23 Sep 2021 World leisure: news, training & property
 
 
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Spa Business
2020 issue 4

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Leisure Management - Dr Narinthorn Surasinthon

Spa people

Dr Narinthorn Surasinthon


We need to integrate medi-wellness and spa closer together to create a new experience for guests

Dr Narinthorn is anticipating a high demand for immunity-related treatments
The brand new RAKxa aims to set a new standard of integrated wellness
Nutrition is a key pillar; it’s predicted that the market split will be 40/60 domestic/international visitors once tourism from outside fully picks up
The centre is a subsidiary of Bumrungrad, an international hospital known for its anti-ageing expertise

A vast integrative medical and wellness retreat has just opened in Bangkok and it’s billed to set a new standard of integrated retreat for Asia and the industry as a whole – at a time when medical wellness is coming into its own following coronavirus.

The project is a result of a three-way partnership between Thai-based MK Real Estate Development, VitalLife Scientific Wellness Center and Minor Hotels, which will manage the 60 villas onsite.

The destination, called RAKxa, is set in Bangkok’s Green Lung, a protected jungle-clad island on the Chao Phraya River. Its differentiating factor will be the world-class VitalLife medical centre, a subsidiary of Thailand’s Bumrungrad International Hospital, which is renowned for its anti-ageing expertise.

VitalLife will be run by a team of internationally-trained doctors and provide pre-diagnostic medical analysis and preventative services to support healthy lifestyles and anti-ageing. It will also house the two-level 3,636sq m RAKxa Jai wellness centre offering a host of holistic therapies, including traditional Thai medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, ayurveda and energy healing.

Dr Narinthorn Surasinthon, COO VitalLife, spoke to Spa Business to provide a deeper insight into the cutting-edge facility and predict what the future holds for medi-wellness.

Scientific and personalised
“RAKxa will integrate scientific wellness and traditional medicine to create personalised programmes for each and every guest,” says Narinthorn.

All programmes, he explains, begin with medical testing to help physicians decipher a blueprint of each guest’s current state of health before prescribing a carefully curated diet, exercise, wellness treatments, supplements and lifestyle modification plan. “This will be underpinned by VitalLife’s core concepts; a scientific-based approach, personalisation and a long-term partnership to care for our patients even after they depart, through the knowledge we’ve instilled in them during their stay.”

RAKxa will offer 10 packages, ranging from three to 14 days and staring at US$2,000 (€1,691, £1,534) a night. These are focused on genetics, hormone balancing, detoxification, cognitive function, gut health and lifestyle modification – including diet, exercise, stress management and sleep health. “All of these areas are the root cause of ageing and chronic disease, so we focus on them to optimise these functions and improve guests’ long-term wellbeing,” Narinthorn adds.

Due to COVID-19, the destination is anticipating a high demand for immunity-related treatments, so it’s also announced a dedicated Immunity Booster programme, which will prescribe personalised lifestyle strategies alongside support therapies to help guests lead a healthier lifestyle. “The main health concerns we expect to see will all be linked to the programme areas above,” Narinthorn says, “things many people experience regularly and think nothing of, like headaches, insomnia or bloating. We’re going to help our guests relieve these unnecessary symptoms and ultimately have better quality of life.”

Merging medi-wellness and spa
Narinthorn anticipates that once RAKxa launches and external travel picks up, foreign tourists will make up 60 per cent of guests, followed by domestic guests. He believes wellness tourism has been on the up for the last 10 years and that recent events have shone a spotlight on the importance of health and preventative healthcare. “In addition, the world’s ageing population is making people more aware of their quality of life and health again.”

As a consequence, Narinthorn predicts the industry will see more secondary wellness tourism, in the form of travel packages blended with health and wellness offerings. Medi-wellness will be a part of this trend because a growing number of hotels are trying to expand their spa offering to incorporate a medical wellness element. Anantara, for example, is rolling out aesthetic hubs and IV drip bars across Asia, while Aman introduced medical services to its flagship resort in Phuket last year.

“In my opinion, we need to integrate medi-wellness and spa closer together to create a new experience for the guest,” he says. “The spa industry needs to begin by making medi-wellness more approachable for consumers and help it be seen as something that’s relaxing and beneficial to health, like spa treatments.”

For years, the medical industry has shunned spas, even though many of its modalities are backed by science. Does Narinthorn think the medical profession is becoming more open-minded about them? “In hospitals, all procedures and patient care have to follow stringent official guidelines based on medical research. But in wellness, we have the benefit of being able to flexibly blend the best of medicine and spa together. I believe if the spa industry conducts even more studies and research to produce more scientific evidence regarding spa treatments’ benefits, it will help create a convergence of the medical and spa industries in the future.”


Originally published in Spa Business 2020 issue 4

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