The spa at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok.
ANDREW BROWNBILL


THE DESTINATION: BANGKOK

STAY  Primly perched on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, the 137-year-old Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok features newly refreshed, butler-serviced rooms dressed up in teak woods and sumptuous silk. But the grande dame’s best feature might be her spa, where treatment rooms come in the form of expansive high-design spa suites complete with private steam rooms, and the new menu spotlights fresh Thai herbal ingredients. Massages use deeply hydrating coconut oil and homemade compresses filled with components like turmeric (which is high in antioxidants, and has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties), lemongrass (great for stress release), camphor (stimulates blood flow), and kaffir lime (a natural detoxifier). 

OFF THE BEATEN PATH:
Hua Hin

Herbs are part of Thailands herbal healing tradition.
ANDREW BROWNBILL
When Bangkok’s well-heeled residents need to escape the hustle and bustle of Thailand’s capital city, they head to Hua Hin beach. A three-hour drive south of Bangkok, the seaside resort is their answer to the Hamptons, and everyone from fashionable socialites to the Thai royal family decamps to the straight 5-mile stretch of sand that’s wedged between mountains and the Gulf of Thailand’s calm waters. It’s an environment that promotes rejuvenation — a fact that has been touted ever since King Rama VII built his summer palace there in the mid-1920s as a place to recover from his rheumatoid arthritis. Visitors today can visit the Mrigadayavan Palace to admire the beautiful and regal stilted teak buildings and surrounding gardens, where musicians oftentimes play.

STAY  Hua Hin’s reputation as a great health destination continues today thanks to Chiva Som, one of the world’s best destination spas. Located on a prime stretch of beachfront, the property has been in the wellness business for 17 years. And the result is one of the most comprehensive programs anywhere (their spa treatment menu alone is 117 pages, and includes services like acupuncture sessions and naturopath consults). But Chiva Som’s hallmark is its detox programming, which takes its cues from the property’s homeland. Spas typically approach detoxing with a course of lymphatic drainage massages and wraps that expel toxins through the skin, but one of the most effective ways to eliminate contaminants is through the digestive system. To that end, Chiva Som offers chi nei tsang, an abdominal massage practiced in Thailand that integrates both physical manipulation of the internal organs and energy healing. Diet also plays a key role in a detox program, so visitors rise to a cup of hot water with fresh lime in order to wake up the body’s cleansing system. And while Thai dishes are high in fiber and naturally detoxifying, Chiva Som bumps it up a notch by eliminating much of the sugar and oils found in traditional Western diets.