Peak Performance

Koh Samui's latest luxury spa offers Asian therapies without the gimmicks

Standing 120 metres above sea level, Baan Thai Spa is one of Koh Samui's newest luxury spas with a breathtaking view of the Taling Ngam Bay.

Samui Coconut Body Exfoliation comes with the delicious aroma of fresh coconut.

The cliff-top sanctuary opened its doors last July, as an addition to the InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort, which has been listed in the book, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.

The magnificent view of the sea and surrounding tropical forest is a part of the spa-going experience at Baan Thai, where Asian therapies are delivered in an authentic manner without the gimmicks.

"I believe in spa therapies without the gimmicks because they don't improve the result, which really depends on therapists' healing hands," said spa manager, Apinun Wongsaen. "So you won't find any fancy treatments, like a hot stone or a seashell massage, on the spa menu. The hands work best for massaging whereas hot stones or seashells may act as a barrier that absorbs the therapist's energy required for an effective treatment."

Hands can transfer positive or negative energy, he said, and therapists of course need to impart a positive energy, which can be a gift or something that can be learned.

Apinun actually studied medical massage therapies at the New York College of Health Professions. After graduating, he worked as a certified therapist in New York and Montreal for three years before returning to Thailand to develop the Baan Thai Spa concept and treatments.

Spa manager, Apinun Wongsaen has working experience as a therapist in the US and Canada before joing Baan Thai Spa.

The native of Chiang Mai has made Koh Samui his second home. Likewise, he wants clients to feel at home when stepping into the Baan Thai Spa _ after all, baan means "home".

Styled as a traditional Thai wooden house, the spa boasts a contemporary interior design, which considered how the cliff-top location may make you feel far from the sea. Signifying the sea, indigo was selected as a theme colour for decorative items, and it lends a nice contrast to the brown of the spa's teakwood structure.

"The view, the design, the ambiance, the service and techniques make Baan Thai Spa different from other spas," said Apinun, who emphasises the importance of training for spa therapists.

The training include anatomy, physiology and myology, which studies the muscular system.

"Baan Thai therapists need to really understand what they're doing and the effects on the body. Knowledge of basic medical sciences allows them to customise treatments based on clients' needs instead of following a standard routine," he said. "For instance, they have to relax muscles on stiff parts of the body first before applying full massage pressure, otherwise it would be like hammering nails into cement."

Asian massages include the traditional Thai Yoga Massage employing pumping movements to freeze blood flow and stretching techniques, whereas traditional Thai massage involves applying jub sen technique along energy meridians.

"Some people don't want to have a traditional Thai massage because they think that the 'bending' and applying deep pressure on certain points of body parts hurts. Known as the lazy yoga, the Thai Yoga Massage involves passive stretching at proper range of motion, not overstretching which causes discomfort. This is delivered by the therapist, who also works on the energy meridians to open up blockages for a free flow of energy throughout the body," Apinun explained.

On the other hand, Chi Nei Tsang focuses on the energy of internal organs, with the Chinese massage concentrating on the abdomen in order to improve digestion and vital energy.

Based on ayurvedic healing, the Indian head massage works on the scalp, neck, shoulders and upper arms to encourage good circulation and thereby increase oxygen supply to the brain. The gentle massage with warm coconut oil moves through the scalp to also nourish the hair.

Coconut provides oil and other ingredients to beautify both skin and hair, and Koh Samui is known for its many coconut plantations.

"Typically, coconut treatments are offered by many spas in Koh Samui. The Baan Thai Spa version, however, uses organic coconut ingredients with a delicious aroma for the body scrub and wrap," said the spa manager.

Baan Thai's signature package, Island Inspired Sand Jewels (165 minutes, 7,500 baht) combines the coconut body scrub and wrap with a deep tissue massage to loosen tense muscles in the back, neck, shoulders and head.

Another popular package, the Sereni Tea Ritual (120 minutes, 4,900 baht) appeals with a body scrub using a skin exfoliator containing organic tea leaves. It is followed by an aromatherapy massage and a tea ceremony with a personalised tea "prescription".

All treatments end with a tea ceremony, and you can sip a cup or two on the balcony while enjoying the view to round off the relaxation at Baan Thai Spa.


Visit www.samuiintercontinental.com or call 077-429-100.

Make yourself at home first in the reception area before taking soothing spa treatments.

A luxurious treatment room with a view of the sea and surrounding tropical forest.

About the author

columnist
Writer: Kanokporn Chanasongkram
Position: Reporter