The Spa Resort, Chiang Mai

Picture of Rucky.

Our faithful guide Rucky.

My girlfriend Katie and I recently had the opportunity to tour The Spa Resort, near Chiang Mai, Thailand. Early in the morning, one of the resort's drivers picked us up from the city. The highway leading out of Chiang Mai was wide, and clogged with motorbikes and tuk-tuks. We drove through several villages, where women were cooking breakfast on coals. The last part of the forty-minute journey was on a narrow gravel road in a lush green valley, where only a few small houses dotted the landscape.

When we reached the resort, we were led to the reception desk, where we met Rucky, our guide for the day. Relaxing music was playing from speakers hidden in the rafters of the open-air veranda. The three of us shared a cup of steaming green tea while Rucky explained the resort's facilities and goals. Every morning there were meditation and yoga classes. There was also a fasting program, with daily detox drinks and healthy broths. And of course, no resort would be complete without a massage therapy program. For those who wanted to be healthy in all aspects of life, there was a “boot camp.” The week-long seminar combined all of the resort's activities: exercise, healthy eating, meditation, yoga and massage.

Picture of room.

A basic hotel room.

The first hotel room Rucky showed us was spacious, with a comfortable bed and a patio leading to the pool. Next we saw a two-story villa suite, with a living room, kitchen and half-bathroom on the first floor, and three bedrooms with balconies on the second floor. Finally, for those looking to bring the whole family, we toured a premier four-bedroom villa suite. The villa had artsy furniture and a modern kitchen and dining room. Each bedroom came with its own bathroom and balcony. The villa was fully furnished, with an elegant design that lacked the tackiness of many high-end resorts. All of the accommodations we saw were harmonious; the only sounds were of the birds chirping outside. If you're looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of a big city, there are no bad options at The Spa Resort.

Picture of Katie.

Katie with her fresh greens.

The next stop on our tour was the garden. There were several rows of flowering dragon fruit plants; Rucky informed us that they would bear fruit in a few weeks. Pineapples, mangoes, papayas, coconuts and citrus fruits also grew on the property. And there was a large vegetable garden, where we picked some fresh greens to have with our lunch. Rucky informed us that eighty percent of the ingredients used at the resort were grown there.

Picture of yoga.

Yoga sessions are available here.

A large patio, covered in palm thatch, was on the hill above the garden. This was where the daily meditation and yoga sessions took place at dawn. A fire pit was nearby, perfect for a chat after a long day of healthy living. Further down the hill was a gazebo, where a few boot camp participants were chatting between their exercise sessions.

Picture of Katie.

A happy cooker.

After admiring our view of the emerald property and surrounding hills, we headed to a cooking class. Giant, the resort's chef, was waiting, with fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs and spices arranged at the table. Our first dish was raw apple pie. Giant showed Katie how to chop the walnuts, pecans and figs for the crust, then the two of them pealed apples for the filling. The last step was to slice more figs as a garnishment. Then came the best part about raw apple pie – no cooking!

While I dug in and savored the delicious dessert, Giant and Katie chopped vegetables to make thom yum goong soup. Giant lit a single burner and boiled a broth. Katie added a few slices of spicy peppers, then she poured in a bit of coconut milk to balance the flavor. The great thing about Thai cooking is that you are free to combine flavors however you see fit. When the soup was almost ready, Giant added the key ingredient: a handful of shrimp. A minute later, we poured the steaming soup into a bowl and set it aside to cool. We thanked Giant for the lesson and walked to the restaurant.

The Radiance was an open-air restaurant, cooled by whooshing fans overhead. We sat down and chatted while the friendly staff brought out our lunch. Our first dish was an omelet of sorts, with rice and vegetables enclosed in an egg cocoon. Next we had a red dragon fruit curry, garnished with a sprig of basil. Dragon fruit by itself is sweet, but this curry was spicy and savory. I didn't know how they pulled it off, but it was delicious. We also each had a salad, made from the greens we had just picked. And of course, there was our thom yum goong soup. In the end, we were so stuffed, we didn't have room for the rest of the pie. Our waiter was happy to box it for us.

Picture of staff.

The friendly spa staff.

With stomachs bursting, we headed to the last stop on our tour: the Bamboo Spa. They offered many types of massage, including traditional Thai, foot, and back and neck. You could also choose from a number of natural scrubs and essential oils. The massage room was outside, and soothing music was playing in the background. I felt totally relaxed just looking at this place. I couldn't imagine what daily massages would do to me.

The Spa Resort is filled with high end luxury, available for less money than a regular hotel would cost in the United States. They even offer airport pickup, so you don't have to plan a thing. Whether you want a relaxing vacation, a thorough cleansing, a meditative experience or simply motivation to shed a few pounds, The Spa Resort is for you.

Ready to plan your next trip? Here's The Spa Resort's website.

Click here for more of my photos from the resort.

* I'd like to thank Rucky and The Spa Resort for providing Katie and me with a free tour and lunch. All opinions expressed in this article are my own.

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