Posts tagged #spirituality

HOT SPRINGS TOUR

My trip to Japan earlier this year, along with two other client projects, a couple of random meetings and then an invitation to Peninsula Hot Springs for the launch of Synthesis skincare, have all drawn me into the world of thermal bathing and hot springs. Therefore in following this new path of discovery I decided to join the Global Thermal Think Tank, which was a tour of 4 hot springs resorts in the USA right before the Global Wellness Summit.

Meeting with 20 other hot spring resort owners, developers, suppliers and enthusiasts we began our tour, with a two night stay at Glen Ivy Hot Springs in California. This resort offers a variety of bathing pools, a grotto, mud bath, cold plunge pool, magnesium pool, sauna, steam room and day spa with a menu of assorted treatments and therapies. A well stocked retail store, cafe, restaurant, yoga deck and labyrinth also add to the properties experiences.

The itinerary for this tour included free time to soak in the pools and explore the various facilities and activities. Glen Ivy management organised delicious health fulfilling meals and I had the opportunity to meet my co-travellers and learn of their interest and connection to this industry. In addition we had group forums, presentations and lectures in the schedule.  

Our next two day stay was at Two Bunch Palms, an oasis in the middle of the Californian desert which is quite literally named after the two bunches of palms that sit in the middle of this landscape and mark the hot springs. We were welcomed with an intention setting and smoking ceremony lead by the resident shaman, and then had time to soak and relax before meeting for dinner. The following day various presenters talked of the history, trends and progressions in the hot springs industry. 

Our final destination was two flights and a road trip away to Ojo Caliente located near Sante Fe, Mexico. Nestled in a valley on 1,100 acres, Ojo is deemed sacred by the Native Americans of Northern New Mexico. The legendary waters here have been soothing body, mind and spirit for centuries and are the only hot springs in the world with 4 unique, sulfer-free mineral waters. 

Throughout history, people have used thermal and mineral springs for bathing, healing, socializing, and spiritual reasons. Those traditions are the roots of today’s spa industry, and are finding a resurgence of interest as consumers increasingly seek authentic, natural, and place-based experiences.

There are over 26,000 establishments in 103 countries that have wellness, recreational, and therapeutic facilities and services built around thermal/mineral springs. Collectively, these establishments earned more than $50 billion in revenues in 2013. Only 6,500 of these establishments offer spa-related services such as massages and facials and because they earn much higher average revenues, thermal and mineral springs establishments that offer spa treatments account for nearly two-thirds of industry revenues.

Asia leads the world in thermal/mineral springs revenues at $26.7 billion, with the two main markets—Japan and China—accounting for 51% of global revenues. The Asian market is dominated by the thousands of onsen in Japan and the ongoing massive investments in hot springs resorts in China. The second largest region is Europe, estimated at $21.7 billion, with a mature industry of sanatoria, health resorts, and thermal stations that use thermal and mineral waters primarily for therapeutic, curative, and rehabilitative purposes. 

As the renewed interest in the special properties of thermal and mineral waters continues to pick up momentum, we expect to see a growing number of businesses built around springs in countries where the industry is less developed. In the well-established markets in Europe, many countries are refurbishing their facilities and modernizing their offerings to appeal to modern wellness consumers and travellers. 

I certainly now know that my preference from this point of discovery will to be have a combined hot springs and spa resort experience. Its just so fulfilling to have a connection to a life giving source of wellness whilst being outdoors in the sunshine or under the stars. And with the addition of a day spa ritual, there really isn't too much more one could want.  

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KAMALAYA, KOH SAMUI

I have been visiting health retreats all over the world for 20 years now and Kamalaya had been on my wish list for well over 6 years, so you can imagine my delight when I was asked to fly to Thailand and visit Kamalaya as a mystery judge for the World Spa & Wellness Awards. 

The island of Koh Samui in Thailand has been health retreat central for over 20 years. In fact it was here that I went through my first 7 day fasting program back in 2000. It was also at this retreat that I attended my first yoga class and met my yoga teacher. Some years later I returned to the island for a second retreat and so when I landed at the airport I felt like I was coming home. 

The transfer to Kamalaya was smooth and within 50 minutes I was greeted into the lovely reception area for check-in. I was feeling wonderful already! I had booked a 7 night stay and after a busy year of moving interstate, studying interior design and work I was certainly ready to get my glow back on, and be an advocate for spa wellness. It was truly the perfect end to the year. 

My initial wellness consultation was thorough and my wellness advisor was exceptionally helpful with explaining certain speciality therapies on the spa menu. From there a plan was made and soon thereafter I arrived to the spa reception for my first treatment, which was an Ayurvedic Marma Point Massage, ideal for grounding and balancing. I had now arrived into my body and could already feel this was going to be an amazing week. 

Perched on a steep hillside that drops down to the sea and a private beach, I found myself feeling expanded and yet still. Whichever way I walked required some incidental exercise, along with some detoxification due to the sweating that naturally happens in the humidity of Thailand. In addition there was a daily schedule of classes that included yoga, meditation, pilates, aqua aerobics and some other things. I loved using the fitness centre and running on the treadmill with its spectacular view over the water and I also loved dancing freely in the yoga pavilion that sat on top of the hill. I hold this in my memory as 'my special place'. 

The food philosophy was absolutely perfect and I could not fault a single item. It has been carefully planned from all angles and whether one follows a vegan, raw, ayuvedic, TCM or paleo diet the menu and breakfast buffet had it all. The food was always beautifully presented, full of life, vitality and colour and of course delicious. It was such an inspiring culinary experience that I would return for this alone. The restaurant featured private tables along with a communal dining experience which is fabulous when travelling alone or if you are wanting to meet other wellness travellers. 

The spa and wellness menu is amongst the most comprehensive you will find anywhere. The approach to healing for mind, body and soul is available via a myriad of treatments to choose from. In addition, Kamalaya hosts some of the worlds best healing practitioners who offer their own specialty therapies, which ensures this spa menu will never be boring, and nor will your journey back to self. 

Finally what I most loved about Kamalaya is the pure intention that it was built upon. Created by John and Karina Stewart, this is a tale of love. They met at the feet of their Guru in India and from there became good friends. John was living in a Himalayan ashram at this time, and Karina was living in the USA and a practicing Chinese Doctor amongst other things. Some 11 years later John was told that it was time for him to leave the ashram and go into the world. He called Karina and with a shared vision they soon married and began the task of finding the perfect location for the retreat they imagined. During this time they met Marc Cornaz, who brought his exceptional experience as a hotelier to the development of the retreat so that today Kamalaya offers a luxury 5 star experience that rivals any other luxury resort.

Kamalaya offers an experience that touches mind, body and soul. I absolutely loved my week here and hope to return some day in the not too distant future.

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