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Thai spas for all reasons

By: Libby Peacock
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Thailand spas are rolling out the red carpet – with mud, seaweed, wraps, and yoga. A guide to the best Thailand spa resorts and hotels

NYONE FOR a Thai massage, wrap, body scrub, foot bath, mud pack, hydrotherapy, herbal polish or hot stone therapy? For a thoroughly satisfying pummelling look no further than your neighbourhood Thai spa. There's Javanese lulur, Swedish, Balinese and much, much more. Couples are welcome, too. When it comes to top Asian spas for serious coddling, Thai spas - many housed at chic beachfront resorts in Hua Hin, Phuket and Krabi - offer endless treatments for every taste, and then some.

The coastal town of Hua Hin, a leisurely two-hour drive from Bangkok and the Thai royals' favourite retreat, may be a tad sleepy - but it is awash with aromatherapy oils and herbal massage potions. There's a treatment with your name on it, so why wait? Let's walk you through some top Thailand spa options. The 240-room Sheraton Hua Hin Resort & Spa is the latest Thailand spa resort to grace the quiet beachfront of Hua Hin, its nine low-rise buildings encircling a 200m lagoon-stle swimming pool with views out to the ocean. Large 49sq m deluxe rooms feature the obligatory “Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Bed” and a 32-inch LCD TV. The Aspadeva Spa offers a variety of treatments for all tastes.

The rebranded Sofitel Centara Grand Resort & Villas Hua Hin has its Spa Cenvaree offering treatment packages from two to five hours. "Earthly pleasures", "Dawn of decadence" and "Total Zen" are just the tip of the iceberg. The beachfront Sofitel is an elegant colonial-style property with landscaped grounds and elegant topiary. There are also Cenvaree spas (formerly Centara spas) at the Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui and the Sofitel Centara Grand Bangkok.

The neighbouring highrise Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa's 1,200sq m The Spa features Khmer design and 10 spacious treatment rooms. The "Massage of kings" blends Swedish massage, aromatherapy, Thai shiatsu and ayurvedic elements. The purifying salt glow, Thai herbal polish and rice body polish are all specially blended for The Spa.

Those in the know regard the stylish Chiva-Som resort as the mother of all Thai spas, built in 1995 and offering 100 therapies in 52 treatment rooms. Pick your choice - there's anything from Thai and Swedish massage to flotation and honey polish. Chiva-Som's spa facilities include a hydrotherapy suite, flotation tanks and relaxation rooms with heated waterbeds. Relax and float. The spread-out beachfront Hyatt Regency Hua Hin offers a "lifestyle" spa experience with a wide range of treatments and remedies on tap for weary limbs. A new addition to the Hyatt Regency, is THE BARAI, which launched mid 2008. This Khmer-inspired destination spa sits on 4.5 acres of land and features eight spa suites for overnight stays, as well as 18 treatment rooms, pool, yoga, and the McFarland House – a beachfront dining area.

The Anantara Resort & Spa, organiser of the yearly King's Cup Elephant Polo tournament, houses a Mandara Spa and dedicated spa suites with their own plunge pools. Among the exotic treatments available is the Shirodhara "massage of the third eye", which involves the use of a steady stream of warm herbal oil directed onto the forehead to release tension, as well as a head and facial massage among other delights. The 220-room Hua Hin Marriott Resort & Spa occupies 14 acres of landscaped garden a kilometre from the town centre. This property also has a Mandara Spa.

For more beach-front pampering try the spa at the trendy Veranda Resort and Spa Hua Hin - Cha Am, where you can watch the sunrise and then start the day with massage, body exfoliation, facial treatments and more. The Veranda has 13 pool villa suites and 84 guestrooms.

The Ayatana Wellness Spa at The Regent Cha-Am Beach Resort & Spa has a range of health and therapeutic treatments, from facials to wraps and massages. Body treatments include, handily for sunworshippers, a "Back Sunburn Treatment", as well as an "Aromatic Salt Glow Body Scrub".

A 30km drive further south brings you to Pranburi - a rapidly developing region for upscale resorts and Thai spa escapes - and the tucked-away 20-acre Evason Hua Hin & Six Senses Spa. The holistic Six Senses Spa provides milk and honey baths, jetlag and detoxification treatments and even stress management routines. The "harmony" face, scalp and shoulder massage features aromatic almond oil. Another alternative for a Hua Hin spa hotel is the old-world colonial style Worabura Resort and Spa with 77 rooms. Get down to aerobics, elephant trekking, or spa out at the Wora Spa.

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