In many ways spas are similar to restaurants. Both can look good from outside. Even when you walk into a restaurant, it can still feel great – so far so good. Then you’ll take note of the quality of the attention you get. And, of course, you’ll be shown the menu. Mostly you’ll already have a good idea about what you want. So you’ll pick your dish – and then the cooks get to work on the job. And spa or restaurant, it’s all the same so far. But it’s only when you start to eat your meal, or begin your spa treatment, that you come to realise what things are really like – sometimes a place that looks promising won’t deliver the goods.
So how do you decide? How can you really tell what a spa (or a restaurant for that matter) is really going to be like? One way of course is by going online. But often things are way out of date, or have been written by . . . well, anyone at all, really. But here at Samui Holiday (and our sister The Samui Spa Guide) we actually go there and do it, and then report back to you. And this is just what’s happened at Eranda Herbal Spa in Chaweng.
It’s well-placed and easy enough to find – right at the very northern stretch of Chaweng Beach Road, just as the road twists uphill and you run out of buildings. But happily there’s no need at all to navigate your way there. If you live anywhere in the region of Chaweng, or as far away as Bophut and the sharp turn in the ring-road with Zazen Resort on your right, then you’ll be offered a pick-up and return service, from your resort to Eranda and back.
And that good vibe continues throughout. The days have long-since vanished when ‘spa treatment’ meant getting a manicure or booking an hour on a sun bed. Certainly you’ll find a few city-style spas on Samui. But we’re a beautiful tropical island. And there are several places to go where the landscaping and grounds are picture-postcard gorgeous. You’ll certainly discover the joys of this when you arrive at Eranda – it’s one of the loveliest places I’ve seen anywhere, set up a steep slope in the hill, and terraced into a beautiful garden setting complete with tinkling water features. It’s a promising start!
And that promise continues to be fulfilled when you’re shown to the reception area and main pavilion with its sweeping sea views, and greeted by a smiling receptionist who’ll bring you an iced drink of ginger and tamarind juice. Gazing around you’ll notice the small buildings, the treatment rooms, tucked into the greenery at different levels; there are more of them out of sight up the hill. There’s actually enough space and staff here to comfortably take care of a group of up to 24 people, and the spa has organised a rotation schedule that’s dedicated to weddings and hen-days – but more of that in a moment.
The facilities here are super. There are 10 luxurious private treatment ‘salas’ plus one large one, open-sided and airy, for up to 8 people. There’s a spectacular steam room that’s carved out of the natural rock, with an adjoining cool plunge pool with waterfall – with that amazing seascape as a backdrop. And all the products here use 100% natural ingredients that have not been tested on animals. These are both Thai and well-known imported items, all certified by the government. And so to the ‘menu’ that outlines all the treatments and packages available. And that, of course, is where the hands-on staff come into the picture. All of the staff are trained at the legendary massage and therapy school of Wat Po in Bangkok. But that’s not enough for Eranda. Anyone hoping for a job here has firstly to prove herself by actually working on the spa manager. If that shows promise, she’ll then undergo a kind of apprenticeship which involves daily training sessions over a period of six months. And at the end of that time she’ll finally be tested – she’ll be asked to work on not only the spa manager, but also two of the owners! You can be assured that when you come here you’ll be (literally) in the hands of a very sensitive and skilful person indeed.
There are all the expected beautifying and regenerating treatments, including, massages, scrubs, body wraps and a series of facials. And here, of particular note is the rare ‘Pure Gold Eranda Facial’ in which, after a series of cleansing scrubs and a liquid seaweed peeling mask, followed by an aloe vera gel mask, finally tiny flakes of rejuvenating 99.9% pure gold are applied all over your face.
The range of massages is extensive, too, and includes a walk-on-air ‘Moon Light Energy’ hot stone treatment which works on specific chakras. But the Ayurvedic therapies are not to be overlooked: there are numerous individual treatments, but the ‘Ultimate of Ayurvedic Shirodhara’ package that lasts for over three hours will do a lot to restore energies which are out of balance.
Eranda specialises in combined treatments and therapies, and these packages are a particular favourite with wedding groups, as mentioned earlier. But to tie-in with this is the duo-massage package that’s aimed at the happy couple – although it’s just perfect for any pair of lovers from 18 years to 80! It’s a whole five hours that features a private steam room and Jacuzzi. It begins with a Rice and Milk Body Scrub, moves on to a Tamarind and Herbs Wrap, then an Eranda Signature Massage. Then a reflexology session. Then onto that spectacular Gold Facial. And it all finally finishes with a spa drink and seasonal fruits to get you functional again!
There are lots of both restaurants and spas on Samui. But if you’re looking for one of the best spa experiences around, then head for the heights and the bliss that Eranda Herbal Spa is guaranteed to bring – the restaurants I’ll leave entirely up to you!
Rob De Wet