The Most Effective and Budget-Friendly Weight Loss Retreat in Asia
Before you book a wellness retreat, it’s crucial to understand what your goals are. For example - while a luxurious resort with a free-for-all vegan buffet bar might feel decadent, it probably won’t help you meet your weight-loss goals. That’s why I often find simplicity is key when it comes to sticking to the (often strict) programmes wellness retreats set out for participants. One of the most effective and budget-friendly weight-loss retreat programmes in the world is the ‘You’ve Changed My Life’, seven and a half day package at The Spa Resort in Ko Samui, Thailand. Here’s the full review of the detox with lots of helpful information that will hopefully help to override some of the terrifying reviews on TripAdvisor.
Ko Samui is located in Thailand, and Samui airport is small and easy to navigate. People fly in from all around the world to get to The Spa and usually spend a week or two before or after their detox in Samui or the surrounding area. It’s a typical tropical paradise complete with palm trees, coconuts and sandy beaches. Late December to April is the best time to visit; you can expect sporadic rainfall from May to September and rainstorms are frequent in October and November. I went in December and had four days of sunshine and four days of heavy rain so the weather can be hit or miss. There’s not much to do at The Spa regarding tourist activities, but on Sunday evenings the nearby beach town Lamai has a walking street market that gets very busy quite late into the night so head there in the early evening instead.
The Spa Retreat in Ko Samui has two locations, the beach and the village. I decided to stay at the beach. The village is located on a steep hill, and it’s very much like you’re living in the jungle. It’s more beautiful to do yoga up there, and it’s definitely more serene. I like a bit of a buzz, hence why I stayed at the beach. There’s a shuttle that goes back and forth between the beach and the village frequently so you can get the both of both worlds. Radiance Restaurant (the raw and vegan restaurant that also serves meat and alcohol for those not detoxing) has a lot of choices, and there is a branch at each resort. On-hand massage therapists, colema rooms, yoga and meditation areas plus pools are at both resorts. People who want peacefulness tend to stay at The Village and if you want more of a buzzy atmosphere then book yourself in at the beach.
There are different options for every budget at The Spa in both The Village and The Beach. I stayed in an A-Frame Bungalow, which was comfortable, small and inhabited with lots of mosquitos and a few bugs. At The Village, you might have lizards, slugs and mosquitos as roommates for the week. If you are a stickler about hygiene like I am, make sure to let the receptionist know you'd like your sheets changed and towels swapped out every day. I asked them to check my room daily at 8.45am while I was at yoga practice, which they did. The staff is friendly and helpful but overall there are a lot of mosquitos around, and accommodation is not luxurious.
If you prefer plush accommodation, book yourself into The Meridian hotel a few doors down and just come to The Spa to get your detox drinks (you can get them to go) and to do your enemas. If you’re coming with your family or children (many couples did), there are other hotels nearby with larger rooms that are friendlier for children. My A-Frame was cute but small, so if you're going with a friend or partner, I would suggest booking an A-Frame each.
‘You’ve Changed My Life Detox’
There are quite a few different detoxes you can do at The Resort from candida cleanses to three and a half day semi-fasts. The most intense one that made The Spa famous is the ‘You’ve Changed My Life’ programme. It lasts for seven and a half days and eight nights, is drastic, hard and exceptionally effective at cleaning you out from head to toe. In a nutshell, it involves fasting from solid food and doing double enemas every day for the course of the cleanse. Fibrous drinks keep you feeling satiated and nourishing hot broth full of vitamins and minerals give you the nutrients you need to carry on as normal.
Hunger struck on day five for three hours, but apart from that, I was okay. My fellow fasters felt that day three and seven were the worst, but honestly, there were ten of us doing it at the same time, and we all made it through to the end. Here’s what a typical day on the cleanse looked like for me – note that the meditation and yoga is optional
7 am – Detox Drink
7.30 am – Meditation or Chi Gung
8.30 am – 6 Supplements (3 chompers and three multivitamins)
8.45 am – Yoga
10 am – Detox Drink
10.30 am – Morning Coffee Enema
11.30 am – 6 Supplements
Noon – Spa Broth
1 pm – Detox Drink
2.30 pm – 6 Supplements
4 pm – Detox Drink
5 pm - Afternoon Coffee Enema
7 pm – Detox Drink
8 pm – 6 Supplements
Bedtime - Flora Tablet
As well as the above drinks and broths mentioned above - one coconut water, one carrot juice, one liver flush drink, one Aki (pre-enema) massage and one complimentary steam room session daily are included in the package. In addition to all of the above, I drank a green drink called a wheat grass pina colada (a mix of wheatgrass, coconut and pineapple juice allowed on the fast), ginger tea and copious amounts of water throughout the detox. If you do yoga in the morning, drink your detox drink and do the enema after the class.
Wellness experts from The Spa tend to be around the detox drink area during the allocated times above and are a great resource if you have any questions.
