Visiting a deluxe haven as the new upscale Four Seasons resort on Samui can be purely about indulging in luxury. “And what else?” you might ask, as the resort offers breathtaking sceneries, private secluded villas, first class amenities and sumptuous dining.
But it can also be, for quite many of its guests, a health-enhancing spa holiday.
Enter its holistic spa affair, placed as the focal point and the first thing you reach on the expanse when being transported down the steep hillside from the resort’s spectacular entrance.
Here you can get a personal wellbeing consultation and assessment by its Swedish manager and health spa professional, Helene Almgren.
Helen is definitely a qualified person to give some tangible advice and treatments for those seeking remedies and who wish to cultivate healthier lifestyle habits.
The twenty-first-century-man often lives a stressful fast-paced life, so maintenance and care of one’s physical, mental and spiritual health is very much needed. Perhaps you have noticed? And that includes discerning guests of such a deluxe hotel as this.
“It should be part of one’s life to allow oneself. Many don’t invest in themselves, and why don’t we? For our well-being, when you feel good you are a nice person to be around. So you should treat yourself to stay on that level,” is Helene’s motto in life.
For those not familiar with Four Seasons it is one of the most luxurious hotel chains in the world with currently 70 hotels in 31 countries; four of them in Thailand including the new hillside retreat on Koh Samui.
And this increasingly popular resort destination is also where Helene has finally found here true home for bliss and harmony – an island known for its many long-standing wellness retreats where the various eastern traditional therapies are being practised.
It is also on Samui where she really could get down to walking her talk and living as she preaches.
Helene and the Spa
Helene had left Hong Kong when she felt she could not develop any further within the day spas, having gone over to freelancing as skin care therapist and therapist trainer, which lead on further into the deeper holistic area of spa and wellness.
When instructing others on how to do a health assessment consultation prior to starting treatments on a customer, she wanted to develop a different side than the technical one.
“I started doing chakra and healing to be able to understand customers better – those with physical concerns, skin problems but also internal problems, blockings. I could not analyze, but assist in another way with better know-how.”
“When starting something like that you are working on your self: ‘How I feel, what am I doing with my habits and everything’. Sometimes you forget, just marching on. That was a big wake-up call for me, seeing many things you think that you are doing, when you are in fact not. You look closely regarding certain disciplines and morals; standards where you should be and how often you actually do what are saying that you will do. That really makes you see who you want to be and who you really are.”
Hong Kong is one of those places that is so fast-paced, says Helene, that you can easily loose contact with yourself.
“When you just rush forward you forget many things. Everything changed when I moved here to Koh Samui. While doing a beginner yoga course in Hong Kong, I wanted to experience a fasting detox that they have a lot of here on Koh Samui – clean-living, fasting and all that – and still practicing yoga during such circumstances.
Life on Samui
While on Samui, a visit to Sila Evason Hideaway led to Helene being hired as its spa manager and left Hong Kong..
Originally Helene had studied to become a skin therapist in Sweden and then gone out, literally, on the seven seas working on spas on cruise ships travelling the world. In between contracts she had lived in various countries, learning new techniques and new languages.
With the spa sector evolving dramatically and Thailand very much being in focus of the spa and wellness boom, she could here start utilizing all the knowledge she had acquired over the years.
And having this vast lengthy work experience within the industry – with her passion for continuous learning, lifestyle improvements and knowledge about holistic therapies – is probably why she was hand-picked for the prestigious Four Seasons position.
“They had some ideas for this spa when they contacted me. Involving that whole thing that I’m found, the holistic and yoga disciplines suited them very well. So perhaps they had that in the background. But I was more or less given free hands to do with I wanted with the concept, which was very nice.”
The spa should be very much in focus on any Four Seasons property and they want each one to be unique.
“When I started here I thought all Four Seasons were the same, using the same products etc. But it’s the complete opposite; it should be a new experience each time. So to develop this has been really fun and very creative.” And the task is far from accomplished. “There are many enjoyable things that will happen in the future too,” says Helena mentioning programmes tailor-made for individuals on longer retreats.
Thinking out of the box
Helena and here team have been thinking out of the box when it comes to composing the spa menu, which incorporates energy work and energy medicine.
The focus lies on treatments indigenous to Thailand featuring holistic therapies with fusion techniques from the Thai, Yogic and other Asian cultures, where the island of Samui also played its part for inspiration: the full moon parties on its neighbouring island.
“Full moon is directly connected to the water level. And those familiar with body cleansing says that from the full moon period up to new moon is the right period to go through detoxification emotionally and physically etc. Then we have the other nurturing, caring period up to the next full moon. Looking at it that way you can actually recommend the rituals.”
The Five Elements
On the whole it is about the five elements earth, fire, water, air and space that our equilibrium is strongly related to. Packages are based on these and “distinctly different” but designed as rebalancing and restorative treatments.
“The elements are very much of importance for our menu. But to name one specific; the massage treatment Siam Fusion is a mix between Asian-Thai technique and Thai herbal compress.”
To determine the most beneficial treatments and rituals a personal consultation is performed. For a programme either Helene or her assistant sit down to learn about the customer’s lifestyle and what results they are seeking for their lifestyle.
The customers are also increasingly becoming savvy and more discerning in their choice of spas, treatments and products.
Helena finds most people staying at luxury hotels today to be very well familiar in the spa world.
“Those passionate have very high expectations, and might expect certain standard things. And many of them know what those are, knowing if our attendants are well-trained or not. Sometimes they give very constructive comments and have often stayed at other Four Seasons hotels. It’s a dream scenario for us to get such feedback.”
The products being used are also essential in giving consumers holistic and optimal therapeutic value, where the therapist is required to be able to explain the benefits of each key ingredient.
Also, Four Seasons is commitment to natural, certified organic products, where an entirely holistic German brand, Just Pure, was chosen.
Why not a Thai brand with so many products on the market?
“In many cases the producers weren’t 100 per cent organic,” says Helene. “I found it difficult to locate the kind of product with the right quality. And then it’s also the word ‘organic’. But what is organic these days? And this one is produced under a moon concept, which I found so suitable and interesting. They are very specialized and produce only certain days of the month.”
It is clear that this Four Seasons spa facilitates a genuine holistic environment and complete well-being for their clients.
“Yes, there must be something deeper with our treatments. A massage can vary so much; if you don’t do it with focus, intuition and mindfulness it can feel completely different, even if the technique is the same.”
On this point Helene finds that Thais are so intuitive that they are easy to work with on the contrary to other cultures which don’t have this mentality.
Her impression of Thailand as a spa hub is over all positive: “The Spa world is incredibly substantial here, and to begin with, people like to come here because Thais can make them feel good. Secondly, it is inexpensive to build and employ staff here. Thirdly, you have people within Thailand with great ability to be spa therapists, who have kept their natural gift for this since their childhood. The healing touch and Thai massage comes very natural for them.”
So what does this spa look like?
For urban dwellers with little contact with nature this could be somewhat of a shock experience. But, also, for any spa connoisseur, and any newcomer for that matter, this luxury sanctuary with its five individual pavilions should be a source of joy. Nestled into the hillside with the natural surroundings kept intact, it is entirely stunning. In fact any description and image cannot truly reproduce a first-hand experience of this natural beauty designed for solitude and seclusion to which outside guests are welcome.