Luxury boutique hotel chain Six Senses has just launched its first wellness retreat in Phuket, Thailand. Dedicated to giving her guests a holistic lesson in caring for themselves “from the inside out", Ana Maria da Costa Tavares, the managing director, chatted with us in New Delhi about why motivation is the biggest obstacle towards a healthy life and where to eat in Bangkok. Edited excerpts:

Wellness: Ana Maria da Costa Tavares.

How is a wellness retreat different from a hotel with a spa?

You can go to resorts with spas with your family and kids and have an amazing time. Programmes there are really about pampering, a quick fix making you feel good at that moment. So when you leave the resort, the benefits stay behind. A wellness spa has limitations because it is a vacation with a purpose. We’ve taken away the kids, certain parts of nutrition like red meat. Everything is imposed to help you change your lifestyle. You want to bring something away with you.

What sets this spa apart from other luxury spas?

Space is luxury. Space is crucial. We have a lot of programmes where people need space, otherwise they become claustrophobic. Space is respect for the client—I’m talking about physical space here, in a wonderful environment. The location (on a private island just 10 minutes from the dock in Phuket) is everything.

How long should a trip be?

You could stay a night and still see improvements, but if you really want changes, you start seeing them as soon as three nights. It has nothing to do with how light or how heavy you are. It’s got to do with the mind.

Why should someone choose a spa vacation?

My dream is to come up with an injection for instant motivation. Motivation and self-esteem—those are the biggest challenges today. People overdo everything. People don’t know when to stop eating, drinking or stop and take a 5-minute break. India has major problems with hypertension and diabetes. I can understand why. The food is so delicious here, who wants to stop eating? But we want people to take responsibility for their lives. It’s not a regimen. It’s an education in moderation.

When you leave the resort, you are going to keep working on yourself. Before a guest comes, they fill out a one-page questionnaire and, based on those answers, our team of doctors, therapists, nutritionists, etc., comes up with the best plan to suit you. Your programme is being followed every step of the way because you have to be happy with it. You have to love it.

What are some of your favourite things to do in Bangkok?

The Blue Elephant restaurant has been there forever. It’s set in an old house and serves amazing Thai food. And which woman does not like shopping? And Bangkok has great shopping.

What’s your favourite spa experience/therapy?

It depends on what’s happening in my life. If I’m travelling a bunch, and stressed out, and not in control of what I eat, when I get back to my resort full of toxins and retained water, I just need a hug. Then I get a Thai massage. It’s like acupuncture and pushes those problems out. If I’m relaxed, at the resort, I’m in contact with my guests and things are happy, I would take aromatherapy or shiatshu, a lighter massage.

Write to