Chiva-Som, the grande dame of destination Spas has been purging and cleansing its devotees for 20 years. The question is, is it still on top of its game, or now living off its past accolades? Healing Holidays founder, Frances Geoghegan, investigates...
I have been to Chiva-Som several times, and LOVE the innovative breadth of retreat programmes on offer. It’s perfect to go as a single traveller, and equally suited to taking a partner who has no great love of fluffy Spas. On my last visit late last year, I was thrilled to see that Chiva-Som remains triumphantly on top of its game, never standing still for one moment - always looking for the newest classes to enhance their already incredible daily programme; securing the best new visiting experts; creating new programmes that WILL make a difference, and generally maintaining exceptional levels of service.
Most destination Spas offer 3-4 classes per day, with anything additional to be paid for. Not at Chiva-Som, where there is something to occupy even the super-sprightly from sunrise to sunset. Tai Chi at sunrise, followed by stretching, Yoga and aqua aerobics, pranayama breathing and Thai boxing, the list is endless. The classes are scrupulously chosen by the GM Sheila McCann, tried and tested before they ever reach the final selection process, and only placed on the daily calendar when she is totally satisfied that they will benefit the guests at Chiva-Som and heighten their experience. They have recently added bone density classes, which focus on body awareness, improving balance and strengthening the core muscles; Tai Chi in the water, which allows for greater sweeping movement and flexibility; and more high impact classes for elite athletes like Gravity 500, a high intensity interval training class which uses natural body weight to increase fat burning. Then there is their Core coaching, a strength endurance class, using suspension via a bar for added resistance to seriously give your core a good testing. They have also introduced a ‘Hypoxic Training Chamber’ which enables guests to train like a pro. After some rigorous screening a programme will be created for you to mimic training at up to 5000m above sea level, increasing your body’s ability to burn maximum calories.
BUT Chiva-Som offers more than just a forward-thinking, advanced, cutting edge approach; its therapists are amongst the best out there. Sandeep, who heads their meditation programme is thoughtful and intuitive, and will help even the most cynical reach a meditative state whilst Hashi is the most skilled acupuncturist, and can read your energy channels like a book, knowing exactly where best to place the needles. There are few better Pilates masters than Jinnapat, she knows when to push you hard, and when a powerful stretch would be more beneficial for you than expelling any energy and Dr Jason Culp, the resident Naturopath, will help you with your stress management - some of his knowledge is based on 15 years of scientific research, but much of it is from his deep understanding of reading your emotions. Chiva-Som is full of exceptional people, all prepared to go that extra mile to make your stay truly memorable. It is in the Thai culture, and in the mantra taught by the owner - Khun Krip.
Food has always been delectable at Chiva-Som, offering scrumptious cuisine that is low in fat, salt and sugar, big on flavour and nutrients, but most of all, gratifying. Pepper tuna with Thai herb mushroom salad, followed by beef steak with chickpea in a green curry sauce and seasonal vegetables, finished off with poached pears and prunes in jasmine tea, with coconut and pistachio crème anglaise. The executive chef Kanyarat Thanomsaeng always wants to surprise and delight guests at Chiva-Som, and offers many healthy extras to tempt the palate. She has just introduced holistic condiments; new seasonings to even further enhance the flavours whilst adding therapeutic values to dishes – metabolic-boosting spices, betel leaf powder and long pepper, holistic salt-tamarind juice and apple cider; and a wellness oil blend of coconut oil, rice bran oil and sesame oil.
If you would like to experience all that Chiva-Som has to offer then speak to one of our Wellness Consultants on 020 7843 3597 or email email@example.com.