Chiva-Som (which means haven of life in Thai) has been known as Asia’s first comprehensive wellness retreat and one of the world’s leading destination spas for over 20 years, but a recent renovation expands its holistic life approach to its surrounding environment.
Located on Hau Hin beach about 125 miles south of Thailand’s capital, the resort opened in the mid-1990s as a getaway for Bangkok’s elite, and Hau Hin has served as a vacation spot for Thai royalty since the beginning of the 20th century. But Chiva-Som aims to do more than lure elite visitors in need of a reprieve. With over 200 treatments to choose from, wellness at the seven-acre breach-front resort means everything from personal trainers and a physiotherapy-focused sport injury center, to fertility services, daily detoxification culinary menus, massages, and micro-invasive cosmetic surgery.
And now after a 12-month renovation, it also means an astute attention to an eco-friendly footprint. Outside of a new sleep spray (a combination of calming natural ingredients such as geranioum, ylang-ylang, bergamot, patchouli, castor oil, and vitamin E that is applied to your pillow), Chiva-Som left its spa services alone and focused on green materials. Sustainably–farmed teak and bamboo decor was added throughout the property’s traditional Thai buildings, and bamboo-handled toothbrushes and razors were added to each of the 37 guestroom and suites. Custom hand-woven silks from Thailand’s world-renowned brand Jim Thompson grace the interiors, as do contemporary Thai furnishings designed by American architect Ed Tuttle and his team at Designrealization Siam. Hidden mood and sensor lighting systems help save electricity while enhancing the resort’s Thai tranquility, and new outdoor sitting areas and floor-to-ceiling windows invite guests to sip detoxifying lemongrass tea while appreciating the Gulf of Siam and Chiva-Som’s own waterfalls, lakes, and tropical gardens.
Furthering its commitment to a truly holistic lifestyle, Chiva-Som also invites guests to explore the nearby Krailart Niwate Mangrove Preservation Ecotourism Center, which protects Hau Hin’s last remaining urban mangrove ecosystem. Founder of Chiva-Som, Khun Boonchu Rojanastien, has been integral in preserving the mangrove forests—which like coral reefs, stabilize coastlines and help prevent erosion. Mangroves are also home to large commercial shrimp fisheries, and since 2007, Chiva-Som and Rojanastien have helped plant over 3,000 new trees. A new mangrove education center is also scheduled to open later this year. (chivasom.com)