Kamalaya, Thailand

Serene and soulful holistic spa for all your wellbeing needs

Open all year round. Stay for a minimum of 3 nights.

A 3 night ‘Relax & Renew Programme’ starts at 54,576 Thai Baht (£1268) per person including all meals, treatments and airport transfers. The price for two people sharing a room, on the same programme, costs 94,452 (£2115) Thai Baht.


Best for: Solo travellers seeking genuine guidance and solace

Not for: A family spa getaway

In a nutshell:

Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary is a privately-owned and elegantly natural holistic spa retreat set on a lush tropical hillside at the quiet end of Koh Samui. A fairy tale ravine strewn with granite boulders and tropical plants, it slopes down to a private, chalky-blue lagoon and has a hilltop spa with elevated, open-air treatment rooms and serene ocean views. Book a wellbeing programme for relaxation, stress management, detoxing, fitness, weight loss or emotional balance. Rooms are serene and uncluttered, the Thai staff gentle and genuinely compassionate. Come for deep rest and real change.

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What’s Queenly?

This independently owned holistic spa has a genuine feel-good factor and top quality health and wellbeing programmes and interesting workshops that attend to your mind body and soul. The elevated, open-air treatment rooms with sea views are so uplifting they made us want to weep. The staff are genuinely kind and compassionate and you feel well looked after by an expert team.

What’s Lowly?

If you are not on a pre-planned programme, timetabling treatments can be a headache – don’t book up too much in advance, so that you can go at your own pace and try any ad hoc activities that take your fancy.

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Caroline Sylger Jones and her husband Tom review this exceptional holistic spa in Thailand and find themselves reenergised with bonkers yoga, dawn walks and backgammon

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Retreat Activities

Select a wellness programme devoted to relaxation, stress management and burnout, detoxing, fitness, sleep enhancement, weight management or emotional balance to ease you back to wholeness, or create your own bespoke experience in consultation with a naturopath, who will guide and support you through the most appropriate mix of therapies, treatments and activities.

The combination of nurturing therapies, good nutrition and personal guidance in Kamalaya’s nature-rich healing environment is a great way to rest, boost your immune system and reignite your passion for life, and Kamalaya’s therapists and staff know how to help you truly relax.

You can come here to do absolutely nothing, but we recommend booking onto the Relax and Renew programme, the gentlest of Kamalaya’s Stress & Burnout Management programmes which uses healing treatments (such as head, foot and body massage) to achieve relaxation and renew energy.

More on the ‘pampering side’ of the spa experience, this programme offers holistic activities designed for people who need to step back from their life, recover balance, really relax, and find energy again.

Kamalaya is expert at helping you manage your stress levels. If you have sleep issues, the Sleep Enhancement programme aims to re-establish healthy and restful sleep while addressing sleep issues through naturopathy, Chinese Medicine, massage therapy and mind-body balance.

If you’re depleted, anxious or overwhelmed, go for the Asian Bliss programme, which draws on the Asian healing traditions of Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine and Thailand to support the nervous system and restore emotional and psychological balance. It also includes gentle yoga and exercise.

If you’re suffering from chronic stress, go for the more intensive Balance and Revitalise programme, which combines eastern and western medicine and takes a long-term approach to stress management through nutrition and lifestyle changes alongside stress release therapies and deeper therapeutic treatments.

There are two tiers of the Balance and Revitalise programme to choose from - Basic and Comprehensive. On both you’ll have restorative and healing treatments, personal consultations with a naturopath plus advice on nutrition and anti-stress management to help you achieve a more balanced lifestyle. The Comprehensive version includes deeper support through the use of herbal remedies and supplements.

To help you regain your emotional balance and work out which way you want to go next in life, Kamalaya has a team of Life Enhancement Mentors. Rajesh Ramani, Smitha Jayakumar and Sujay Seshadri have all have lived a monastic life for over a decade in India, and can guide you into awareness of your habits and teach you how to let go of past experiences, manage stress, or deal with anxiety and grief.

Kamalaya’s 5 or 7 night Embracing Change programmes are an opportunity to work closely with them. Focusing on emotional balance, they will help you rediscover and reconnect with yourself during your time at Kamalaya and as an ongoing process back at home, as they include tools to use back in your daily life. Sessions with the mentors are also part of programmes such as Asian Bliss and Balance and Revitalise, and can be booked independently if you are staying here on an a la carte basis.

Kamalaya makes a perfect place to cleanse, and there are three levels of detoxing you can do here. The intro to detox programme is three to five nights, and the basic and comprehensive detox programmes are either a week or a fortnight. Each combines medical science, a dedicated detox menu and holistic therapies such as use of a far infrared sauna and Chi-Nei-Tsang (Taoist abdominal massage). The longer programmes include colon hydrotherapy, reiki, herbal remedies and supplements too.

This is also a perfect place for a digital detox. You won’t find guests sitting around on their ipads or chatting on the phone, as you are offered an hour’s wifi on arrival and after that encouraged to switch off. If you really need to, you can purchase extra time online to use the wifi in your rooms (there is no wifi in common areas), but Kamalaya’s little signs dotted around the place reminding you about the positive power of a digital detox are inspiring.

