Wandering the lush and tropical gardens and traditional Thai-style buildings with steeply sloping teak roofs soaring high into the blue-skies feels far away from all the chaos of the world outside.
However, it is the food and personalised service that stands out during my five-night stay at the world-renowned luxury beachfront resort of Chiva-Som in the royal city of Hua Hin, Thailand.
The menu offering is exceptional and testament to the fact that nutritious cuisine in smaller portions can be tasty and equally satisfying, reinforcing the benefits of eating light healthy meals as the foundations of good health. You pick up useful tips to maintain your wellness routine to take home with you, too. From a reminder to rehydrate to the benefits of Dandelion and Milk Thistle for optimum liver health or that ginger reduces bloating.
Unlike so many of the other guests, this is my first stay at Chiva-Som which had long been on my bucket list. It certainly didn’t disappoint.
All the staff are warm and friendly and make you feel spoiled by all the attention. From the experience of having your own butler who asks if you want lemongrass tea served to your room for when you get back from your Hatha yoga session to the waitress suggesting tea that’s good for your specific health needs, you feel like you are being wrapped in cotton wool.
If you believe the destination you stay in is as good its staff, the support and encouragement to achieve my health goals which I received at Chiva-Som would take some beating.
As a globally acclaimed wellness spa Chiva-Som’s reputation as a pioneer of transformative wellness reached me many years before my visit to the spa. In fact, when you think of the world’s top luxury health and wellness spas, Chiva-Som is likely to be the first destination that springs to mind. It’s famously where celebrities and royals alike have flocked to ever since the spa opened its doors in 1995.
But from my experience, you don’t need to be famous to receive VIP treatment at Chiva-Som.
From my first morning when I sauntered past the stunning pool, to the main restaurant overlooking the beach, I was struck by the extent to which the staff were across my health objectives which for me was to focus on optimum liver health. I’d never experienced customer service at this level anywhere else.
At Chiva-Som, bespoke, optimal wellness is the absolute focus.
There are many treatments available and all of them are first rate. Ying, my physiotherapist, gave me hip flexor exercises and showed me ways to keep my body in alignment and I enjoyed an hour of one to one Corrective Posture Exercise with Kel. On one idyllic afternoon, I had a solid three hours of treatments including LPG Perfect Eyes and Lips, a Thai Massage and Chi Nei Tsang. And I enjoyed a glorious Oriental Scalp Massage, and Signature Massage which is a classic massage that increases your blood circulation and lymphatic flow. My therapist Cha-aem asked me to choose from three heavenly Chiva-Som Signature Blends and then used the oil to massage my body with her magical hands. I was so relaxed after the treatment I floated aimlessly like a cloud back to my room – and then, I must admit, I pinched myself!
While I didn’t experience a water therapy treatment, I did enjoy a Jacuzzi, the steam room and even the icy plunge pool in between my therapies. There is a separate female and male spa area which you don’t often get to experience at spas nowadays and I found it more relaxing. I also loved simply spending time soaking up the atmosphere of the wellness centre. Slowing down and relaxing in my robe and slippers on a recliner overlooking a magnificent private courtyard was all part of the enjoyment. I really wanted to breathe in the beauty of the place. Almost everywhere you look, you are surrounded by the most exotic and splendid displays of colourful orchids.
Along with a range of therapies on offer, you can join the daily classes including pranayama, yoga and meditation. It was during the yoga class I tried a head-stand for the first time. While I felt out of my comfort zone, I was gently supported and assisted by my wonderfully encouraging yoga teacher Sean in doing this safely and felt a huge sense of achievement in pulling it off. So much so, I have continued doing headstands since returning home.
Taste of Siam
When it comes to the food, it’s simply so good, it’s hard to know where to start. Firstly, you can see the nutritional value of all the food before you eat it, so it’s easy to be aware of your daily calorie intake. This also helps encourage healthier portion control. Since I’ve returned home, I have managed to continue to lose weight because my stay at Chiva-Som has made me realise I can be satiated on less food, providing its nutritionally balanced.
Chiva-Som’s ingredients come from the wellness retreats’ vast organic garden which means everything you eat is super fresh and seasonal. But the secret ingredient to the fabulous food is Chef Sinchai Srivipa, who joined the international wellness resort in 2009 and has been a mainstay ever since. Chef Sinchai is positively loved by the guests because as we know the way to everyone’s hearts is through their stomachs.
He has combined his knowledge of nutrition and taste to develop the most delectable dishes which are high in nutrients, low in sugar, salt and saturated fat, with an abundance of flavour. During his food demonstration with me, he explained why it’s important to get the basics right. One of his top tips is to always ensures you make an excellent vegetable stock and use the freshest ingredients, preferably organic. In fact, I’ve been making his stock regularly since returning home, as well as a number of Chef Sinchai’s recipes which I will share over the coming weeks.
The other thing that strikes you is the place itself. Each of the buildings is exquisitely designed with white walls and rich hardwood ceilings and the most majestic displays of plants, and the rooms are supremely comfortable and well appointed.
During my stay, the resort was blissfully quiet and while I packed a lot in, the staff guide you to do as much or as little as you want to do. I met a lovely group of people from Singapore and London at the ‘talking table’ and we all marvelled at the exceptional food and service.
My stay at Chiva-Som was truly transformative and nurturing and, I am grateful for the lessons I learned from the wellness team – and Chef Sinchai. Chiva-Som truly deserves its reputation as a globally-acclaimed destination for excellence in wellness and I am now recommending this sanctuary away from home to everyone.
Since 1995, the award-winning Chiva-Som has pioneered transformative wellness practices to global acclaim. Its commitment to an innovative, holistic approach which expertly balances mind, body and spirit continues to this day with its flagship resort in Hua Hin, Thailand, and the latest addition to the Chiva-Som family, Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som in Al Ruwais, Qatar.
Optimal, bespoke wellness lies at the heart of the Chiva-Som experience.
Chiva-Som was named ‘Best Destination Spa in the World’ in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2022 and winner of the ‘Fighting Fit’ category in the Tatler Spa Awards 2022.
For more information, check out the website here: https://www.chivasom.com/