Rock Valley Hot Spring and Fish Spa in Kanchanaburi, Thailand was an experience like no other. You can check out the company website here. I am going to concentrate on the hot springs and the mud treatment because I realized long ago that fish spa is not for me!
Kanchanaburi is located in the West of Thailand, it is less that three hours drive from Bangkok. Kanchanaburi is famous for the Bridge Over River Kwai but that somber story is for another day. Today I talk about the spa.
At the spa I was asked if I would like to try out the mud body treatment. I had seen the pictures of it in the lobby and it looked like incredible fun. At the spa you are allowed to wear the dresses they provide, they do not allow bikini within the premises. For men too, no swimming trunks are allowed. The dresses they give are nice too.
After changing, I went to my hut inside the premises and my host painted me black, literally! I was such a sight (and fright), but the good bit was so was everyone else! I had carried my cell phone with me so I could take some pictures.
After the mud dried, I got to wash it off at a waterfall, within the premises of the spa. Later I showered and thought the fun was over, but I was wrong. Our guide, Wanna, told me that I could go and check out the hot spring pools. And there are many within the premises. There was a fish pool too but I gave it a miss.
The hot springs are formed out of naturally occurring springs. They add flavors to it. I tried the orange pool, the coffee pool and the milk pool too! As it is hot water they advice you not to spend too much time within it. All the pools are clearly marked with the expected pool temperature both in English and Thai.
By the time I was out, my skin was glowing. I had a shower again and it was time to head back to my hotel. I did a lot of things in Kanchanaburi but when it came to writing I picked up the spa experience first because it was so different from a normal spa and it was so much fun!
PS. I was invited by Tourism Authority of Thailand on the ‘Thailand Through Her Eyes’ trip as a photographer!
When I was leaving the Kumarakom Lake Resort, I told Sanjay, “thank you for such a wonderful holiday, it was so beautiful, it was almost unreal!” Since then I have been wondering why I enjoyed my stay so much! I actually closed my eyes and the reasons started popping up one by one. I wrote then all in the random order as they emerged in my thoughts. And that is what I share with you today.
1. Are you sure you want to talk about all this?
When I reached the resort I was somewhat tired. Even though it was a 8.10 am flight, I had to wake at 5.00 am. The flight to Kochi was via Hyderabad. Then there was metro construction going on in Kochi so it took us a lot of time to get out of the city.
But I am so used to working on the trips that I automatically start asking questions. Asa Abraham, the PR manager asked me, “are you sure you want to talk about all this? We will discuss it tomorrow.” After a while when I again slipped into the questioning mode she firmly told me, “you relax, you must be tired.” And I was bundled off to a sunset cruise and then after an early dinner to my room. That really set the tone for the rest of the trip!
Ask anyone at the Kumarakom Lake Resort for how many years they have worked with the property and chances they would tell you something like 10 years, 15 years, 7 years or so. People work there for a long long time. And that reflects in the way they treat guests. My guess is that the resort keeps the employees happy, and the employees, in turn, keep the guests happy.
3. Heritage villa with a pool or when I had the whole pool to myself
I had a luxury heritage lake view villa with an attached plunge pool. In other words, I had a whole private pool to myself that was enclosed within the four walls of my villa, an ultimate luxury for me. I could take a dip in the pool at midnight if I wanted. It was also a first for me. In fact on this trip there were many firsts and there were many having the whole things to myself!
4. Having the whole houseboat to myself
Even though I have been to Kerala before, it was my first time on a houseboat. And then I had the whole big houseboat for myself. I went on a lunch cruise. Chef Deepak and his team prepared a lavish Kerala meal for me accompanied with a beer! My first experience on a houseboat has been out of this world! The weather was awesome and I hardly ever budged from the deck!