There are fitness group classes you can drop in and out of daily here, including Aqua Fitness, Fitball, Abs/Buttocks/Thighs, STS Suspension Training, 360 Circuit Training and Stretching. Classes take place in the state-of-the art Shakti Fitness Centre or the smaller Padma studio, and a morning beach walk is also available. You can also book private Pilates, super stretching and personal training sessions.

For a more intensive experience, book a personalised Basic Optimal Fitness programme, which includes private instruction and guidance from a Kamalaya fitness expert.

Exercise bunnies who want to train more but also try out relaxation techniques and stretching and get advice on a healthy lifestyle should go for the Comprehensive Optimal Fitness Programme, which includes fitness training, yoga and nutritional guidance, and emotional and mental support, complemented by a selection of therapeutic wellness treatments.

If you want to lose weight, the Ideal Weight programme helps you identify areas of physical imbalance and related emotional or mental patterns, and receive expert guidance towards achieving and maintaining your optimal weight.

Yoga classes run daily at Kamalaya and are available for you to drop in and out of - resident teachers offer a range of styles including Hatha, Gentle, Vinyasa, Yin, Restorative and Iyengar. For something totally yoga-focused, choose a Personal Yoga Synergy programme, which includes private one-to-one yoga sessions with customised instruction along with complementary treatments, including ayurvedic therapies. There are also date-specific group yoga retreats guided by renowned ‘Yin & Yang Yoga’ teacher Simon Low.

Kamalaya hosts international artists and musicians regularly to inspire and share their passion with you. Everything from workshops on colour therapy to Kirtan (chanting), traditional Nepalese music and more modern guitar music is available.

These small (up to 12 people) results-oriented group retreats give you time to explore particular areas of interest in greater depth and to benefit from the support network of like-minded individuals. They run on set dates throughout the year.

Upcoming Life Enhancement Retreats include explorations of emotional wellbeing with Kamalaya’s Life Enhancement Mentors and self-discovery retreats with Kamalaya co-founder Karina Stewart, Master of Traditional Chinese Medicine and a maven in the field of health and wellbeing. There are also date-specific group yoga retreats guided by renowned ‘Yin & Yang Yoga’ teacher Simon Low.

Whichever programme you choose, there’s a soothing leisure pool, 25 metre lap pool, two steam caverns and delightful plunge pools built into the rocks with views out to sea for you to use, plus every conceivable complementary therapy and pampering treatment on offer.

As well as a huge range of massages and spa rituals, these include over 70 treatments incorporating holistic medicine and complementary therapies from eastern and western traditions, such as ayurveda, naturopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine and other holistic therapies.

Everything is delivered by over 70 certified wellness professionals from naturopaths, doctors of Chinese medicine and western medical doctors to registered nurses, nutritionists, life transformation experts and ayurvedic and Thai therapists. You’ll also have access to a range of visiting health practitioners.

The 7, 9 or 12 night Enriched Gut programme uses a synergy of holistic treatments, therapies and practice to address gut issues, such as imbalances in the levels of bacteria and microflora in the gut and poor digestion, absorption, assimilation and elimination, all of which can weaken the immune system and lead to inflammatory diseases.

There is naturopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine, ayurveda, nutritional advice and other holistic sessions to deeply nurture and enrich the gut.

Gut health can be affected by numerous external factors such as stress, poor diet, insufficient sleep and fluctuations in stomach acid, so the programme also includes Kamalaya’s nourishing, healthy cuisine and herbs and supplements to stimulate and support optimal digestive health and wellbeing.

This exciting programme 21 Days (or more) Wellbeing Sabbatical begins with a personal wellness consultation to establish your health and wellness goals, tailor your program to maximum effect and develop a schedule that accommodates your specific creative or professional pursuit.

It includes weekly personal mentoring sessions, a synergy of restorative and revitalising treatments such as Royal Ayurvedic Massage, Shirodhara, Vital Essence Oil Massage, Tension Relief Massage and other healing modalities designed to release physical and mental tension and restore balance and relaxation.

A Physiotherapy appointment will assess any postural or structural issues, plus you will receive nutritional guidance and opportunities to explore stress management, meditation, pranayama and holistic movement practices such as yoga and qi gong.

Personal spaces

Rooms: There are 75 rooms in total, nestled among the ancient granite boulders, streams and tropical vegetation, with existing rocks and trees used as defining elements for many of the structures. Choose from a range of hillside rooms, suites and villas, all beautifully decorated with Asian textiles and carefully selected art pieces and with air-con, ceiling fans and wi-fi.

Personal spaces

Suites: There are 10 sea view suites set close to the main reception, Alchemy Tea Lounge and Soma Restaurant, with gorgeous views of the coast and valley, covered balconies - some with outdoor bathtubs.

The newest rooms are the 16 superior suites, situated at the top of the resort with views over the sea. They are a short walk to the fitness centre, yoga pavilion, wellness sanctuary and dining facilities.

Or go for one of the Penthouse Pool Suites, which are perched high above nature on the top level of the superior suites and sport the best views and upmost privacy.

