Thailand:Town and Country

Red Lotus Sea Thailand
Red Lotus Sea Thailand // Photo by subinpumsom/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Sip Cocktails at Six Senses Yao Noi’s sunken lounge, The Den.

Sip Cocktails at Six Senses Yao Noi’s sunken lounge, The Den.

 

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In Thailand’s cities, the streets and waterways hum. Tuk tuks sputter along the avenues. Aromas of sizzling street food waft through back alleys. Vendors hawk brightly colored fruits and fabrics. Luxury high rises tower next to shells of concrete tenements. On the country’s southern shores, limestone cliffs covered in lush green dot the turquoise sea. Rickety wooden boats cruise the calm waters and dock on sandy shores where VIPs sip tropical beverages alongside local fishermen, both taking in the explosive sunsets. Thailand is a gateway drug. Once you visit, Southeast Asia is in your skin and it is impossible to shake it.

Most travelers will fly into Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, an international hub in Southeast Asia. From there it is best to shake jetlag with a couple of nights in Bangkok. The city is home to some of the most well recognized luxury hotel names in the world (think Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula and Shangri-La), but we say there’s nothing like a stay at the Metropolitan by COMO in Bangkok, if only for a sinfully delicious meal at signature restaurant, nahm.

Metropolitan by COMO is pure modern luxury, with clean lines, dark woods and cream fabrics. The spacious bathrooms have deep soaking tubs and open showers. Note: Ask about which rooms offer outdoor showers.

When staying at COMO in Bangkok, we suggest booking one of the Penthouse Suites, which have views across the city. These rooms measure at 1,615 square feet and include a private butler. Note: The suites also connect to Metropolitan Rooms if families need a little extra space.

The top suite, however, is the COMO Suite, which measures at 2,583 square feet. This two-bedroom space has more of an apartment, residential feel to it, with a living room, bedrooms with walk-in closets, and a private butler who is on call 24 hours per day.

To reserve rooms reach out to Jorge Monje, the general manager ([email protected]; 011-66-2-625–3333).

One of COMO’s best features is its spa, which has 10 treatment rooms. Guests should book treatments at least one month in advance. We hear the 60-minute signature COMO Shambhala massage is over the top. Reach out to Chief Concierge Khun Weera for bookings ([email protected]; 011-66-2-625-3333). We also hear Weera can arrange for a personalized boutique shopping itinerary.METROPOLITAN BY COMO is known for its signature restaurant, nahm, which overlooks the pool.

A trip to the hotel is not complete without a dinner at nahm, often heralded as one of the best restaurants in Asia. The trick here is to leave the menu up to the stylings of Chef David Thompson. Luxury Travel Advisor was treated to a sumptuous tasting menu. Highlights included stir-fried soft shell crab with chili, salt and coriander; peanut relish with grilled river prawns served with okra and baby corn; and lobster and mangosteen salad.

 

Picture: METROPOLITAN BY COMO is known for its signature restaurant, nahm, which overlooks the pool.

After a two-day stay filled with fine dining, pampering and, of course, tons of temple hopping, board a plane and jet down to the islands around Phuket. Phuket is a party paradise in Thailand, packed with luxury hotels, restaurants and tourists. But for those seeking tranquility, authenticity and a whole lot of luxury, a visit to the island of Yao Noi, 45 minutes off the coast, is a must.

The predominantly Muslim island is home to just 4,000 inhabitants, scattered among seven villages. The island is a combination of rubber tree farms, jungle, rice fields and mountains, with views of longtail boats and towering cliffs in the distance. It’s everything you see when you close your eyes and think of Thailand. The only luxury resort on the island is Six Senses Hideaway Yao Noi, and it is one of the most understated and over-the-top experiences all rolled into one.

For those new to Six Senses, the idea is cultural immersion mixed with a fantastic wellness experience, and ultimate five-star luxury. Six Senses Hideaway Yao Noi is a perfect embodiment of what the brand stands for.

Guests arrive via boat transfer to the resort’s private dock. Luxury lodges peek out among the trees. From here guests are taken by private buggy up the paths into the resort compound, which is laid out like a small Thai jungle village. With an end goal to be completely self sustainable, the resort has its own herb gardens, prides itself on using only local products and is aiming for a zero waste policy.

