Some travel experts (perhaps just the self-proclaimed) have in recent years declared Phuket “out.” The spot had its fifteen minutes of travel fame, they say, since replaced with hipper islands like Koh Sumui and Koh Kut, or historic and mountainous Thai cities like Chiang Mai.
But we would argue that Phuket’s still got something… if you get off Phuket. Allow us to explain.
Phuket has long been a mainstay of Thailand travel thanks to its once pristine beaches and still undeniably stunning surrounding topography. The unique rock formations of Phang Nga Bay and the Phi Phi Islands (directly between Phuket and Krabi) were made famous by James Bond in 1974, and again by Leo DiCaprio in 2000.
Rock formations at Phang Nga Bay.
While these geological markers remain as impressive as ever, their surroundings have suffered from more tourism than the environment can handle. So much so that Fodor’s recently named some of the beach areas to its – tourists have simply overwhelmed the ecosystem at places like Phi Phi Lei.
This makes the preserved and ultra-luxurious , and its commitment to preservation on the island of Koh Yao, even more noteworthy. Recognition for its “Green Excellence” in 2017, amid a backdrop of the opposite, gives us reason to make it a must-visit resort for 2018, a year when other travelers (maybe those aforementioned travel buffs) might be avoiding the area altogether.
The Six Senses brand operates hotels and spas in 20 countries and will be opening a new “urban concept” in New York City in 2019. All of its resorts incorporate the brand’s award-winning spas which are focused on holistic wellness, as well as eco-friendly practices throughout. Here’s a few things you can do at Yao Noi that will make your Phuket holiday feel as exclusive and trendy as ever, without the guilt of a habitat-harming holiday.
Visit A Farm
One of the most memorable excursions at Yao Noi will be your trip to the on-property chicken, duck and goat farm to collect a basket of eggs. You can walk there from your villa or take a buggy for the (short) journey.
The property also has an organic vegetable garden that grows herbs and veggies for the resort’s kitchens and plants like aloe vera and coconut for the spa. A mushroom hut and a bee hive all serve practical as well as educational purposes for guests.
The food, particularly at breakfast, incorporates all these delicious ingredients in both traditional Thai and western-inspired dishes.
Get An Energy Scan
At the Six Senses spa, Dr. Aneesh Vadakkeveedu will hook you up to a fancy scanning device to measure and analyze physiological biomarkers including body composition, metabolism, oxygen distribution, heart function, and circulation and stress parameters. After the screening, he’ll surprise you with how well he can guess if you drink too much coffee, get too little sleep or love salt (guilty as charged). After the scan, he’ll devise a personal wellness routine you can employ to improve overall health and wellness.
The spa at Six Senses Yao Noi.
Peep A Hornbill
In collaboration with the Hornbill Association, Six Senses Yao Noi works to identify spots on the resort for the endangered Oriental Pied Hornbill to nest. Seeing one of these in the wild is super rare, but the vegetation on Koh Yao will attract them if and when it bears fruit.
Learn To Box
Muy Thai is a staple of Thai sports, which has gained more global attention over the last few decades. Try your hand at this super intense aerobic sport in the property’s own boxing ring. Expert trainers will work with whatever experience level you’re at to craft a fun and challenging workout.
Back On The Mainland...
As much as we love the 45-minute speedboat excursion to Koh Yao for Six Senses, we must admit that some classic and recent additions to the hotel and resort scene have made the mainland attractive again.
If you decide to spend some time in Phuket proper, here are a few hotels that are so full of luscious amenities and fun activities that you won’t feel guilty spending the entire time on property.
A villa at Amanpuri.
Amanpuri – For Luxe Beach-Side Lounging
Aman’s flagship property remains a among the travel elite for a reason. This is the Birkin bag of resorts – a pristine, seemingly untouchable oasis for the most discerning of globetrotters. The white sand beach here remains as flawless as the day Amanpuri opened its doors 30 years ago.
As the property gets ready to celebrate its 30th anniversary, take a seat on a lounge chair and enjoy fresh Japanese and local sushi and sashimi at Nama, its new beach-side restaurant.
A view of the bay from the Rosewood.
Rosewood Phuket – For Some Delightful Pool Play
A new entre onto the Phuket resort scene is Rosewood’s first Southeast Asia property. The spot just opened in November 2017, on Emerald Bay, which overlooks the Andaman Sea on Phuket’s western coast. If the private pool at your Ocean View Pool Pavilion isn’t quite big enough, you can take in amazing views (and cocktails) at one of the many inter-connected beachside main property pools.
The interiors of Mala Restaurat at Keemala Resort.
Keemala – For A Fantastical Selfie Opp
Certainly the most lively of the Phuket properties here is Keemala, a whimsical hillside collection of villas that will awaken your childhood imagination. All the rooms are aptly named – like the Bird’s Nest with its private, lattice-encased lap pool, or the Tent Pool Villa with its canvas roof that mimics sleeping outdoors (sans bugs).
As this resort is close to some of Phuket’s main attractions, be prepared for a visit that will tap into the hustle and bustle of the island’s main city.