Anantara Angkor Resort Launches Cambodian Wellness Experiences as part of their new Wellness Retreats
Most famous for its ancient temples, Siem Reap is now also on the wellness radar thanks to Anantara Angkor Resort, which just launched a range of new wellness retreats based on local Khmer healing practices.
Named the Seven Ways of Enlightenment, the seven wellness programs offer daily four- to five-hour wellbeing journeys over a 4- to 7-day retreat. Blending Cambodia’s rich cultural heritage with the spa’s holistic approach, these handpicked experiences are brought to life through seven distinct pillars, including Sati (Mindfulness), Dhamma Vijaya (Investigation), Virya (Energy), Piti (Rapture), Passadhi (Tranquility), Samadhi (Concentration), and Upekkha (Equanimity).
These unique programs suit every mood, lifestyle and fitness level, and seamlessly complement the guest’s experiences in Cambodia. The wellness journeys include floral foot rituals, Chi Nei Tsang massages, Himalayan pink salt scrubs, Golden Cocoon silk facials, Tibetan praying wheel meditations, incense stick making, and a monk blessing ceremonies to name a few.
I was overly excited to be one of the first to try a customized 6-day wellness retreat, giving me a taste of these seven ways of enlightenment, as well as a range of added fitness activities to experience the beauty of Siem Reap.
Ahead of my trip I filled out an email questionnaire that would depict which retreat would be most suitable for me, and an itinerary was created based on my preferences, allowing the team to make sure everything was prepared to perfection.
My first day at the spa was all about Sati or mindfulness. Being mindful means to be fully present, and therefore connected to yourself, as well as your surroundings. At Anantara Angkor, the spa treatments have been carefully designed to help you relax into the moment, to increase your awareness and to quieten the mind.
For my Mindfulness Head Massage I asked my therapist to apply deep pressure to my upper back and shoulders, as I suffer from tightness due to too many hours spent hunched over my laptop. The perfect treatment after a flight, based on Ayurvedic principles, this soothing yet energizing massage combines pressure point techniques which relieve tension in the head and neck with the use of coconut oil. This wonder massage is even said to relieve insomnia, chronic headaches, migraines and sinusitis.
The wellness yoga class rounded off the first day, providing the space for a much-needed calming and restorative one-on-one session.
DHAMMA VIJAYA (INVESTIGATION)
The second journey to enlightenment is about investigating the nature of existence, rediscovering the truth and having an understanding of one’s true self.
In the morning I was treated to an Angkunh Seed Massage. The Angkunh tree is indigenous to Cambodia, and the seeds are almost as big as a third of my hand. With a bit of massage oil, they make for the perfect massage tool. It’s a beautiful way to connect with nature, especially during a spa treatment when you’re relaxed and receptive. Post treatment I was also invited to an arts and crafts session to create an Angkhun seed key ring. It’s a great way to still the mind, and almost becomes a meditation in itself.
Next up on the program was meditation, and my practitioner taught me simple yet very effective silent qigong meditation exercises that were energizing and soothing at the same time. To get the most out of them, it’s important to create a daily practice and to keep repeating them over and over again to boost immunity, calm the nervous system and gain overall clarity. I studiously took notes, so I could incorporate them into my daily wellness routine back home.
The meditation was followed by a hand reflexology class, which was also highly interesting. I’ve always been an avid foot reflexology advocate, having massaged my feet every day over the course of eight years, from the age of 16 to 24. That day, I was taught techniques to address nasal congestion, sinusitis, anxiety and insomnia, as well as neck and back pain.
In the afternoon we were off on a Twilight Cycling Tour through Siem Reap. I’ve explored the temples here before, but doing it on a mountain bike is something truly special. You really get a feel for the land and its people. We started biking through the rice fields, and ended up cycling on top of the Angkor Thom Wall (from the South to the West Gate), which was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. Exploring the natural surroundings on a bicycle is extremely liberating and educational too. We also managed to squeeze in a quick stop at Bayon temple, before indulging in a little boat cruise with champagne and nibbles along Angkor Thom, allowing us to see the wall where we had been cycling just a few hours before.
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Samadhi is the act of meditative focus, achieving a state of Zen. It is a state of consciousness that lies beyond waking, dreaming or even deep sleep. All of the Samadhi treatments work together to help you focus your mind.
My Chi Nei Tsang session was another treatment I was really looking forward to, and it didn’t disappoint. Having a very sensitive digestion system, receiving regular Chi Nei Tsang treatments would actually be ideal for me. The Thai massage technique increases the flow of chi to the internal organs by massaging the energy centre around the navel with deep but gentle touches, freeing energy blockages in the abdomen and allowing the body to detoxify. Most of the time, this treatment is excruciatingly painful, but oh so soothing. So if you’ve never tried it, you should definitely give it a shot.
