Jennifer Gampell
868/75-76 Soi Vanich 2
Songwad Road
Bangkok 10100 Thailand
Tel/Fax: (66) 02-237-3362
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July 26, 1999

Hot Tip: Samui
by Jennifer Gampell

Want to take your inner child--or your outer adult--on a relaxing, holistic holiday? Try Thailand's Koh Samui. Once renowned for its cheap bungalows, rock'n'roll bars and coconut-picking monkeys, the island is rapidly becoming a New Age mecca. The trend started a few years ago, when a getaway on Lamai beach renamed itself The Spa Resort and introduced herbal saunas, fasting and colonic irrigation. Media reports of sun, sand and coffee enemas soon turned a fluke into a fad, with the island's bigger hotels scurrying to raise their health consciousness. Samui's version of Spa Wars has spawned a legion of opulent options to help dedicated self-helpers indulge in therapeutic relaxants like Reiki and reflexology or more esoteric pursuits like vortex astrology and manual lymphatic drainage. Poppies, Dusit Santiburi, Baan Taling Ngam and, most recently, Central Samui Beach Resort have augmented their spa services.

The era of sitting in a dank steam room waiting for an itinerant moisture globule to fall from the ceiling onto your head may be over, but it takes more than high-tech gadgetry to achieve New Age bliss. One spa getting it right is Tamarind Springs, a secluded sanctuary which has been winning accolades for its simplicity and conscientious treatments since it opened last year. Guests reach the two-story Balinese-style reception and massage area through a landscaped coconut grove. Farther up a stone path lies the herbal sauna, tucked between two huge boulders. Co-owner Shelley Poplak says the aim was to create "an oasis for body and soul." Judging from the glowing testimonials in Tamarind's guest book, they certainly have. Spa/hotel packages are in the works, as well as a new website at For details, call 66-77-424436.


Copyright 2002 Jennifer Gampell