“Nature lies at the heart of Asian wellness traditions. Extract the healing essences of indigenous herbs, leaves, flowers and roots and the blessings are manifold: a burst of energy, a clear complexion, a feeling of inner tranquility. The ancients in Malaysia knew this – and much more – all along. It’s time now to share their age-old wisdom with the world.”
– Editor-in-chief, Gerard Bodeker, Health and Beauty from the Rainforest, Malaysian Traditions of Ramuan
We sit down in the garden of Dr. Ghani’s lovely “Herbwalk” home on the tropical island of Langkawi in northern Malaysia. At the table are Dr. Ghani – a medical doctor and expert on the herbs and plants of Malaysia’s rainforests and world famous scholar from Oxford University in the UK and also Columbia University in New York, Dr. Gerry Bodeker.
We turn over our teacups ready to taste Dr. Ghani’s wonderful herbal tea, and Dr. Bodeker starts to laugh. “Surprise!” he says. He sees it before I do. Dr. Ghani’s children have ‘pranked’ us – concealing tiny grasshoppers inside each of our cups!
With the lush plants and sounds of birds and insects surrounding us, for the next hour I witnessed a lively and wide-ranging discussion between these three brilliant men who have each dedicated their lives to understanding the gifts Nature gives us for enhancing human life.
“Never bang on a closed door,” says Dr. Bodeker, “Do something different. Look for the ones that open.” They are discussing the tightening of the regulations for the beauty and health industries by the European Union and the U.S. The new registration process seems designed to bar small companies and benefit large corporations.
For those like PP International which use special tropical herbs and minerals, manufacturing only in small batches to the highest standards, he advises avoiding the issues and pursuing the markets which already have a traditional acceptance of age-old beauty and healing secrets such as Asia, South America, Russia, Middle Eastern countries and several of the East European bloc countries; South Africa as well.
They also discussed Pegaga (Centella asiatica) which grows wild on Langkawi. Called “the hero herb of the Malaysian jungles,” Dr. Ghani serves it as a refreshing tea to his guests after one of his famous herb walks through the jungle. Dr. Ghani says that pegaga tea (known as gotu kola in the West) is not only refreshing, but also cleanses the system.
Paul laughed, “Hence the reason why pegaga is in all of the Paul Penders’s products – to enhance beauty through an age-old skin cleansing process.” In his book, Health and Beauty from the Rainforest, Dr. Bodeker reports that pegaga tea cleanses the blood, cures indigestion, nervousness and dysentery, and is a youth preservative…certainly good for you and your skin.”
Dr. Bodeker looks into the wisdoms of healing traditions found in many cultures, comparing them with contemporary scientific knowledge. His many books and journal articles explore the customs of cultures which use plants for both health and beauty (clearly, that which makes you healthy, makes you beautiful). ‘Mainstreaming’ natural medicine and wellness is a passion for Dr. Bodeker.
From New York to Los Angeles to Bali to Beijing to London – Dr. Gerry Bodeker is a man who lives out of a suitcase. Based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia since 2004, he has visited Langkawi a number of times. Unlike the stereotype of a stuffy don isolated in his ‘ivory tower,’ Oxford University scholar Dr. Bodeker is personable, articulate, open-minded, even worldly. An epidemiologist by profession, he has focused on the use of local plants in Africa and Asia to effect symptom relief and cures for malaria, HIV/AIDs, and other diseases.
His travels and research have made him among the world’s experts on indigenous health traditions, as well as complementary and alternative medicines (known collectively as T/CAM). He stopped off briefly on Langkawi to consult with the Four Seasons Resort on ways to expand their award-winning spa (awarded best in Malaysia) into a total ‘wellness retreat,’ advising them to use the tropical plants right outside their doors.
Sharing Paul’s interest in Malaysia’s botanicals and natural cosmetics, he asked Paul to lunch one day during his brief visit to Langkawi. Next day was our tea and Paul organized the meeting with Dr. Ghani attending as well. Dr. Bodeker and Paul had corresponded for years but this was the first time these two world travelers had finally crossed paths.
More of the conversation between Dr. Bodeker, Paul Penders and Dr. Ghani in upcoming blogs. Watch for them!
By Kamila Delart.
It is no coincidence that ‘Ishan Malaysian Spa’ is the first one I choose to visit when starting my ‘Langkawi Spa Guide’ project. Built eight years ago, it was the very first stand-alone spa on the island – a product of love and vision of the owner, Baskaran Kosthi.
With a doctorate in naturopathy, and a passion for the Malaysian healing tradition, he followed his dream of creating a truly authentic Malaysian spa, allowing visitors to Langkawi to experience the exciting blend of Malay, Chinese and Indian traditional treatments.