5. Having the whole canoe to myself
Before going on a houseboat I went on a canoe ride through the backwaters. A canoe can enter narrower canals than the big houseboats. On my ride, early in the morning, you guessed it right, I had the whole canoe to myself. I sat on the chair for the first fifteen minutes. Then I asked if I could go sit at the front of the boat? When I was told yes, I remained there, firmly sitting on the front of the boat for the rest of my journey! It was a fabulous trip.
At lunch and dinner in the main restaurant, they had 22 bottles of pickle! Need I say more? Well, I will say a little more, we had a staggering variety of South Indian food but they made sure that there were continental and North Indian food available as well. In fact the buffet was so nice that I never ordered anything out the menu!
7. Prince Charles’s Room
Prince Charles celebrated his 65th birthday at Kumarakom Lake Resort. I was told that for his entire team 20 rooms were booked in all. He and the duchess stayed at the presidential suites. And the room is actually fit for royalty! Among other things, it has its own private infinity pool!
8. The Infinity Pool
That brings me to the common infinity pool. My room was the closest to it and I went for swimming every day. I have decided that if I have a pool access and if I have time, I am going to work out on my trips! Otherwise there is no chance of me ever getting fit! And it helps to stay motivated if the pool is set in such scenic surroundings!
9. Beautiful Backwaters
You can view the Vembanad from the various corners of the resort. It is a befitting backdrop to a very beautiful resort. In fact while I was swimming in the infinity pool, I could see local fishermen go past in their boats!
I asked people how old was the resort? They told me it opened in 2000. So I concluded that it was 15 years old. And yet it looked much older and that puzzled me!
When I met the owner Mr. Paul P John he mentioned that his team bought many old Kerala houses, dismantled it piece by piece and then many such pieces were used to build the resort. The main restaurant was the house gifted to the martial arts teacher of the King of Travancore. I then understood why the place looked much older than 15 years!
The resort is constructed such that it gives the feel of being in a backwater village with coconut trees, water lilies, bridges and canals. You will find hammocks and benches to sit and relax! You can go fishing within the premises itself with Kavi, who was happy to teach even the smallest kid!
12. Meandering Pool Villas
Even though I did not stay in a meandering pool villa I loved what I saw! You would step out straight from your room to the meandering pool and go where ever you pleased! I was told that the families and kids loved it. But I was happy with my own private pool!
13. Ayurvedic Massage
Ayurmana the ayurvedic spa at the resort is a bliss. I went in for a rejuvenating massage and it was truly that, one hour of complete rejuvenation!
14. Towel Art
The first day I had two swans in my room. They were beautiful but I was alone. But the next day I had good company, there was this perfectly relaxing towel art on my bed! That completely blew me away! I even clicked a silly selfie with it, I liked it so much! It exactly defined my holiday.
15. Open Bathroom
Most of the accommodations (except houseboats and luxury pavilion rooms) have semi open bathrooms. The shower was close to the pool, enclosed by the four walls but no roof. And I loved it too.
So this is a short summary of my stay at Kumarakom Lake Resort. I of course have much more to say!
PS. I was invited by the Kumarakom Lake Resort on this luxury holiday!
As I got a glimpse of Balkatmane, A Heritage Spa in the Beloor Village of Karnataka, I was sold on it. The setting was quiet, the house so beautiful that I immediately felt at peace! As I removed my slippers outside and walked in barefoot, I wish I had more time to spend at the place. I was spending one night at the place. You can check out the location and the prices on the website.
I was told that the spa has been constructed like a traditional Karnataka home. It had a long corridor going through the center of it. I was greeted with a tilak and a flower by Veena and Vedha, the two massage therapists.
As soon as I got a glimpse of my room, the first thought was that it must have been meant for a princess! It had a lovely four poster bed and tastefully done. I quickly opened the front door and glanced out of the balcony. Two things caught my attention.
And both the things accentuated the princess theme. I loved the easy chair by the beautiful window. This was right outside my room. The pity is that I sat down by it and updated my social media accounts, a very unprincess like thing to do!
