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From Here to Thai Serenity

By: Ed Rampell
Posted: January 7, 2009, from the January 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Thailand has been called "the land of smiles," but it could also be called the land of spas. Therapeutic retreats are found throughout this Southeast Asian kingdom, naturally emanating from a Buddhist culture accentuating relaxation, wellness, meditation and nirvana. After a hard day elephant-trekking in the jungle, kayaking at Phang Nga Bay or tuk-tuk driving through Bangkok’s traffic jams, Thailand’s resorts, hotels and urban oases provide spa treatments designed to soothe seething souls and soles.

I recently experienced some of the best Thai spas across the country, from tropical islets to downtown Bangkok’s high-rise hustle and bustle.

A true spa resort

There are many resorts around the world that have spa components, but few flip the table to make it a spa with resort components. The upscale Six Senses Destination Spa Phuket, located on Naka Yai Island near Phuket, has done just this however, emphasizing spiritual and physical healing and calming. Wellness director Bryan Hoare says, “This is a spa-centered place quite different from the average resort spa experience. It’s a mixture of spa, holistic, fitness and integrated health. It’s more than a spa—people come for the wellness experience and destressing.”

It’s hard to imagine a place better suited for destressing than Naka Yai, where Six Senses is the only visitor venue on an ecological isle inhabited by fishermen and framed by panoramic views of Phuket Island and Phang Nga Bay with its myriad of whimsically shaped limestone islets picturesquely dotting the horizon. Its 61 traditional Thai thatched roof villas with private pools, gazebos and bathroom herb gardens are ideally suited for this environmentally sensitive, tranquil setting that combines Eastern architecture with Western conveniences.

The pristine property’s skin care and therapeutic treatments include Thai, Chinese, Indian and Indonesian massage and techniques in the centrally located spa, a mini-village entered through a bamboo tunnel, setting it apart from the rest of the grounds. The spa’s Australian nutritionist and naturopath Sally Twitchen begins clients’ regimens with in-depth, confidential lifestyle consultations and assessments of their dosha, or mind-body constitution, resulting in personalized wellness plans featuring treatments, exercise, meditation and cuisine.