by John O'Ceallaigh and Luxury Travel Editor, The Telegraph, March 5, 2019
A tranquil retreat just beyond the tourist trails of Krabi and Phuket, Six Senses Yao Noi has always been a magnet for couples keen to escape it all. Eager to capitalise on its immense beauty and unaffected romance, the resort’s designers decided to build a wedding chapel in what many considered its most picturesque spot: an elevated site enveloped by the sea, its horizon studded with dramatic towering limestone karsts.
There was just one problem: Six Senses Yao Noi attracts honeymooners galore who want to take it easy after their wedding rather than couples taken with the idea of elopement. It was decided that transforming the unused chapel into a romantic villa for two would be a more sensible use of this remarkable eyrie, and so The View was born.
Vast (at 225sq metres/2,422sq ft) and multifaceted, one-bedroom The View is a proper self-contained luxury hideaway - couples will find at hand more or less everything they might need to enjoy a few lazy, indulgent days in privacy.
The villa is dominated by its master bedroom, encased by glass walls and surrounded by a balcony and terrace that facilitate an uninterrupted panorama of the Andaman Sea and the dishevelment of limestone karsts that seem to have sprouted from its waters.
Beside the bedroom, the bathroom’s centrepiece is an oval bathtub; in front of the bed, a spiral staircase leads to a mezzanine level that provides another perspective on the sea below.
The villa’s lower level incorporates a fitness room, kitted out with yoga mat and weights; a darkened walk-in-wardrobe-sized room with a large television (fancifully referred to as a private cinema in Six Senses marketing materials) and a second terrace with hammock, day bed, covered outdoor bar area and infinity pool.
A 45-minute speedboat ride from Phuket, the island of Yao Noi is a world away from its larger neighbour. Development here is comparatively limited (11-year-old Six Senses Yao Noi is the most luxurious of its few resorts) and the pace of life still tranquil and simple.
While there’s little to see on the island more generally, the resort provides pretty much all its guests might need for a restorative week that combines indulgence with wilful inactivity.
A miniature village with standalone treatment rooms modelled on rustic Thai houses, the spa is a focal point. Waterfalls trickle by some of the pavilions, therapists are invariably kind and experienced - many of the staff have been here for years.
Dining options are reasonably varied, comfortably straightforward rather than experimental or trend-conscious. The Living Room serves a generous breakfast buffet and excellent, unpretentious Thai food; more formal, the Dining Room serves European cuisine. Cocktails are served in The Den, with seating again positioned towards the distant karsts.
The resort’s most famed setting is its hilltop infinity pool which again offers a startling Andaman panorama. Potentially annoyingly for guests in woodland-facing rooms but perhaps irrelevant to those in The View, this much-Instagrammed space operates restricted opening hours (it is regularly, for example, booked out for private breakfasts).
For those who would like a touch more activity, private yachting jaunts can be arranged, alongside kayaking sessions through the mangroves and Muay Thai boxing tutorials.
Sustainability is a sincere focus here too, with team members on hand to offer interesting tours of the resort’s gardens and farm, alongside its water-filtering and -bottling facility. Some 1,000 glass bottles are refilled at this small resort every day, a sobering reminder of how much single-use plastic is needlessly churned through at so many luxury hotels around the world.
The property is also spearheading a number of sustainability projects throughout the entirety of Yao Noi and it will be interesting to see how Six Senses’ approach to these initiatives will evolve in the years to come - after my stay it was announced that the brand was purchased by hospitality titan IHG for $300 million.
What to expect
An exhilarating speedboat ride from Phuket to Yao Noi provides a memorable start to stays at the resort, but my night-time arrival meant the view from The View remained obscured until the following morning.
There’s good reason for this villa adopting its distinctive name: the vista that awaits guests here is special, memorable and cleverly exploited. Those glass walls mean it’s never out of sight, the generous outdoor spaces and pool (not quite big enough for a proper swim but a nice place for couples to wallow and splash about) mean there’s no need to venture further afield.
A glass cut-out in the bedroom floor also provides a view underfoot, a little waterfall dribbles down a supporting wall - there’s something to look at in every direction.
Beyond the setting’s obvious appeal, couples can get behind the fully stocked bar to mix some cocktails, switch on the popcorn machine before settling down to a film, or just laze on the daybed with a book.
One of Six Senses’ GEMs is also on hand to arrange special experiences. These much-vaunted guest experience makers are available to all Six Senses guests but the staff members are probably best understood as providing a standard butler service. My GEM was lovely, though I rarely sought his assistance.
More generally, there were occasional inconsistencies with service, with housekeeping and maintenance staff sometimes servicing the villa while I was in situ rather than coordinating their visits to the times I was booked into restaurants or for certain excursions. A little thing perhaps, but for loved-up couples who want to enjoy their time alone without unscheduled interruptions it could be irksome.
The view, of course. It was remarkable even in the hazy weather that had taken hold throughout my visit, with the rippling silhouette of Krabi occasionally breaking through the distant mists and lush forest draping the hillsides to The View’s left and right.
I spent hours simply admiring all that was before me, from the kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders who obliviously floated past below to the more distant long-tail boats, the fishermen on board busily sourcing that day’s catch. It all felt timeless and was deeply relaxing.
Not so keen
I was The View’s first guest and had some quibbles that will hopefully soon be rectified.
A wine fridge near the bed is a nice idea but was too noisy - I asked for it to be unplugged during my stay. The Bluetooth-operated sound system also feels primitive and has to be reconnected when guests move between floors.
Certain parts of the terrace are overlooked by another villa. The resort is modifying the landscaping to address this, but it will take some time before the introduced plants are sufficiently sized to obscure those guests’ view of the guests of The View.
Rates and how to book
The View at Six Senses Yao Noi starts from THB60,000 (£1,400) per night, including breakfast.
EVA Air (+44 (0) 207 380 83 00) flies to Bangkok from London Heathrow daily. Royal Laurel business-class return fares from London to Bangkok start from £2,243. EVA Air's economy return fares start from £484; premium economy fares start from £892. Multiple airlines fly from Bangkok to Phuket.
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This article was written by John O'Ceallaigh and Luxury Travel Editor from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected]