SPA AWARDS WINNER 2016: BEST DESTINATION SPA
Total rejuvenation in a rainforest wonderland of a spa on Koh Samui, Thailand
Kamalaya has one of the most stratospheric repeat bookings of any long-haul spa. Try it, love it and you don’t have to think about looking anywhere else. If you’re coming here for the first time, book in for at least seven nights or 10 if you can. After an 11-hour flight from London, a few hours’ layover at Bangkok airport and the hour-long hop to Koh Samui, it’s another half-hour in the car before you’re sipping a welcome ginger tea.
It takes a couple of days to recover, and once you’ve had a session or two with the astounding yoga teachers, a hard-hitting fitness class or meditation with Rajesh – a former monk so profoundly wise some people book their trips around his availability – you’ll be hugging yourself for having extended the bliss.
Unlike its lavish counterparts, where there’s often a reserved atmosphere, this spa’s remote setting helps create an instant sense of camaraderie between guests. Serene and peaceful, the retreat is built into a steep hillside split by a fast-flowing stream with a natural soundtrack of birdsong and rushing water. Architect Robert Powell took inspiration from Angkor Wat: he’s incorporated the concept of great beauty emerging from a tangle of jungle into Kamalaya’s tiled roof, open-side timber and stone buildings. You are surrounded by giant banana trees, casuarinas and bougainvillaea so ferociously verdant it takes a moment to make out the structures hidden among them.