The second thing that contributed to the princess theme was the view from the easy chair! From all the balconies the home looks beautiful!
I went in for a rejuvenating plus beauty massage. It involved olive oil, honey and oats scrub, mud pack, steam and a herbal bath! It was my second encounter with Ayurveda based massage and I liked what I saw in the mirror! It was also my first experience when there were two massage therapists Veena and Vedha dealing with the treatment simultaneously. I don’t think my body has ever soaked so much olive oil in one day and it liked the results!
While I was going through the massage I could hear the rains outside. I was told it was the first one of this season. I looked out of an open door near the dining area and spotted a beautiful rainbow. I ran out with my cell phone and had an amazing time clicking and admiring the rainbow, in that order!
The flowers were drenched in the rain! Everything looked washed and fresh! The property is just six months old so the trees need more time to grow, but many has been planted! There are plans for a pond and a swimming pool too!
There is a swing and a lovely flower arrangement which once again complimented my princess theme! I did sit down on the swing for a while and did not update social media!
Next on the agenda was a facial. It involved cleansing the face with orange juice and a scrub with orange peels. Then there was a papaya face mask and finally a fruit face mask used. I have been for facials that use cosmetics and I told someone that my face felt so full of chemicals! I actually liked the fruit based facial much more!
Then I admired the plate of nail polish and clicked a photo. So Veena and Vedha offered to put some on my fingers and toes! My princessness quotient was getting higher and higher!
Finally there was dinner laid out for me. This is the only Sai Vishram property that serves non-vegetarian food. I am anyway a vegetarian who can eat eggs. They made an effort to feed me dishes of eggs! After a nice meal it was time to crash in my four poster bed feeling completely like a princess!
PS. I was invited by Sai Vishram Group on this trip.
I just got back after spending an extended weekend at Jaipur Marriott. Sometime during the trip I realized with a start that I went back to Jaipur after four long years! I wonder how I let that happen! But I am back now after having an awesome time at the hotel and in the city but spa comes first!
As always I was working till Friday. I am so averse to packing that it had to be done last minute as usual. However, this time I managed to pack and wind up by 11.00 pm which is early by my standards. I had a 6.00 am start the next day.
Our meeting point was the Delhi JW Marriott in Aerocity where we had a quick bite before we started for Jaipur by road. Early mornings never agree with me and I was quite tired when we arrived. In fact, when I looked at the mirror a tired and lined face stared back at me.
After a late lunch, it was time to book an appointment at the O2 Spa. I tried to get a booking for 5.30 pm but all the slots were gone! I asked then if I could an appointment for 4.30 pm immediately and they had slots.
Within 5 minutes I was walking to the O2 Spa which is at -1 level of the hotel. My wait at the spa reception was pleasant. I settled down to choose a treatment.
I usually go for Aromatherapy as it smells nice but I decided to try the Balinese Massage this time. I was fresh offered orange juice while I was waiting. They offer facials, body wraps and many other treatments. The spa menu is available online.
The therapy room was soothing, done in Rajasthani colors. The steam room is also within the main room which was very convenient.
The massage was a sheer bliss, I could have actually fallen asleep. It was one hour (actually more if I include the steam and preparation time) of not doing anything, listening to music and getting thoroughly pampered.
Biniya was the name of the lady who was with me. She was really good and often asked about the room temperature and the pressure and if I was comfortable. The only trouble with me is that I am ticklish but we managed to sort it out after a few minutes.
After that hour of bliss, when I went back to my room and looked at my face in the mirror again it was more like my usual self! I actually quite enjoy spa pampering but I never thought it really makes any difference unless you live a balanced life anyway. But after the O2 experience at Jaipur Marriott I have to think again. I think that I feel fresh only after adequate sleep but here I was looking better after spending an hour in the spa without getting any additional sleep! Now that is some food for thought.
I was invited by Jaipur Marriott to spend the weekend with them. And it was a great weekend.