Kamalaya Koh Samui: Utilizing Sacred Space to Build a Healing Sanctuary
Well World Productions founder and author Debra K. shares insight from her two-week visit to Kamalaya Koh Samui.
It is often the unexpected moments that have the potential to change the course of our lives. This is especially true for John and Karina Stewart, founders of Kamalaya, a wellness sanctuary on the Thai island of Koh Samui. Having arrived on the island in 2000, Stewart’s only mission was to recover from an illness and utilize the healing herbs that grew on the island to aid in his recovery.
Having a richness of spirituality beginning from an early age, John stayed keenly aware of the sometimes subtler messages life offers. During a walk through the tropical terrain, he happened upon a centuries old cave that had been utilized by Buddhist monks for meditation and retreat. Feeling a pull to build something that would heal others close to the cave, it was with conviction he contacted his wife Karina and proposed they build a wellness property on the island, a manifestation of a dream they shared. He states, “I knew this was the place and so I called Karina to tell her.”
The Monks’ Cave is untouched and remains a central feature of the property. It’s always open as a sacred space for quiet contemplation and meditation. For Kamalaya’s hosts, the cave provides spiritual nourishment and a peaceful break to lighten and brighten the day.
As couples go, John and Karina are the real definition of a “power” couple; in that they have the power to change lives and heal others. To compliment John’s spiritual path and commitment, Karina began her studies with a strong interest in Asian religions. With a degree from Princeton, Karina’s passion for health led her to obtain training in Chinese Medicine, Nutrition, Hellerwork, Yoga and Cranial-Sacral manipulation. It is truly their combination of health education, spirituality and passion that makes Kamalaya the unique gem it is.
One of the goal’s they held when deciding to buy and build on the land, was to maintain much of the natural environment. Artist and architect Robert Powell was brought in to create something of beauty while integrating the natural landscape. Kamalaya sits on top of a hill and overlooks a pristine coastline. Ancient granite boulders, streams, and tropical vegetation combine to offer an ideal retreat setting.
To preserve the natural environment, over 150 trees were transplanted and an eco-friendly water purification system was implemented. The resulting “Spirit of Place” communicates a connection to nature, the elements, and the environment.
When choosing your accommodations, you are offered a wide range of suites and villas. It would not be surprising to walk into your room and see a large boulder that has been adapted to fit the esthetic of the room design. Simple, yet elegant, the rooms encourage rest and contemplation.
Because of the way the property was adapted to the environment, guests also have the opportunity to walk between activities and experience quite a bit of exercise.
Eating Philosophy – the artful blend of nutritious and delicious
Guided by Karina, guests will be pleasantly surprised that, while they are able to detox and lose weight, they will never feel deprived or that the food lacks in flavor. Karina believes when we eat what our body truly needs, our cravings for unhealthy foods diminish. It is with this principle that the cuisine at Kamalaya was created, rather than based on a restricted or deprivation focus. Calories are not counted on the menu and guests are encouraged to select whatever they desire from the detox menu.
When guests decide to visit Kamalaya, they are offered custom-designed programs that help them achieve their goals. Programs support experiences around healthy eating and detox, yoga, fitness and stress release. There are full teams of practitioners that are qualified to assist guests during their stay with their program details. To encourage guest activity, the property is equipped with a newly built modern gym, a yoga pavilion that overlooks the ocean, beach access and swimming pools.
A stop at the Wellness Center is must for every visitor. A unique and wellness-driven variety of services is offered, and visiting practitioners frequently bring in new services. Many of the services are grounded in Eastern traditions and you will find a whole array of Ayurvedic, Thai and holistic offerings, as well as traditional massage and spa amenities.
If the above has not already talked you into figuring out how you can plan your trip to Thailand, this might just be the feather that tips the scale: Every guest is greeted with respect and the traditional Thai greeting of “sa wad dee ka or krub,” which is accompanied by a bowed head and prayer hands. This simple greeting captures the essence of a culture that is calm, inviting and filled with joy. It is engrained in their nature to care and to ensure your experience is all you hope it will be. There is a sweetness there that isn’t found in many cultures. This is a precious attribute about the aura of the Thai people.
Note from the Author: I had the fortunate opportunity to spend a couple weeks at Kamalaya. Having visited many destination spas, I feel this property is a stand-out in all areas. Personally, I cannot wait to return and re-experience the joy I felt while there. We made life-long connections with some of the employees and even made a friend at a local restaurant.
If you are traveling from the U.S., I recommend a minimum 10-day journey, as the time transition took a few days. If possible, plan on arriving on property having already adjusted so you can fully enjoy your time there…it is precious. We stayed in Bangkok for a couple days before transferring to the island, this allowed us to experience the city a bit, before moving on the sanctuary.
About The Author:
In The Journey into Wellbeing on PBS, Debra K. uncovers the secrets to living a high-energy, vibrant life. A former Fortune 250 executive who turned her passion for natural health and wellness into her life’s mission, Debra K. is also founder of Well World Productions and author of “Success from the Start”. Known as the natural health explorer, she is a regular writer, blogger, and national speaker. You can follow Debra on Facebook and Twitter @DebrasJourney.