Travel: Thailand - Santhiya
Vibrant neon lights, pulsating beats of base, offers of happy endings and pleads to watch Same-Same but different Ping Pong shows are exactly what we'd signed up for when booking accommodation in the heart of Patong. It's meant to be a part of the Thailand experience right?
The haze which is the madness of the past few days and the intense heat of the city evaporate as the door of our air conditioned van is shut. It’s time to move on. It's time to visit our retreat.
While there are many ways to get around Thailand (read more affordable) this leg of our trip is taken care of and placed securely in the hands of the resort we plan to visit. [3500 Thai Baht for door to door delivery from Phuket, reduced if you are travelling directly from the airport.] We arrive at Pier 88 in Ao Po Grand Marina and are ushered to a comfortable restaurant to enjoy refreshments as we wait for the remaining guests who will join us on the short speed boat journey to the resort. We step on to the resorts speed boat and are soon in open water taking in the sights the vast body of water with its sporadic islands offer. Within 20 minutes we approach a private pier and have a panoramic view of the resort amidst the lush green vegetation. I start to get excited.
On the pier we are welcomed by a hotel representative. The transition from the tourist mecca of Phuket to remote island life suddenly has a rather luxurious feel to it. We approach the reception area and climb the elephant idol emblazed steps and I look out over the secluded beach. Literally 5 minutes on the island of Koh Yao Yai, I find myself far removed from the crazy reality of the mainland. Isolated. Safe. At ease. I wipe my brow with an ice cold towel. The lemongrass infused scent is refreshing. A porter has arrived and is ready to take us to our room.
The resort is built up on the cliffs of Koh Yao Yai which itself is situated in the middle of Phang Nga Bay – Midway between Phuket and Krabi. We’d discovered the island while searching for accommodation close to Phuket. Our search criteria included luxurious, undisturbed and preferably unpopulated. We’d hoped for an island getaway. We had no idea.
We step back over the elephant detailed bridge and an open back 6-seater minivan stops to take us to our room. There are numerous vans constantly patrolling the grounds to ensure guests never need to wait or walk in the heat. The porter tells us there are 30 Teak wood villas and 24 deluxe rooms on the resort. The villas each have private pools looking out directly over the ocean and that we’ll be staying in one of these villas.
We enter and follow the path around to the front of our villa. All expectations - Anything we could have imagined. This far exceeds it. The breath taking views, the intricate detail in every inch of the wooden structure. The four poster bed. The outdoor bathroom. The crystal clear swimming pool. It leaves us overwhelmed. We’ve found paradise. They call it Santhiya.
Of course there is more to discover on the beautiful island of Koh Yoa Yai – I just don’t know what it is. Truth is, apart from heading to the main pool, resort restaurants or beach, there was never a need to venture from the resort. We’d come to enjoy a deserted tropical paradise and that’s exactly what we did. Late morning lay-ins, over indulgent breakfasts and lounging poolside all day seemed a way of life. Walks on the beach, breathing in sunsets, dining on the finest cuisine and moonlit swims stretched a few days into what felt like weeks of luxury vacationing.
If you’re planning a trip to Thailand and are looking for luxury accommodation away from the masses in Phuket or Phi Phi, you’ll have to trust me on this, go to Santhiya. Undisturbed beauty. Unparalleled service. Exceptional by anyones standards. While there is construction happening in and around the island, I think you have some time before the masses arrive, pave Paradise and put up a parking lot. [Please note: These photographs were taken at random intervals during our stay - Count how many tourists I'm fighting over to get the shots ;) ]