The sunset is slowly setting in when I walk up the hill towards the wooden Malay huts tucked away in the wild foliage of the rainforest. Unpretentious, blending in the natural surroundings, and in the twilight a little mysterious, the unspoken promise of feeling the indigenous healing spirit seems within reach…
Comfortably seated, I’m savoring the freshly prepared lime juice, and enjoy the refreshing breeze blowing softly through the window from the near Andaman Sea as I go through the Spa Menu. It is not easy to select from the variety of treatments offered, but I finally settle on a ‘Black rice body scrub’, followed by ‘Herbal body wrap’ and the exotic ‘Bamboo massage’.
My therapist, Azian, leads me with a smile to one of the cosy treatment rooms, explaining that the black rice incorporated in my first treatment will not only slough away dead skin cells, but packed with healthy fibre, also nourish my skin with powerful vitamins and antioxidants.
Gently rubbing in circular motion the scrub blend all over my body, I feel as if it’s more than just the dead skin she is liberating me from. And then comes the warm herbal body wrap. Containing fresh turmeric, lemongrass, ginger, sandalwood powder, turnip, pandan leaves and kaffir lime, it promises to ease my sore muscles, help my body to get rid of accumulated toxins, and moisturize and whiten my skin that has been exposed to sun for a little too long over the last few days.
Lying covered with huge banana leaves, I’m listening to the soothing sound of water trickling from a small fountain, inhale the scent of lemon grass that is said to open a person up, and wait for the healing properties of the exquisite ingredients to unfold.
However the best part is yet to come. A huge fan of unique massage treatments, I cannot wait for my Bamboo experience to begin! Strong and smooth, the bamboo stick slowly roles along my aching muscles, effortlessly adjusting to my body contours.
Rotating around its own axis, and following a fan-like motion when working on my tense shoulders, it reaches even the most deeply seated knots. With the walls of the bamboo being covered with silica, the tiny crystal-like matrixes get activated through the friction, creating a unique tingling sensation as they release their subtle yet powerful energy.
At some point, I feel the loving touch of Azian’s hands. But with my eyes closed, and my mind drifting off as my body reaches a deep state of relaxation, I lose track of the seamless transition from hands to bamboo and back again…
When I find myself back in the airy lounge area sipping an aromatic concoction of fresh ginger, coriander seeds and pandan leaves, I feel as if something deep inside me has changed. Wondering whether the virtues of the bamboo that symbolizes strength, suppleness, youth, and inner peace have found a way to enter my very soul…
As published in Langkawi-gazette
The very first complete Langkawi Spa Guide features the 30 most noteworthy Spas of our beautiful Langkawi Rainforest Island in Malaysia. It was published in www.langkawi-gazette.com and contains a SPA GLOSSARY and FEATURE STORIES written by the well known International Spa Expert Kamila Delart
Although known mainly for breathtaking nature, Langkawi turned over the last decade into a true wellness destination, presenting you with the unique opportunity to experience during your holidays the indigenous healing tradition of the region.
A crossroad of ancient maritime trade routes, the island embraces spa rituals reflecting the distinctive blend of Malaysia’s diverse cultures: healing and beauty practices of Orang Asli – the aboriginal Malay rainforest tribes, Ayurvedic treatments native to India, and traditional Chinese medicine. Following the international wellness trends, the local spas increasingly provide also popular treatments from all over the world.
Wellness Destination Langkawi!
Genuinely caring therapists, a dreamlike spa setting within a primordial rainforest or with a breathtaking view of the Andaman Sea, rich massage oils and exotic body wrap blends made of freshly harvested fruits, flowers, herbs and spices … Langkawi Spa Experience is truly unique!
You can find tiny, half hidden massage places with heartfelt personal welcome, and décor so simple that no detail distracts from the actual treatment. And there are five star establishments with extensive hydrotherapy facilities from Jacuzzi to sauna and steam bath, providing a truly indulgent experience appealing to all of your senses.
Considering the wide variety of options, choosing the ‘right’ spa establishment, and selecting among the many treatments offered may prove slightly challenging. To help visitors tailor their spa experience to suit individual needs, the international Spa Expert, Kamila Delart, visited on behalf of www.langkawi-gazette.com all noteworthy Spas on the island.
Kamila Delart reviewed their facilities, their service and their treatments. She put it all together in a very special and detailed: LANGKAWI SPA GUIDE.
SPA GUIDE Find all reviewed Spa & Wellness establishments divided into distinctive categories – from authentic local massage places, through practices dedicated to healing, to luxurious wellness oases.
SPA GLOSSARY Learn more about the various massage techniques, body treatments and other spa services available. Gain insight about their origins, unique benefits and potential contraindications, to choose the spa experience that truly parallels to specific needs.
FEATURE STORIES Get inspired by atmospheric narratives capturing the Wellness Writer’s most memorable spa experiences.
SPA NEWS Get to know about the latest treatments and new spa packages the moment they are launched.
