2 May, 2012

Chiva-Som in Thailand: bask in the haven of life

2 May, 2012

Although I adore the Hong Kong lifestyle and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, it can get a little tiresome. Recently I have been on the go, non-stop, never taking a moment to breathe or give myself a chance to relax. This obviously meant that the idea of jetting off to Chiva-Som in Thailand by myself, to escape from fast-paced Hong Kong even for a mere three days, was unbearably exciting.

The moment I stepped onto the plane at Chek Lap Kok, I already felt a pang of relief. But it wasn’t until I arrived at Chiva-Som after an almost three-hour car journey from Bangkok airport, that I took a deep breath in and felt utterly at peace. Looking over the beautiful carp-dotted lake, listening to the sound of the waterfall gently cascading into it as I checked-in, I knew that three days was going to be far too short a stay!

Phones and cameras are forbidden in any public area of Chiva-Som to maintain the peacefulness and privacy of the health resort. In general, going anywhere without my iPhone and not being able to instantly Google things, isn’t something I like to do. However, when I was surrounded by beauty and felt such elation to have escaped my normal life for the weekend, not being glued to my phone was remarkably refreshing. It was only when I saw Kate Moss on the second night at dinner that I wished I could dive for my phone just to be able to tell someone!

After being shown my beautiful pavilion room, I was taken to the Emerald Lounge to enjoy a much-needed lunch. I had been terrified (after a previous detox trip to Chiang Mai that actually turned out to be a fast, where I wasn’t allowed to eat anything) that the food would consist of steamed vegetables and little else. Fortunately, I was completely wrong! The food is classed as ‘Spa Cuisine’; this means that it is all low fat, low salt, low sugar and low calories… yet it still tastes delicious. Being the foodie that I am, relief instantly swept over me as I gorged on the array of delights from the buffet!

Included in every package at Chiva-Som, you are entitled to one treatment per each night you stay. Therefore after my health consultation with Pilant (my consultant during my stay) and after a quick vitamin D soak by the beautiful pool, I lay down in one of the many spa rooms for my Chiva-Som Signature Massage. Using traditional Swedish massage techniques, the signature massage is designed to soothe and relax your muscles; it did exactly this, but unfortunately, the 50 minutes flew by far too quickly! However, I happily continued my relaxation in the infrared sauna, steam room, ice-cold plunge pool (beautifully decorated with rose petals) and Jacuzzi.

During my physical assessment, my physio analysed my twisted spine in standing, seated and prone position, and pointed out to me all the things I do wrong in everyday life that will do nothing to aid my scoliosis. I promised to start carrying my handbag on my left shoulder instead of my right and swore I would try harder to strengthen my back and abdominal muscles before bidding her adieu to meet the General Manager Paul Linder at Taste of Siam for a delicious (yet healthy) Thai dinner.

Paul, who has had the joy of working at Chiva-Som for ten years (it’s a hard life for some!), makes a point of getting to know each and every guest, taking the time to converse with them and dine with them whenever possible, making every guest feel utterly at home.

After a peaceful night’s sleep in my giant king-size bed, I arose for some delicious breakfast, a brisk walk along the white-sand beach and a stretch class to warm up my muscles before my Thai massage. Having never had a Thai massage before, I was slightly nervous about what exactly they were going to do to me and how much it would hurt. As the masseuse twisted and kneaded my sore muscles, although it was painful (at some points very painful), I knew it was doing my body some good and felt a wash of relief and energy afterwards.

A discussion with Pilant the previous day about my sensitive stomach led to her suggestion that I try a Chi Nei Tsang massage. This traditional abdominal massage is designed to restore positive energy in the body, as stress and negative tensions accumulate in the abdomen. Ever since I can remember, every hardship I have encountered, however minor, has manifested itself in my stomach, resulting in bloating and often unbearable pain. This massage, although painful again, certainly helped to release some of the tension I had no doubt been carrying around with me for some time.

A follow-up naturopathy consultation gave me further ideas about what I need to do to help fix my ridiculous stomach, some of which begins with the fact that I am apparently a very “shallow breather” and need to practise some breathing techniques to help me sleep better and thus, think and worry less!

After a tough Abs, Butts and Thighs class, I was taken into a special little warm-water pool for an amazing Watsu treatment. I had one of these on that awful Chiang Mai detox trip at the Mandarin Oriental and absolutely adored it. Although I can’t say that this one was quite as good as the MO’s, it was still incredibly relaxing.

Every Saturday evening, the staff at Chiva-Som put on a themed barbecue for all the guests at Taste of Siam, down by the pool. As if they knew it is my favourite, last Saturday’s theme was Thai, offering everything from red duck curry to chicken satay to barbecued seafood – amazing. I think Kate Moss enjoyed it too!

Sunday morning’s Bootcamp class had me out of bed before seven. Though not quite as exhausting as my regular Circuit25 training, Bootcamp still made me sweat and burn off the healthy calories from the night before! However, Aqua Box was a workout on a whole different level: it seems kickboxing under water is seriously tough work, as my aching muscles the next day attest!

After gorging on another delicious lunch in the Emerald Lounge, the time came to say goodbye to beautiful Chiva-Som, its über-friendly staff and the unyielding peacefulness of it all. During my very short stay, I instantly fell in love with the place and already hope that one day I will be able to return, this time for a much longer period. I long to be one of those people who spends weeks or even months at a time basking in the “Haven of Life.”

SASSY DEAL: Mention SASSY HONG KONG when booking to receive a complimentary credit of THB3500 per person to redeem against Health & Wellness treatments at Chiva-Som during your stay. The offer is valid until 30 September 2012, and on stays for two people of at least 5 nights in any room. Email [email protected] or [email protected] to book!

Chiva-Som, 73/4 Petchkasem Road, Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand. Call 032-536 536, email [email protected] or book online here.


Check out more from Ale on her fab blog, The Dim Sum Diaries!

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