NewMan and I have been fortunate enough to stay in some of the nicest locations during our travels in Thailand and have enjoyed some truly lovely accommodation and hotels. However, a surprising few make us feel truly sad when we check out, instead we usually look forward to the next island, the next bungalow, the next stop.
Koyao Bay Pavilions on Koh Yao Noi island is one of the few places that we felt sad and almost torn to leave and here's why. What's it all about?
"Less is more" should be Koyao Bay Pavilions' motto. With only three beach pavilions and less than a handful of villas slightly further inland this makes the resort's total occupancy no more than 20 at any one time. This is the resort's strength as it dictates not only a more personal experience but also a more luxurious one.The villas are the size of palaces and are perfectly catered to families, while the pavilions are grand in all senses of the word.There was an enormous outdoor bathroom to enjoy, a nearly-as-big four poster bed to fall into and gallons of space all shaded by the beautiful dark wooded floors and walls.Each beach pavilion has its own, separate "sala", which is effectively an outdoor living room. This was where we descended for morning cups of tea and evening beers. In between we loved reading our books in hammocks while listening to waves crash on the yellow sand less than 50 metres away.The pavilions themselves are also essentially all open air too thanks to walls and ceiling which don't quite meet, on complete purpose. Admittedly this took us a bit of getting used to but they were the most comfortable nights I've ever had sleeping "outdoors".
What's so good about it?
Managed by Olivier, a charmingly polite and friendly French gentleman with more than eight years experience working in Southeast Asia, the resort maintains a quiet, down-tempo pace and atmosphere where relaxing really is your only option. The location is secluded enough that the only passing traffic comes from the birds and the only noises you hear from the insect and animal nightlife. That said, bikes or mopeds can be easily arranged should you wish to explore the rest of the island, which in itself is sleepy and quiet in a way you only find in Thailand. We did this a couple of times, as well as stretching our legs on the beach our pavilion overlooked; it was arguably the cleanest and quietest beach on the island with fairly mesmerising views at sunrise.Another opened planned and communal Sala at the resort's entrance is where we were guaranteed delicious breakfasts and lunches and at dinner time dishes were carefully and correctly recommended by Olivier. Local fisherman "drop off" some of their catch of the day at Koyao Bay making this a fresh seafood lover's heaven. Even NewMan who isn't keen on eating aquatic life was tempted and convinced by a fresh filet of white snapper lovingly prepared by the excellent chef. We often considered exploring other restaurants on the island yet didn't want to risk a bad meal when the food we were eating "at home" was so good.Though the hospitality, welcome and warmth of the staff were of an incredibly high standard, the real charm in our stay was to be found in the beach pavilions, which allowed us privacy and peace in a way we'd previously not experienced before.
We spent 3 nights at Koyao Bay Pavilions and it was remarkable how relaxed, calm and contented we were after such a short stay. I can only imagine the benefits of staying a little longer. Staying there was not cheap in the usual sense of "beach bungalow cheap" but compared to other bigger and busier resorts on offer at the same price, you certainly get a lot more for your money. In fact, I would go so far as to say what Olivier and his team has to offer is fairly unique.
Frances M. Thompson
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