Hooked on a feeling
Located on peaceful Koh Yao Noi, a picturesque island in Thailand's Phang Nga Bay, midway between Phuket and Krabi, the Six Senses Yao Noi resort is like a haven within a haven. And a visit to the spa is not to be missed.
The feeling of holistic wellness springs from treatments that incorporate only natural products allied with locally sourced materials.
A small path leads from guest villa to spa, surrounded by lush tropical forest and rubber trees. The waft of lemon grass is calming, and it's hard not to drift in and out of consciousness during treatment.
The turquoise and aqua accented treatment rooms dotted through the forest are accessed on raised wooden walkways. There's an outdoor Thai massage bed for treatment, with nature's wonder for its soundtrack.
Ask for rooms five or six, which feature open-air showers, and face a small waterfall. The cascading sound pours into the easy ambience. To up the Zen factor, Six Senses places crystals in treatment rooms along with jugs of drinking water distilled on site from rainwater.
The spa's Oriental Massage is recommended, combining Thai massage with oil, thumb and elbow work to reach pressure points. Highly relaxing, it's less vigorous than Chinese acupressure.
The most luxurious experience, however, is the four-hour Signature Yao Noi Ritual. Each stage is given in one of four long-house rooms, creating a sensorial 'journey'.
It begins with foot cleansing. The kaffir lime surface creates the perfect pumice stone, with natural antiseptic properties and a refreshing scent.
The next stage requires that you 'steam' for 30 minutes, in preparation for a body polish home-made from desiccated coconut, yoghurt, tamarind, turmeric and honey. The fragrant mixture leaves the skin soft and nourished - there's no wrapping in cling film here, and the gentle breeze from the overhead fan is hypnotic.
Next up is an 80-minute hot herbal press massage, designed to improve the flow of energy, with rejuvenating turmeric and cleansing tamarind leaf. The sweet and slightly spicy smell is warming and soothing as is the incredible head massage.
The Aroma Express treatment that follows is all about your face. An apricot-scented scrub with ground jojoba exfoliates, followed by jojoba and chamomile oil, massaged into the skin.
A spicy bath awakens the mind, with kaffir lime, pandan leaf, lemon grass, ginger and cinnamon. Ginger tea and dried fruits are served as refreshment.
The spa regularly invites guest practitioners to supplement its treatment menu, and manages activities such as yoga and tai chi, scheduled every morning on a yoga platform overlooking the bay. And if all that pampering gives you a sudden burst of energy, a butler can arrange activities including muay thai and a visit to the islands and hongs of Phang Nga. In the evening, the resort's own version of Cinema Paradiso plays films in different locations, including the beach, for a contented evening under the stars.
The resort has two new villas: The View - with double-height ceilings and open deck - and The House, consisting of two villas with plunge pools. An open sala with TV joins the two. The original VIP villa is now the Hilltop restaurant. It has a huge deck area, a pool with slide and a private wine cellar. Open all day, it provides a central point for guests to relax with an expansive view across Phang Nga bay towards Krabi.
Yao Noi sets a high benchmark. And the Yao Noi Ritual is worth the trip alone.
SIX SENSES YAO NOI RESORT
56 Moo 5, Tambol Koh Yao Noi, Amphur Koh Yao, Phang Nga, Thailand
Rates start at 14,125 baht (HK$3,470) plus tax and service charges.
How to get there
Fly direct from Hong Kong with Dragonair, Thai Air or Air Asia.
Airport collection includes a private car to Ao Po Marina. A private speedboat takes 30 minutes to the Six Senses' pier.
Local longtail boats and ferries leave from Bang Rong pier regularly between 9am and 5pm. Tuk-tuks await passengers at Yao Noi pier.