Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. ~From the television show The Wonder Years
Often times when I travel to a foreign country my hotel room becomes my sanctuary where I can escape from what I often consider a very topsy-turvy world. However, whether for business or pleasure, I find most hotels to be nothing more than staid representations of a temporary place for sleeping. At least until recently. I was invited for a couple of night’s stay at a resort off the coast of Phuket in Phang-Nga, Thailand.
I thought it quaint and troublesome that I had to take a 45-minute ride via speedboat after a three and-a-half hour journey by air from Hong Kong. The first sign that this was different from all the places I’ve been to was not the rickety steps I had to take to disembark from the private speedboat. It was the welcome smile and gentle greeting of my butler – Rihanna as I tried to find my footing after those first few steps coming out of the water.
My wife and I were escorted to our villa by Rihanna where she gently showed us the various amenities of the 181 sqm villa including our private salt-water swimming pool, the guest reception area, and the teardrop-shaped bathtube that overlooks what can only be describe as a forest. There are two showers – the standard indoor shower and an outdoor shower.
The bedroom room was luxurious in its simplicity. A 32″ plasma TV hung from across the bed while a split-type airconditioner kept the room cool. The bedroom had large glass doors that overlook the swimming pool and on a cool day, you can open these glass doors to take in the natural breeze that permeates the island. The rest of the villa’s amenities including mini-bar and ward robe were all in keeping with the Resort’s theme of ecology friendly environment.
If you’ve ever lived in far out remote places like Boracay in the Philippines and Kota Kinabalu in Langkawi, electrical power (or the lack of it) is a constant reminder that you are not living in the city (or very near one). This Resort is no exception. I am not saying there is constant lack of electricity. If any the Resort owners see to it that the standby generators are just seconds away from whenever the local utility operator decides to cut power. So it was that throughout my stay, I experienced power interruptions if only for a few seconds at a time to remind me that all things man-made can be fleeting.
The Six Senses Hideaway Yao Noi is not your typical hotel or resort. It doesn’t boast a wide array of restaurants that many hotels boasts like key attractions. The entire resort of 56 villas is served by just two restaurants called “The Living Room” and the “Dining Room” But what it lacks in quantity it makes up in quality. According to one of the staff I spoke to, 95% of what is served on the dining tables are home-made. Indeed, for breakfast there was an assortment of fruit-based jams that all smelled like they were made that very morning. You tell the staff your preference and a butler stands in wait to take your order and serve it at your table.
There are no buffet tables at the Six Senses Resort even when you are holding your own private party in your villa. But the quality of the food will leave you wanting for nothing more.
Just as a side note, I stayed at the JW Marriott Resort in Phuket following my stint at Six Senses and I swear that there is a vast difference in the quality of the food at Six Senses from conventional resorts like the JW Marriott Resort. At the Six Senses the aroma and taste leaves you feeling full and contented. At JW Marriott the quantity doesn’t make up for the bland taste of what should be mouthwatering Phad Thai fried noodles.
As a testament to the concept of sustainable living, the Resort grows its own vegetables. Outside our villa are rows upon rows of eggplants and lemongrass.
The Living Room overlooks the private beach and the tranquil sea. You can literally spend several hours just eating very slowly as the sun sets into the horizon. There is also a bar, called the Main House, for those late afternoons when you want to contemplate life over drinks of wine. If you fancy a read and forgot to bring along a good book, the Library is just a few steps away offering contemporary reading materials. You also have access to DVDs if you don’t fancy the programs that fed into your bedroom via satellite.
Souvenirs can be purchased at the Gallery. What surprised about the items on sale is that the prices are not that exorbitant compared to most other hotels I’ve stayed at. I’d dare say the price-quality of the items sold were comparable to equivalent branded products from the likes of Marks and Spencer.
Recreation comes in the form of spa and massage treatments. The resort runs a yoga classes every day. Moving around the resort comes in the form of golf carts you can call from almost any time of the day and into the early hours of night. My wife and I took leisurely walks during our stay to and from the villa and restaurant, bar, gallery and library.
As the name implies, the Six Senses Hideaway Yao Noi is a hideaway. It beckons you to leave the noise and worries of modern day living and retreat back to nature. Amenities like soap, shampoo and lotion all carry the distinct aroma of lemongrass and other aromatic herbs. There is a temptation to just stay in your villa and wile the time away.
When Six Senses decided to build a Resort on the island, one of the chief concerns was maintaining the island’s natural contour as much as possible. So it was that no single villa is 100% identical to the other. The terrain is hilly throughout the resort. There is sufficient golf carts to ferry most passengers around although walking is just as refreshing (though may not be as relaxing on a hot Summer’s day). Much of modern day technologies like Internet connection and mobile phone service is kept hidden from view.
If you need anything, your butler is but a phone call away.
So how much is all of this? I can tell you its not cheap. The resort has special offers encouraging guests to book as early sa 60 days in advance. Depending on the villa type, room rates start at US$460++. The return transfers from the airport all the way to the Resort will set you back US$271. So this is a place you don’t plan to come on a regular basis unless you got cash to spare. But for that once in a lifetime getaway, the memories you create will last you a lifetime.
I left the Six Senses Hideaway Yao Noi Resort with a heavy heart because I felt that the 3 days, 2 nights stay was simply too short. The Danish couple that arrived at the same time as we did were staying for a week, the recommended period of stay at the Resort (if you can afford it).
Would I come back to the Resort in the future? If I could afford it yes. Would I recommend it to others? Definitely! Whether I make it back or not to the Resort, I now have a place in my memories of the Resort and from time to time, when pressures of work weigh my heart down, I will look deep into my soul to revive those cherished memories of the Six Senses Hideaway Yao Noi – a bit of tranquil paradise in a world gone mad.