Samahita review | Yoga & Detox retreat, Thailand
METICULOUS YOGA & DETOX RETREAT ON KOH SAMUI
The Quick Read: Set on the quiet southern reaches of Koh Samui, Samahita is a yoga and detox retreat and Asia’s longest-running Yoga Alliance certified yoga teaching school. It takes a dedicated and meticulous approach to classical yoga, Ayurveda and cleansing the body and mind, with programmes predominantly on the serious side and a firm focus on education. The beach-side retreat lies in a tropical setting, set around a compact, pristinely manicured tropical garden – it’s a stunning place to relax in between classes. What makes Samahita stand out is its heritage combined with the quality of its teaching and its attention to detail. Everything has been carefully thought out, from the precise classical yoga, through the individually-tailored treatments to the tasteful decorative touches throughout the property.
Who it’s best for: Samahita is ideal if you take your yoga, detoxing and health very seriously. Experienced yogis will benefit from the world-class courses and instructors. Both the yoga courses and the wellness retreats are pricier and more niche than average, and tend to attract an older, wealthier crowd than Thailand’s backpacker demographic. Lithe bodies clad in Lululemon are aplenty, and the authentic yoga culture that Samahita was built upon means that most people are friendly and open. Yoga teachers can book well-respected teacher training programmes too.
What you can do: Samahita offers a wide range of wellness retreats, from relaxation with pampering massage treatments and healthy food to intensive detoxing, juice fasting and yoga intensives. The most relaxed holiday could involve plenty of pool time, a variety of massages, a yoga class or two a day, and creative healthy buffet brunches and dinners. At the opposite extreme, some yogis opt for a detox programme with green juices, colonics and massage treatments on top of their yoga schedule.
Treatments include the usual Western pampering options (facials, body scrubs, Swedish and aromatherapy massage) alongside Ayurvedic shirodhara (the sublime oil-dripping-on-forehead tension buster) and Thai massage.
Guests can join two yoga classes a day: 7:30am breathwork followed by an 8am Ashtanga class suitable for all levels to learn the details of the primary series; and an afternoon restorative class with more relaxing poses to loosen up any blocks in the body and promote detoxification. There’s also a short meditation session three evenings a week that anyone can join. Classes are busy (up to 40 people) but there’s still plenty of one-on-one attention.
Teacher training courses here are highly regarded and keep students busy from 7am through to early evening with asana sessions, lectures, and meditation (with breaks for brunch and dinner).
The staff help to tailor your retreat day-by-day depending on how you’re feeling and what you want to add or remove – it’s much more bespoke than many of Thailand’s detox retreats which serve up the same shakes and supplements regardless of your individual needs.
Chill spaces include the meditation garden and of course the beach: a quiet, uninterrupted shoreline for serene long walks. There’s not much around Samahita’s fairly private location except a Buddhist pagoda to visit, and some people might wish for other activities or workshops beyond yoga. The small library in the wellness centre has a dozen or so books.
Where you stay: The main centre is set along the beach with accommodation (40 rooms) housed in six two-story buildings that lie behind the centre, across a small quiet road. Samahita’s style is clean, modern and minimal – simple white walls with dark wood detailing and the odd splash of bright orange. Paintings of nature scenes draw the eye in public rooms and the whole place feels bright and airy – you can breathe deeply here.
Rooms are bright and air-conditioned. A typical private room has its own bathroom or a bathroom in a corridor shared with one other room. Glass sliding doors from the bedroom offer a view of the landscaped tropical gardens. Beds are comfortable and the writing desks are perfect for journalling or sneaking onto your laptop (there’s wifi throughout Samahita). The bathrooms are clad in stone with hot showers (but no tubs). Samahita honours eco-friendly principles with solar-powered water heaters, water-saving bathroom fixtures, low-energy appliances and rainwater harvesting. A small natural soap is provided but you’re encouraged to bring your own biodegradable products to minimize waste.
There are four yoga spaces. One small and one large covered yoga platform face the ocean for inspiring views during practice; the larger room has high ceilings and dividers that convert into two or three smaller spaces if required.
There’s a saltwater swimming pool, an open air restaurant, a wellness centre with treatment rooms, infrared sauna, herbal steam room and a colon hydrotherapy machine (complete with qualified nurse). There’s also a well-stocked shop with yoga gear and props, CDs, books, natural toiletries and gifts.
