Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Chiang Mai -- The Home of Spa.

'Thailand is the home of spa,' enthuses Greg Morling, an Australian spa consultant. 'And Chiang Mai is where it's at because it delivers that ephemeral experience, the ambiance, it's naturally in the Lanna people.'

Any of these techniques may be physically replicated anywhere in the world. But it's not going to be the same if it's not in northern Thailand.The misty mountains where lemongrass, prai and turmeric grow. Soaring spiritual temples (there are over 300 in Chiang Mai alone). Cooler climate. And the softer, gentler Lanna culture that has pervaded this region since the 13th century.  

 The Lanna Kingdom left a rich heritage in ancient health secrets, and secrets for healing and rejuvenation. The Lanna Exotic Massage style combines centuries-old Thai massage techniques (known as Tok Sen) with oils extracted from local herbs, and Lanna music therapy.

As former president of the Australian Association of Massage Therapy, Morling knows what he's talking about. And he's in Chiang Mai to find the very best spa experiences to bring specialist tour groups to.

 By his definition, spa means 'water' so it's all about reverence for water. He tells me of one amazing spa  'out in the jungle, under a waterfall.' But he conveniently forgets its name. He's not telling. You'll have to join his tour to find out.

Greg used to be a fan of the Oasis Spa group, but now feels its become the 'MacDonalds of spas'. 'The more outlets they have, the less interested I become,' he says.

Their signature is a four-hands massage (two masseuses simultaneously) and one treatment with real gold leaf in its oil. Jing jing! He makes a dismissive one-handed gesture of that.

His big thing is signature treatments. 'Each of us has a signature, one signature; so a spa needs to have one too. Something truly unique and original to it.'

He's off to check out The Spa at Four Seasons Resort (pictured above). 'I've heard it's the best in the world, but I've not tried it yet.'

It's a filthy, rotten, dirty, low-down job, but someone's got to do it.

Footnote: Interested in a Northern Thailand spa tour? Email Greg Morling at

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