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.
Get this when you book through us:
Your choice of a 30-minute foot massage for two or a 30-minute back, neck and shoulder massage for two
Fifty-six villas, including four suites and two residences.
Noon, but flexible (up to two hours extra is free; after that it costs 50 per cent of the room rate). Check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £510.96 (THB20,813), including tax at 18.7 per cent.
Rates include buffet breakfast. A minimum five-night stay is required during peak season (20 December–10 January).
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.
At the hotel
Free broadband throughout, DVD/music library, spa, gym, yoga platform, complimentary bike hire. In rooms: flatscreen satellite TV, Bose stereo, CD player, preloaded iPod and dock, Six Senses toiletries, minibar, wine fridge, pool, meditation sala.
Our favourite rooms
It’s hard to choose just one villa, as they’re all rather special. We love the aptly named Ocean Panorama Pool Villas, though, which boast breathtaking views of Phang Nga Bay from the bedroom, bathroom and infinity pool, and also star outdoor dining, an alfresco shower and double spa pavilion for pampering massages.
Drink in those views of the craggy limestone islands jutting from the ocean as you lie beside the placid infinity pool. Dip in and you really will feel as though you’re about to swim right off the edge.
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.
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.
Children are welcome, and there are plenty of activities to keep them occupied. Baby cots and beds for under 12s are provided for free, and babysitting can be arranged with hotel staff from THB412 a child an hour.
Six Senses has an impressive environmental record and this is evident at Yao Noi. The property is designed using natural materials to harmonise with the landscape, and villas have been built to reflect the sun’s heat yet utilise natural light.
The ultimate in romantic gestures is organising a champagne breakfast on your terrace, served by your butler.
Simple but sleek beach chic.
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.
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.
10pm for dinner; 12.30am or later at the bar.
A selection of Thai, Japanese and western dishes are available 6.30am–noon; later nighttime snacks can be pre-ordered.
The small island of Yao Noi, in Phang Nga Bay, is equidistant to Phuket and Krabi airport, and lies just north-east of larger sister island Koh Yao Yai.
There are regular flights to both Phuket and Krabi airports from Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Europe and Australia. Regardless of where you land, there’s a two-part transfer – car and boat – that takes about an hour. One-way shared transfers from Phuket Airport are THB1,500 an adult (THB1,600 from 1 November 2018); children aged six to 11 travel half price, children under six go free. Transfers from Krabi are private and by arrangement only. From Krabi, the rate is THB12,600 each way up for up to 12 people – the journey involves a stint in a speedboat and an overland section. For the latter, each car can hold five guests; if there are more, an extra car costs THB2,500 each way. Be aware that weather conditions may affect boat timings, and rates are subject to availability.
There’s plenty of space to park your chopper, but be sure to pre-announce your arrival.
Worth getting out of bed for
Along with its remoteness, the appeal of Yao Noi is its access to some of the world’s best scuba diving and snorkelling sites around Koh Phi Phi, Krabi and Phang Nga. Other watersports, such as sea-kayaking and sailing, are also readily available. Lost your water legs? Landlubbers can enjoy elephant trekking, mountain biking, hiking and rock climbing. The resort runs boats to Krabi and Phuket should you fancy shopping or sightseeing. What you should definitely make time for, however, is a visit to the Six Senses Spa. At the long house, windows open on to lush gardens, although there’s also the option of taking a treatment in one of the salas to become fully immersed in the outdoor world. If you’ve been burning the candle at both ends, a three-and-a-half-hour Signature Yao Noi Ritual – foot soak, steam, scrub, traditional Thai massage and spicy herbal bath – will have you feeling balanced and refreshed. To burn off some calories, ask staff to arrange an aqua yoga session in your villa's pool.
Owing to its location, there isn’t much else on the island of Yao Noi. If you have a hankering for the fruity, spiciness of southern Thai food, it’s a short drive to local eateries for Gai Phad Med Ma Muang (stirfry chicken with cashews), Yum Som O Goong (spicy pomelo salad) and Gang Phed Ped Yang (roast duck with red curry). Hotel staff can point you in the right direction.
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…
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Six Senses Yao Noi’s Guestbook below.
The high level of service, stunning views, spa and wide variety of activities.