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TABLE-HOPPING IN THAILAND
 
(2013 - Winter/Spring Issue)

Writer: CHRIS RYALL



“I have a dream.” Those seminal and righteous words from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1963 speech still resonate today.

My dream however is more basic and utterly selfish. I want to be massaged, kneaded, stretched, wrapped and pampered on a spa holiday. It’s not every middle-aged man’s dream but it’s mine.

I confess. I have a spa addiction. My body needs to be kneaded. What better place to satisfy my addiction than Thailand, a dream destination with its vibrant culture, flavour-bursting cuisine and diverse landscape.

Thailand treats you to a sensory spa adventure. Dozens of spa resorts and hotels along with hundreds of day spas wait for the arrival of your stressed body.

What makes Thailand, at least to my eyes, the world’s top spa destination? They have the best-trained therapists who go through rigorous training before they are certified. And Wat Po Thai Traditional Medical and Massage School in Bangkok is considered one of the world’s best.

Back to School

The school is not just for career-seeking therapists but tourists as well. Here, both singles and couples can learn the basics of Thai massage and other disciplines over the course of a week. In a classroom-like setting where mats are strewn across the floor, one discovers the complexity of the techniques, the strength involved and how much work is required in a proper Thai massage.

I listened and watched carefully as master instructor Vitratchatanon showed me how to position my body, when to pull and stretch, and various other techniques. Soon thereafter he had a petite Thai woman in her 20s lie face down next to me and placed my hand squarely on her bum. So much for formal introductions. Soon my thoughts turned to fear. My Homer Simpson-like body could crush this tiny Thai woman with my body weight. I positioned my legs on her legs and pulled her arms and body back as instructed. Thankfully she didn’t file any charges against me on deliberate attempt to injure.

Appreciative of my new-gained knowledge I ventured off to S Medical Spa in Bangkok for my first spa visit.

Four-handed Bliss

I was apprehensive going into the S Medical Spa. Even though my body could use a medical makeover, this visit was about pampering. A stethoscope-free reception staff greeted me with a glass of vivid blue pea tea made from the butterfly pea herbal plant. Improved eyesight and hair growth are apparently two of the benefits. I gulped, not sipped, as I could use both. Multiple award-winning S Medical Spa gives patrons the best of both worlds—a full team of medical professionals to address health issues and those who just want beauty and therapeutic treatments.

I was led into the luxurious spa suite—one filled with plush furnishings, floor-to-ceiling views of the outdoor garden and a comfy soft massage table. The suite oozed luxury and comfort.

After a soothing foot ritual and facial, spa Utopia was looking down upon me. Alisa and Orawan were my two skilled therapists who performed the massage version of synchronized swimming—a four-handed massage. Who needs beer and hockey?

Gender-neutral Designs

A common complaint by men about spas is the decor, colour scheme and furnishings are too feminine. No problem when it comes to Thailand. The spas here are gender-neutral. The colours (many brown, grey, gold and black hues), artwork and sculptures (Buddhas figuring prominently) and ergonomically-designed furniture appeal to men and women. The Banyan Tree Spa in Bangkok (sister property in Phuket) exuded a warm and welcoming sophistication. Their signature Rainmist treatment with its combination of steam and Vichy shower will easily lead you to a state of pure relaxation.

Mountain and Island Retreats

Duffers and massage enthusiasts get both cravings satisfied at the Chiangmai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort in northern Thailand just outside of Chiang Mai. Play a round while your female Thai caddy gives you tips on getting that birdie and then retire to the spa with lookouts onto the golf course.

Head into town and stay at the RarinJinda Wellness Spa Resort overlooking the Doi Suthep mountain and nestled across the street from the Ping River. Located in an antique 140-year-old Thai teakwood home, the spa actually feels like home. Kick your feet up and let their therapist give you the best foot and reflexology treatment ever. Try their Elements of Life treatment, which combines foot, body and sound therapy.

Trade in the mountain air for a warm island breeze. Retreat to the south and numerous islands where many spa resorts are located. Rawi Warin Resort & Spa on Koh Lanta Yai Island has an Asian flavour with spacious villas and intoxicating seaside views. My body surrendered to the 150-minute Tao of Detox treatment—a combined fish oil scrub, wrap, aromatherapy massage and facial treatment.

A short boat ride away from the island of Phuket is Naka Island Resort, an exclusive getaway with tropical villas, private pools and breathtaking views of the emerald green Andaman Sea. Spa lovers will especially like their
private island spa retreat with its Watsu pool and water therapies. Stress? What stress?

Indulge your senses in Thailand—a land of beauty, serenity and inner peace—where spa dreams are fulfilled on a daily basis.

Travel Planner

For more information on tours and various spa experiences available in Thailand, visit:

Tourism Authority of Thailand: tourismthailand.org

Jade Tours: jadetours.com

Wat Po Thai Traditional Medical & Massage School: watpomassage.com

 
 
 
 
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