Personal spaces

Villas: Kamalaya’s 25 contemporary, wooden-floored, calmly decorated villas are palatial, often with their own balcony and day-bed, an outdoor shower-cum-bathroom, most with views of the sea. Book the Beach Front Pool Villa if you see yourself hauled up on a long beach front sun deck with your own private pool.

Personal spaces

Other spaces to be: Seek out the inviting daybeds in the Alchemy tea lounge, which has sweeping views of the bay and is the best spot for out-of-this-world sunsets. Retreat to the monk’s cave for meditation and contemplation, or relax on your balcony for views of lush greenery or the ocean. The Wellness Sanctuary has various spaces and rock pools where you can often sit and dwell alone - or perk yourself up with an electrolyte drink at the Elixir Bar after a sweaty session in the steam room.

Insider Tips

You don’t have to come alone here. Though guests are mainly professionals travelling solo, you’ll also find mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, couples and friends mixing and mingling. The ratio is 60% female, 40% male. Hair dryer, slippers and bath robes are all provided so no need to bring them.

When to Go

There’s a pleasant tropical warmth at Kamalaya all year round. The busiest season is December to April, and quieter months are May to July. April and May are the hotter months, when it gets very humid.

Shared places

The Wellness Sanctuary: Everything at Kamalaya is designed to bring the outside in, and the star feature is the open air spa set high up on a jungle-clad hill with soothing views out to the far horizon. Here you’ll find plunge pools and steam caverns built into rock, relaxation areas, open air treatment spaces and deluxe air-conditioned suites.

Shared places

The beach: The beach is fairly small, and at low tide you have to wade pretty far out to have a proper swim. If you don’t mind climbing over a few boulders and ignoring the local dogs, there’s a much longer beach to walk on a little bit further on.

Shared places

The Arjan Cave: Koh Samui has long been favoured by Buddhist monks as a sanctuary for spiritual retreat - the island, they say, has a special energy - and Kamalaya is centred around a tiny, centuries-old Arjan Cave where monks used to come to pray. You can go into the cave whenever you want to kneel a while and light a joss stick, contemplate and meditate, and it’s still perceived as a place of power which adds a healing energy to the beauty of the land.

Shared places

Other spaces: There’s a soothing swimming pool and one large 25 metre lap pool, a state of the art gym, an elevated wooden-floored open-aired pavilion with wondrous views for yoga, meditation and tai chi as well as a yoga shala, the huge Yantra Hall with impressive acoustics for concerts and other activities, and plenty of shaded spaces and lounges to hang out in.


At Kamalaya you eat in one of two thatched restaurants, the water-side Amrita Café (for lunch) and Soma, the main restaurant, for all meals. Here there’s a community table for solo travellers who want to be sociable, but you will feel just as comfy here dining alone if you choose.

The enterprising fusion meals are a delight – delicious yet still genuinely healthy. A fusion of Eastern and Western culinary traditions, the menus include extensive vegetarian options as well as fresh seafood, poultry and lamb dishes.

If you are on one of the wellbeing programmes, cleverly labelled menu options make sure that you are eating just what you need, and the staff seem to know which programme you are on and help you choose. There are separate menus for those on Detox or Ideal Weight programmes.

Favourite items include Mung Bean Risotto, Banana Flower salad, Spicy Gotu Kola salad, their own raw chocolate cake and their signature detox juice made from fresh coconut water, pineapple juice and sweet thai basil. Cooking lessons are always on offer, but you can make them all at home using recipes available online.

There are fresh coconut or fruit sorbets as desserts, home made smoothies and juices, and treats such as honey scraped fresh from the comb. With tastebuds satisfied, it is easier to steer clear of alcohol, which is just as well, as it’s imported and it isn’t cheap. Delicious healthy teas are readily available too.

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Kamalaya has a dedicated Green Committee and continually strives to improve its sustainability credentials. It employ staffs who share its values and treats them well, fostering an environment of care, trust, respect, fairness and teamwork. Staff help out with green projects on the Koh Samui and do a monthly beach or area cleaning, and as many resources as possible are re-used and recycled. Food waste is composted for the gardens, waste water is processed and used for gardening, and the kitchens use energy efficient chillers. Food is sourced organically and locally wherever possible.

The retreat also uses biodegradable straws and lunch boxes, natural cleaning products, environmentally friendly mosquito spray and coils, and has no plastic bottles on site – guests are provided with re-usable flasks instead, though you do get plastic water bottles for airport transfers.

Only indigenous wood (rather than teak) was used for buildings. Bedrooms, open air massage rooms and yoga pavilions are built to enhance natural air flow, and mosquito nets are fitted to allow air flow and outdoor living. Garden and pool lighting is kept to a minimum. Saunas run by appointment only and are switched off at other times. The superior suites have solar-powered heaters, while all bedrooms use Airconsaver, a micro compressor air-condition device able to reduce energy consumption for cooling by an average of 20%.


Near Laem Set beach, Koh Samui

Airport: Koh Samui

Surat Thani

Transfer time: 45 minutes by road from the airport or 4/5 hours from the train station

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