You could argue any season is a good one to escape to the beaches and islands of Thailand — and you’d be right. But the region is just entering monsoon season, which lasts from mid-May through October, meaning days could be picture perfect, a complete wash-out or anything in-between. (Generally it just equates to frequent showers that can pass through as quickly as they came.) But if you want to be all but guaranteed great weather, schedule your trip between November and February. Admittedly it’s the busiest season, but the temperature is warm but not oppressive, the seas are calm and the beaches stay dry.
Summer is just getting underway, but it’s not too early to start planning your family’s holiday or winter travel. Ko Yao Noi is home of the Six Senses Yao Noi, an all-villa oceanfront accommodation with lots (or nothing) to do. Here is what you need to know before you go:
Six Senses is a 45-minute speedboat ride away from the Ao Por Grand Marina in Phuket. Guests arriving via plane to Phuket will be transported by private vehicle to the marina (about a 30-minute drive) and then by either a shared or private boat. When you arrive at the resort’s dock you’ll be greeted by smiling, waving resort staff, certainly a personal touch. (They also see you off when you sadly need to depart.)
Once at the resort dock you’ll be taken to your villa via golf cart by your personal concierge (called a GEM here, or Guest Experience Maker), who will take care of check-in inside your accommodation. He or she will also point out your complimentary welcome drink and water/snacks, give you the rundown of the amenities of your villa, answer any questions, make dining, spa or excursion reservations and provide a phone number to reach him or her during your stay.
All villas at any Six Senses property can accommodate two adults and two children; staff will convert the daybed into a nighttime bed and set up a foldaway if needed. Villas at Kao Noi have ample square footage, indoor and outdoor showers, a soaking tub, private pool and patio and separate sitting room; what makes them different is whether they have one king-sized bed or a king and two twins (or more, in the case of the Hideaway Four Bedroom Pool Villa and The Ocean Retreat) and if they have a jungle, ocean or garden view. Niceties in the villas include a menu of pillow and fragrance options and an ample selection of complimentary toiletries, including eye masks, shaving kits and dental kits. Turndown service includes letting down the mosquito net, need-to-have here.
Several tucked-away buildings and areas comprise the spa, including a relaxation area, juice bar, sauna and steam room and individual treatment rooms. Two Waterfall Rooms are dual suites, with sliding glass doors that lead to lush foliage and water features; ask your therapist to mute the music and open the doors a bit for a more natural sound during your treatment. Massages can be customized if you like from the menu — say, a little bit of acupressure, stretching and deep tissue, while a Thai herbal massage uses warm poultices filled with turmeric, plai, ginger and lemongrass. You can also slough off all that dead skin with a coconut, coffee or green tea scrub or indulge in an Ayurvedic treatment. No matter which, your experience will begin with a refreshing cold towel and a welcome elixir.
You’ll take breakfast at The Living Room, close to the beach and offers both buffet and à la carte options. Best to start the day is the noodle bar, where the chef will create your perfect combo of noodles, protein and condiments, the selection of Thai and global cheeses and charcuterie, fresh fruit (including some exotic choices like snake fruit) and freshly pressed juices, a coffee bar and an egg and omelet station. (You can actually go pick your own eggs every morning at the resort’s chicken coop and ask the chef to scramble, fry or poach them for you.) During lunch and dinner The Living Room serves Thai and global dishes (try them with a bottle of the proprietary Thai-made white or red wine.) At The Dining Room the emphasis is on European-inspired farm-to-table cuisine like a trio of tuna, salmon and sea bass, dry-aged Thai tenderloin with garden mushrooms and Valrhona chocolate lava pudding. Stop by The Den for a pre-dinner cocktail or nightcap; Tom Yum on a Rock is a cocktail stand-in for the popular spicy coconut soup.
If you and the family can tear yourself away from your private pool, the infinity pool on Hilltop Reserve gives sweeping views of Phang Nga Bay. And two small beaches are equipped with beach chairs set up adjacent. The resort can also arrange for a longtail or speed boat to take you to the Phi Phi Islands, James Bond Beach, kayaking through the mangroves or even just for lunch at a local seafood restaurant on the water.
There is a lot for kids aged 4 and above to do at Six Senses including a village tour by tuk tuk, batik painting, biking, kickboxing, tennis, kayaking and cooking classes. They can also build their favorite sundae creations at the on-site ice cream shop, where flavors run the gamut from chocolate and strawberry to black sesame and green tea. Babysitting services are also available throughout the day.
Families who love being fully wrapped up in new surroundings can put a fun spin on exploring by choosing a hotel that offers the opportunity to participate in a self-guided scavenger or treasure hunt. Along the way, discover fun details about your destination that you might have otherwise missed.
A recent trip to the Brandywine Valley in Delaware introduced us to a hotel brand designed specifically to make travel easier for families. Homewood Suites by Hilton combines large rooms and multiroom suites with family-friendly amenities to make guests feel at home.
By Hainan Airlines
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