Passionate about holistic lifestyle, Kamila Delart spent the last 17 years in the Spa & Wellness industry. She traveled the world to learn indigenous healing practices at the source of their origins, is certified in cosmetology and a variety of massage techniques and alternative therapies, and earned an honors diploma in Spa Management. She established a prestigious German Wellness Academy, and successfully managed her own urban Day Spa in Munich as well as award winning resort spas for Six Senses and Hyatt Pure. Creative and freedom loving, she finally chose the career of a Spa Consultant and Wellness Writer. She is currently based in Langkawi, working towards the launch of her own Holistic Retreat Brand, and providing consulting services to Spas and Wellness Centers throughout Asia.
I have the great pleasure to know Kamila Delart, an international spa and wellness expert, who recently settled in Langkawi. She wrote for Langkawi Gazette the first complete Langkawi Spa Guide that features the 30 most noteworthy Spas on our beautiful tropical rainforest island.
The Spa Guide includes detailed portraits of all reviewed spas, an impressive spa glossary, and feature stories capturing Kamila’s most memorable Spa Review experiences. Nobody before has promoted professionally our rainforest island’s spa industry to the many thousands of wellness tourists who visit every year.
The Langkawi Spa Guide is truly a great asset for this beautiful UNESCO island!
Ayurvedic masters and more
I met Kamila few times and first we were discussing all about spas, wellness centers and the true natural beauty of Langkawi. I wish to mention here that Kamila is fascinated by aboriginal healing practices, and passionate about touching people’s lives. Actually, she spent years of traveling the world to learn about ancient holistic techniques directly at the source of their origin.
Ancient holistic massage techniques include Abhynga massage from Ayurvedic masters in India, Nuad from Buddhist monks in Thailand’s monasteries, Lomi-Lomi Nui from Shamans on the volcanic islands of Hawaii and the Hot Rock massage from Native American elders. What a wealth of experience! I am very impressed with what she told me.
Kamila studied also aroma & color-therapy, she is certified in cosmetology, and received an honors diploma from Spa Management in Toronto, Canada. She established one of the leading urban day spas in Germany, and a prestigious German Wellness Academy providing education to Spa Therapists.
After that she joined leading international spa chains such as Six Senses or the Hyatt Hotels, and managed as a Spa & Wellness Director a number of award winning spas, prior to choosing a career of a spa consultant and wellness writer.
Now Kamila makes Langkawi her home!
Kamila was born and raised in Czech Republic, one of these pure, natural countries in east Europe. Two years ago I visited her home country, and wrote about my experiences in our blog. It was a profound experience because Czech Republic has an astounding nature with local herbs and fruits growing almost everywhere in the country side.
Same like me, Kamila has deeply fallen in love with the magic of this great Langkawi Island, and she decided to make it her new home as well! She said that it is so beautiful here that she will never, ever leave. She now lives in an idyllic river chalet surrounded by a dreamlike tropical garden, and divides her time between her passion for spa writing and gardening.
As one quickly can visualize, Langkawi Island, especially the Spa and Wellness industry, will greatly benefit from the arrival of Kamila; a true professional.
Author: Anna Rodgers on September 19th 2011
Once in a while I come across a new skincare range that is just amazing! I heard through Sarah Best who was the editor of Get Fresh Magazine for about 6 years about this range and Sarah spoke so highly of it. Editors of Magazine get the best products to try and when they continue on using something, you know that it must be great!
Paul Penders range began in the 1900’s when Paul’s grandparents both ran well known beauty salons in the Netherlands. Paul wanted to make skincare that did not rely on chemical based ingredients so set about creating a range that was based on the purest ingredients and used a cold pressing process. This meant that the ingredients remained ‘raw’ and highly active.
With the help of Dutch herbal master and apothecary Herma Eeftink and also the famous natural healer Dr. Ab Steyn, they all encouraged Paul to incorporate a unique family-devised herbal extract into his products. Called LevensESSENTIE Gold® (Dutch for “Essence of Life”), his grandmother had used the extract for extraordinary homemade skin and hair-care formulations for many years.
LevensESSENTIE Gold® is made with coconut water (wow!) and ceramides, vitamin A, B, C, E, Alpha Tocotrienol (best quality form of Vitamin E) and enzymes and is in each and every single product. This special combination creates the highest quality effect on the skin and is well loved by many women and men around the world. The cold processing is unique as most companies use heat to mix their creams and lotions and this heating will of course affect the structure of the enzymes and other precious ingredients. So for many of us, the creams that you put on, are not what you think they are! They tend to just sit on the skin and not improve the condition in a way that is noticeable.
The Paul Penders range has skincare, haircare, makeup and bodycare and even a very very impressive product called Intensive Clarifying Therapy, ICT, which is an at home mask treatment kit which gives salon worthy results but without the use of harsh chemicals. This is one of their star products and one that people rave about! This is on my list of things to test out!
The Natural Skincare Company, who distributes Paul Penders in the UK, was kind enough to send me a few samples of some of their products. This website is absolutely brilliant because all of the brands are very trustworthy and high quality so I can safely say to anyone, if you want to find the best natural beauty products, then head on over!