Luxury: Hotel Gold List, Thailand

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“Yao Noi is the best of Southern Thailand, without its overdeveloped and touristy downsides“–Paul Ebeling

Just 30 mins into the 40-min speedboat trip from Phuket’s Ao Po Marina, this resort’s main hill juts out from the sea. On Top, the villas’ thatched roofs are barely visible through the jungle foliage. From wherever you look, moss-covered limestone formations dot the horizon.

This is Southern Thailand in all its green and azure-hued glory, far away from the overdeveloped beaches you encounter on the surrounding islands.

Most resorts do not bring their guests behind the scenes. But for Six Senses, sustainability is in their DNA. They have their lemongrass drinking straws and reusable glass water bottles, of course, but do much more than that, and will proudly show you.

On a complimentary tour, guests will visit the resort’s small farm and the recycling plant, where old furniture is made into nesting boxes for the local hornbill population; the Finance department’s staples end up in prosthetics for the nearby hospital, and drinking water is sourced from the 12 deep wells on resort. Plastic is a dirty word there, and the resort has virtually banned it throughout.

Each of the resort’s 56 thatched-roof villas is designed as a tropical hideout whether they boast ocean views, direct beach access, or are hidden deep in the jungle. Layout: they are all fairly similar with private infinity pools, outdoor showers, and sunken bathtubs positioned to soak up the views.

Against a backdrop of teak wood and bamboo, driftwood bedposts make the mosquito nets look like chic bed drapes, while canary-yellow day beds and blinds add a ray of sunshine to even the dreariest days.

Wifi is free and fast, given the resort’s offbeat location.

The resort’s main restaurants cook as much as possible with produce from the on-site organic gardens, farm, and mushroom hut. The Dining Room occupies a 2-floor pavilion deep inside the jungle, with babbling streams visible through its glass floor. Dinner there is an indulgent European affair: lobster, wagyu beef, and duck confit, with an impressive wine list.

Down by the beach, The Living Room dishes out comfort food throughout the day, including perfectly cooked Thai classics, salad bowls, and Indian specialties. Breakfast is also served there, and consists of an à la carte menu, perfectly flaky pastries, and cheeses from the air-conditioned deli counter. But best of all: free house-made ice cream all day, every day.

A battalion of Guest Experience Makers live up to their job title and shine in delivering top-notch intuitive service, from getting your private terrace lounge-ready while having breakfast, to providing entertainment for the little ones and making sure you pack a bottle of the house-made mosquito repellent wherever you go.

The resort is located on Koh Yao Noi, “Little Long Island” 40 mins from Phuket. It offers little in the way of sightseeing or entertainment, but that’s what makes it special. You go there to get away from the tourist-thronged beaches, sketchy bars, and clingy souvenir hawkers you find in Southern Thailand’s more popular spots.

Six Senses Spas are known to be Top-notch, and this 1 is no exception. Designed as a small stilted village at the heart of the resort, treatments here range from energizing Thai massages to multi-day immersive programs including private chakra meditation and detox eating plans.

Again, it offers the best of Southern Thailand without its overdeveloped and touristy downsides.

56 Moo 5 Tambol Koh Yao NoiKo Yao, Phangnga, 82160 Thailand +66 76-418-500

Enjoy your travels, the chaos is over, Keep the Faith!