The Haven of Life : Chiva-Som

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Without a doubt the world’s most talked about wellness center, Chiva-Som continues to garner any and every travel award. We delve into serenity and tranquillity with Chairman Krip Rojanastien to find out what makes this Hua Hin resort so exceptional

By Ayesha Khan

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 “One of the purposes of a stay in Chiva-Som is to take you outside of your normal environment so that we can work on improving your health and wellness.

The royal city of Hua Hin has been the coastal hideaway for Thailand’s elite ever since the opening of the southern railroad and the prestigious Railway Hotel by Prince Purachatra. And so it is only befitting that here one would find the much talked about Chiva-Som, the wellness haven that the international elite travels far and wide to visit, and whose International Academy is the most sought after for wellness training. Chiva-Som was founded under the principle of lifelong health, education, and the nourishment of mind, body, and soul by elite Thai banker and minister Boonchu Rojanastien, who was widely recognized as Thailand’s first “economic tsar.”

“It all began when my father decided to convert his old beach house into a full-fledged health and wellness center in order to help his friends and associates attain superior health and longevity. Drawing on this extensive experience and familiarity with spas in Europe, he blended the Western diagnostic skills with traditional Eastern methods and created the wellness center that is Chiva-Som today. Just as every original guest was a personal friend, Chiva-Som’s guests today are more friends than customers, even though they are cared for at the highest professional level. And just as friends long to see each other again, we look forward to welcoming guests back and nurturing the relationship,” says Rojanastien with the very infallible warmth and humility that makes Far Eastern hospitality so special.

The Chiva-Som experience begins the moment guests check their laptops, mobile phones, and mod cons at the door. “One of the purposes of a stay in Chiva-Som is to take you outside of your normal environment so that we can work on improving your health and wellness. Whilst we don’t expect you to ‘switch off’ we would like you to concentrate on yourself rather than other activities. Facilities for staying in touch are limited but it is possible if you really want to!” explains the resort’s website.

And so it begins upon check-in, where guests are evaluated by world-renowned body therapists, specialist consultants, doctors, nurses, naturopaths, physiotherapists, counselors, and fitness trainers, and acquainted with their own tailor-made wellness itineraries. Unlike its Western counterparts, Chiva-Som expertly combines time honored Eastern practices with state of the art advances in Western healthcare. It is this unique quality that has fueled the resort’s enduring success.

Experts at Chiva-Som seek to maximize a guest’s “health-span,” the amount of healthy, active years in a guest’s life, and ensure it measures closely with a guest’s lifespan. There are three elements to the Chiva-Som experience that can be tailored to be as rigorous or relaxing as the guest chooses- the spa, the holistic and medicinal healing, and the Niranlada medi-spa. The spa features relaxing rituals such as massages, facials, and hydrotherapy, while the holistic healing center promotes well-being through treatments such as Reiki (the ritual of moving healing energy throughout the body) and Chiva-Som’s world renowned Chi Nei Tsang, an abdominal organ massage. Named after the Thai word for eternal beauty, the Niranlada medi-spa offers a vast range of plastic and reconstructive cosmetic surgery led by Dr. Thomas Romo of New York Eye & Ear Infirmary.

Chiva-Som is also one of the only wellness centers in the world with a center for Complementary Diagnostic Technique such as Iridology, Live Blood Analysis, Bio-terrain testing, and Electro-dermal screening. Issues skipped over by orthodox testing such as toxicity, digestive function, essential fatty acid balances, and food intolerances may be identified through these methods. The resort believes that education is most important in the path to healing. Therapists encourage guests to attend lectures, and will walk guests through the results of diagnostic tests like the live blood analysis.

This vast array of wellness treatments is set against breathtaking views over the Gulf of Thailand and the most luxurious accommodations. Ocean view rooms are set just steps from the softly lapping sea, and feature private balconies and terraces. The larger Chiva-Som Thai pavilions are nestled around the property’s lake and aromatic garden. Herbal, Fragrance, and Rainforest suites are larger, and allow for Chiva-Som bath treatments to be conducted in the privacy of guests’ suites. The Golden Bo Suite, the finest of accommodation options at Chiva-Som, features Thai silk appointments and Thai art and artefacts set in a sprawling one-bedroom suite.

As a perfect complement to the vast array of treatments, Chiva-Som is also world renowned for its spa cuisine created by an all-star cast of celebrity chefs from around the world. Key ingredients and tropical fruits are grown in the resort’s own private organic gardens. What’s more, guests are encouraged to take spa cooking classes, and offered recipes of their favorite dishes.

After the meteoric success of the Hua Hin property, plans are in the works for a second, larger property in Thailand’s Petchaboon province, which, by complete contrast to its predecessor, is set among verdant mountains and valleys some 3,280 feet above sea level. Rojanastien explains, “We’ve been carefully evaluating the potential of a piece of real estate in the hills terrain approximately halfway between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. It could possibly offer a more physically challenging, outdoor experience due to its size (over 200 acres) and the surrounding natural forest and streams. However, due to an overriding concern over environmental impact, a thorough assessment is being carried out before the final investment decision is made.”

Meanwhile the Hua Hin property continues to evolve, set new standards in health and wellness, and gather an arsenal of accolades, but when will other corners of the world be able to host the Chiva-Som concept? “Chiva-Som will bring its unique touch in service delivery and health and wellness expertise to other parts of the world for the benefit of a wider audience, particularly those looking for total lifestyle transformation. As a knowledge-based organization, we’ll partner with individuals on entities that firmly believe in upgrading people’s understanding of how to achieve health and longevity via the balance in Mind, Body and Spirit. In doing so we’ll place quality above scale, which means there’ll be only a handful of Chiva-Som centers of excellence around the world rather than a large network. Constant innovation of techniques and skills to help guests achieve their goals will be a key feature to our growth-with-quality drive. Chiva-Som’s natural reaction to a positive comment is to try to do even better,” says Rojanastien of the resort’s international development plans.

When asked what the best part of his job as chairman is, Rojanastien responds with a radiant smile, “Seeing the Chiva-Som staff, from gardener to manager, work seamlessly as a team in exceeding the guest’s expectations every minute of the day. The higher the expectations, the greater the satisfaction.” Asked what he hopes his guests will take away from the Chiva-Som experience, he replies, “There is a path to wellness for everyone and no path is the same. At Chiva-Som you discover your own path and achieve your own goals at your own pace. On leaving the Haven of Life, you realize that the journey on the path is just beginning and genuine lifestyle transformations may just be around the corner.”

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