I sprawled across my 20ft bed, sleep? How on Earth was going to sleep? I was just so excited to be in this palatial room… I rolled around for about 10 minutes (and I mean literally rolled from one end of the bed to the other, over & over again laughing and giggling like a child, until finally succumbed to some shut-eye, it was about 2am and I had to be up at 6. At 630 Wanda came knocking on my door to wake me up with cookies and coffee. I am not a coffee drinker but I swear this was the best coffee I have ever had… and, well the cookies… deeeeeelicious… infused with Lemongrass, chocolate and a hint of chili… just enough to give you a little morning kick out bed.
Onward I go… for the next 3 days I was going to be traveling with a driver and guide (care of Trails of Indochina) Boon was my pedal to the metal and the lovely Poopay (nickname Pooh) my guide. I bid my farewells to Wanda and set off in my pimped out, air conditioned, leather seated mini van… apparently they are ALL like this J We had a 3 hour drive ahead of us to the Province of Phang Nga and the town of Khao Lak. These beautiful limestone mountains tower over us as we drive in the pouring rain, history tells us that 75 million years ago these majestic giants were all underwater, we know this because fossils of sea creatures were discovered on the peaks… pretty impressive stuff oh yee Mother of Nature…
We arrive at The Sarojin, named after the daughter of a Chinese merchant (or so the story goes) . As most of you know Khao Lak was hit with full force by the Tsunami of 2004, at that time the Sarojin was about 90% completed and scheduled to open end of January 2005… On the morning of December 26 everything would change. The Hotel was completely destroyed; as it was a Sunday all the staff & workers were at home, their lives spared, sadly that was not the case for 1000’s of others. The owners (who are Brits) asked to staff if they would continue to work with them and help rebuild, they agreed and one by one they returned and literally rebuilt the hotel brick by brick. All 56 rooms are named after a member of staff and once a year all of them from the gardener to the front office manager get to stay at the hotel fully comp for 2 nights with their significant others and enjoy all the facilities. I don’t know of any other hotel that does that… do you?
A contemporary estate like property, the landscape is gorgeous, big open span garden, fantastic swimming pool, 3 restaurants, 1 serving all day breakfast as well as 2 others Thai & Western cuisine, award wining wine cellar, no children under the age of 10, a very laid back feel… 90% of their guests are honeymooners. I so wish I wasn’t in a torrential downpour but as I was One with Rain I could see the beauty of the property through my all-seeing sun eye!
Next stop Casa De La Flora, this property is part of Design Hotels, Art deco in style, with a very young, cool hip vibe, 36 rooms, small pool but you are right on the beach bordering on Phuket … a very different style for Mr & Mrs Smith and soon to be launched in The Mr & Mrs Smith collection (November) Each room is named after a flower from the royal family, very modern in architecture and design. Unfortunately due to the extreme weather conditions my photos were rubbish, but below is a little taster of what’s the come.
We soldier on to La Sala, also launching in November, this 79 roomed Thai/Portuguese design, high end, luxury refuge is not for the faint hearted. Set right on Maiko Beach, very Zen vibe, each pool villa is enclosed by this big walls so they are completely private. 2 infinity pools right on the beach… definitely a more high end beach front hotel.
It’s now around 3pm and I am finally arriving at Ao Po Marina to catch the speedboat bound for the island of Yao Noi (about 45 minutes). I said “tarra for now” to my traveling compadres Boon & Pooh, I was tired & hungry but remembered my deal with myself NOT to be cranky or crabby (damnit!!!!) It’s amazing how all those negative feelings just vanished the moment I arrived in what can only be described as Heaven On Earth. Six Senses Yao Noi!!! Waiting on the pontoon was the very dashing Mr Manish Puri the GM, a smiling Niche and my “GEM” Pop (she who takes care of me during my stay)
“Hi Pop, I’m Jazz”… I feel the makings of a band coming on. Manish extended a warm greeting to everyone, and Niche was to be my guide on the property and would pick me up in 25 minutes or once the rain had stopped… Off I pop with Pop to my villa… Pfffffffffffffffffft! Are you kidding me? Once again I find myself drooling and WOW’ing and OO’ing and AA’ing– I am in the Hilltop Panoramic Ocean View Pool villa – DA BEST IN DA HOUSE!!! … suddenly… just like that, the rain stopped. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!
22 minutes later the smiling Niche picks me up in one the island’s golf carts (that’s how everyone get’s around if you don’t’ want to walk. His smile was so wide and seemed to be permanently fixed on his face, in fact so much so that I wondered if he ever had cramp in his cheeks.. “So Niche, you have the happiest disposition I have ever seen, I gather you like it here” “Oh yes Khun Jasmine, I was born in Yao Noi so I have been here all my rife and this is the view flom my office I have leason to smile evelyday” his response definitely made me smile. With 56 villas this property is all about bare feet, sustainable local organic wellness. They have a Hilltop Reserve that was once a 3 bedroom residence at the peak of the property, Manish the debonair GM decided to turn it into a Thai restaurant (serves breakfast, lunch & Dinner) so that all could enjoy and take in the AMAZING vistas and also in turn would create a communal swimming pool, he kept one of the bedrooms so a guest could book it for a night (from 11pm to 11am) meaning that you would have the entire Reserve Hilltop to yourself for 12 hours… Smart man!!! The best part about the Hilltop reserve was that it was just above my villa so I knew where I was going to go for sunrise!
Six Senses a renowned for their Spas – this property has over 11 treatment rooms with a very specialized menu. The property is also super child friendly and there is so much to do… rent bikes and go to the local village, farms, cooking classes, yoga, Day trips to deserted islands, water skiing, paddle boarding, they even have an outdoor cinema on their lovely little stretch of beach… They pride themselves on being fully sustainable and have an organic farm as well as their famous chicken farm where guests can pick their eggs for breakfast the following morning.
They have a Charcuterie where they make fresh sandwiches and even their very own ice cream store serving 16 home made varieties of flavor (complimentary from 730am to 7pm) you can purchase the ice cream thereafter until around midnight!
The plan for the evening was a “GEM” cocktail party at the Bar from 5 to 715pm for all guests and then I was to have dinner with the Dapper Manish at 730pm. was at the bar by 6pm and met a lovely Dr from Australia, Jenny Yoeman’s, she was traveling by herself from Perth and had been searching for the perfect destination that would allow her to relax & unwind but at the same time not feel cut off and alone, Six Senses Yao Noi was the perfect combination. We chatted for over an hour, talking about travel, husbands, children, life, love… and had formed a lovely bond – Jenny I hope you are reading this!! And yes, I am still scratching my head!!! (inside Joke)
Dinner Time!! I made my way to the restaurant to meet with delightful Manish, he was warm and welcoming, after a few minutes of me telling him a little about myself and what I did and Mr & Mrs Smith over a glass of champagne, dinner was served, washed down with a delicious bottle of Malbec. “So Jasmine, do you have any questions for me? “I have one question” I responded.. “I am all about the Stories, and I would like to know the Story behind the man behind the scenes behind the Six Senses…” (probably the best question I have asked to date (even though it was 3 questions in 1)… 3 hours later and my soul satiated with an evening filled with wine, laughter and stories I was ready to drift into sweet slumber, I laughed myself to sleep that night as I recounted all the tales in my head… what a wonderful evening. I would tell you about them but I have over 1600 words in this post which I think is WAY WAY too many!! (unless you tell me otherwise – Feedback please)
SUNRISE… I can’t WAIT for SUNRISE!