Kamalaya (translation Lotus Realm - a symbol for unfolding life's potential) is a game changer. Truly. The brainchild of John and Karina Stewart, a former traditional yogi monk and a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine, respectively, this is one hotel where you know you'll be in great hands. Set in magical surroundings amongst ancient granite boulders and a spiritual old Buddhist monk cave, Kamalaya is more than just a hotel and spa. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what it is, as it is so many things, but primarily it is a health resort. Words like Reconnect, Rejuvenate, Discover, Explore, Enrich, Pause, Integrate, Meditate, Nurture and heal are thrown around like a tennis ball at Wimbledon.
It is clear from the language here, that this is a place to renew your mind body and soul. It is a fitness and ideal weight retreat, offering programmes that focus on the correct exercise and nutrition, with a top class brand new fully equipped gym, and knowledgeable trainers. It is also a detox retreat. But you won't find intense master cleanses and clay drinks here - rather cleansing the body through food. Nothing is imposed too heavily here, the choices are yours and that mentality makes you want to immerse yourself into it completely.
The staff here rule. Always accommodating, friendly and full of character. Take, for example, Kris who mans the beach (where you can get full food and drink service and water and lemongrass tea is on tap) I asked "Kris, do you have the time?" Kris's prompt reply as he passed me a coconut to drink from, was "It's the same time as it was this time yesterday".
The food at Kamalaya is so tasty, it is a strong reminder that healthy food CAN be delicious! The "Detox" plan for example takes a more holistic approach. Organic food that excludes the usual suspects of dairy, meat, fish, poultry, egg, soy, wheat, corn, potato, peanut, sugar is used. What is un-usual is, just how darn tasty the food (especially the desserts) are without these ingredients!
Try the Roast pumpkin and sunflower seed dumplings, or the mung bean pasta, pumpkin curry with a side of kale slaw. Kamalaya is a hotel and spa where anyone can come to relax and take in the beautiful island, without the "detox" menu. The à la Carte menu is equally healthy and equally delicious. Try the slipper lobster with avocado salad, baked black cod with cucumber avocado mash and watermelon mustard, and the raw chocolate and avocado pear cake. The best part is, that there are no strict rules here. You can have a glass of wine or a coffee if you want it. But trust me, you won't even want to!
The breakfast buffet is a smorgasbord of delicious superfoods, buckwheat pancakes, nut and dairy milks, vegetables and fruits and smoothies and juices. There is a juice and smoothie list as long as your newly toned arm which you can indulge in these anytime of day, knowing you're being healthy. Detox Papaya Bee (nut milk papaya and bee pollen) Roller Coaster (wheat germ, cayenne, mint, coriander, pineapple, carrot and lime) and Coco Loco (coconut water and flesh, banana, tahini, vanilla and cinnamon). My favourite part about Kamalaya is, that if you are on a program, you don't have to worry about cost. Your treatments are included as is your food and you can order your breakfast lunch and dinner as and when you please. In the restaurant or your room or the beach.
The spa at Kamalaya is set amongst an abundance of nature. Treatment rooms are little thermoses overlooking the beach. Evening treatments are a bonus as they allow you to watch the sun set over the ocean just as you open your weary eyes to reality again. Kamalaya's main focus is on your mind, body and soul.
The therapists and specialists here are carefully handpicked for their special skills. Everyone from stress management therapists (Sujay is my new best friend) to the Indian Reiki experts made a serious impression on me, and Byram is not easily pleased!
All of my treatments left me walking on air, literally. I had two out of body experiences, one with reiki and one with Shidohara (Involves gently pouring liquids over the forehead (the 'third eye'), used to treat a variety of conditions including stress, memory loss, insomnia, among others. Other programs here include 'Relax and Renew', 'Asian Bliss De-stress', 'Balance and Revitalise', 'Sleep', 'Detox - Intro/Basic/Comprehensive'.
I chose the balance and Revitalise as I was suffering from adrenal fatigue, but i would highly recommend any of the programs. The international naturopaths and nutritionists, stress management experts, and experts in every field imaginable, can work with you to create your own health program from the wide range of holistic medicine and healing therapies.
Kamalaya is a retreat surrounded by an abundance of nature. And the sleeping arrangements here melt beautifully into the scenery. There are a range of room types which feature a minimalist décor and natural colour scheme throughout.
Choose from 'hillside rooms' nestled among majestic boulders and outdoor showers which make you feel as though you are completely at one with nature.
'Suite sea view' which offers simple, stylish natural design and where you can lounge under a magical canopy of stars on your private balcony.
The 'Villa sea view', which is home away from home, with oodles of space on a private balcony with daybed should you feel the urge to stay in your room all day (and trust me this is a tempting option) If you're traveling with the family, there are 'two bedroom villas' which overlooks the tranquil Kamalaya beach. They house two ensuite private bedrooms and a private pool that overlooks the ocean.
All rooms come fully stocked with beautiful toiletries wrapped in hand made paper and an abundance of beautiful shower products made with organic natural ingredients, just like Kamalaya itself.
Take one of Kamalaya's brilliantly organised excursions. In particular the Sunset Cruise where you spend the day on an incredible yacht, with Kamalaya staff on board and exquisite food made by the Kamalaya chef, and a masseuse to top it all off! Rent a moped for £6 a day and discover the island!
Get used to sleeping to the sound of frogs, being amongst tree-houses, peace and quiet, sea views, showering outdoors and feeling generally awesome! The staff are ace. The food is exquisite. The vibe is awesome. The scenery is to die for. They say here "Feel Life's Potential". I felt it then, I feel it now. Just as Kris on the beach said, "It's the same time as it was this time yesterday". Time really stands still here at Kamalaya. And I wouldn't want it any other way.
EVA Air flies daily from London Heathrow to Taipei, via Bangkok, offering passengers a choice of three classes of cabin service: Royal Laurel Class (Business Class), award-winning Elite Class (Premium Economy) and Economy Class. Return airfares in economy class start from £578 inclusive of taxes. Book online at www.evaair.com.
Words: Amanda Byram