I come to Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa to cleanse, rejuvenate and connect with a deeper spirituality.
The name of this little piece of heaven in Koh Samui means "lotus realm" in Sanskrit. Built around a cave temple where centuries of meditation by Buddhist monks have created a sacred energy, it is a spectacularly beautiful location.
Lush tropical gardens of torch ginger, fragrant pandan, camphor, lemongrass, Bodhi trees with heart-shaped leaves (just like the one Buddha sat under and attained enlightenment) and more flow down a hillside dotted with granite boulders, past lotus ponds, and waterfalls to the sea.
Integrating modern medicine with Eastern and Western healing traditions, Kamalaya offers spiritual and holistic philosophies with a very flexible range of programs from basic detox to emotional balance, yoga and meditation. The most difficult decision here is choosing from the many comprehensive programs. Each comes with daily spa treatments complemented by a range of activities from yoga to Qigong, Pilates, STS Suspension Exercises, Cardio Combat, and so much more.
The Wellness Centre is the heartbeat of Kamalaya. My stay begins with a wellness consultation including a body bioimpedance analysis showing levels of hydration, body-fat mass and cellular activity, metabolism and toxicity.
After speaking with naturopath Melissa, I finally decide on an Asian Bliss program which is just as it sounds - a daily series of Chinese, Thai and Ayurvedic treatments which are beneficial and enriching. The most heavenly Indian head and royal Ayurvedic body massages are my favourites.
I also relish traditional Thai body, hand and foot massages and an ancient Taoist therapy of deep abdominal massage call Chi Nei Tsang which stimulates circulation and promotes healing on an emotional level to release stored tension and stress. It is said to be very beneficial in weight-balancing programs.
Because I am keen to kickstart weight loss I add Far Infrared Sauna sessions of 30 minutes in 45C heat. Increasing heart and metabolic rates, a single session burns 600 calories. Other treatments to aid weight loss include acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion and lymphatic drainage massage.
Not as hardcore as the sauna is time in the steam cavern followed by an ice shower and blissful moments in plunge pools before lounging on beds covered in plush white towels, sipping ginger tea and drowning in the most glorious views.
As well as the awareness meditations which are part of the activity program in the morning, there are one-on-one meditation sessions. My Asian Bliss package is matched with a Detox/Weight Loss menu brimming with healthy fruit and vegetable coolers, detox smoothies and a dizzying array of herbal and flower teas, each with its own benefits.
My luxurious sea-view villa is a modern Asian retreat on split levels combining a spacious living area opening on to a large deck, a bedroom with spectacular garden and sea views and a gloriously organic, circular bathroom.
Thankfully, there are no early-morning starts here. Each day at 7.30am I walk up the big hill (my greatest challenge) and stone steps leading to the yoga pavilion for an energising start with anything from yoga to Pilates and pranayama breathing.
The space offers breathtaking views across the jungle to the sea. Later I laze by one of the pools or wander down to the beach.
At lunch I sit Japanese-style in a thatched bale surrounded by heliconias, ginger plants and lush greenery. The sea a stone's throw away. A cooling breeze.
By day four the dreaded hill is not quite as daunting and by day five my cup is filled. The kickstart to my weight loss is greater mentally than physically but I will continue using the guidelines I've learnt at Kamalaya.
On the spiritual side, the breathing and meditation techniques are invaluable in coping with the stresses of modern life. At Kamalaya every day is an unravelling. Every day an experience to treasure. Every day a gift.