On our escape to Koh Yao Yai we stay at a number of resorts and without a doubt Santhiya Koh Yao Yai is the best of them, by a long way. While paying above our usual budget we are happy to go the extra and yes we are rewarded. Santhiya exceeds all expectations, the pool villas undoubtedly beautiful and the views hard to beat. While we rarely spend much time in shared resort areas, on this occasion having arrived early, we are forced to the front veranda to sip cocktails over views of Santhiya’s private beach. Traditional Thai music plays with such classics as ‘Khang Khao Kin Kuay’ or, as in English, ‘Bat Eats Banana’. So the resort is set in traditional Thai teak buildings centred round a spacious courtyard. Buildings are lavished in decorative carvings with tall ceilings and cooling rooms. On arriving, the left is the gym, reception is by the entrance, dining on the right and the restaurant up front. It is rare to see similar buildings as Santhiya in the South and if to niggle and nitpick the design is more traditional to central Thailand and many features maybe best suited to temples or royal palaces. But this by no means take from the experience as Santhiya showcases a perfect mix of all Thai architecture and design.
Arriving to the pool villa we are ushered through door after door and the entire time my eyes are fixed firmly to the horizon. The infinity pool spilling to the sea below and sea blending to the skies above. Views rarely come this perfect. The focus of every room is on the horizon and the bedroom fronts direct to the pool where a quick step or two plunges to the water. Again, with such perfect views I almost fail to notice the intricacy and beauty of the teak carvings decorating each room. As far as traditional interior design goes I’ve not seen better at a resort. The pool villa is also the largest we’ve experienced to date, the entire back perimeter extended as bathrooms and with a hidden, sunken bathtub facing out to the sea views. Perfect for hide and seek? So instead of describing just look for yourself…
Complimentary red wine, a fresh fruit basket and local ‘Bah Bin’ coconut cakes courtesy of the restaurant head chef. All completely unexpected. The concierge drops them to the villa then I swing the ‘Do Not Disturb Sign’ and get cozy. At Santhiya Koh Yao Yai there is no worry of peeping neighbours or low rising walls and the only possible prying eyes come from local fishermen who plough the seas far below.
After two bottles of red wine I get a little antsy and we reluctantly part with the villa to dine at the resort restaurant. This was more of a value for money issue as the set dinner menu was hard to pass on. Unfortunately we leave it too late and while we hoped to dine with romantic sea views we are instead sat next to the acoustic band and renditions of ‘Dancing Queen’ and other irritable songs. Not my thing, but the food does save the experience. There is a selection of 4 Appetizers, 4 Main Courses and 3 Desserts and we find the best of our choice to be the Tom Kha Kai (Chicken Coconut Soup), the Chu-Chee Pla (Fried Snapper in a Red Curry Sauce) and dessert of pumpkin in syrup and ice-cream. Good food but to do-over the decision we’d not likely leave the pool and instead opt for a third bottle of wine and maybe the recommended Massuman Curry and grilled fish dishes from room service.
As fast movers we find processes to be slow. To be specific the time between check-out and check-in where we find a 3 hour gap. Check-in time is 2pm which we happily fill with cocktails and Irish whiskey but the 11am check-out was rushed. Early morning we taxi to breakfast, we eat breakfast and taxi back from breakfast. This doesn’t leave much time to to strip search every room following our previous booze hazed night and squash our belongings into bags. The task made harder having gone-to-town on the breakfast buffet of cheeses, cold cuts, olives and breads. On leaving Santhiya I was already in sweat but in many ways this was our own fault for rushing the visit. The villas are huge, the resort is wide and getting around can take time so it is hard to fault them. No matter what we got our money’s worth and I almost feel guilty having got our stay for a steal (as we always do) through Agoda (Santhiya Koh Yao Yai booking).
As independent travellers we arrive to Koh Yao Yai by our own means and find it surprisingly simple. On arrival to Phuket airport we taxi direct to the closest pier (Bang Rong) hop-on a speed boat, and 30 minutes later we arrive to Koh Yao Yai. At the pier Songtaew taxis wait for arrivals and a quick taxi trek through the island finds Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort. For me this is the fun part of travel. Check here for full travel options and speed boat schedules to Koh Yao Yai.