Six Senses Yao Noi, Koh Yao Noi, Thailand

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Atmosphere: Two problems may present themselves after a stay at Six Senses Yao Noi: 1) You will feel a twinge of sadness when it comes time to leave. 2) Any other beach resorts you check into thereafter will have to be really special if they’re going to impress you.

So much more than a hotel by the beach, Six Senses Yao Noi is beach-resort-Disneyland for nature and luxury loving adults. As soon as you enter the resort’s more than five acres of hillside forest and gardens, you’ll feel as if you’ve exited reality as you know it and arrived at an emerald Tiki paradise with lanterns, bubbling brooks and birdsong.

Sustainability is part of the Six Senses DNA, so eco-friendly materials such as locally sourced bamboo and reclaimed wood are used in the construction of all the buildings and facilities. The resort has its own bamboo workshop, reverse osmosis water production plant, herb and mushroom gardens, as well as an organic chicken farm where you can harvest your own eggs for breakfast if you like. Your in-room H20 is delivered in recycled glass bottles rather than plastic ones.

The resort rejuvenated, then built a 350-metre boardwalk above a mangrove swamp, so guests can stroll through the swamp and watch crabs, mudskippers, hornbills and other fascinating plant and animal life. Six Senses also participates in community support initiatives such funding English-language programmes for the local children.

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Rooms: Because the resort was built on such an expansive plot, each of its 56 villas is incredibly spacious and embraced by fields of forests for utmost privacy. There are one-bedroom, two-bedroom and four-bedroom villas that all follow a similar island chic aesthetics. All villas offer unique and magnificent views of Yao Noi’s natural scenic landscape.

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Courtesy of Six Senses

The villas are categorised based on the perspectives they offer – hideaway garden villas, ocean-facing villas, ocean-facing villas with panoramic views, and beachfront villas. Their rooms have floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors, wooden poster beds with mosquito netting, study desks, and sofas with sunny yellow and orange throw cushions, and are connected to a commodious bathroom with double vanity tops, a sunken bathtub, toilet, indoor and outdoor showers. The villas come with an outdoor terrace with a shaded lounging pavilion, a sitting/dining area, and a spacious infinity pool fringed with pebbles.

Natural materials like thatched roofs,  bamboo and plenty of unvarnished wood will help you reconnect with nature, and perhaps reawaken your wild side! Each villa is equipped with Bose hi-fi system with docking station for iPods, sun loungers, and a mini-bar and wine fridge. The overall effect is Robinson Crusoe meets Robb Report.

If you hear a strange sound coming from your roof at night, don’t be alarmed, it’s probably just a red-eyed greater coucal, a fascinating indigenous bird with a powerful and haunting caw. It’s one of the many creatures that inhabit the Six Senses Yao Noi “forest”, along with squirrels that glide gracefully from tree to tree, sunbathing geckos and playful butterflies. Though it’s tempting to spend all your time in your luxurious and comfortable villa, don’t miss out on all the other goodies that the resort has on offer.

Facilities: The Six Senses Spa has 11 treatment rooms designed to inspire complete relaxation. So why not book a massage in a cosy hut, or get couple’s body treatment at one of the tranquil waterfall rooms that overlook a landscaped garden?

The roomy, two-level gym has all the equipment you need, including weights and a punching bag on the ground level, and mats and aerial yoga apparatus on the upper deck. Near the lobby is a library with computer workstations where you can borrow a book or Google that strange bird or frog you spotted in your backyard yesterday.

There are two beaches – Mai Tai Beach, which transforms at night into an outdoor cinema where you can watch movies under the stars; and The Pier, where the watersports and Muay Thai centre is located. At the Hilltop Reserve is an infinity pool, where guests can swim while enjoying breathtaking, panoramic views of the Andaman Sea.

Near the The Living Room is the very useful “Outdoor Information” chart which shows you the weather, air temperature, sea conditions and the times for the high and low tides.

If you don’t want to get caught in the rain or break a sweat walking in the summer heat, electric buggies with drivers are available 24/7 to take you wherever you want to go within the resort.

The resort also has day rooms with beds and showers for guests to use in case they arrive before the official check-in time and their rooms aren’t yet ready.

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Dining: With four innovative restaurants serving a wide variety of Thai and international food, there’s no reason not to indulge. The Den, which serves tapas, Japanese and Indian-inspired snacks is a great place to grab a cocktail before sunset. Sit in one of the sunken alfresco seats surrounding by lily ponds, or curl up on a cushy swing seat and gaze out at the limestone islands on the horizon.

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The Living Room, which includes The Deli, is the resort’s all-day casual dining area. Here, you can enjoy a scrumptious breakfast of fruit, custom-made mueslis and cereals, baked treats, high quality cold cuts and cheeses, along with pancakes, waffles, crepes and hot savory dishes such as noodles and omelets made from eggs harvested from the resort’s farm. At lunchtime, you have the option of selecting your own bread and cold cuts for a sandwich, salad and soup combo meal. The best part…all day long, you can drop by the ice-cream parlour at The Deli for free ice cream and cookies anytime before 10pm.

For a more elaborate affair, there is The Dining Room and Captain’s Table, and the Hilltop Reserve, which require reservations. Perched on the highest point of the resort, the Hilltop Reserve serves lunch and a five-course set dinner menu that changes each night of the week.

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Location: A 45-minute speedboat journey from Phuket, or a 40-minute public longtail boat ride from Krabi will bring you to this peaceful, rural village-island that is home to just around 3,000 inhabitants. Dramatic limestone pinnacles rising from the waters of Phang Nga Bay and lush tropical jungles set the stage for Six Senses Yao Noi. Far from the hustle and bustle of city life and mass tourism, this little paradise is perfect for travellers who want plenty of privacy, stellar service and the chance to enjoy sun, sea and sand in style.

Service: Each villa is assigned its own personal butler called a Guest Experience Manager or GEM, who is available 24 hours to assist guests with everything from organising excursions to booking their favourite table at the restaurants. The staff to guest ratio is about 2:1, so rest assured that you’ll be well pampered during your stay!

Things to do while here: Your GEM can help you organise a variety of experiences at extra charge: they can arrange for a boat to take you to a secluded island, where a chef will prepare a picnic or BBQ dinner just for your party. Or you can ride around the island on a tuktuk with a Six Senses chef who will take you on a tour of all the best street food stalls on the island.

You can also learn Muay Thai, sign up for aerial yoga lessons, rock climb, join a guided cycling tour, explore mangrove swamps on a sea kayak, scuba dive, snorkel or island hop, or rent a moped and check out the island’s coconut plantations. If you really want to go all out, you can even hire one of the resort’s yachts for the day.

Alternatively, you can take it real easy, get a massage, swim in your private pool all day, enjoy a romantic dinner, then grab an ice-cream and watch a movie on the beach before taking a slow walk, or buggy ride back to your villa.

Room rate at time of Review: THB18,008 (US$505) to THB70,345 (US$1,971) per night.

Address: Six Senses Yao Noi. 56 Moo, 5 Tambol, Koh Yao Noi, Amphur Koh Yao, Phang Nga 82160, Thailand. Tel: (66) 76-418-500, reservations-yaonoi@sixsenses.com

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