Gorgeous Tao Garden
By Caroline Robertson
long search for Shangri-la ended on entering Tao Garden Health Spa
and Retreat. It’s essence enveloped me as I explored the 80 acres
of organic gardens fragrant with tropical fruit trees, flower canopied
cabanas and gently flowing rivulets. The sensual seduction continued
as I paused to inhale a heavenly lotus before following a vibrant
butterfly over the palm fringed bamboo bridge. Stress evaporated
as I unwinded in the herbal steam room and jet lag dissolved as
I floated in the large lemonade-flavoured pool. Strolling along
the gardenia lined path to my massage my only worry was that I’d
have to leave this paradise at some point.
Who would have imagined
such an idyllic oasis existed only thirty minutes from Chiang Mai,
Thailand? Far from the noise and pollution of tuk-tuks, Tao Garden
was founded by Taoist and martial arts Master Mantak Chia eight
years ago. He was inspired by the Taoist philosophy that nature
nurtures one towards radiant health and beauty. Mantak Chia, author
of over twenty books and dvds, believes that health arises from
pure cells and blood, hence Tao Garden’s motto of “good air,
good water, good air, good heart, good chi.” Master Chia,
who enjoys robust health at 66years old, is a walking advertisement
for the universal tao system. Everyone thrives in the pure atmosphere
of Tao Garden with it’s strictly chemical-free environment supported
by the grain ferment EM (effective micro-organisms) which cleanses
everything and fertilises the organic gardens. The water, purified
by reverse osmosis and ozone, is better than bottled water and the
air is alive with fresh oxygen. This eco-eden is also home to over
45 bird and 27 butterfly species as well as over 500 varieties of
fruits, flowers and herbs, making it a paradise for nature lovers.
Welcomed to Tao Garden’s integrated clinic with a noni juice and
a warm smile I enjoyed the free foot massage machine while waiting
for the medical doctor. The clinic provides an incredible array
of treatments blending the best of East and West, ancient and modern.
Though they offer many packages, I turned to the doctor for a regime
customised to my needs. After a detailed discussion, live blood
and elemental analysis, the doctor recommended a course of detoxifying
and rejuvenating therapies. Scheduling treatments in my longevity
passport, my trip to pampering paradise began. The ensuing weeks
were a delicious daydream of Thai tendon massage, abdominal massage
(Chi Nei Tsang), genital massage (Karsai), soothing shirodhara,
acupuncture, ozone steam, far infrared therapy, lymphatic drainage
and body scrubs. In the healing hands of the competent and compassionate
therapists I soon felt my pain transform into pleasure and my fatigue
replaced by boundless energy. Fellow guests shared their amazing
transformational stories with me. Christina who was taking time
out from her Dubai work to detox said, “After a few days here
my asthma subsided and I haven’t had to use my Ventolin since.”
Hedwig from Germany was ecstatic with the results of her three-week
stay, “I’ve attained my ideal weight and feel very relaxed.
Most importantly my chronic ovarian cyst pain has gone.” English
couple Helen and Neil shed stubborn kilos and their blood showed
remarkable changes after the herbs, colonics and steam treatments.
“When I arrived my cells were misshapen and sticky with fat.
Now after two weeks they’re healthy with abundant immune cells,”
said a glowing Helen.
Many guests also enjoyed daily complementary classes in chi kung,
Chinese yoga (tao yin), the inner smile meditation and the six healing
sounds taught by Master Chia’s senior instructors in the natural
outdoor pavilions. These potent self-healing tools proved an invaluable
adjunct to therapies as they educate and empower guests to maintain
inner harmony at home. Private tuition in these practices and other
inner elixir arts are also available.
One of the spa’s
highlights for many was the sumptuous smorgasbord of organic vegetarian
and non-vegetarian food. The menu is designed with meticulous attention
to detail, ensuring each guest gains optimal nutrition and satisfaction.
Information regarding which dish suits each blood type and the therapeutic
effect of each item are openly displayed. The stunning water-encapsulated
restaurant believes food is medicine, serving staevia herb as a
sugar substitute, healing bamboo salt, papaya powder to aid protein
absorption, and a plethora of organic herbal teas and juices.
Though travelling alone
can sometimes be awkward, especially at mealtimes, at Tao garden
I never felt lonely or bored. Like-minded guests always offered
friendly conversation over meals and provided cheerful company for
the array of activities including badminton, darts, ping pong, water
aerobics, soccer, body stretch, swimming, tennis, sepak takraw,
yoga, badminton, table tennis, Thai boxing, basketball, water aerobics,
darts, football and Thai fruit carving. But the most popular pursuit
by far was retail therapy at Bangkok’s best shopping destination
only thirty minutes away - Chiang Mai’s Night Market. The
spa’s complementary shuttle service takes guests to the street
blocks of bargains in electronics, carvings, silks, clothes and
homewares, ensuring no-one left with a shortage of souvenirs. Those
keen on venturing further afield can also enjoy visits to temples,
national parks, the long neck Padong tribe, elephant parks, waterfalls
and nearby natural hot springs.
