Most massage parlors are shady

The best massages worldwide: Kamalaya, Koh Samui / Thailand (episode 2)

When the journey is the goal then many spas in the Alps, despite their 5-star crowning, urgently need to think about it. The way to the spa (and thus to the massage) in an alpine setting is often like this: the thick carpet leads from the room to the elevator, where you can meet the last skiers in a bathrobe. Then it goes through the lobby into the basement, then around three corners across the swimming pool, before the guest passes the samovar and mountain water counter that sizzles like geysers and finally waits in his treatment room for his local therapist, who gives her a bitter "Grüß" God!" enters the room and brings the last hope for the advertised "Asia Spa" into reality.

In the Thai "Hotel Kamalaya", however, it says: This way should be a particularly easy one. From the room, hidden in the lush greenery between palm trees and giant ferns, the path leads past old bougainvillea, whose heavy scent beguiles before glowing orchids and hibiscus gain the upper hand. From the Monk’s Cave on the side of the path, golden-yellow candlelight comes out, the long shadow of a Buddha statue falls. Butterflies glide over the flower carpet. The path to the spa is lined with palm trees on Laem Set Beach, behind which the waves of the Gulf of Siam dance in the evening light.

The massage area, reached via teak stairs, is enthroned on a rock. A light breeze picks up as the therapist opens the curtain and greets the guest respectfully with a deep white. Oh how far away are the 5-stars from the Alps and the therapist Maria from the village in the valley at this delicious moment.

Those who have only recently got a taste for massage and wellness (perhaps with the help of lavish stock market profits or a stately inheritance), he was rightly astonished when, at the beginning of February, the “Wellness and Healing Resort” Kamalaya from the English-speaking Condé Nast Traveler, a lavishly colorful travel magazine for the (new) rich and those who are spoiled for the world , was awarded in the “Best Destination Spa” category. Anyone who was interested in spas even before the wellness hype began, said to themselves: “High time! It took Condé Nast a long time to find the address ”. So it's all a matter of opinion.

Maybe it was because the Kamalaya origin had nothing nouveau riche, but rather a lot of hippie and flower power flair. Founders Karina and John Stewart (bottom right; left M.-A. Cornaz) ended up on the island of Koh Samui from Kathmandu. In 2005 her hotel opened with a "holistic health concept", which initially looked more like an alignment in a niche market. “Health tourism” wasn't really sexy. Thanks to Apple, Iphone and other always-available technology, the situation has changed fundamentally: In the meantime, the Kamalaya has become one of the reload places worldwide for stressed, meaning-seeking or exhausted burnout westerners. Detoxification, wellness, fitness, yoga plus holistic nutrition are the areas that everyday life revolves around here. Or as hotel "director" Marc-Antoine Cornaz says: "I have to be an ashram and a Hilton hotel at the same time!"

At first glance, massage does not seem to play an important role in this context. But Cornaz makes it clear: "Our guests book two treatments a day". So yes: The Kamalaya is also an exceptional place in the world when it comes to massage. Noteworthy: the menu is clear and no frills. “Only” eight massage variants, some of which are tailored to the detox programs, are on offer. Clearly perfect. A good spa is not characterized by an unmanageable variety of treatments.

On the first visit, on the rock with a sea view (It is best to book an appointment shortly before sunset) the lukewarm oil (we have selected “Fire” from the “Five Elements Essential Oil”) penetrates the skin with calm, gentle movements. After a few minutes you will be asked whether the strength of the massage is correct. We can take a little more pressure, which takes effect immediately. And in fact, after the massage is over, the promise is kept: our feelings are later balanced. It is the massage itself and the special place that bring life into balance on this evening.

Of course, a Thai massage shouldn't be missing. Here it is traditional and classic as it should be. It thus primarily follows the ten (invisible) energy lines that run through the body. The stretching is followed by a deep tissue pressure point massage, which promotes blood circulation. Especially with the stretching part it is important that the massage is adapted to the "European" body and not the Asian variant, which can be extremely painful for Thai massage newbies. Asians are much more used to massage and therefore usually more flexible. Everything fits perfectly here on the rock, just like the massage pajamas we wear. A proper Thai massage is NEVER performed in the nude. In Europe in particular, this tradition is increasingly being disregarded, even in very good hotels and spas.

We do without the hot Thai herbal compresses, which seem too exhausting to us at this moment. After 90 minutes we feel perfect. Enjoy a last moment of peace, the view and the tea served.

What a day, what a massage, what a hotel - wonderful: the Kathmandu hippies have become healing heroes. A deep bow to the Kamalaya. The party on Koh Samui may be raging elsewhere, but at Laem Set Beach the healthy life, relaxation and soon a little more Condé Nast Traveler readers are "raging" - you can't have everything in life. But after a massage on the Kamalaya rock you float (at least temporarily) over the earthly things of modern everyday life ...

Photos: Copyright all Kamalaya Hotel

The Kamalaya Koh Samui is a holistic wellness and healing resort, embedded in an inspiring tropical landscape. In accordance with its holistic philosophy, it combines Asian and Western medicine, with the help of which those seeking relaxation can find new energy and health. "Kamalaya" means "realm of the lotus" and symbolizes the development of the human spirit.
The resort is located in the south of the Thai island of Samui on a lush green hill that gently slopes down to the tranquil Laem Set Beach, about 45 minutes' drive from Koh Samui Airport.
The villas and rooms of the resort are perfectly embedded in the tropical landscape. Natural granite rocks, watercourses and trees were included in various places as a defining element in the architecture. Among other things, 38 treatment rooms and massage salons, 2 yoga pavilions,
Herbal steam grotto and 3 infrared saunas are offered.
Over 70 different treatment methods are available, including therapeutic massages such as lymphatic drainage, reflexology, acupressure or "Chi Nei Tsang", a Taoist deep abdominal massage.

Prices: From 6,500 THB (approx. 176 euros) per night in a double room (Hillside room)

Hotel Kamalaya

102/9 Moo 3, Laem Set Road, Na-Muang
Koh Samui, Suratthani 84140 Thailand
Tel: +66 (0) 77 429 800
Fax: +66 (0) 77 429 899