Chiva Som is the mother of all luxury beach retreats and I maintain should only to be talked about in hushed tones. With a reputation around the world as the blueprint for destination spas, to say I had high expectations for Thailand’s flagship beach retreat is quite an understatement.
Whisked out of Bangkok’s International Aiport by private chauffeur armed with ice-cold lemongrass tea and a pack of healthy homemade chocolate cookies (yes they do exist), I kicked back and day-dreamed of what was to come for the three-day Yoga for Life programme. A couple of hours later I arrived in the royal beach town of Hua Hin, which was to be home for the next few days.
Arriving at Chiva Som you are welcomed into the “haven of life” by their super efficient team. With bags unpacked and clad in cream cotton pyjamas (the resort’s suggested outfit of choice – this is my kind of five-star service), I was ushered to the immense spa for an hour-long consultation followed by signature massage, which I can highly recommend for long haul flight recovery.
The private consultation is a great introduction to Chiva Som’s philosophy and puts you in exactly the right frame of mind for a slice of R&R. The resort lays a real emphasis on both body and mind, and with a picture-perfect beachfront setting it’s not hard to adjust your perspective on life.
With a 7am wake-up call I’ll admit I was a fair way off “raring to go" but non the less poured myself a cup of hot lime juice, recommended by the resort’s therapists for its cleansing benefits, and meandered down to the yoga pavilion for my 8am group session. 50 minutes later with an hour-long stretching class to follow, my body was beginning to shake itself out of its slumber. With a second yoga session booked for later in the day I headed to the pool to soak up the sunshine – definitely what my Vitamin D deprived body was crying out for.
The second early start was definitely easier than the first – this time for a private yoga session at 7am with an incredibly experienced Thai instructor, Khun Ann Nilsson, who I have serious life envy of. Spending half her year at Chiva Som and the other half in the Maldives surely makes this the best career choice ever?! Refueled with a tropical fruit breakfast, the sun lounger beckoned before I needed to gear myself up for an early afternoon mediation session. Topping the day off with an authentic Thai massage (which is not as gentle as it may sound), after an hour of pummeling and prodding I retired to my traditionally-designed Thai Pavilion for one last evening.
Hot-footing it to Thailand for a three-day yoga retreat at Chiva Som may sound a little far fetched, however if your body (and mind) is as frazzled as mine it is well worth it. Of course you could opt for a five, seven, 10 or 14-day retreat… But whatever you treat yourself to, one thing is for sure – Chiva Som makes a compelling case for an annual yoga pilgrimage.