Alexander Fitzgerald visited Thailand for a seven-day detox of juices and clear soups. His verdict? He’ll be back.
The words ‘health spa’ conjure to mind Zen-like oases of calm, fluffy white robes, endless pampering and, invariably, stratospheric prices. New Body & Mind Resorts on the tropical island of Koh Samui in southern Thailand is somewhat different.
While its secluded beachfront location, health-conscious menu, and superb treatments make it a magnet for many a weary traveller, the majority of guests — men and women of all ages and nationalities — come to the resort to participate in its acclaimed Ultimate Detox, an intensive juice fasting programme that typically results in significant weight loss but, more importantly, acts as an incredibly effective springboard to a healthier lifestyle.
The prospect of a day without solid food, let alone an entire week (guests can choose the duration of their programme from four days or more in length, but the best benefits are achieved after seven or more days), is anathema to many; as, indeed, is the concept of a daily, self-administered colonic irrigation.
And yet, since opening in 1999, New Body & Mind has been so successful that bookings are typically made months in advance and the number of guests who return again (and again) is staggering.
A blend of Taoist and perhaps somewhat alternative Western thinking, the Ultimate Detox is brilliant in its simplicity and effectiveness. In short, the programme consists of a daily routine of taking, at intervals of three or four hours, five glasses of colon cleanse formula consisting of psyllium husk, activated charcoal, Bentonite clay, and holy basil seeds.
Far more palatable than it sounds, the concoction helps to keep hunger pangs at bay while working as an intestinal cleanser that loosens the waste matter.
Two herbal pellets (a mixture of natural parasite cleansing herbs bonded together with molasses) are also taken each night, while friendly bacteria are administered every day through a powerful nutritional supplement in liquid form.
As part of the detoxification process, the regime includes one daily self-administered 12.5-litre colonic irrigation with a coffee enema.
The colonic irrigations are, mercifully, utterly painless, clearing a build-up of toxic waste that accumulates over the years.
A detailed description of the mechanics of colonic hydrotherapy are explained in detail to guests on arrival. The entire procedure takes between 30 and 60 minutes and is as hygienic as it is painless.
That’s not to say it comes naturally — at first it is, by all accounts, a slightly disconcerting experience, but one that soon, as all detoxers happily attested, becomes part of the relaxing daily routine and as easy as riding a bike.
To enhance and accelerate the benefits of the detox, a guided exercise programme is organised each day. Activities include a bracing 6am walk (a surprisingly enjoyable start to the day), stretching exercises, a 60-minute yoga class, and organised group activities such as step aerobics, kayaking, and resistance training.
Participation is not essential but is encouraged. There’s also a blissful hour spent in the resort’s massage salas where expert therapists gentle kneed away guests’ aches and pains.
The thinking behind the provision of so many activities is two-fold: a busy schedule keeps fasters’ minds off the task in hand, while the exercise involved helps enhance a feeling of wellbeing.
Similarly, a daily workshop, which is typically an hour in duration, is laid on for those on the programme and can cover anything from mind management and nutrition and wellness to Q&A sessions with medical professionals and lessons on Thai cooking and culture.
Other daily activities provided as part of the programme include a half-hour daily session in an infra-red sauna, which encourages the flushing out of toxins while also enhancing lymphatic circulation; and, before bedtime, a blissful 20-minute relaxation in a piping hot herbal steam, which accelerates the release of toxins through the skin, promotes healthier respiratory and metabolic function and provides a wonderfully soporific afterglow.
The fourth day sees the inclusion of a forebodingly monikered gallbladder and liver cleanse, which involves the consumption of two Epsom salts drinks in the evening followed by a special drink made using orange juice, garlic, ginger, and a large amount of olive oil. A further two glasses of Epsom salts mixed with water are taken the following morning.
Proponents of gallbladder cleansing claim that the treatment helps break up gallstones and stimulates the gallbladder to release them in stool. Certainly, the large dose of olive oil coupled with the Epsom salts has a significant laxative effect.
Incredible as it may sound, few clients complain of boredom or even hunger. Although some complain of occasional restlessness and sporadic cravings for food on the first and second days, the temptation of a hearty meal soon subsides, and any feelings of hunger thereafter are rare.
In any event, the programme is not without some form of sustenance: three fresh juices daily (carrot, beetroot, and garlic; cucumber, apple, celery, and ginger; and tamarind) and an evening vegetable broth, a clear soup packed with vitamins and minerals.
Despite the repetitive nature of the daily regime, boredom is not a common complaint. The island’s breathtaking scenery and beaches (including the secluded Lipa Noi, whose powdery white sands and clear blue water are beside the resort) provide ready-made distractions, while New Body & Mind has an extensive selection of pampering treatments, such as massage, manicures and pedicures, scrubs and wraps to while away the hours.
