This Wonderful Little Place … Tamarind Springs Forest Spa, Thailand


Designer Victoria Mary Clarke usually makes a yearly pilgrimage to this spa, set within the huge granite rock formations of Koh Samui …

I’ve always been a total health freak and my favourite place is Tamarind Springs – a retreat in Koh Samui I discovered by chance. I was once on a green juice fasting trip, staying in a nearby spa. I thought I’d booked somewhere relaxing but it was grim – think gloomy huts and colonic irrigation. I was intrigued by Tamarind Springs and on booking a treatment, discovered a pristine environment with teak floors, filled with birds of paradise and hibiscus flowers, where the Thai staff presented everything so beautifully. The building is a form of “integrated architecture” set into massive boulders, which gives an elemental vibe. I have been going back every year, for the last 20 years, usually with a girlfriend.

This retreat is the complete antithesis to the often chaotic, eventful life I’ve had with my husband Shane [MacGowan, lead singer and songwriter for The Pogues]. When I fell in love with him, I was mesmerised by his arrogance, charisma and unconventional beauty – he had sticky-out ears and terrible teeth, but huge blue eyes and great fashion sense.

I embarked on several global tours with The Pogues – accruing horrifying and glorious memories in equal measure. I remember losing him once for two days in New Orleans when he went on a bender in the bars along the city’s infamous Bourbon Street. At the time, in total desperation, I asked the angels for guidance, and miraculously he reappeared immediately.

People are always sceptical when I mention my belief in angels. I came to depend on them after I was hospitalised with depression. Finding myself feeling hopeless and suicidal, they began to coach and help me. Since then they have become a creative inspiration. I started painting angels after staying at Johnny Depp’s house in France last summer, and they now form the basis of my new silk scarf collection. I’ve always been interested in fashion, interning with Zandra Rhodes, working as a stylist [with Nick Knight] and contributing to various magazines [including Paris Vogue, Vogue L’Uomo, Grazia, Marie Claire …] .

I’m delighted my designs, featuring different angels, are so gender neutral. My customers range from twelve-year-old boys to 85-year-old women. Many of my friends have worn them including Imelda May, Chrissie Hynde, Jasmine Guinness and Marina Guinness. I’ve been using the storage room in our home in Dublin as a studio, but I hope to have a proper workspace next year. It’s been a busy year. I’ve been working on a TV series and biopic about life with Shane.

We spent Christmas in our family bubble with Shane’s father, his sister and her husband. It’s actually Shane’s birthday on Christmas Day, though he hates me making a fuss. Many don’t realise he is quite religious – Shane believes the focus should be on Jesus rather than himself.

The last time I was in Tamarind Springs was in January 2020. On these dark winter days, it makes me happy to think about its herbal steam baths, its pools and waterfalls. I can’t wait to visit again this year. I definitely believe they have the best massage therapists I’ve ever tried.

The FRENCKENBERGER x VMC cashmere angel scarf launches this month on


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