Sunset Yoga in the evening we practiced on the lawn in the outdoor atrium. It was great to feel the grass between our toes, which made it a very grounding exercise.
Piti emphasises detachment from materialism and earthly cravings. It symbolizes a return to simplicity and kindness towards others. Piti is about valuing and seizing every moment in life. The spa at Anantara Angkor manifests Piti through a series of wellness activities, encouraging guests to detox the mind and heart from views and beliefs and the dictates of consumerism that are continuously forced upon us.
I started the day with a Lymphatic Drainage Massage, again, an ideal treatment for me as I often deal with water retention. It was so soothing and relaxing that I drifted in and out of it. It felt good to be taken care of, and to let go of unnecessary energetic baggage.
My Nia session was another first, and definitely another highlight of my wellness retreat. Nia, which used to stand for Non-Impact Aerobics, is a mind-body session that incorporates dance and even martial arts moves. Similar to 5Rhythms, it encourages you to express your thoughts and emotions through dance. But Nia is a little bit more structured, which I actually quite welcomed, as it guided me through the practice, yet gave me enough freedom to embody whatever needed to be expressed to be released. A highly cathartic and empowering technique, Nia not only lifts your mood but your entire outlook.
In the afternoon, archery was on the program. And even though I had never practiced archery before, I managed to get the hang of it fairly quickly. I absolutely fell in love with it and made a mental note to find a suitable place back home where I could continue practicing this fascinating sport. Archery has been experiencing a great revival through movies such as Hunger Games, and it makes sense to me now, as there is something very primal about it that many of us seem to connect with instantly.
See also: A Wellness Retreat on Koh Samui
A thirst for the uncommon, mixed with the thrill of adventure, the Virya activities and spa treatments are for those who are motivated by challenges. The interpretation of Virya takes us back in time, offering us a full sensory reminiscence of the lore and tales of the glory of this ancient kingdom.
It was an early start that morning at 4:30am. Still pitch black, we cycled all the way out to the lotus fields and up a mountain to watch the sunrise. Unfortunately, it was overcast that morning, and the sun desperately tried to make its way through the sky, but didn’t quite manage to do so in time.
The way back to Anantara Angkor, however, made the early wakeup call worthwhile. We cycled through a small local village, as it just rose out of its slumber. People readying for the day, and young kids walking to school. It was a beautiful experience of daily local life, which left me daydreaming for a split second about living a life in a tiny village in Cambodia, far away from the demands, responsibility and technology that seem to make our lives so complex.
Back at Anantara Angkor Resort, I was late for my herbal compress treatment, which I was really looking forward to. Soothing my tired legs with a hot compress definitely corresponds with my idea of relaxation. The spa treatment was followed by a herbal bath, as well as another arts and crafts session where I learnt how to make my own herbal compress for private at-home massages.
After some relaxation at the spa, it was time for more adrenaline, and for discovering Siem Reap on a quad bike. A very dusty but fun affair, this activity is great if done in a group, allowing you to explore the outskirts and natural surroundings of Siem Reap. We were also treated to an Anantara Angkor picnic surprise in the middle of nowhere, as we took a break and gave our quad bikes a rest. Freshly squeezed orange juice and delicious canapes prepared by the hotel team, waiting for us by the rice field as the sun was just about to set. Talk about being spoilt! We recharged and happily returned to the resort, refreshed and rejuvenated.
And with that, my amazing wellness retreat came to an end. But would I have added on two more days, I would have been able to experience all 7 ways of enlightenment, including the following two programs.
A journey of calmness and tranquillity, Passadhi addresses the human need for contentment and the need of accomplishment which leads to true serenity. The Spa at Anantara Angkor has come up with a series of Passadhi treatments and wellness activities to help retreat-goers relax and achieve a sense of calm. Start the day with a sunrise meditation, and get inspired by ancient plant medicine to create your own herbal teas. Round out the day with Anantara’s Signature Massage, using their special Meridian Oil to get rid of any kinks and knots.
For this journey, the wellness retreat focuses on the balance between desire and aversion, as you work towards Upekkha. You will practice letting go, moving forward on the path of acceptance, balancing the mind, emotions, and life in general. Meditation plays a vital role in finding physical and mental harmony. Furthermore, this program includes reiki sessions, a Dawn Renewal treatment which incorporates a rice scrub and facial, and a DIY essential oil diffuser lesson.
In addition to the 7 new wellness programmes, Anantara Angkor Resort also boasts its existing core wellness packages, including Reshape, Reboot, Refresh, and Recharge.
Anantara Angkor Resort
National Road no. 6, Khum Svay Dangkom, Siem Reap, Cambodia. Tel: +855 63 966 788.