On a typical morning at Thailand’s Museflower Retreat and Spa Chiang Rai, you’ll find a fitness class in progress as the morning sun breaks through the dreamy mist. In the gentle green countryside, the yoga class takes place in an airy studio overlooking a peaceful lake. Just on the other side of the lake, the bending, stretching yoga students can see the figures of gardeners moving among long green rows of vegetables in the organic farm. An aproned cook emerges from the field and crosses a charming little handmade bamboo bridge carrying a basket full of freshly picked salad leaves. She makes her way down the pebble path towards the kitchen to prepare the farm-to-table vegetarian meal that the yoga students and resort guests will be eating after class.
It’s a tranquil scene that reflects the easy going, close-to-nature life in northern Thailand, the sort of organic, eco-living scene that some urban office workers might idly dream about as they hunch over their computers eating a processed fast-food meal at their desk.
This is daily life at Museflower Retreat and Spa, where complimentary daily fitness classes are part of the all-inclusive room rate, and guests are invited to literally dig in and participate in planting vegetables in the organic farm, which in return earns them discounts in the spa and gift shop. The resort’s young founder and director Tania Ho can often be found in the kitchen exploring new vegetarian recipes with her kitchen staff, or experimenting with home-made organic natural cleaning products when she’s not in her office taking bookings, answering emails, and running the operations of the 16-room resort.
Spread across nearly 12 acres of wooded land encompassing a lake, organic farm and fruit trees, flower gardens and grounds, Museflower is a holistic sanctuary offering yoga, wellness, healing, and creative retreats. While Chiang Rai does have other spa offerings in the form of luxury hotel spas, local massage houses, and even a rehab center, Museflower Retreat and Spa is in its own niche, conceived to be a community place that nurtures creativity and promotes well-being through classes, workshops, courses and wellness therapies in a holistic environment. It is also a normal hotel welcoming all guests who like a relaxed, green-living lifestyle.
With Thailand known for its famous spas and wellness retreats in popular beach destinations like Koh Samui, why did Tania choose Chiang Rai to set up Museflower?
It was her own personal healing journey that led the Hong Kong native to create this holistic retreat in Chiang Rai. After graduating with a degree in hotel management from prestigious Cornell University in New York, Tania worked at Six Senses Resorts in Thailand. And then a drastic event changed the course of her life.
“My father passed away suddenly four years ago when I was 25. It is a shock and a wake-up call to me that life is too short, and we have to make the most out of it. I resigned from my job after my dad passed away to return to my family in Hong Kong. At that time I knew that I wanted to start my own spa but didn’t know where and how. I came to Chiang Rai to participate in a healing retreat twice after that, and had a dream that I would support a retreat center project here in Chiang Rai, to help other people the way these retreats helped me. I wanted to pass that type of help on to other people. And this is what eventually became Museflower Retreat.”
Museflower features a spa, cozy guest cottages, yoga and meditation studios, dining room, Himalayan Salt Crystal swimming pool, private lake, on-site organic farm, biking, and nature walks. Museflower focuses on sustainable, green practices such as energy-saving solar power, chemical-free organic products, aquaponic vegetables, and supporting the local community by sourcing locally as much as possible, among other practices.
“My focus has always been in spa management and wellness, “ says Tania. “ The founders of Six Senses Spas, Sonu and Eva, inspired me a lot with their Balancing Senses and Slow Life philosophy. They have successfully implemented sustainable green practices in luxury resorts, and they are true visionaries to bring the concept of Slow Life into practice, both in the spas and the resorts.”
Affordability and value-for-money are also key aspects of Museflower’s offerings. A one-night stay ranges from THB 1,980 to THB 3,180 per person per night (depending on the room type), which includes three buffet vegetarian meals per day and one wellness activity daily, such as yoga, Tai Chi, or a cycling tour. There are a range of affordably priced retreat programs and promotions throughout the year.
“There are many great destination spas and health spa resorts in Thailand, but most of them are luxury resorts with high-end prices. This can make it out of reach for some people who need some wellness support or emotional support and simply want holistic healing without all the luxury surroundings or the luxury price tag. We aim to provide a more casual and relaxing setting, allowing our guests to reconnect back to nature, enjoy fresh air, clean vegetarian food, simple living, and ultimately reconnect back to themselves,” says Tania.
Museflower is conscious of sustainability, giving to charity, and engaging with the local community. It supports charity events that are linked to wellness, such as a recent World Yoga Day event attended by the local community to raise funds for World Yoga’s TARA Project to help educate children in need. Museflower also participates in global eco-conscious events such as Earth Hour on March 28th, switching off all unnecessary lights from 8.30 to 9.30 pm and inviting staff and guests to enjoy a stargazing picnic on its bamboo pier.
There are plenty of attractive reasons to draw guests and travelers to both Chiang Rai and Museflower. “I like Chiang Rai because it has both a city and countryside to it,” says Tania. “The city is convenient and has its own international airport. At the same time, everything is very spaced out and not congested and there is still a lot of green here. There’s unique local culture and landscape. The weather is another reason; there’s a distinct change of seasons and the cool season is so refreshing and comfortable here.”
Museflower Retreat and Spa is a peaceful escape for city dwellers who want to get away from urban chaos for a spot of vegetarian eco-living. What other hotel has an on-site organic farm where guests can dig in and help grow their own veggies? “Connecting to nature is healing,” says Tania.
If you can’t make it to Chiang Rai, Thailand, it’s easy to create a bit of Museflower Retreat feeling at home. Museflower Retreat is the first and only place in Chiang Rai to offer a healing Himalayan Salt Crystal swimming pool, sells high quality natural Himalayan pink salt in the gift shop, and uses it in cooking all meals prepared at the resort. Himalayan pink salt is derived from ancient sea salt deposits in the Himalayas is super-rich in minerals and iron and is believed to be the purest form of salt available,. Its many therapeutic and healing effect include the elimination of toxins, balance the body’s PH, and helps soothe skin rashes and irritations, to name just a few.
Warm Foot Soak with Himalayan Crystal Salt from Museflower Spa
For people who do not have time or a bath tub for a full body bath soak, a foot soak is a quick and simple way for instant relaxation.
Find a bowl big and deep enough, and fill it with warm water that goes up to the level of your ankles. You can add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil (our favorite is lavender) and a tablespoon of Himalayan crystal salt. The combination will help to stimulate blood circulation, purify your energy, and relax your tired feet. Meanwhile you can put on a face mask, read a magazine, or just close your eyes to relax.
Bonus: Put on some foot cream afterwards (body cream will do if you don’t have foot cream) and do a short foot massage for yourself.
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