But what is the ideology behind such a seemingly draconian detoxification programme? Isn’t it a little extreme? Does the human body really need to ‘detox’? Indeed, isn’t the very term scoffed at by some medics?
According to the resort’s genial programme director, Patrick Van Brussel, the detox programmes trigger a powerful cleansing process that reaches down to every cell and tissue in the body. With the curtailment of food, all organs and glands get a much-needed rest, during which their tissues are purified and rejuvenated, and their functions balanced and regulated.
The inclusion of daily colonic irrigation, meanwhile, serves as a means of improving our digestion and the ability of the intestine to absorb nutrients from what we eat and drink.
“All protocols have been implemented into our detox programmes because people have been eating more and more processed foods and high meat intake, which contributes to chronic constipation, a sluggish immune system, and highly stressed digestive organs,” Van Brussel explains.
Certainly, on paper at least, the idea of undertaking a seven-day detox programme complete with a daily colonic irrigation is far from attractive, but in practice, it’s far easier than one might imagine.
My fellow detoxers ranged in age from mid-20s to late-70s and each sailed through their respective programmes, each vowing to return — if, indeed, they were not already repeat visitors.
For others that might experience difficulties with their detoxification, the resort’s on-site staff are a superb resource. Caring, emphatic, and extremely knowledgeable, they offer counselling and support, making the whole experience as enjoyable — and successful — as possible.
As for the all-important results of the programme, well, they speak for themselves. All of those participating with me on the programme — a mixture of stressed-out executives, married couples, travellers, and pensioners — sang the praises of the benefits they had experienced.
Most spoke of feeling “more in tune” with their bodies, almost all had lost several kilos, while many experienced heightened energy levels, greater lucidity of mind, and increased suppleness.
As for my experience? I can testify that the seven days passed almost effortlessly and hunger pangs were notable only by their absence. By the end of the week, I truly felt completely relaxed, revitalised and thoroughly cleansed — and over four kilos lighter.
While my next holiday in Thailand will certainly involve more Som Tam (spicy papaya salad) than this one, it’s safe to say that, like many others, I will return for a second Ultimate Detox in the not distant future.
New Body and Mind Retreats (newbodyandmind.com) are situated on the west coast of Koh Samui, which is renowned for its quiet, serene beaches and small local villages, far removed from the island’s busy tourists centres.
Prices are available on application as programmes are created on a bespoke basis, depending on an individual’s objectives and requirements. Further details on +66 (0)77 423 189 (GMT +7); +66 (0)844 408 853 (GMT +7); or at firstname.lastname@example.org
There are direct flights to Koh Samui from Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Hong Kong.
Winter break in Cannes
With the Cote d’Azur famous for its mild winters, there are some new offers available at the Irish managed Mimozas Resort Cannes.
Prices for winter breaks begin at €152 for two nights or €228 for a three-night stay in the coming weeks. The Mimozas Resort has Provençale style buildings boasting one, two, and three bedroom apartments, all with their own private balcony.
Details available on: www.mimozascannes.com
Canadian flights seat sale
Air Transat has launched a seat sale valid up to February 1 on selected flights to Canada between April and October. The airline operates four flights per week from Dublin to Toronto and a weekly service to Montreal. For the first time this summer, the airline will offer connecting flights between Toronto and Vancouver. Prices start from €213 one way and €450 return. Flights to Vancouver range between €735 and €1,045. Call 018-666700 or visit www.airtransat.ie.
Big Apple luxury breaks
Luxury breaks in New York are currently on sale with Sunway to include business class flights and a stay in the well-known Fitzpatrick’s Grand Central Hotel. Sunway is quoting prices from €1,565 for the three-night deal with departures in March. The flight packages are based on a sale fare with BA/AA who offer club world seats that convert into a fully flat bed. Prices are based on two adults sharing. Details on www.sunway.ie or call 01-2311833.
Early booking Bermuda bargains
Aloha Holidays has some early booking offers for Bermuda with savings of up to 50% at the three star all-inclusive Grotto Bay resort. Bookings before January 31 for one-week including flights and transfers from €2,636 per adult and €1,880 per child (under 12) sharing before the hotel discount is applied. Packages are also available in the five-star Cambridge Beaches where B&B deals are available from €2,345. Details: www.AlohaHolidays.ie or telephone 01-2108391.
Emirates global flights sale
There are two days to go in the Emirates global sale that offers prices from Dublin to Dubai and Australia from €499 and €869 respectively. Several other destinations are included with prices pitched in and around €600-€700. The award-winning airline also offers inclusive Business Class fares from Ireland, Bangkok, Mauritius, Johannesburg among them, and prices start from €2,140. Contact any travel agent or visit www.emirates.ie
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