After the day’s adventures I was always glad to return to
my villa hideaway with its large bathroom, air conditioning, separate
kitchen and comfortable living room. Sitting on my private balcony
overlooking the bamboo grove and rice paddy field I really appreciated
the low-cost quality accommodation and facilities. Often the affordable
tariff is reduced even further during low season making it an irresistible
temptation. Such reasonable rates are rare in spas of comparable
Tao Garden’s staff
and systems flow with seamless precision due to the efficiency of
its Swiss- German managers Walter and Jutta Kellenberger, Mantak
Chia’s students for almost 20 years. “The spa started as a
teaching centre for the Universal Tao system,” Jutta explained,
“We continue to train international students in this inner
martial arts system as well as offering courses in Chi Nei Tsang,
Karsai and Female Sexual Healing.” Some guests love the place
so much they buy a villa and rent it out when they’re away.
One thing I really liked
about Tao Gardens is that though I was spoilt for choice I could
choose what I wanted to do, rather than feeling forced into anything.
I was blessed to spend time at this sanctuary embodying style and
substance. To visit this patch of paradise amidst the chaotic and
toxic world was a regenerating retreat that I would recommend to
anyone. I departed feeling reborn and ready to face life with fresh
energy and optimism. And if, as the saying goes, heaven is in the
heart, I’d visit this Nirvana again in a heartbeat.
Caroline Robertson is a spa
connoisseur, having spent many indulgent interludes at international
spas. As a naturopath, homoeopath and Ayurvedic consultant based
in Sydney she appreciates the benefits of a healing holiday and
prescribes it to many patients.
For more about Tao Garden including a voucher for a complementary
treatment and booklet contact: (02) 9904 7754, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ayurvedic treatments Shirodhara
entails pouring a soothing oil stream over the forehead for relaxation
and endocrine rebalancing. Abhyanga is a firm favourite with two
masseuses gliding over the body in a sublime synchronicity.
Banana Leaf Treatment As you lie in the sun covered with banana
leaves your body absorbs healing infrared rays while the leaves
filter out damaging UV rays.
Beauty therapies Pampering and grooming services offered at Tao
Garden use all natural organic products. Spoil yourself with a body
scrub, facials, wrap, manicure, pedicure and hairdressing.
Chelation Therapy This deep detox involves an intravenous injection
of EDTA, magnesium and vitamins b and c to cleanse the body of heavy
metals and atherosclerotic plaques which cause heart disease. It
is also used to improve circulation, cataracts, ulcers, diabetic
neuropathies, arthritis, alzheimers and osteoarthritis.
Chi Nei Tsang Deep abdominal massage releases negative emotions
and energy blockages affecting the entire body. Excellent for digestive
Chinese Acupuncture and Herbs Dr Wang has been practising these
arts for over 15 years. His caring and accurate approach reactivates
chi in the disturbed area.
Colonic Irrigation Cleanse the colon and establish healthy gastrointestinal
Far Infrared Therapy This is one of the simplest and cheapest treatments
offered. Resting under the far infrared shield stimulates circulation,
oxygenation, immunity and cell regeneration. Microbes are also eliminated
through this simple process.
Five elements aromatherapy Individualised aromatherapy blends are
applied to vital points as part of a relaxing 90-minute massage.
Heart Biofeedback Manage stress by monitoring and altering your
emotional reaction. Learn how to meditate for deep relaxation.
Herbal Steam Bath Traditional Thai herbs purify the body and stimulate
Hot spring hydrotherapy Enjoy a floating massage at nearby sulphuric
mineral baths. Especially beneficial for skin and joint problems.
Karsai A Tao Garden specialty, this genital massage is excellent
to restore male and female reproductive balance. It is also effective
for bladder problems.
Lymphatic Drainage Essential to purify the blood, boost immunity
and improve nutrient assimilation.
Ozone Steam Therapy This detoxifies and oxygenates cells enhancing
health, longevity and beauty.
Physical therapy- A thorough assessment, treatment and management
approach to musculo-skeletal problems such as pain and stiffness.
Reflexology This firm foot acupressure harmonises the whole body.
Traditional Thai massage A wonderful way to fortify, align and unblock
energy. My sciatica eased after one treatment with Master Ken.
Thai tendon meridian massage A deep muscle massage along the meridians
combined with a herbal compress to relieve pain.