Six Senses Yao Noi boutique hotel can’t help but appeal to your inner child. Staying in one of the island resort’s private pool villas feels like residing in a plush tree house. Perched on a cliffside, with jaw-dropping views over Phang Nga Bay's fantastical limestone pinnacles, they're built using local teak, topped with a palm-leaf roof, decked out in stylish bright linens and simple mango-wood accessories. This is a rustic, cosy escape in one of the world’s most beautiful locations. Soul soothing guaranteed.
Total escape from the distractions of daily life
Essential luxury: no sharp edges, everything you need, nothing you don’t, and impeccable service
The Six Senses Spa is the last word in decadent pampering
A Smith-tailored 30-minute foot massage or back, neck and shoulder massage for two people
In the know
Also need to know:
The Six Senses Spa resembles a traditional long house and offers a holistic menu of Thai-influenced treatments. If you want to sleep like a baby, have a Deep Dream Massage; if you want a moonlight massage, opt for the Full Moon treatment.Every villa receives special attention from a 24-hour personal butler. Need tea and toast at 3am after a long flight? Fancy putting down the book and playing a board game instead? Your wish is their command.
A wafty chiffon kaftan for her, a trés masculine sarong for him, and a collection of designer swimwear for both. Lying by the pool, stretching out on the beach and exploring the underwater world are high on all guests’ agendas on Koh Yao Noi.
Simple but sleek beach chic.
Mr and Mrs Smith reviews
Everyone needs an Alice. Throughout my stay at Six Senses Yao Noi she is always there with a cheery greeting and her trusty notebook, ready to do my bidding. Nothing is too difficult for her. When I want to change my spa appointment – for the fourth time – she arranges it with a chuckle. When I realise Mrs Smith has the charger to the camera, Alice lends me her own camera. I almost expect her to be waiting to hand me a towel as I emerge from the bath. She becomes my de facto Mrs Smith (in a completely professional sense, of course), except that Alice performs every request with a smile and no complaints.
I should explain. It’s not like me to travel without Mrs Smith. Unfortunately, however, we’d arrived in Thailand during some bad weather. After five days of monsoonal storms on Koh Samui, the first stop on our dual-destination getaway, plenty of flights out had been cancelled and the airport was log-jammed with frustrated tourists battling to escape. I was assigned a seat on one of the first flights leaving for Phuket, but Mrs Smith was put on standby and promised the next available one. We (or maybe it was me) agreed: the show must go on, and I flew out, telling my beloved I’d be waiting for her when she arrived.
Arrival at the resort – secluded on Yao Noi island to the north-east of Phuket – via a 30-minute speedboat ride across the emerald waters of Phang Nga Bay is spectacular. From the dock, an armada of golf buggies collects guests to escort them to their rooms. My home for the next four days is an Ocean Pool Villa – Number One, in fact. I’d read the villas are based on traditional village dwellings, and I guess if I really squinted I could be in a hand-built wooden house in the thick Asian jungle. The timber floors and walls are raw, the roof thatched, and the furniture made from tree trunks and limbs. A mosquito net is draped over the bed and bamboo has been loosely tied together to make a screen. The feeling is natural and organic, although I’m not sure how many villagers have a luxurious private infinity pool or a fully stocked wine cellar and minibar.
The ultimate extravagance for me, however, is the bath. Now, there are two types of people in this world: those who enjoy wallowing in a tub and those who prefer the efficiency of a shower. Having removed the bath from my own house to make way for a coat closet, I would comfortably categorise myself as one of the latter. But this is different. The entire bathroom is a watery symphony: indoor and outdoor showers, a sunbed with nothing separating it from the outside world other than bamboo shutters (something that I have to be careful about at night to ensure honeymooners walking along the beach don’t get a dreadful fright), and an egg-shaped sunken tub that overlooks the ocean and the limestone pinnacles of Phang Nga Bay. It is more outside than in, capturing the sea breezes and the sounds of birds in the morning, cicadas in the afternoon, and frogs and crickets in the evening.
In a few days, I have more baths than I’ve taken in an entire year. Before breakfast, after breakfast, before dinner, after dinner, sometimes with a book, other times just dreaming and watching longtail boats motor by. Suddenly, there’s no time when I’m not considering a dip in the tub. This becomes my place of contentment.
So what does one do, other than bathe, when waiting for Mrs Smith? Ask her and the answer is clear: mope, think of her and not partake in any activities, so she doesn’t feel left out. I do a few things I think she might not love or that I can easily do again: a swim off the beach, a dip in the plunge pool, a kayak around the island. Then I arrange a longtail boat to explore (and fish) around Phang Nga Bay, walk up to the yoga look-out to watch the sun set, and enjoy an oriental massage at the Six Senses Spa. And even a stranded Mrs Smith wouldn’t expect me to starve, so I eat Italian at the Dining Room, modern Thai at the Living Room and sample the room-service menu, all of which are excellent.
Still there is no Mrs Smith, so I borrow a bicycle for a 30-minute ride into the local village. Yao Noi is a one-street town, with the markets at one end. This is where I stumble upon a shack with a barely readable sign that has the words ‘roti canai’ written across it. Not even the family of seven cats playing on the entry counter, lack of patrons or two sleeping cooks can dampen my resolve to order the ghee-infused bread with curry sauce and rose syrup water. One bite and I am transported back to my childhood searching the back streets of Kuala Lumpur for this favourite dish. Four portions later, and I’m ready for the (slow) ride back to Six Senses.
Tragically, Mrs Smith never does make it (blame multiple flight delays, which make it not worth her coming in the end), but all the members of staff at Six Senses are keen to have a chat and make me feel like I’m surrounded by friends and am the most important guest at the resort. As I prepare for the journey home, I can’t help but think that it’s really great to be number one. Just don’t tell Mrs Smith…
56 Moo 5, Tambol Koh Yao Noi, Amphur Koh Yao, Phang-Nga, Phuket, Thailand 82160
24.4 mi / 39.3 km from city centre
- Aerobics instruction
- Exercise gym
- Internet services
- Tennis court
- Complimentary in-room coffee or tea
- Room service
- Onsite laundry
The split-level Dining Room is surrounded by natural vegetation with a waterfall at its centre. Romantic and sophisticated, it has an open kitchen where chef Alex Oddy and his team cook modern Italian food using seasonal ingredients, including salads and vegetables picked from the nearby garden, with a Chef's Table upstairs. Adjacent dining pavilions, nestled in mangroves and palms, are perfect for hiding away. Like all Six Senses properties, there’s an impressive wine list. Relaxed and rustic, the beachside Living Room and Terrace whips up global cuisine by day and Thai food at night. It’s also where the tempting breakfast buffet is served. For exclusive dining, head to the Hilltop Reserve, which offers light lunches and Thai dinners with wow-worthy bay views.
The ultimate in romantic gestures is organising a champagne breakfast on your terrace, served by your butler.
10pm for dinner; 12.30am or later at the bar.
A selection of Thai, Japanese and western dishes are available 6.30am–12pm; later nighttime snacks can be pre-ordered.
With its mellow ambience and sunken seating and day-beds surrounded by water features, the Den, which occupies two floors of the Main House, is a cosy, sexy spot for backgammon as you sip a signature mojito.
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