Mention Koh Samui, Thailand, and we conjure images of beach clubs on Chaweng Beach, very affordable local delicacies and extra exotic experiences for the ‘gram. However, it’s an island that’s also famous for yoga retreats, digital detoxes, and even boot camp-style vacations.
Located southwest is the newly opened Avani+ Koh Samui, an upper-middle hospitality range under Minor Hotels group who also heads the Anantara and NH chains.
With just 25 rooms and 33 villas sprawled across the property, this boutique hotel is definitely not designed for party-goers hungry for the nightlife in Chawang Beach located approximately 45 minutes away; nor is it for wellness junkies craving for gluten-free meals and sunrise yoga every morning. Instead, it has put in place daily activities for guests to unwind under soothing waves and soak up as much as vitamin D as possible.
Workouts at Avani+ Koh Samui
Workouts start in the morning with beginner’s yoga or sunrise crossfit cardio followed by Muay Thai Boxing in the afternoon and most interestingly, kayaking in the mangroves.
The trip begins right before dusk at the beach. Life vest-suited up, the journey winds to left bank where mangrove bushes stretch as far as the eyes could see. Along the canal were Rua hang yao, or long-tail boats, a waterborne transport unique to country and ubiquitous anywhere from the floating markets of Bangkok to the estuaries and deltas of the Gulf of Thailand. Sometimes referred to as the gondolas of the south, the ones we saw on our journey were seemingly derelicts if not for the charred lanterns that hung at the bow, ideal for night fishing.
Winding out of the canal, we drifted left and into open water where Ang Thong National Marine Park emerges into the horizon. If luck is on your side, you might even catch a glimpse of the long-tail fishermen’s prey—blades of silver Thai whiting—leaping towards the setting sun. It was just the motivation we needed to paddle back to shore against the currents, and man, did our muscles feel the effort the next day.
Wellness at Avani+ Koh Samui
Wellness begins bright and early with a semi-buffet breakfast that includes a plethora of tropical fruits—fresh or dried, yoghurts and an impressive selection of seeds to boost your digestive, cardiovascular, metabolic health. Main menus come with a continental offering and all-time favourites like avocado smash and Belgian waffles.
Avani+ Koh Samui Spa Essence Package
For guests who wish to up their healthy game, Avani+ Koh Samui offers a Spa Essence Package that includes lunch at the Ko Ko plant-based café, where an exciting menu of smoothies and cold-pressed juices, vegan ice cream and acai bowls are normally served. For this particular wellness programme, beet root juice whet the appetite, followed by nourishing chickpea open sandwiches and a crunchy, vegetarian pad thai—all great for flavour and fibre intake.
With a satisfied stomach comes an even more satisfying massage. Consultation here is quick, composing of oil selection based on your olfactory preferences and a two-page questionnaire that suggests the sort of treatment your body needs based on your scores.
Prior to the surrendering our bodies to the therapist, however, she placed a headband on my forehead, a smartphone in my hand and asked me to close my eyes for five minutes. From the ear buds came sounds of the forest—leaves rustling, chirping birds—and after a few deep breaths, my thoughts started to drift off. When the alarm went off, a report on the smartphone revealed my brainwaves during the brief meditation in active, calm and neutral categories.
MUSE: Brain fitness
This is a brain fitness tool called Muse: it measures brain signals with seven calibrated sensors on the headband—two on the forehead, two behind the ears and three reference sensors. Meditation time can be set manually and aside from the brainwave chart, it also marks where I subconsciously picked up on birds’ songs in the soundtrack, a signal that my breath has maintained a deep and restful focus for an extended period of time. The idea of applying the MUSE headband before a treatment is to do a comparison post-massage.
Finally sprawled on the massage table, head in the cushion, I was ready for the Muscle Release massage: strokes are long and powerful, as if driving away the demons nestled within tendons and muscles. The air filled with the calming lavender essential oils that I’ve selected and, with the help of the brief meditation session, I drifted into slumber before long.
After I’ve emerged from the massage table feeling energised, skin supple with nourishing oils, the therapist again placed the Muse headband on and set the meditation time, again to five minutes. This time, my active brainwaves dropped substantially and I was able to catch a lot more birds in the background: not surprising, since bliss filled every crevice of my body as a renewed sense of stillness is restored.
Now, off to watch some real birds with downward-facing dogs on the beach.
Wellness for beginners
Avani+ Koh Samui is the ideal destination for wellness beginners: it’s where yoga begins at a manageable time (8am rather than the break of dawn) with workouts that distract you with beautiful nature and cuisines so flavourful you forget that they’re healthy at all. Here, the staff is warm, eager to lend a helping hand and explain to you the gems of this island—and all against soothing waves and mesmerising sunsets, who could complain?
Learn more at avanihotels.com