Executive Edge’s Director Gary Reichenberg and his wife Caryn experienced a transformational journey at Kamalaya, the award-winning Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa resort in Koh Samui, Thailand. Kamalaya’s co-founder Karina Stewart shares with us what makes Kamalaya a life-enriching healthy holiday with its wellness solutions through detox, yoga and fitness. Karina believes that “within each of us, a vast ocean of magnificent potential lies waiting to be explored, experienced and realised. In reconnecting to our core essence, where deep pools of potential await, we discover the source of all healing and creativity.”
Q: As a founding partner and the Brand & Wellness Director for Kamalaya, you are committed to creating a place where healing and harmonious transformation can flourish. Tell us a bit about your background and how your previous experiences influenced your devotion to exploring Asian spiritual philosophies.
My upbringing in traditional cultures such as Mexico and raised by my mother, who was herself dedicated to using lifestyle and natural holistic medical traditions as much as possible to keep us healthy and happy, had a huge impact on my choices later in life. She took my sisters and I to learn meditation for the first time when I was 14 years old and yoga when I was 18. This was at a time when yoga, naturopathy and meditation were looked upon with a skeptical eye in Mexico.
For more insight about Karina’s background and biography:
Q: I understand that you and your husband John met in the jungles of the Himalayas, which is where the story of Kamalaya began…
At that time I was still a student at Princeton University and when John and I met, we became immediate friends and confidants. What began as an initial friendship blossomed into marriage and a partnership that is the foundation for Kamalaya and our entire life together.
Q: Kamalaya takes a refreshingly liberating humanistic approach to wellness. How would you best describe the concept and raison d’etre of Kamalaya?
The primary reason we wanted to create Kamalaya was to share what had been meaningful, inspirational and transformative in our lives with others, and to do it in such a way that this would make a possible impact on the lives of others. John and I each bring unique life experiences together and Kamalaya was founded on the synergistic expression and manifestation of this. Of course, as with everything in life, things develop, grow, and evolve and Kamalaya has done so beautifully with the love and care, not only of a magnificent team of hosts but also with the participation and dedication of our guests. Each one of us brings ourselves into this realm – the lotus realm – to make Kamalaya what it has become and continues to become.
Q: Explain what is considered the ‘heart of Kamalaya.’
The Monk’s Cave is considered the ‘heart of Kamalaya’ not only because of its physical location and its history but precisely because it is the reason Kamalaya exists in this exact location. It was in John first walking into the cave and offering his respect that he was moved to bring what we had envisioned to this particular location. It is, in a very real sense, the ‘seed’ on which Kamalaya has been nurtured.
Q: Kamalaya translates as ‘Lotus Realm’ which is an enduring symbol for the unfolding of life’s potential. Explain how a stay at Kamalaya transcends a typical spa retreat to empower guests to embrace a holistic lifestyle after the holiday ends.
At Kamalaya, our focus is on results-oriented/solution-oriented wellness programs that bring together treatments and therapies from diverse holistic medical traditions. We have a team of full-time naturopaths, TCM doctors, nurses, yoga and meditation experts, mind/body specialists, life mentors, as well as therapists who are trained in each of our programs to deliver a life changing experience for our guests, not in isolation but synergistically – in collaboration with our entire team. Our cuisine is an integral part of this experience, as are all of our holistic activities. Every part of the Kamalaya experience is supportive of the health and well being goals of our guests from the moment they arrive until the moment they return home.