Breaking the fast is easy, simply tell the staff in the morning at the detox drink counter that you’re breaking your fast that day, and they prepare two flora drinks (one to drink in the evening and one to drink the next morning). Drink the flora drink at night before you go to sleep, do a warm-water enema in the morning followed by a flora-syringe enema that you hold in for five-ten minutes or the whole day if you can and then eat raw food for three days following the cleanse. I started with a papaya smoothie followed by raw vegetables and felt great.
What’s an Enema and Does it Hurt?
Take it from someone who is exceptionally squeamish about anything that happens behind a closed bathroom door. Enemas are (in my opinion) not enjoyable, but studies suggest that they have profound benefits for your overall well-being which is why I endured fourteen in eight days. Essentially it’s the process of cleaning the bottom part of your colon with water or a coffee/garlic/wheatgrass solution. Water goes in; waste goes out – you get my point. It’s a little bit uncomfortable but not painful. At The Spa you can do them in your private bathroom if you’re staying on your own or in the colema rooms located in each resort. You hang a large bucket of the solution on the roof, gravity allows water to comes down from a tube, and you lie on board over the bathroom while water goes in and out. For further information on this subject, I will leave you in the good hands of this YouTube enema connoisseur. At The Spa, on your first day, they show you a video guiding you how to do them, but it’s not very useful.
For enemas at The Spa make sure you do these five things
1 – Try to take in as much water into your intestine as you can
2 – Try to hold it for at least one minute (try ten if you can) before releasing
3 – Massage your stomach (colon), look at this tutorial as a guide
4 – BREATHE
5 – Put on some good music or an audio book (believe me it helps)
On the topic of enemas if you are very squeamish I would suggest booking colonics instead with Chalong who has a centre called Healing Hands. It is not fancy in the slightest but he is fantastic, and a session can take from 1-2 hours and costs 2,000 Thai Baht I did mine on the last day of the cleanse and it helped a lot. You can ask the reception to book it for you or contact him via email here.
Yoga, Meditation and Tea Ceremonies
The daily guided meditation and yoga classes kept me sane during the cleanse and helped me start off my day on the right foot. I went from not meditating at all to doing a full hour for the week and also got my yoga practice back on track thanks to Mike who heads up the yoga. Massages at The Spa are good, and there are also a lot of inexpensive massage and beauty centres near the resort. I ended up going to a massage centre called SMILE that’s a five-minute walk from the exit of the beach resort quite frequently. It was cute, basic and great value for money.
The tea ceremony that happens twice a week (keep an eye out for the signs) is a must. Not only do you meet all of the other people who are going through detoxes and cleanses too but you meet returning guests who know exactly what to do and more importantly what not to do. I met people from Spain, LA, Ireland, Japan, Germany and the UK during the tea ceremony I attended and everyone was very open about sharing information and answering any questions I had. It helped hugely.
Go to The Spa with an open mind. There are a lot of fantastic people to meet from around the world who are all very genuine and friendly. The rule ‘don’t talk to strangers’ doesn’t apply here and if you are friendly, then you’ll get to meet a big mix of people. The Spa is credited with healing many types of ailments, and as a detox centre, it also hosts regular AA and NA meetings on the beach. Many people are continuing their health journeys after overcoming a range of addictions spanning from food, drugs, alcohol and more so it is a place that is very positive and encouraging.
Weight Loss – I lost 3kg, 2 inches from my bust, 2 inches from my waist and 1 inch from my hips. I didn’t feel hungry, and was doing yoga daily and never felt faint.
Physical Appearance – Carbs, sugar and alcohol make our bodies bloat. Everything from my face to my feet lost water retention, my skin was glowing, and my eyes were clear.
Sense of Wellbeing – When you’re being so kind to your body it’s only natural that your mind will go to good places and I ended up feeling really satisfied that I was able to carry out the programme and my body felt happy too. When I finished, my mind and body both felt fantastic which I credit to the meditation, yoga and the detox programme of course.
How to Carry on Cleansing
Follow the programme advice when you break your fast and try to retain any good habits that you've fostered during your time at the retreat. Stick to vegetables and fruits for as long as you can when you return to your daily life and don't forget to drink lots of water too. The worst thing you can do is to fall back into your old habits straight away so make sure to set aside a few days for yourself when you get back home.
Website Link: http://www.thesparesorts.net
“You’ve Changed My Life Programme” Link: http://www.thesparesorts.net/samui/retreats/detox_cleansing/youve_changed_my_life_package_first_7_day_program
Magic Hands Centre: firstname.lastname@example.org, 0895313886, 0805306318
Samui Market Information: http://www.kosamui.com/samui-top10s/top5-night-markets.htm
The ‘You’ve Changed My Life' Detox plus accommodation packages for singles begin at 29,390 Thai Baht, (863 USD) and (6,731 HKD)