The newly opened, and exceedingly picturesque RAKxa Wellness & Medical Retreat sets a new standard when it comes to health-focused holidays.

The city of Bangkok has many hidden gems, and for nature lovers one of the most popular is Bang Krachao. This bucolic, forest-clad island in the middle of the Chao Phraya River is often referred to as the “green lung” of Bangkok, and is something of an oasis for anyone seeking a breath of fresh air and a healthy daytime outing. Now, with the opening of RAKxa Wellness & Medical Retreat, there’s an oasis within this oasis.

For locals and city dwellers, RAKxa’s easy to access, central location is a major attraction, while out of town visitors will appreciate that it’s less than an hour’s drive from Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Built on a large expanse of Bang Krachao’s Southeastern facing riverfront land, it’s a green reserve that does double duty as a very serious holistic health facility. Combining modern and traditional healing techniques and a focus on nutritious eating, everything here is designed to lead guests on a personally curated wellness journey, the foundation of which is a deep diagnostic analysis of the current state of the body.

The journey begins the moment you step into the retreat’s spacious arrival hall which, in turn, overlooks a picturesque inland lake. Upon entering, a Tibetan bowl ceremony welcomes all guests and members with calming tones produced by striking seven different handcrafted bowls, each one representing a different chakra, or energy port, in the body.

Guests are then taken to their private villa, and can choose between the garden or pool style, each of which offers a generous 80-square-metres of space. These 60 beautifully appointed villas – nestled amidst lush garden greenery – are tastefully decorated in natural, calming earth tones, and have been designed to provide the “ultimate deep sleep”. Health-conscious in-room highlights include hypoallergenic linens and curtains, magnesium bath salts, ensuite amenities that are organic and chemical free, and a mini-fridge free of soda pops or alcohol. In fact, a kombucha is about the closest thing you’ll find to alcohol in any of RAKxa’s restaurants and eateries, as the emphasis here is on healthy eating and “giving your body a break”.

After check-in, guests are assigned their own personal health and wellness consultation in the presence of RAKxa’s medical advisors and physiotherapist professionals. Each guest is asked to elaborate on their health goals, and then based on the diagnostics the RAKxa team selects the treatments that will best suit what they’re looking for.

The term rakxa, in Thai language, means to preserve or to heal, which parallels the inherent concept of this project, which was launched in partnership with VitalLife Scientific Wellness Clinic (the anti-ageing clinic of Bumrungrad International Hospital) with the aim of creating a fully integrated wellness and medical retreat. In addition, the undeniable touch of soothing comfort, combined with the warm hospitality and service, is what makes a stay here very much different than just going to a hospital.

The all-inclusive price of a stay depends on two factors, namely your health goals and the length of stay (or level of comprehensiveness), with a range of descriptive programme titles such as Immunity Booster, Body Solution, Mobilisation, De-Stress, Detox, Gut Health, and Weight Management. There’s also the ‘Discover RAKxa’ option, which allows guests to select from a vast array of treatment options which can later serve as a foundation for more specialised packages in the future.RAKxa’s treatment facilities are grouped into three main zones, each of which has a specific health focus. At the VitalLife Scientific Wellness Clinic, guests will find a wealth of technologically-based equipment, including an oxygen therapy hyperbaric chamber, an infrared sauna used to improve the complexion and reduces wrinkles, and the super sci-fi cryo-sauna, which takes the surrounding temperature down to about -140°C for a period of three minutes (thereby increasing circulation and metabolism, and decreasing pain from injuries).

Another popular treatment at the clinic is the IV Nutrient Therapy drip, which address concerns such as immune boosting, detox, weight management, and improving one’s skin, hair and nails. A doctor’s evaluation determines the formula, while the time of the drip varies, as some nutrients take longer for the body to absorb.

Of course, guests must see the onsite medical health professionals first, as all treatments are selected based on what one’s blood, DNA, epigenetics, and gut microbiome tests reveal. It’s all scientifically based to improve and enhance your health, such that what you are lacking VitalLife gives you, and what is good in you already VitalLife enhances. The trained staff are on hand to be your health companions and go all the way with you in achieving your health goals. Additional scientific treatments offered by VitalLife include platelet-rich plasma therapy, colon hydrotherapy, and hormone replacement therapy. The clinic also employs dermatologists and aesthetic doctors, to help guests who have specific beauty goals.

