Samui Wining & Dining
Detoxing at The Spa is about more than just avoiding meals.


Self-ServiceDetoxing. It’s one of those things we think we ‘should’ do, especially on Monday mornings after a weekend of pizza and beer. We hear so much about it and its benefits, about how skin, hair, nails, weight and general well-being all improve after a couple of weeks of stopping our normal bad habits. Add exercise to the mix as well and it’s clear that detoxing is something that’s good for our health.


But detoxing isn’t something you can just start to do on your own. Cutting out your regular foods and going on a strict diet of fruit and juices, or sometimes just juice and water, is something that will be a shock to your system and that needs careful supervision. And, whilst many people come to Samui to relax and indulge, a growing number is now taking advantage of the holiday and surroundings to kick-start a new way of life. This is where The Spa comes in.


The first place on the island to set up as a destination health spa almost 20 years ago, The Spa has two locations on Samui, The Beach and The Village, with other operations in both Chiang Mai and Koh Chang. All do detox cleansing, yoga, meditation, raw food classes and a host of other healthy options, and all are tailor-made to each individual guest and are carried out under expert supervision. But what’s it like to do one of these programmes? How do people feel during and after them? And, most importantly, do they work?


The most definitely do work, says Nick Dilks, the Executive Health Consultant at The Spa’s beachside resort in Lamai. He assumed this role in June 2011, after six months at the resort as its Holistic Life Coach. Nick had tried some forms of detox and fasting before but during a full fast and detox here in 2010 he discovered that a health condition plaguing him for the previous 19 years just disappeared. Now he supervises residents at The Spa on one of its many programmes, such as the two-week detox which involves ‘patients’ spending three or four days preparing for the detox, a week on it, and then three or four days winding down and gently breaking the fast. Most people do the one-week detox, he says, although the length of any programme is up to them, with some choosing to detox for a whole month (one guest kept going for an incredible 51 days!).


“It’s very important to prepare for the detox properly and to take it slowly afterwards,” Nick advises. “A stay of ten to 14 days is ideal, as the guest can spend a week on detox and then stay here for a few days afterwards, using the After-Cleanse menu at the Radiance Restaurant. Detoxing makes you more aware of your body and what you’re putting in it, and we find that people who do the programme just automatically start eating healthy foods afterwards, as that’s what their body now craves. I used to eat milk chocolate all the time, which made my energy yo-yo – after fasting I could see what eating things like that was doing to my body and I could see I had so much more energy when I cut them out. So it was easy not to eat chocolate any more, I just didn’t want it.”


The guests recently on the programme agree. Chris, a guest from California who has been coming to The Spa for years, says that whilst he found the first fast tough as all the toxins left his body, he went the following two years without having a cold. “My food habits changed without any effort after detoxing here,” he says. “You start to listen to your body whilst you’re on a detox and after it you can see how food affects you. It’s a self-interest thing – it feels good, so you keep going.”


Andrea and Shona, who were here from England on the one-week detox, with days before and after to prepare and wind down, both ‘definitely’ recommended the programme. Like many guests at The Spa, Andrea had done the programme before and comes back every year, but for Shona, it was her first time. She’d recently stopped smoking and had ‘no bother’ cutting out food and alcohol, too, and said she’ll come back to The Spa again.


Like Andrea, fellow-Brit Matthew had been on a detox programme at The Spa before and had returned with a friend who was encouraged to try it for the first time. Liam said he’d found it more difficult keeping his weight stable since hitting 30 but that the benefits of the detox programme Matthew talked about had convinced him to give it a try himself.


The detox programmes at The Spa are designed to cover everything to get the body up and running again. All programmes use detox drinks and juices, with some also using liver flush drinks, fruit plates, supplements or The Spa’s veggie broth soup. There’s also the ‘Colema Board’, a colonic irrigation procedure using 16 litres of purified water along with either ground coffee or garlic. And, of course, there’re opportunities at all times of the day for massage, yoga classes, mediation or reiki, as well as using the herbal steam room and sauna room, or having a facial or a body wrap.


There’s plenty of scope for exercise too, and the healthy drinks and filling juices mean guests still have plenty of energy to walk on the beach, swim in The Spa’s pure-water pool, or try Tai Chi, Pilates or Qi Gong, an ancient discipline using slow breathing and mental concentration. Detoxing isn’t about cutting out food and then lying lethargically by the pool – all the guests currently on the programme say they have more than enough energy to do whatever exercise they feel like.


And the energy of the guests on the programme is obvious. They all enjoyed the detox and felt it was a life-changing event, one which they’ll keep upon their return home. And it’s a fair bet that their future diets won’t be including much pizza or beer.


Lisa Cunningham


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