By: Brooke Chenoweth
Ten years of wedded bliss is definitely worth celebrating, and after missing out on a honeymoon (moving to Hong Kong doesn’t count!), I was determined to find a resort that would be worth the wait. What we found at Six Senses Yao Noi didn’t disappoint.
Before our trip, we’d admittedly never heard of Koh Yao Noi – it’s an island nestled in Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay, between Phuket and Krabi – but we were very keen to see what it had to offer. Six Senses resorts have a reputation for being eco-luxe, and the combination of sun, sand and serenity ticked all our boxes. By flying direct from HK to Phuket with Thai Airways, we were ensured of maximising our time for quiet relaxation! On landing at Phuket International Airport, we were greeted by a hotel representative at the airport and whisked away to a nearby pier. I unwound almost instantly, unable to stop smiling while we waited for our boat, indulging in a sneaky afternoon cocktail and some Thai snacks. The resort has its own fleet of speedboats to ferry passengers between Phuket, or Krabi, and Yao Noi. While on board, we were handed cool towels, drinks and a spa menu to contemplate during the 45-minute journey.
Our first glimpse of the resort as we rounded the bay was breathtaking. Private villas are positioned amongst verdant jungle. On one side of the resort, the Hideaway villas (each with their own pools) look out onto the jungle, while the Ocean View villas on the other side gaze out over the bay and the area’s famous limestone islands.
Having not done any research on the resort beforehand meant that everything came as a surprise. One such surprise was our “GEM” at Six Senses, or Guest Experience Manager. A little bit like a personal butler, a GEM’s job is to make you as comfortable as possible, and they are available 24 hours a day. Our GEM, Anne, was delightful, and she took care of everything, from restaurant bookings to packing a picnic for us.
While we wanted plenty of time to relax during our stay, we were also keen to take advantage of the kid-free time and do all those things you don’t get to do when you’re on a family holiday. Six Senses offers wellness retreats, and there are healthy activities galore, as well as indulgent ones on offer. We tried stand-up paddle-boarding, morning yoga and Muay Thai boxing, and mixed it up with trips to the spa, sunset cocktails and lots of poolside lounging. It was the perfect balance.
One of the highlights was a half-day excursion out to the famed islands in the bay. We had our own private long-tail boat, a guide and the aforementioned picnic. The time spent swimming in the azure waters, under overhanging limestone stalactites, and enjoying lunch on a secluded beach was simply divine.
The food and wine
We took the advice of our Six Senses GEM when it came to dining and were treated to some very special experiences. One night we had a “secret dinner” with wine pairing, where there is no menu and the chef prepares whatever he feels like. The fact that this was served beside the main pool, overlooking the stunning bay at sunset, made it all the more special. Thanks to Anne, it had been noted that I’m vegetarian, so I never had to ask for a different menu or awkwardly return something I couldn’t eat, and that meant a lot. On the night of our anniversary we had dinner at the chef’s table, and were entertained by the charming chef, Walter. While I grilled him for his secrets on the perfect risotto, we enjoyed another exceptional meal, with more superbly paired wines. The resort is making efforts to grow its own produce; there is even a mushroom hut and a chicken “village” that produces eggs; this freshness makes a huge difference to the quality of food that appears on the plate.
The little things
There were so many personal touches that made our Six Senses stay really memorable. The lavender sprayed on our pillows – selected from the pillow menu of course – at night, the chocolate cake that Anne had made for us on our anniversary, and the team farewelling us as we boarded the boat to reluctantly head back to Phuket; it all made this delayed honeymoon absolutely worth the wait!
I certainly had a lot of time to think about the “must-haves” for this trip, but I had no idea where I would find them, and I didn’t want to spend hours researching and messing about online. So, I recruited the experts. I sent an overview of what I wanted to the team at Lightfoot Travel, and within a couple of days I had a list of destinations and details within my budget; I didn’t have to consult TripAdvisor once!
The resort currently has a three-night summer package available for two people that includes daily breakfast, a THB 1,700 food and beverage credit per night per villa, a one-hour spa treatment, a half-day island-hopping cruise and more. Valid to 30 September 2017. Check the website for details. +66 76 418 500 | sixsenses.com
This article first appeared in the August/September 2017 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.
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