all of which adhere to a framework designed to help guests achieve their health goals.
My trip to Kamalaya was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I deepened my yoga practice, devoured all the vegan goodness that I could, reconnected with myself and nature, and consolidated my passion for wellness. Even meeting with the founders themselves, John and Karina Stewart, was a blessing in and of itself. It is incredible that at such a young age, I have already experienced a sanctuary resort like Kamalaya’s–one that is grounded not only in well-researched health practices, but also in love and passion. I am so so so lucky.