In Travel

The Thai Resort Tying Together Sustainability And Luxury

“Ouch!” I said under my breath. A chicken had just pecked at my ankle. It hadn’t pained me so much as caught me off-guard. Though, I wasn’t sure what I’d been expecting. I was walking through a chicken farm.

Surrounded by poultry, and with my thongs stuck in mud, it wasn’t how I’d pictured my stay at luxury resort Six Senses Ko Yao Noi to be. But, as I’d been quickly learning, things around here worked a little differently.

My journey had begun at Phuket Airport when I’d been whisked away in a black Mercedes and boated across to Ko Yao Noi. Halfway between Phuket and Krabi, the island was large, and, as I later discovered on a tuk tuk tour of it, incredibly sleepy. It sat splayed out amongst Thailand’s famous limestone cliffs.

I’d been introduced to “call me M”, my concierge or ‘GEM’, Genuine Experience Maker, as they called them here. Zipping through the resort’s jungle compound on a buggy, he’d led me to where I’d be staying – a Hideaway Pool Villa, tucked into the trees.

We’d walked past its pillow-covered cabana and private pool, and into its thatched roof bungalow. With a bedroom, walk-in closet and a bathroom with not one, but three bathing areas – an indoor and outdoor shower and a large sunken tub – it was bigger than my entire apartment back home.

M had ducked out, and I’d sprawled across the canopied, driftwood bed, allowing myself a few moments of quiet. The room was cool and crisp, and as I’d watched the rain pelting outside (it was the rainy season in Thailand), I’d felt completely cocooned by nature. Little did I know, I would soon be fully immersed in it.

I didn’t have long to rest – a property tour was next. Led by the resort’s marketing and communications manager Nicolette Ng, we’d whizzed through the grounds, returning bow after bow to passing staff, or ‘hosts’ as they called them here, left its main gates and entered into its ‘Stress-free Zone’. And that’s how I ended up in a chicken farm.

This was where guests could come to collect their fresh eggs, Ng explained as we now walked across the slippery mud to see the coop. Around us, chickens squawked and jazz music spilled out from speakers (“Music has been proven to help with the production of eggs,” said Ng). This was sustainability.

It was the buzzword of the year – not just in hospitality, but across all industries. But what did it really mean? I was beginning to get it.

Next to us was a duck farm, and beside that, a goat pen. Guests could not only milk goats – they could then use that milk to make soap. It was one of the many sustainability activities offered at the resort.

We peeked into a darkened mushroom-growing room, swung by the Earth Lab where mosquito repellent and cleaning detergent were made, and finally, checked out the Water Room. The resort made its own drinking water, collecting it from 12 deep wells and a reservoir, and then filtering it here.

All throughout the tour, what struck me was how little the resort’s eco-friendly habits seemed to affect its five-star feel. As far as I’d seen and would continue to see throughout my stay, none of the comforts you’d expect from one were compromised.

There was an outdoor cinema on a private beach, a spa doling out delicious massages, a floor-to-ceiling windowed gym and no less than four eateries. My favourites among them were the Deli, which served free ice cream all-day-long, and the Hilltop Reserve.

Once one of the resort’s private villas (today, there are 56), it boasted an infinity pool that looked out onto the limestone cliff-scape beyond. For a holiday treat, it could be booked in its entirety for a special sundown-to-sunrise experience.

I relished in all of it. One morning I spent over an hour at breakfast, idling over items at the buffet and savouring my French Press coffee. Another morning I embarked on a complimentary kayak tour, paddling my way to the mangroves, and returning two shades darker. Evenings were spent dining at the Living Room, and then hopping into my villa’s pool for a swim.

Still, there was much more I wish I’d had time for. There was paddle boarding, there were wellness programs, and there was a four-hand massage. As the boat pulled away from the dock on my last day, and I watched the resort grow smaller, I couldn’t have agreed more with the boy standing beside me who told his mother, “I don’t want to leave.”

Published 28 August, 2018