Chiva-Som: A design for life

Chiva Som

For Chiva-Som chairman Krip Rojanastien, wellness is for life – not just for the duration of a health resort visit. He offers five reasons to try integrated wellness…

There’s more to wellness holidays than swapping urban pinot sessions for nettle smoothies in a tropical paradise for a fortnight each year. Just ask Krip Rojanastien, chairman of Chiva-Som – the renowned health resort in the Gulf of Thailand he inherited from his father (Boonchu Rojanastien, a Thai statesman and financier who was dubbed Thailand’s first “economic tsar” in the 1970s) in 2007. Rojanastien – a life-long wellness fanatic who began planning his succession of the resort five years before his father died – is a firm believer in a holistic, integrated approach to health: one in which words that smack of temporary abstinence from damaging lifestyle choices (‘retreat’, ‘bootcamp’, ‘detox’) are consigned to the dustbin, and the health- centred holiday becomes a refresher course for a permanent state of healthy living. Here are five reasons why integrated wellness, for Rojanastien, is the key to leading a wholesome, vigorous and therefore effective existence…

Krip Rojanastien Chiva Som

It’ll future-proof your competence

“Besides the rise of the middle class, the bulk of whom are going to be in Asia, the other emerging global mega-trend is urbanisation,” explains Rojanastien. “And these huge metropolises breed stress, pollution, toxins – all of which will challenge the way you maintain your health. So what’s key to that? It’s the lifestyle that you lead under those circumstances. [All-year-round] wellness will provide that solution. You have to lead a balanced lifestyle: be competitive, focused, but also healthy enough to stay that way.”

Yoga Chiva Som

Health is a life project, not a whim

All too often, according to Rojanastien, the adoption of a healthy lifestyle is a belated reaction to the fear of ageing. “Getting started [on a holistic wellness approach] at an early age offers a big advantage – why start when you already have health problems?” he says. “Everyone should start young when it comes to the aim of ‘ageing gracefully’, as we like to put it – which means without chronic illnesses, problems and so on.”

Chiva Som

One size fits… just one

There are as many approaches to wellness as there are people, according to Rojanastien, and a smart approach needs to take into account your life either side of your trip. “That’s why the programmes we provide guests at Chiva-Som are tailored,” he says. “Everyone’s programme is different to everyone else’s. We take in every factor in a person’s life from their work to their family, individual habits…” The result is an approach to wellness which evolves over decades.

Yoga Chiva Som

Bad habits die hard (and revive easily)

Resuming poor lifestyle choices the moment you get back from a trip unravels the whole enterprise, believes Rojanastien. “This is why we stress the value of long-term relationships, and remain as partners [with guests],” he says. “When they’re trying to achieve their goals, if they have problems, if they need advice or help along the way, we stay in touch with people after they’ve left the resort. That’s why more than 50 per cent of our guests return. Coming to Chiva- Som is not a one-off visit.”


It could help tackle a global crisis

OK, it may sound dramatic – but to adopt a comprehensive, all-year-round health programme is, according to Rojanastien, to play a small part in combatting a far bigger global issue: “Wellness is the key to the crisis of an ageing population,” he says. “By 2050, one in five of the world’s population will be 60 or over, and even in 20 or 30 years’ time this will cripple the economy with healthcare bills. It doesn’t just affect GDP – it affects society as a whole.”

About Chiva-Som

Chiva-Som – the name translates as Haven of Life – comprises 70 treatment rooms, a kinesis studio, watsu pool, flotation pool and bathing pavilion with Kneipp bath, all set within seven acres of lush tropical gardens on a stunning beachfront 114 miles south of Bangkok. It was the first dedicated wellness spa in Asia.

To find out more about Chiva-Som’s wellness philosophy, go to or follow @chivasomresort on Twitter.

About author

Nick Scott

Nick Scott

A former editor-in-chief of The Rake and deputy editor of the Australian edition of GQ, Nick has had features published in titles including Esquire, The Guardian, Observer Sport Monthly and Rolling Stone Australia and is a contributing editor to Director magazine. He has interviewed celebrities including Hugh Jackman, Daniel Craig and Elle Macpherson, as well as business people including Sir Richard Branson, Charles Middleton and Nick Giles and Michael Hayman MBE.

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