Tend your bloom

Kamalaya Koh Samui's very first collaboration with fashion house Sretsis brings a fun and feminine touch to wellness retreats. Elite checks in for a flowery recharge

I'd be lying if I said wellness retreats are a complete walk in the park. However, fashion brand Sretsis' collaboration with award-winning resort Kamalaya Koh Samui makes the whole experience a lot more palatable. Launched this month, the Blossom To Bliss programme has been curated by Sretsis to offer guests a range of wellness experiences and rejuvenating treatments during their three- or five-night stay. A selection of exclusive Sretsis merchandise, which is included in this package, adds a flowery fantasy to this seemingly austere pursuit.

Morning exercise with a view of the sea. (Photos Courtesy of Sretsis)

"Kamalaya is mostly known as a place for 'burnt out CEOs' and that sounds so serious and intimidating. We really wanted to add a finishing touch to make it more fun and lighten up the experience," explains Matina Sukhahuta, the youngest sister and co-founder of Sretsis. As the main brain behind this project, Matina spent months of lockdown at the leading island sanctuary and along the way discovered the benefits of spending time alone to tend our well-being and spirituality. She wanted to share and introduce these experiences with others and thus curated the Blossom To Bliss programme, which is a tad more feminine and easygoing compared to the resort's other programmes.

Many may find a getaway without butter and their phone more of torture than a good time, but Blossom To Bliss serves as an introduction to wellness retreats without the hardcore vegan meal plans and demanding schedule. Upon arrival, guests are adorned with a garland of flowers and presented with the Sretsis Zinnia sarong -- a colourfully floral fabric created especially for Kamalaya. Another appealing info for retail junkies is how out-of-stock Sretsis keepsakes, such as their Magic Stone rings or floral loungewear, are now exclusively available at Kamalaya's boutique store.

What begins the retreat is a personalised wellness consultation with an expert naturopath in order to meticulously assess each guest's physical well-being and balance. Besides the physical, the mental side is also of utmost importance and a 60-minute personal mentoring session is included in the programme. My Indian life enhancement mentor Raj used to be a monk and I got a few new outlooks on life from him after unloading my personal turmoils. Although faced with the realisation that I may be suffering from boiling frog syndrome, it was deeply therapeutic to share my troubles with an attentive ear, with a view of the sea and setting Sun.

One of the pools harmoniously landscaped amid nature.

In a place like this, guests are spoiled for choice when it comes to spa treatments, so it's a good thing Blossom To Bliss handpicks a well-rounded, brilliant mix to save you from indecision. Part of the three-night package includes a 90-minute Asian foot massage and herbal foot soak, a 75-minute holistic acupressure facial massage, and Kamalaya's signature 90-minute Three Treasures treatment. Unlike the usual foot soak, Sretsis has added a flurry of local flowers to hot water-- making for a more aromatic (and photogenic!) indulgence. As relaxing as it was stimulating, I enjoyed the acupressure facial the most, for jumpstarting some forgotten nerves down my spine with a mere push into the cheek. The Three Treasures treatment, however, which features a full-body massage with reiki and crystal healing, is the ultimate flight of fancy. If by the third day you start feeling like massages are a chore, this treatment brings in the novelty of smooth hot crystals, which are a decompressing relief for the body to feel. Besides muscle ills that therapists weeded out from my body, what I found even more sublime was how I managed to have many "aha!" moments while falling in and out of sleep during the treatments. Your body and mind truly get a reset when there is a divine massage involved every day, and this is likely the reason why all programmes here begin at a minimum of a three-night stay for guests to fully absorb the benefits of a lifestyle recharge.

Alongside all these therapies, throw in two private exercise classes -- choose between pilates reformer, aqua aerobics, dance class or muay Thai. Even if you are not on the Blossom To Bliss programme, the resort hosts a packed line-up of activities guests can join in for free daily. Ranging from meditation, yoga, qi gong, tai chi, functional fitness, salsa, to introduction to reiki or astrology and palmistry. The beauty of this arrangement is that one can be active and involved at their own pace. There are also tea sharing sessions, which is another lounge activity guests can drop in to meet other like-minded guests, whether you're feeling like it or not. Of course, forcing yourself to do yoga for an hour every day will definitely render more tangible results and noticeable improvements to your system, but it's a luxury when one is given the choice to attend or not. Kamalaya boasts a state-of-the-art gym and two swimming pools, among many other top-notch facilities, so it can feel like there's never enough time to enjoy everything on the property.

An architectural marvel that sees buildings built around pre-existing trees, cliffs and boulders, every moment spent here feels like being truly amid nature. The hilly space is packed with lush foliage and offers a peaceful and quiet respite. Unlike typical family hotels, one stunning highlight of Kamalaya is how it is built around a real cave that monks used to seek shelter at. Guests are welcome to sit inside for meditation and reflection.

Afternoon tea with gluten-free cookies and coconut cupcake.

"I really wanted to recommend giving time to yourself, where you step back and look back in order to look forward," Matina says. "We don't only want to dress our clients in beautiful clothes, but want them to glow beautifully from inside too."

Being healthy from the inside also means a healthy diet. This is the part where I usually start crying, but I don't, because Blossom To Bliss' meal plans offer a choice of detox meals as well as healthy meals. It may take some getting used to potatoes braised in coconut oil, but I recommend the ostrich kaphrao, which was surprisingly delicious. It's also the leanest meat you can possibly eat -- as ostrich offers the most protein and least fat out of all meats. For this reason, Sretsis Parlour's dark chocolate and sea salt bar and afternoon tea set (served in a complimentary Tamed Lovers pinto you can take home) are a welcome sweet treat to your day. Fruits, gluten-free cookies and gluten-free coconut cupcakes in the tea set make it a delightfully guilt-free snack that can be enjoyed on the spacious terrace of your Garden View Villa.

If we're talking wellness retreats, there is definitely a lot of bliss and fun in this carefully curated programme. Even if you aren't an overworked managing director or going through a midlife crisis, it's still a rejuvenation for the body and mind when there is a getaway to the beach, healing treatments (and flowery frills) involved.

"We want this to be a gentle gateway for people trying to understand wellness," Matina concludes. "The best gift you can give yourself, after all, is the gift of health."

Blossom To Bliss package is available for stays from now until March 31 and May 1 to Oct 31. Rates for three nights all-inclusive is 69,900 baht and five nights all-inclusive is 109,900 baht (with additional treatments). Two-way airport transfers are included in the package. For more information or to make reservations, email reservations@kamalaya.com or visit kamalaya.com.

A very flowery foot soak.

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