By contrast, the nearby RAKxa JAI building is the property’s holistic wellness centre, where revered ancient traditions of healing work in tandem with modern methodologies. The Ayurveda techniques include yoga, pranamaya, and shirodhara (which involves a liquid such as oil, milk, or water poured onto one’s forehead). The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) includes acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, and gua sha (skin scraping), while the Traditional Thai Medicine (TTM) includes warrior massage, tok sen (hammer massage), and herbal compress treatment. Also of note is the Energy Medicine, which includes crystal healing, chakra balancing, and singing bowl treatments.

RAKxa JAI is also home to the retreat’s extensive therapeutic spa. There are two hydrothermal facilities here, both of which include a vitality pool, a cold- water plunge pool, healing steam room, an infrared sauna, and floor to ceiling windows looking out over the green expanse of RAKxa’s beautifully landscaped grounds, where you can see the city of Bangkok way off in the distance.

Other water treatments in this building include a Vichy shower, where high-pressure jets of warm water massage the shoulders, back and spine, a saltwater flotation pool, which provides deep relaxation by taking stress away from the joints, and an oxygenated bath – a wonderful way of rejuvenating the cells.

RAKxa JAI is unique in its approach, especially when it comes to the more historic healing methods. The Thai traditional medicine, for instance, follows the lead of the royal doctors from the Thai courts in the time of Rama II, bringing to light many different approaches that are not widely employed elsewhere.

The third on-site health zone is RAKxa GAYA, which is referred to as a “medical gym” because of its diagnostic approach. Unlike a regular gym, where you go to work up a sweat pumping iron, the Olympic grade machines here are designed to assess your body’s stability and balance, as well as analyse your everyday movement and posture. The results are then interpreted by a staff of movement specialists, physiotherapists, and wellness trainers who create bespoke training plans that blend results-oriented, corrective exercises, both modern and traditional. Also fascinating are the neurotraining techniques which make you think as you exercise – a workout for both the body and the brain!

Of course, good food is integral to overall health and well-being too, and at Unam restaurant the delicious and nutritious cuisine takes into account all dietary needs. Each guest’s initial medical report is sent to the restaurant, where the chef and dietician work together to curate a personalised menu – addressing food allergies, taking out ingredients that might not be suitable for a particular guest, or adding micronutrients they are lacking in.

Most ingredients are sourced locally and organically, and the chef has cut out all ingredients that cause inflammation, such as processed food, saturated fats, and refined flours and sugar. The focus instead is on vegetables and fruits, but the chef also includes high-quality proteins, such as wild caught salmon from Alaska, sturgeon from Hua Hin, local organic chicken, and grass-fed organic beef. Diners are offered a nice variety, as most guests will stay 10 to 14 days or longer, and so it’s important to have some excitement on the menu. And the more the kitchen team learns from the guests themselves, and from VitalLife, the more each person’s meals become nutritionally customised.

The diverse rotation of freshly prepared dishes also includes many fermented foods, as fermentation helps to increase the prebiotic and probiotic bacteria and yeasts in your gut, which help digestion. The kitchen ferments its own garlic and cabbage, and sourdough or gluten free bread is served at the beginning of each meal, as well as organic olive oil. The timing of when guests eat is also important, and so the team recommends not to eat four hours before sleeping.

Right beside Unam restaurant is RAKxa CHA, where the wellness focus is on tea and its extraordinary health benefits. This serene lounge overlooking the river is a place where guests are invited to discover rare and ancient brews alongside modern blends; all brought in from lush, rolling plains and plantations across Asia. It’s proof, in a way, that all food can be medicine.

Daily activities are also an integral part of the retreat experience, and they include everything from morning botanical walks to sunrise yoga and Tai Chi, afternoon lectures and talks by doctors and medical professionals, cooking classes with the chef, and evening meditation and gong baths.

What sets RAKxa apart from other wellness retreats is that they begin with a diagnostic overview, with medical lab tests and evidence-based physical assessments. This results in a comprehensive proposed plan of action for optimising your health in the best manner possible. So, whether you have a pre-existing condition, or are just looking to maintain your well-being via meditative or body-strengthening means, the programmes at RAKxa – which can range from one to 14 nights, depending on your health goals – can help you on your journey.

There’s an old proverb that says “health is wealth”, which would make a stay at RAKxa similar to a wise investment now that’s guaranteed to pay off well in the future. By integrating so much wisdom and so many health practices together, this one-of-a-kind retreat is the sort of ground- breaking development that is firmly establishing Thailand as a top-ranking, world-class medical wellness destination.

To find out more, visit rakxawellness.com

This article is published together with Prestige Online