How was it for us: Needing a detox, weight loss, and overall reset of my digestive system after months of sitting around indoors in a big city, I opted for a 7-day fasting programme. Before I came, I was sent a questionnaire to determine my goals, to work out which programmes would suit best, and to discover which of my Ayurvedic doshas was dominant. I arrived to receive a welcome bag filled with goodies to use during my fast: a neti pot, my daily herb capsules, a healthy cookbook to take home, an information manual explaining everything I’d be doing, and a really cool BPA-free reusable water bottle. My whole week was planned out in careful detail.
However nothing is set in stone and each morning either Samahita’s nutritionist Tracy or wellness advisor Summer would check in with me, adjusting (if need be) my day according to how I was feeling or my goals. So fresh coconut drinks were replaced with green juices to support candida cleansing, and small amounts of food were re-introduced toward the end of the week to re-kindle my digestive fire and keep my metabolism up to encourage weight loss. Every detail was explained in compassionate and meticulous detail and everything was top-of-the-line: probiotics, Ayurvedic herbal supplements, and homemade wheatgrass and kefir drinks.
Most days I did one or both drop-in yoga classes, again impressed with the attention to detail and the quality of the teaching and adjustments.
The infrared sauna felt less hot than normal saunas although it made me sweat more (important for shifting toxins through the skin) – but I enjoyed the herbal steam room with its view of the pool and ocean more. I felt okay but slightly hungry for the first two days, followed by two days of typical flu-ish detox symptoms and then emerging energized, happy, clearer and lighter.
I used the time between juices and treatments to read and focus on how I was feeling, watching the emotional and energetic shifts in my body during detox. The wellness centre is a relaxed space to sit and chat with other guests on detox programmes, but not the best place for lounging or kicking back. I found myself wishing for hammocks or some cushions on the floor to sprawl out on, especially on the days I felt weak from the detox. Those were the moments where I ended up retreating to my comfy room and having a much-needed nap to allow my body to rest and heal.
What we took home: I left Samahita with glowing skin, brighter eyes, and overall feeling more energetic and lighter. Even with a 14-year yoga practice, I took away new things from the teachers.
Would we go back: Absolutely. I’ve got a yoga teacher training course on my wishlist. I’d love to experience the beautiful buffet meals – hard to miss out on while doing a fast!
People watch: The attentiveness of the teachers and wellness team, and the flexibility with which they apply their knowledge and offerings, was impressive. Summer and Tracy especially were informative and supportive – though since our visit Summer has left.
Food watch: Decadent buffet meals are prepared according to Sattvic principles, which means pure, light and clean in Ayurvedic terms and encourages clarity of being. Dishes are mainly vegetarian, although fresh fish and seafood options are available. Desserts find creative ways to be healthy – such as the red bean cake masquerading as a brownie. Each day a chalkboard menu announces the different dishes, combining raw healthy options with fresh Thai and Asian flavours, made from local and mostly organic ingredients. Most meals had choices of a simple curry, various salads, raw dips and snacks, light stir-fries and simple side vegetables, with fresh juices and teas also available.
Those on wellness and cleansing programmes are served customized options such as freshly-juiced greens, steamed vegetables (or a soup made from blending the steamed veggies), and a light miso broth for dinner. The only disappointment was seeing wheatgrass shots being frozen in advance of their consumption schedules, since some of the healthy enzymes get oxidized and a little of its aliveness is lost.
What’s queenly: There’s something very special about arriving to find a beautiful new arrangement of fresh bright tropical flowers in your room each day. This particular detail adds just the right touch of pampering and luxury.
What’s lowly: Don’t expect a lot of beachy loungy comfort. There are some beach chairs, but this part of the shore is shallow and a bit murky (not Samahita’s fault of course). Swimming spots are a few minutes’ walk away, although the pool is a great alternative. We missed the hammocks and cushions found in other Thai resorts. Although the restaurant does have floor cushions, they’re not the most comfortable place to eat.
Insider tip: Choose rooms on the second floor of the two-story buildings if possible, for better views and more privacy. The ground-level rooms are quite exposed to the path when the blinds are left up, so those wanting privacy will sacrifice light when rolling down the blinds.
Price with a companion: A seven day detox programme costs from 46,370 Thai Baht (£847) per person based on two people sharing a double loft, including all food, yoga, meditation plus five infra red saunas, three abdominal massages and four Body & Soul therapies.
Price going solo: A seven day detox programme costs from 55,650 Thai Baht (£1,017) per person (inclusions as above).
Value for money: Programmes and courses are packed with inclusive options like treatments, food or supplements, and there are a lot of ways to combine programmes with desired add-ons for just the right package and price. We approve.
Reviewed by: Lubna Sharief
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