Life transformation rehab on trend at Kamalaya

Thai luxury wellness sanctuary sees rise younger demographic post pandemic

Thai wellness sanctuary, Kamalaya, anticipates expanding a successful Regional Preferred Partner pact with the Virtuoso luxury network to a global partnership. The holistic wellness spa on Koh Samui joined Virtuoso on a regional scale in July with Australia currently the destination’s third largest source market globally.

Kamalaya was founded by John and Karina Stewart, and inspired by John’s 16-year devotion as a monk in the Himalayas to spiritual studies and Karina’s 22 years of study and practice of traditional Chinese medicine.

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Opened in 2005, Kamalaya is not a hotel or a resort, says Hitomi Minakawa, Director of Client Engagement and Business Development. Rather than opening their wellness facility in the Himalayas, the Stewarts chose to base their first sanctuary around a natural cave that was used by Buddhist Monks for meditation for hundreds of years on Samui island.

“Our main product is wellness sanctuaries, not accommodation, which is a supporting facility,” Minakawa (Mina) told LATTE at the recent Virtuoso AU/NZ Owner Managers Forum in Fiji.

There are 17 different wellness programs on offer at Kamalaya, not just focused on relaxation or de-stressing. Programs extend to healthy eating and lifestyle, detox, fitness & exercise, sleep enhancement and ideal weight management. View the full suite here.

Mina told LATTE one of the most popular programs that Kamalaya has witnessed increased demand for since the COVID pandemic has been focussed on life transformation. That program involves private sessions with mentors and education on how to breathe properly with the pranayama technique, combined with meditation sessions, eating habits and physical well-being.

Hitomi Minakaw, Director of Client Engagement and Business Development, Kamalaya

“This is popular now as so many people went through different challenges over the last couple of years.”

Kamalaya’s top international markets are the UK, Germany and Australia. The pandemic gave rise to more interest from the domestic Thai market, which now is a top 10 source. The age demographic is positioned between 45-65, however, there has been a movement from a younger audience (aged between 30-45) since the pandemic.

“The younger demographic see wellness as a foundation of life, so even younger generations are starting to realise the benefits, which is really exciting for us to see.”

Kamalaya’s average length of stay is nine nights, with wellness programs starting at a five-night minimum program. “We strongly recommend guests stay at least seven nights, that’s when the effects of the wellness sessions start to kick in and when people start to feel better and see the results,” she explained.

On arrival, every guest has a consultation with a naturopath to discuss their normal daily routines, habits, diet, exercise, sleep, etc and discuss any areas they would like to specifically address during their stay. Based on the consultation the Kamalaya team prepares a program tailored to the client, which includes two to three treatments per day. All meals are included, with guests trained on clean eating habits as food itself is considered medicine.

Besides the structured programs, Kamalaya has a wide range of complimentary activities such as yoga, meditation sessions, kickboxing, muay Thai, learning sessions, cooking classes and sound healing. Excursions are also available outside of the wellness destination.

Sea View Villa, Kamalaya

While the focus of Kamalaya is wellness, the sanctuary does offer a wide variety of accommodation options – 14 in fact – across a stable of rooms, suites and villas. Most of the latter options have private pools. There are 76 rooms at Kamalaya and 65 treatment rooms, which provides a gauge of how ingrained wellness is. Kamalaya also has a repeat rate of over 40%.

Kamalaya is accessed via Samui International Airport, with domestic flights from Bangkok or Phuket, or a direct flight from Singapore. Private roundtrip transfers from Samui airport (a drive time of approximately 30 minutes) are also included.


1 Comment
  1. Liz says

    Thank you Guy and Mina for defining and conveying the Kamalaya message to the Australia NZ Travel Industry community!

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