The demand and rise of sophisticated medical retreats around the world
The wellness industry is continuing to grow rapidly and more people are incorporating their travels with healthy elements such as detoxes, anti-aging treatments, meditations, and fitness holidays. The new luxury has become health and with the growing demand for wellness and medical treatments, there is a growing trend of sophisticated spas, retreats, and programmes available around the world targeting health-conscious luxury travellers who are looking to boost their wellbeing.
We caught up with Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary Co-Founder and Chief Wellness Officer Karina Steward to find out how far the ‘healthy holidays’ have come and what clients are now looking for in terms of wellness retreats.
L.N Tell us about the shift/increasing demand moving from traditional ‘juice detox retreats’ to more sophisticated medical retreats
K.S Located on the southern tip of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand, Kamalaya blends the very best of healing therapies from East and West and is one of the world’s top destinations for nurturing health and wellbeing, pursuing self-development, creating healthier, happier habits, and improving lifestyles.
From the very beginning, since opening in November 2005, the emphasis on healing at Kamalaya has been on nurturing and nourishing, and supporting our guests, always with authenticity.
The foundation of good health begins with the food you eat, and such juice detox retreats were never on the menu at Kamalaya. Healthful nutrition is such an integral part of the holistic healing journey at Kamalaya. Always has, and always will be.
We truly emphasize the philosophy of food for healing, Food as Medicine, and we have won many awards for our cuisine, recognized not only for its health impact but also for its exceptional flavors.
We firmly believe in the body’s natural healing ability and that every guest who stays with us has the power to facilitate this. When we eat well and our organs are functioning at optimal levels, we eliminate toxins naturally. Just by choosing a healthy diet on a daily basis, we can make a huge difference in our overall health and wellbeing.
Of course. we have juices on the menu but they are not intended as meal replacements. In fact, our approach to detox is aligned with Asian healing principles that see fasting as potentially depleting, preferring a nourishing and nurturing form of the deep cleansing process.
L.N What are clients looking for in terms of functional medicine treatment?
K.S At Kamalaya we offer functional testing to our guests so that they can uncover in more depth the core of their health. These assessments can evaluate skin DNA, antioxidant and vitamin levels, food intolerances, mineral balance and toxicity, microbiome and gut health. Genetic tests for sleep, nutritional and fitness traits are offered, as well as for predisposition to diseases, epigenetic and biological age. These tests can reveal imbalances in the system and once identified, a program to reverse the imbalance can be developed.
Personalised results reveal valuable insights into the health and wellness requirements of guests allowing Kamalaya’s professional therapists to customize treatments to meet the needs of each individual. Based on the findings, programs can be tailored to support the unique biology, genetics and DNA of a guest allowing for a more fulfilling wellness experience at the award-winning island retreat.
The functional testing assessments offered by Kamalaya have been designed by our lab partner in the UK and correspond with a selection of our world-renowned wellness programs including Resilience & Immunity, Enriched Gut, Sleep Enhancement, Detox and Rejuvenate, Ideal Weight, Wellbeing Sabbatical, and Balance & Revitalise. Guests even have the option to match their chosen wellness program or create their own wellbeing and longevity assessment.
At Kamalaya we place a high emphasis on functional medicine while our programs and treatments are always covering the seven main systems of the body in several ways such as digestion, absorption of nutrition, microbiome, immune, inflammation, infection, regulation and control of energy, lymphatic, regeneration, and structural integrity.
L.N Tell us about the importance of prevention…
K.S As the age-old saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”. Preventive health means you do not wait until you are sick, or in a health crisis to reach out for help. Instead, you can take action early in life and develop healthy habits that can avoid health problems when you are older. Taking the time to invest in yourself and your well-being by going on one good retreat per year can support this. At Kamalaya we take great care to educate our guests on making healthy choices. And if a guest can adopt one healthy habit and apply that to their life once they leave Kamalaya, this will contribute to their healthy lifestyle.
L.N What kind of diseases can be prevented by functional testing?
K.S Some diseases are carried through the genes, and it is important to be aware of these because they literally run in the family. While some are caused by lifestyle choices and can be avoided. Epigenetic testing focuses on genetic changes other than changes to the DNA sequence. These can play a role in showing your biological age and influencing how susceptible you are to certain conditions. The good news is that they can be monitored and altered. For this reason, it’s a good idea to do epigenetic testing every eight months to one year to keep an eye on levels and markers and understand what lifestyle measures and choices may have to be put in place.
For example, your chronological or calendar age is how old you are from a time point of view. In contrast, your biological age measures your age based on several biological markers such as the condition of your cells and blood. These can be influenced by lifestyle, diet and other factors. By measuring this figure, you get a pretty accurate idea of how far through your lifecycle you are.
L.N What are the most popular programs at Kamalaya?
K.S Through the years, our detox programs have proved extremely popular as they are a great way to reset and restart new healthy habits. Another category that has been popular for many years is Stress & Burnout where we address the health impact of stress and help to manage and reduce stress and rebalance health.
Embracing Change continues to be one of our most popular programs and has proved extremely popular post-Covid.
It’s an inner journey of discovery and exploration to develop greater wisdom about ourselves, emotional balance, mental clarity, and above all the tools to navigate the changes that come to us throughout our life because life truly is a series of changes. Embracing Change is suitable for anyone seeking support with change or challenging situations of any kind, this program can also benefit anyone navigating loss, anxiety, and grief, whether pandemic related or due to regular life events. It is a gentle inward journey of discovery in order to embrace who you are, what makes you uniquely you, and in doing so break free of old habits and perceptions, nurturing and inspiring true-life change from within.
Resilience & Immunity – for mental resilience and physical immunity – and our Gut Enrichment programs are both gaining in popularity and I foresee this continuing as travel restrictions are lifted and people travel internationally more freely.
L.N How can we cleanse our bodies from heavy metals, pollution, and toxins?
K.S Herbal supplements, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Traditional Thai Medicine, IV infusions, and Ozone therapy can support various cleanses including for pollution and heavy metals. These therapies can be availed of at Kamalaya following a consultation with one of our wellness experts. Our therapists are highly trained to ensure the best treatment of our guests.