Hotspring retreats are enhancing the Thai spa and wellness holiday experience.by Percy Roxas
Today’s spa-goers are increasingly looking for a new and different experience. They are seeking an experience that is not only beneficial to health and wellbeing, or is truly relaxing, but also one that has a ‘back-to-nature’ feel. Yes, Virginia, they want it au naturel as much as possible. That is why hotspring retreats – with their natural surroundings and often all-organic offerings – are emerging as the new buzzword in the world of Thai spas and wellness.
With 112 natural hotsprings in Thailand, the kingdom is a veritable “land of hotsprings.” Not surprisingly, the country’s spa and well-being entrepreneurs are now trying to find more ways to harness the full potential of these hotsprings, business-wise and otherwise. Indeed, why not?
Such is the tourism potential of the hotspring sctor that even the government and other private sectors are joining the fray to develop them. In fact, The National Economic and Social Development Bureau, Thai Hot Spring Club, and other agencies are joining hands to not only tap but also maximize their potential further by building prototypes of “spa towns” in Krabi, Ranong, Kanchanaburi, Lampang, Chiang Mai, Chiangrai, and Lampang. (For updates, visit www.facebook.com/Thai Hot Spring Club).
In November last year, leaders of the spa and well-being industry even organized a “Thai Hot Spring Summit,” as part of the annual International Spa and Well-being Convention hosted by the Thai Spa Association in Bangkok. The summit, or forum if you will, discussed the feasibility of these “Thai spa towns,” obviously inspired by the Japanese “Onsen towns.”
In the meantime, places such as the Wareerak Hot Spring Retreat (Tel: 075 637 130; 18 Moo 5, Klong Tom Nua, Krabi) are, on their own, already providing samples of the wondrous hotspring pampering and healing experiences – with everything natural and organic. This hotspring retreat, a best-kept secret hidden under the covers of a lush jungle, is just one of the many hotsprings that tourists can now enjoy in Krabi. One impressed tourist had the following to say of these hotsprings during an interview: “They should be on every tourist’s itinerary, whether the tourists are in Krabi for a spa and wellness holiday or not.”
While Krabi comes to mind when one thinks of “hotspring healing,” it is not the only province in Thailand with an abundance of similar natural assets. The southwestern province of Ranong is also famous for hotspring and health spa services, and there is one here – Raksa Warin (Wat Tapo Tharam Hot Spring (Tel: 077 835 240; Meaung District) – which has been a popular tourist spot since the 1890s, after King Rama V made a visit. It is said that this hotspring has the purest water (without sulfur contaminant) in Thailand, and the water is even drinkable.
Chiang Mai is another province with a wealth of hotsprings within its borders. In the Sankhampeng district alone – some 30km off the city proper – are geysers and warm pools that are especially popular among tourists during the cold months. Chiang Mai’s year-round temperate weather really enhances the pleasure of a dip in a hotspring!
Among the best examples of how hotsprings are being harnessed for well-being purposes can be found in Pai, Mae Hong Son, where hotspring waters are piped directly into some of the local resort pools for guests to enjoy. We have experienced this personally in one Pai resort, where our villa had its own outdoor bathtub with hotspring waters instead of the usual tap water.
The bath overlooked a panorama of fields and mountains that Mae Hong Son is famous for – making the experience truly precious. That is why it is no hyperbole to say that the hotspring baths are becoming part of an alternative luxury hotel and resort experience, at least in some parts of Thailand.
There are all kinds of mineral-rich hotsprings in Thailand – ranging from simple carbon dioxide springs to carbonated/chloride springs, from sulfate and ferruginous springs to sulfur and other kind of springs – and many can be tapped for medical holiday goals. You can also use Google to read up on more of this kind of information.
But there’s nothing like experiencing them first-hand. Take a dip in a hotspring bath and you can immediately feel your wellbeing improve. You don’t even need scientific and medical proof that they can ease mental stress, relieve muscle aches and pains, and cure skin problems, while giving a general sense of exhilaration and reinvigoration, as you can feel it. The fact that most of them are located in the middle of a natural sanctuary or park enhances the hotspring experience further.
And that is why we believe the promise of “Thai spa towns” will be a success, and the sooner they are introduced, the better.
This will allow more people to experience these “miracles of nature” with ease, whether for sheer pleasure or for a natural health benefit; and to help boost Thailand’s claim for being the “spa and wellbeing capital of Asia.”