Soothe your soul whatever the season with Six Senses Resorts
There is nothing quite like a speedboat transfer to let you know you are arriving somewhere special. Relaxing on a daybed the colour of Thai limes, we are whisked across the water from Phuket’s Ao Por Grand Marina to Six Senses Yao Noi. The resort’s teak villas curl down the jungled hillside as if they had grown out of their surroundings and the butler who greets us has a bright pink uniform the exact shade of the bougainvillea that blooms all around the property. Someone has really thought about this. And there you have it, the essence of Six Senses: resorts at one with their environment, where the smallest things count. Even the resort buggies are individually named.
It is ‘Sense of Wellness’ that picks me up the next morning (I also ride in ‘Sense of Humour’, ‘Sense of Style’ and, my personal favourite, ‘Sense and Sensibility’).
Little brown hens peck my toes as I inspect their egg-laying prowess on a Six Senses farm tour. ‘Organic’ is a popular buzzword these days, but at Yao Noi the evidence is all around you. Scarecrows in straw hats guard the vegetable gardens nestling next to one- and two-bedroom pool villas, herbs are picked outside the kitchen door and mushrooms bloom in dark peaty-smelling huts. No wonder the food is so delicious. The resort’s signature ice-cream is homemade, so I reason that even that must be good for me.
The hidden lagoon
The food and the heavenly spa (one of the largest of any Six Senses resort) are reason enough to visit Six Senses Yao Noi, but the surrounding limestone islands also beckon. Hollywood has been there before me with Roger Moore making such an impact on one pinnacle that it is now called James Bond Island; it’s a magnet for tourists taking selfies, fingers cocked like 007’s gun. Allow Six Senses to organise your excursion, however, and you’ll avoid the crowds.
Early one morning the resort arranges a traditional Thai longboat and guide to take us to a ‘hidden’ lagoon. Along the way we learn about the edible-nest swiftlet, whose homes become the delicacy of bird’s nest soup, and the island of monkeys. Filling the hole of a doughnut-shaped island, we reach the lagoon through a tiny archway in the rock. Once inside, we find our private
‘pool’ shared only with the fish eagles. Our guide even dons a rashie and slips into the lagoon, camera held aloft, to take our picture, which I consider way beyond the call of duty. The resort will also organise a lesson in Muay Thai at its private boxing ring, cooking classes, diving and snorkelling or yacht tours.
I remember the Bond theme as I lie on a sun lounger at the Hilltop Reserve on my last morning. All the villas at Six Senses Yao Noi have their own private pools, but the Hilltop Reserve pool is the most spectacular of all. Perched at the top of the resort, what was once a private four-bedroom villa worthy of a Bond villain’s lair is now shared by all. The infinity pool merges into a horizon dotted with limestone islands and the private dining room (soon to be a spectacular new bar) has breathtaking views.
Spa sanctuary in the rain
When it is high season on the western, Phuket side of Thailand it is wet season in the east, and goodness it is pouring now. A blanket of tropical rain as thick as a theatre curtain obscures the beach views and my private pool is overflowing. But if a resort still feels this welcoming in the rain, it must be good.
Six Senses Samui is on the opposite side of Thailand to Yao Noi. This was one of the earliest Six Senses resorts where the philosophy of wellness and healthy living was first created, so what better place to head on a stormy day than the spa. In a forest ‘treehouse’ I relax to the sound of raindrops dripping off giant leaves, as perfect as any New Age rainforest CD, and feel my muscles unknot. I decide that if it keeps raining I’ll return and try out the energyenhancing ‘Seven Full Moon Singing Bowl’, just because I love the name.
A break in the clouds gives us the chance to experience the spectacular sunset from Dining on the Rocks, where teak platforms offer shimmering views over the water. Another day, equipped with Six Senses umbrellas, we take an island tour, paddle through puddles to the tiny temple of Wat Plai Laem with its intricate and beautiful wall friezes and receive blessings at the island’s Big Buddha, which seems to smile benignly in the rain.
And what do I ask the Big Buddha for? Health and happiness for my friends and family, plus – as a shallow afterthought – a return to beautiful Koh Samui in the sunshine.
01 All villas at Six Senses Yao Noi have private pools 02 Island hopping by long-tail boat 03 & 04 Spectacular views from The Retreat at Six Senses Samui 05 Cinema Paradiso on the beach at Six Senses Yao Noi04