KAMALAYA FOUNDERS

KARINA STEWART AND JOHN STEWART

Kamalaya is an expression of John and Karina Stewart’s life experiences and their desire to serve and inspire others. The idea for Kamalaya was inspired by the 16 years John spent devoted to a life of service and spiritual studies in a Himalayan community and Karina’s 22 years in the study and practice of diverse Asian healing and spiritual traditions, including her background as a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Karina is the creative force behind Kamalaya’s integral health programs and the inspiration for its ongoing evolution. John continues to guide the development of Kamalaya’s vision and services in his role as Chairman.

JOHN STEWART

FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN 

Founder and Chairman of internationally acclaimed Kamalaya Koh Samui Wellness Sanctuary & Holistic Spa, John Stewart is a devoted spiritual acolyte, public speaker and inspirational visionary and leader in the global wellness industry.

John was honoured with the Debra Simon Award for ‘Leader in Furthering Mental Awareness’ at the 2018 Global Wellness Summit and to date, Kamalaya has received more than 35 industry awards. The most recent accolade being ‘Worldwide Health & Wellness Destination of the Year’ at the World Spa & Wellness Awards 2022.

Born in Vancouver, Canada, John was introduced to Asian philosophy in his teenage years. He left home at 16 to pursue a path of self-discovery and consciousness travelling through Europe and North America, before arriving in India at the age of 23. For the next 23 years John lived in the Himalayas, 16 years under the tutelage of an exceptional Himalayan master embracing a traditional yogic monastic lifestyle while building a renowned ashram. He embraced community service, constructing rural schools, medical clinics and a remote hospital in the Himalayas and helping to establish local businesses in Kathmandu. It was during his time in Kathmandu that John developed a profound love for Asian Philosophy, a love of art and service as a path to happiness and true fulfilment.

John’s vision for Kamalaya was inspired by his life of service and spiritual studies in Asia. The concept came to life in 2000 when he was recuperating on Koh Samui and discovered a centuries old cave surrounded by densely forested beachfront land. With a history of having been used by Buddhist monks for several hundred years for meditation and spiritual retreat, today the Arjan monk’s cave is at the heart of Kamalaya and open to guests for quiet contemplation.

John continues to guide Kamalaya’s vision and evolution, fulfilling a mutual dream of his and Karina Stewart’s to create a nurturing environment for people seeking life-affirming wisdom with the latest innovations in alternative and contemporary health care.

KARINA STEWART

FOUNDER & CHIEF WELLNESS OFFICER

Founder of the award-winning Kamalaya Koh Samui, Karina Stewart is a renowned authority on holistic health and wellbeing. An acclaimed speaker, author and innovator, Karina has more than 40 years of experience in the study and practice of diverse Asian healing and spiritual traditions.

Named ‘Owner & Operator of the Year’ by American Spa in 2018 and ‘Spa Personality of the Year’ at the AsiaSpa Awards in 2009, Karina has received more than 35 industry awards on behalf of Kamalaya. Most recently Kamalaya was named ‘Worldwide Health & Wellness Destination of the Year’ at the World Spa & Wellness Awards 2022 in London.

As the creative force behind the legendary Kamalaya, Karina’s vision was to create programs and experiences that draw on many of the influences and healing modalities of east and west. Kamalaya is undoubtedly unique because OF how all the various healing elements have been CURATED AND brought together in a truly holistic way. Kamalaya opened in November 2005, and from the very beginning, Karina’s wellness concept has been based on the idea of synergy. Karina develops holistic wellness programs that access the healing power within and support harmonious integration of heart, body, mind and spirit. To date, she has introduced 17 bespoke wellness programs at the property.

With her passion for food and healing, Karina has established the philosophy of food for healing, Food as Medicine for Kamalaya. The result is a multi-award-winning cuisine recognized not only for its health impact but also for its exceptional flavors.

Karina has a Master of Traditional Chinese Medicine from Yo San University in California, followed by training across structural therapies including Hellerwork and Cranial-Sacral Manipulation, yoga and Taoist philosophy and practice. She has a B.A. from Princeton University in Cultural Anthropology with a focus on Asian religions.

Prior to founding Kamalaya, Karina pioneered work in the field of medical detoxification, establishing a health centre in Kathmandu in Nepal and collaborated on research projects in the USA. Together with Dr James Dahlgran, an environmental toxicology expert and founder of the B Well Centre, and Dr Maoshing Ni, founder of the Tao of Wellness, Karina developed medical detoxification protocols combining modern medicine, TCM and Naturopathy. She also designed and directed a medical detoxification program at the Hall Centre in California.

Born and raised in Mexico until the age of 15, she then moved with her family to her father’s home state of Texas. Her mother’s interest in natural healing, meditation, yoga and Asian spiritual philosophies sparked an early and enduring interest in self-discovery and healing modalities.

Karina met John Stewart in 1982 while visiting a meditation retreat in India under the tutelage of the same Himalayan yogi master. Together they conceived and developed Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary, a profound expression of their life journeys and deep commitment to service and positive contribution.