I imagine a utopian world where everyone is happy, kind, fit, relaxed and has a full belly of organic foods. There is no stress, no illness, no need to work, and there are no sleepless nights – just romance, friendship, and health, education and growth. People are kind to one another, and there is ample peace and quiet. My dream has a name, and it’s Chiva-Som. Chiva-Som is the only spa to be named a Top 3 International Destination Spa 10 years in a row by Conde Naste Traveller and a variety of other magazine and travel sites. My five day retreat showed me the way to optimum health.
It started with a lemon grass iced tea, tuberose flower nose gay and an ice cold washcloth the second I arrived. The prescription of sleep and daily massage recalibrated my nervous system. I chose early bedtimes, sunrise beach walks, morning Tai-Chi where my instructor “A” constantly reminded me to slow down, slower, not slow enough. All guests receive 3 meals of glorious Chiva-Som organic spa food per day, a daily massage, a wellness consultation upon arrival, and admission to a variety of daily complimentarty exercise classes. The most difficult job is to choose your retreat from amongst the bountiful options for wellness; Art of Detox, Fitness, Weight Management, Physical Renewal, destress with Spa Pampering, Natural Healing, or even find Eternal Youth at Niranlada (Chiva-Som Med Spa staffed by US Board Certified Physicians). The retreat that combines them all is called, A Taste of Chiva-Som. I did a version of this Retreat that nourished and pushed me at the same time.
I followed the morning rituals of Thais by heating the prepared kettle in my room and squeezing fresh lime juice in the celadon cups. One day, I awoke with an iced cappucino (from the “Naughty” Drink List) in the morning sun. I sometimes followed Tai-Chi with yoga, on other days I took private TRX and Freeform personal training, stretching, pranayama, and Chi Nei Tsang (my first Chinese internal organ massage where my wise practitioner pronounced my organs un stuck and healthy). Almost every day, I alternated between the steam room and the icy cold plunge pool or napped on the warmed water bed in the women’s spa lounge. I read an entire book the first couple days, uninterrupted by my phone, or noise, or my daughter’s needs. I wiled away an afternoon in the warm salt pool overlooking the ocean and drank fresh young coconut on the beach. I took my meals in the Chiva-Som uniform of squishy cream robe and seagrass slippers. At dinner I dressed, although it wasn’t necessary to wear make up or heels.
The beauty of Chiva-Som program is that it’s all about you. Each retreat comes with a daily massage and the choices don’t stop there. You can have the Signature Massage with essential oils, Thai Massage, Reflexology Massage, or an Invigorating Massage. Your personal Wellness Coach is there to guide you back to balance and has an incredible amount of tools at his or her disposal. With nutritionists, physical therapists, psychologists, Chinese Medicine practitioners, instructors, Rolfers, Reiki Masters, chakra balancers, physicans, personal trainers, massage therapists, and a parade of staff walking around waiting on you hand and foot with a smile and genuine concern for your well-being, Chiva-Som might be the ideal mix of Western and Eastern Medicine.
Most days I had lunch outdoors at A Taste of Siam, Chiva-Som’s pool and beachfront dining area. In the morning abundant fresh fruits and alternating fresh squeezed juices beckoned me and lunch brought an organic salad display featuring varied lettuces, legumes, nuts, homemade dressings, and two vegetarian options of hot foods like Pad Thai or mushroom risotto cakes. There was also a daily soup (the tomato was delicious, but the almond cashew became my favorite) rich and filling, containing no cream of course! There was a daily sorbet made from perfectly ripened fruit and the coconut had chunks of fresh white sweet meat. On Saturdays, the beach front bar transfoms into a candlelit feast of BBQ prawns, whole grilled fish, chicken breast cooked over the fire, and even steak, grilled to perfections as well as the traditional green and red curries. There were fresh desserts every night. The fragrant spa cuisine never felt like deprivation. (You can detox at Chiva-Som or diet, but I cannot imagine being in this paradise and drinking my meals). I can juice detox at home – at Chiva-Som, I wanted to indulge my daily appetite for exercise, spa treatments and fresh delicious food.
It took a few days to adjust to the rhythm of the quiet nights, and stress less days. I had a TV in my room, but never once turned it on – not even when I imagined funny Thai TV. I soaked in my tub, wrote on my iPad, returned a few urgent emails, but other than that, for those five days, I was a devoted student of my own health and body. There was a couple who had been coming to Chiva-Som for an entire month each year for the last 15 years! I imagined their strong bond and saw how much they still enjoy each other’s company after a long marriage, and watched them soak in the health and wellness that Chiva-Som offers up. The resort requires you to be present and focus inward. My gift from Chiva-Som was a reminder that personal connection, touch, and intimacy can never be replaced by a phone or a job. And, that the most important relationship is always the one that you have with yourself.