Samui Wining & Dining
An unpretentious but award-winning spa in a stunning setting – Tamarind Springs has a great deal to boast about!

An unpretentious but award-winning spa in a stunning setting – Tamarind Springs has a great deal to boast about!There are spas, and there are spas. You’ll see them out on the street. Your resort will probably have one. Some are stand-alone, offering pampering and rejuvenation treatments. Others offer accommodation too, together with more detailed programs. And these ones usually include different forms of detox and other health-related options. Then there’s the more mystical side of things, the so-called New Age places, where the talk of ‘balanced chakras’ and ‘energy fields’ runs side by side with dieting on live vegetables and investigating zero magnetic gravity.


This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because you’re utterly spoiled for choice – take your pick! And it’s not so good because, with all these wide and varied spas of different forms and flavours, how do you sort out the wheat from the chaff? How can you make certain that your emailed enquiry about sacro-cranial massage isn’t answered by a manager who tells her clerk “. . . head massage? We can do that. Tell them ‘yes’ and book them in for a week.”?


The answer? TripAdvisor. But the big problem here is that you need the skill to be able to read between the lines. Two or three spoiled brats can give a nasty taste to a place very fast, despite the reams of moderate praise that’s embedded all around. The other and more reliable way is to listen carefully to, and take note of, say, someone who has been on Samui for 20 years and has experienced many of these spas first-hand, on and off, over this period of time. Like me, perhaps! And I can’t find anything even faintly negative to say in any way about Tamarind Springs, in Lamai.


I don’t think there’s a more beautiful or impressive setting, anywhere on Samui. A great deal of our island is fringed with plain, flat, whitesand beaches. But this area has a solid core of rock. It was the last part of the original ring-road to be completed, due to the blasting that was necessary. Beachwards, the rock cascades to the sea. But a little way inland it forces its way through the surface with boulders the size of houses. The layout here at Tamarind Springs has been thoughtfully and carefully designed, up and down the slope, to fit in and around these massive rocks.An unpretentious but award-winning spa in a stunning setting – Tamarind Springs has a great deal to boast about! And, over the long time it’s been here, the rampant flourishing of tropical greenery has been tamed and controlled just the right amount to reach a compromise between out-of-control chaos and an organised lushness that is rare to see. In other words; it’s utterly idyllic.


So let’s come back to the idea of spas again, and let’s take the two extremes. One the one hand, a little Thai spa on the road; on the other, a New Age assembly of seekers and healers. Both places share something in common – take a treatment or a massage and you’ll get your body worked on! The plain vanilla massage will manipulate the muscles; if you’re lucky and get a sensitive masseuse, she’ll recognise areas of tightness and tension and work on them. But she won’t be aware of nerve clusters, the lymphatic or nervous systems, glands, electro-chemical energy, or the inter-relation of any of these things. But on the other side of the coin you’ll be blasted with jargon. The New Age guys will be talking about balancing your chakras and re-harmonising your energies. And that brings us back to Tamarind Springs again.


Putting it simply: at Tamarind you’re going to get treatments which are totally professional. And every one of the therapy staff is aware of, and involved in, Ayurvedic (and other) principles and practices. But they don’t shout about it. In fact, you have to comb carefully through their programmes to find hints of this. It’s all packaged and promoted very sensibly, and with the minimum of sensationalism. Take the Hot Stone (plus cold stone also) massage. After two hours of this you will, literally, be drifting on air as you wobble your way to the steam room. And for the next few days you’ll be relaxed, fortified, uplifted and optimistic, but without really knowing why.An unpretentious but award-winning spa in a stunning setting – Tamarind Springs has a great deal to boast about! It’s also got a lot to do with your masseuse knowing about the body’s energy centres, and working on them. (But what you won’t get told, or read on the website info, is that when the moon is full, for some interesting reason, the stones used here are put out in the moonlight overnight . . .)


Combing carefully through the programs again reveals two lymphatic treatments sitting unassumingly in amongst the rest. Nobody’s shouting about these, but both of these are rooted in an old and established lymphatic drainage technique created by the Austrian, Dr Emil Vodder. It’s a slow and gentle stroking therapy – no sense of pressure or pain – which concentrates on the body’s lymphatic system, balancing its tangles and effectively re-organising the lymphatic flow to be directional and at its optimum. And it works. Water retention disappears and swollen limbs return to normal – and working also on the face and head strengthens and regenerates the cells, effectively creating a natural ‘facelift’. This is probably one of the most unassuming and unpublicised ways of generating a natural detox.


It has to be said that none of these treatments or packages are particularly cheap. In fact, on an island where you can get a jolly good beach mash for 400 baht, they are in a different class altogether. But you really do get what you pay for, particularly in view of the unsung expertise at Tamarind Springs, the acquisition of which would make many a New Age venue dance with joy. If you want a quick, energetic, back rub, go to the beach. If you want to wake up wondering what’s happened to you, come here!


Plus . . . with no strings attached, there are the most stunninglylocated bungalows to rent. Check the website for details, but you can stay here, in a super suite or villa, totally rooted into nature, adrift on another plane altogether, for not much more than 1,000 baht a day. The actual treatments cost more, but then they touch on a lot more points. But the accommodation, also not boasted about, is one point about Tamarind Springs that needs some pressing home!


 Rob De Wet


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