By the time we arrive at Khao Lak in the Phang Nga province it is 9.30pm, hot and humid. Thankfully the warm greeting at the Sarojin’s front desk is accompanied by an elegant hand gesture ushering us towards a comfy seat, a refreshing wet towel and a tall glass of pandanus juice. Could it be that the staff are actually very talented mind readers?
After an impressive introduction to the retreat, we are escorted to our suite and given a rundown of its amenities. And then we are left to fend for ourselves. The horror! But there is a welcome note, along with an invitation to enjoy a complimentary half-hour massage, a picture-perfect platter of ripe local fruit, a bathtub filled with pandanus leaves and orchids, Juku bath products and a fully stocked minibar. Somehow I think we’re going to be OK.
The modern, minimalist room is just what I was hoping for. There’s nothing like getting away from physical clutter to calm a harried mind. We spend a few minutes taking in the tranquil surroundings before venturing to the Edge, one of the Sarojin’s two eating establishments. It’s a breezy timber pavilion set by the sea, and this evening a seafood barbecue banquet is being served. Both Eastern and Western options appear among the offerings, but our favourite dish is the tempura white pepper leaves with prawns. Yes, second helpings were indeed involved. Just a quick tip for beginners: if you see something in a dish that looks like a small green bean, take care. These could, in fact, be chillies – the sort that require a fire extinguisher to put out their heat.
After satisfying our cravings for all things spicy, we stroll back to our suite for a relaxing hot soak. Mrs Smith tips the patchouli and charcoal bath salts into the warm depths and we sink in. A languid soak accompanied by half a bottle of bubbly and it’s time for a good night’s sleep.
In the morning, we venture out to explore in depth. Set on a private beach, the Sarojin is the perfect romantic escape. Breakfast is offered in the other restaurant, Ficus, located beside the lotus pond. Again, the menu seems to span the globe, utilising fresh, local produce. Nothing is too heavy or too pricey, and sparkling white wine is on offer throughout the meal. Well, we are on holiday.
Everything at the resort, from the tailored off-site activities – scuba diving and jungle safaris are some of the more popular – to the well-stocked library, appears to be carefully considered. The divine infinity-edge pool has day-beds positioned on individual platforms over the water, and you know you’re never going to be disturbed because, first of all, the staff seem to be attuned to your every need – whether that is a cold glass of something or complete privacy – and, second, the resort has a policy of not allowing children younger than 12 (don’t get me wrong, I love kids but sometimes you just want absolute peace and quiet).
Later, we take advantage of the complimentary shuttle service into the town of Khao Lak, just 10 minutes away. Essentially, it’s a string of villages along the pristine beach and the starting point for travellers who come to the area for the spectacular diving. For us, however, it’s all about tasting some of the local food – an experience I can’t recommend highly enough.
Back at the resort, Mrs Smith and I decide it’s time to embrace another of our passions. I admit it: we are spa junkies and consider ourselves fairly expert on the topic. Pathways, the Sarojin’s temple to indulgence, has won plenty of awards so we were desperate to check it out. Having perused the breathtaking website in some depth, we book a two-and-a-half-hour session each. It is fair to say that I have found my new happy place. Just an arms-length apart, Mrs Smith and I more than enjoyed our massages and body treatments. Had it gone on forever, we would have been quite happy.
I guess I should possibly mention at this point that it rained for two of the three days we were visiting the Sarojin, but it didn’t matter at all. There was more than enough diversity in the activities available to keep us relaxed and content. In fact, we probably should come back again and try out some of the fine-weather options. After all, it would seem churlish not to.
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Smith extra at The Sarojin
A 60-minute Thai massage for two people, to be taken within 48 hours of arrival