Thai Spas Switch Focus To Wellness

     The Thai spa industry is fast expanding into a market pioneered by Thailand’s hospitals, encouraging visitors to come to Thailand on a ‘health vacation’. 
     As an industry it already has one of the highest growth rates in the world.
     At the same time, the spa sector is now already entering a vital transformation even though only in its infancy – switching from a focus on pampering and spoiling guests, to become instead a purveyor of holistic healing. Enter wellness’.
     The sector is now spearheading a new revival of 5000-year-old healing traditions, which is in fact a natural step forward for the domestic spa business. Now it is heading fast towards a focus on wellness in response to consumer demand and the escalating levels of ill-health around the world.
A broad line of disciplines, and such treatments appear likely to soon be in great demand.          
One such new business is the Palm Wellness Centre on Phuket, founded by Mr Hans Langenskiöld from Stockholm. Backed by several Swedish investors, this centre constitutes the latest addition to this scene and ready to welcome overworked career people and businessmen from around the world.  

Alternative Treatment
The idea for creating the center came to Hans when a few years ago he was visiting Thai hospitals to market a new Swedish innovation within the hospital sector.
     “Then I came up with the basic idea of creating a holistic centre for alternative medicine. After a thorough investigation of how a programme should be designed, we are now presenting this service where western medicine and eastern traditional treatments are combined to cater to tourists coming to Thailand on short trips, and who would like to use their time not only for well-being but also getting the opportunity to lay the groundwork for a new lifestyle.”
     “The stressed-out executive is definitely one of our target groups,” says Rick Attix, who is the daily manager of the centre and also a tai chi instructor.
     “People between the ages of  35 to 55 years old who are still running hard and have gathered their wealth are now beginning to see failure: physically, emotionally and spiritually. We provide a safe-haven to relax and recover from the effects of these hyper-stressful lifestyles.”
     People nearing pension age and turning their attention to anti-aging therapies and means to create longevity and a healthy life are also potential customers. And for those who are increasingly coming to Thailand for medical purposes, either operations or rehabilitation, the centre is offered as an alternative means for holistic rehabilitation.
     The centre is anxious to point out that the outlook is to focus on well-being rather than poor health. 
     A weekly program of therapies and treatments is being offered that calms the mind in order for the body’s energy to begin to flow naturally again, relaxes the body and re-energizes an exhausted nervous system. The wellness driven therapies range from tai chi and yoga to aquatic aerobics and pilates fitness exercises.
     The curious can explore eastern lifestyle therapies and other energy-rebuilding treatments. An opportunity is given to get off the chaotic merry-go-round for a moment, stabilize, revitalize and then jump back in again.
      “The holistic wellness concept is a combination of many factors: a relaxing environment, nutritious food, good sleeping patterns, personal healing touch, and eastern exercise therapies and Thai massage. It’s the natural lifestyle rhythm of the human condition, which we’ve forgotten.”
     “But remember, it’s not a quick fix,” he points out. “Discipline is required to continue, along with changes of one’s unhealthy lifestyle patterns.”
     “The guests will get recommendations regarding follow-on opportunities at home, with tips on where they can turn and how they can keep their new lifestyle direction,” Hans points out.
     People are searching for answers nowadays and becoming increasingly aware. Hans and Rick agree that the holistic approach is here to stay.
     “You cannot open a magazine without reading about health. And that’s something rather new. Ten years ago you would not talk about it to this extent. Today it’s very much on the minds of everyone,” says Hans.
     “I really think everyone has this need in them one way or the other,” says the hotel’s manager Olivier Gibaud.
     “For some it means lying on the beach and being roasted on the front and back. There is always time for that too, but we need to show them there is a more powerful way for relaxation, which is being with us for six hours per day experiencing the many facets of wellness.”
     But why travel all the way to Thailand? “Regarding eastern holistic treatments, it has a larger attractiveness to the western traveller if he can go to a country that has a 5000 year-old discipline. In Thailand we feel we are closer to the original source than in Sweden,” says Hans.
     Rick points out the necessity to leave your ordinary environment to able to take the first step in a lifestyle change.
     “The reasons for illness or burnout can be a number of factors. Initially you need to break the unhealthy, dysfunctional pattern, get away to a new environment, stabilize yourself and then begin a new, healthier life.”
     For Olivier and his staff, the challenge now is to encourage guests to take the first step.
     “People’s curiosity extends beyond the ordinary spa treatments but the interest has to be matured gradually before becoming fully accepted. To some extent it is daring. When was the last time someone told you: ’Raise your tummy when you breathe’? You’ve got to have the readiness to accept such comments,” he smiles.

About Joakim Persson

Freelance business and lifestyle photojournalist

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