Standing at the sea wall looking out at the Gulf of Thailand, I offer my thanks. With the waves lapping at my feet and the sun shining, it’s easy to be thankful in Thailand.
I am taking part in a wellness program designed to rejuvenate mind, body and soul, and energy healer Trina Eliassen says it’s always a good idea to start from a place of gratitude. I take a moment to appreciate my beautiful surroundings at the Royal Wing Suites & Spa in Pattaya, to hear the sound of the waves, the twitter of the birds and feel the refreshing breeze.
The New Beginnings program is the brainchild of American-born, Australian-based Elliasen and over the next two days she promises to make me a better version of myself. Hard to believe this can be achieved in just two days – a taster of the full seven-day program – but I jump on board nonetheless.
The schedule includes Thai massage treatments, energy healing sessions, juicing and a wellness menu to help cleanse and detoxify your body and mind. Thankfully, there is also time to spend by the amazing Royal Wing pool and in the luxury suite with views of the sea.
The check-in procedure at the five-star property epitomises its exceptional service. All guests are asked to choose their own poolside sun-bed and a metal plaque with your name engraved on it reserves it for your exclusive use while at the resort. No schlepping around hoping to find a spare sun-bed on this trip.
A little while later, Eliassen outlines the program at my own private spa pavilion on the water’s edge. First up is a vegetable juice designed to cleanse from the inside, and then I plunge into a seaweed healing and detox bath. The open-air spa bath is filled with fresh seaweed imported from the US state of Maine as well as Dead Sea salts, Epsom salts and bicarbonate of soda. The super nutrients of the seaweed are designed to draw the toxins out of your body.
It takes a little while to get used to the slimy feel of the great sheets of seaweed, but soon I am rubbing them over my body and luxuriating in the chin-deep bath.
After a quick shower, it’s time for a mud wrap, made using volcanic ash from Morocco, which I am told is full of energy and a healing nutrient for the skin. A full body scrub completes the body treatments for the day.
DiscoverMud wrapThai massageThailandSodium bicarbonateMeals have been carefully prepared to help cleanse from the inside too, and lunch is grilled prawns with a limey avocado smash. After this, it’s free time to laze on my sun-bed by the pool, which wraps around a bar and restaurant at the centre of the resort.
The afternoon itinerary includes a peaceful qigong session with Master Tao Masa. Similar to tai chi, qigong involves a series of exercises coupled with breathing control. The class is held facing the sea and is a refreshing end to day one.
The following day starts with a shot of grimace-inducing pure lemon juice, carrot and celery sticks and a good handful of almonds and walnuts. It’s a change to the typical holiday all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet.
Today, the focus is on energy healing and first up is an intuitive session with Eliassen. Intuitive healing aims to unblock the positive energy paths in your body, which may be holding you back from achieving your potential. Lying on my back at the edge of the now-familiar Gulf again, the session starts as a kind of meditation and Eliassen expertly guides me to visualise myself floating up into the sky and beyond the clouds.
The program ends with an outdoor Thai massage, which, unlike regular massage, does not involve rubbing tired muscles. Rather, it’s about applying pressure with the recipient placed in assisted yoga poses to stretch and compress parts of the body. My masseuse is a tiny Thai lady who speaks absolutely no English. She hops on my back to stretch and manipulate my body, leaving me feeling a little bruised, but wonderfully loose and relaxed.
While her program is new, Eliassen is no newcomer to the wellness spa Thailand industry. The mother of four owned Victoria’s Celestine Waters health retreat before the Global Financial Crisis forced her to shut down. Over the following years, she focused on building her new brand, Azurite, which provides five-star recovery from reconstructive surgery in Thailand.
Earlier this year, Eliassen expanded to also offer five-star wellness programs in the country she feels is the perfect host for people who want to take a step out of their hectic lifestyles and reconnect with themselves. Her customers range from mothers to businessmen but she has also added children to her clientele with a junior version of her wellness program called Kidzrite.
Wellness tourism is not new, but it is the fastest growing sector in the travel industry, worth almost $500 billion worldwide. Wellness travel used to focus mostly on the spa experience, but a growing number of hotels and resorts see the benefit of tapping into the public fascination with a holistic approach to health, including detoxifying clay baths, Ayurvedic treatments, colonic cleansing, reflexology, meditation, aromatherapy and hydrotherapy.
The writer was a guest of Azurite and Royal Cliff Hotels Group.
Qantas, Thai Airways and Emirates fly from Australia to Bangkok daily. Pattaya is a two-hour drive from Bangkok via bus, taxi or shared van/minibus.
Royal Wing Suites and Spa, 353 Phra Tamnuk Rd, Pattaya, Thailand. royalwingsuites.com
The seven-day New Beginnings Cleanse is priced from $3900 a person, all-inclusive, except flights to Bangkok. Transfers from Bangkok included. The second person is $2100 when sharing with the first and the Kidzrite package is from $1500 per child (when attending with a paying adult). It is also hosted at Sofitel — Avista Hideaway, Phuket.