Luxury Travel Advisor was tucked away in a Hideaway Two Bedroom Pool Villa. Note: All villas at the resort have their own private plunge pools. Our villa was a split-level unit with two bedrooms. There is a decked area and a master bedroom with open bathroom and shower. Stairs lead to a second bedroom, with open garden and shower room on the lower swimming pool level. Nice touch: All villas come with private butler service. We highly recommend Gwen, who was so lovely and accommodating.

But the true A-listers will want to book The Retreat, a two-bedroom villa with direct beach access and a view over the limestone cliffs. There are two master bedrooms with separate walk-through dressing areas and bathrooms with outdoor showers. Full amenities include a kitchen, private bar, terrace with sun loungers, a large living room and direct access to the pool.

For views, try the Ocean Panorama Pool Villas, with 180-degree views of Phang Nga Bay, pool and terrace. There is a separate bedroom, a bathroom with outside shower, and a sitting room.SIX SENSES YAO NOI Ocean Panorama Pool Villas have views of Phang Nga Bay.

For villa bookings reach out to Liluksshaan S De Silvaa, revenue manager ([email protected]; 011-66-76-418500).

In today’s luxury market, the theme is customization or bust. Six Senses is ahead of the trend, as this is how they have operated since inception. At Six Senses Yao Noi, Guest Experience Manager Franz Barnikel ([email protected]; 011-66-2631-9784) is on hand to tailor guests’ every whims, whether it’s a secluded island BBQ in the middle of the Andaman Sea, or a helicopter tour over the limestone cliffs. Cool touch: Weather permitting, the resort features nighttime movies outdoors on the beach. Perfect for snuggling.

Picture: SIX SENSES YAO NOI Ocean Panorama Pool Villas have views of Phang Nga Bay.

We were able to fill our itinerary with equal parts pampering and adventure. We started at the tree house-style Six Senses Spa. The spa is designed like a jungle village, with wooden huts dotted along the hillside. There are 11 treatment rooms.

Six Senses is able to customize each spa treatment to specific guest needs. Our treatment began with an outdoor shower in our treatment room’s private garden, followed by a foot scrub and then an 80-minute four-handed massage. For bookings reach out to Javier Suarez, spa director ([email protected]; 011-66-76-418500). It is best to book two to three weeks prior to arrival.

Suarez was also able to arrange a private yoga session for us. We boarded a longtail boat with a private yoga instructor and headed for a secluded beach on a private island. We spent the hour right before sunset doing yoga, watching the moon rise behind us and the sun set in front of us. There is nothing more magical than doing yoga on an isolated beach in the middle of the Andaman Sea.

Some of our other activities included a day of island hopping, complete with a private picnic on the beach, and a day of biking around Yao Noi with guide, Charif. Six Senses prides itself on employing locals, both to stimulate the local economy and to give travelers an authentic taste of the environment. Charif, a native to Yao Noi, was able to bring a whole new level of depth to our tour.

But beyond the experiences at Six Senses, the dining takes the resort to another level. The Hilltop Reserve restaurant overlooks the entire bay, and guests can dine al fresco while watching the sun set behind the cliffs, turning the sea (and the infinity pool) a pale shade of pink. Here we feasted on lobster, prawns, scallops and squid, while we drank cold white wine that is grown and processed on Yao Noi itself.

We also loved the breakfast buffet, which serves a menu of fresh eggs, along with dim sum, Asian specialties, western fare and a selection of cheeses and charcuterie. There is even a deli on premises that serves up fresh sandwiches for lunch, and an ice cream parlor that makes its own ice creams throughout the day.

Of course, there is nothing like a sexy cocktail in the romantic, sunken Den, which is surrounded by pools of water with lily pads and offers views over the beach.

We say the secret to the serenity at Yao Noi is in the details. On our last night, we were told that the Hilltop Reserve, where the main pool is located, would be left unlocked for us before sunrise. The Hilltop Reserve is the best spot on property to take in the sunrise over the cliffs and the ocean. At 5 a.m. we found a towel waiting for us so that we could take a morning swim and watch the bay erupt with oranges, yellows and purples. It was pure magic—a reawakening on all levels and completely metaphoric of Thailand.

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