Green Retreats: Some of Thailand’s Best Eco-Resorts

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September may be the wettest month in Thailand but that isn’t a reason to curtail a holiday. It’s actually one of the best times of year to go, as the entire country is wonderfully green, prices are reduced, there are fewer tourists out and about, and there are even enough storm breaks to try and get a tan. It’s an especially good time for visiting eco-resorts, some of Thailand’s most rustic, idyllic, and greenest spots for a green vacation.

While many visitors head south to the famed resorts of Phuket and Samui, those in search of a great secret might want to head east. Koh Kood, an island that until a few years ago nobody had heard about, is now getting accolades as Thailand’s most pristine and secluded bit of paradise.

Soneva Kiri: Koh Kood lies in the Koh Chang Marine Archipelago, several hours south of the more wellknown Koh Chang. Known to Bangkokians as a boutique hideaway spot, Koh Kood is now getting press among foreign visitors who want to experience its beautiful turquoise water, sandy beaches, and true feeling of remoteness. The best spot to do this on Koh Kood is at the Soneva Kiri Eco Resort, located in a secluded bay on the east side of the island.

The Soneva Kiri has 27 huge pool villas and eight private residences hidden away in the palms draped over a picture postcard bay. The all natural materials help the villas and buildings blend in effortlessly to the surroundings. The resort also has some features that one won’t find anywhere else in Thailand, let alone the world, such as their Tree Pod dining experience, an intimate bamboo pod built for two that is hoisted up in the air above the jungle canopy and sea, where wait staff arrive on zip lines and serve up fresh gourmet fare from the Soneva’s organic garden. If the heights are a bit too dizzying, you can always settle for the resort’s restaurant Benz, a lantern lit eatery built from recycled wood which perches on stilts over the mangroves.

Besides its stunning location the Soneva Kiri also offers day trips to jungle waterfalls, pristine snorkeling spots, or kayaking hidden bays, and if the activity is too much, you can completely unwind in the Six Senses Spa with a Jungle Escape “slow life” treatment, featuring herbal scrubs on heated stones and bamboo mist showers and massages in an outdoor natural treatment center. Your only misfortune out there will be having to leave.

Soneva Kiri
110 Moo 4, Koh Kood Sub-District Koh Kood, Trat 23000
+66 (08) 1345 2791, +66 (08) 2208 8888
http://www.soneva.com/soneva-kiri/home

Thanyamundra: If the combination of natural beauty, wildlife, and utter silence sound golden to your ears, you might want to check out Thanyamundra, one of Thailand’s most blissful and idyllic retreats. Set just minutes from the entrance to acclaimed Khao Sok National Park in the mountains of Surat Thani Province, the only intrusions you will find at this resort, which also happens to be a 65 rai working organic farm, are the gibbon and birdcalls each morning that awaken you to the fact that you aren’t dreaming.

This intimate resort is comprised of just nine suites built into two gorgeous teak villas and provides the ultimate 5-star treatment in the wilderness. Guests are greeted with a welcome foot bath in the spa, and also receive guided tours of the large organic farm, a personal butler (and a mobile phone with which to reach him), and the opportunity to explore one of Thailand’s premier national parks, home to abundant wildlife, nature trails, and majestic limestone karst scenery on the lovely Chao Larn Lake.

Closer to home, one can swim in the huge 50m lap pool or work out in the state of the art gym that the Thanyamundra provides, while feasting on the food prepared with the farm fresh ingredients. None of the suites use any plastic with the exception of recycled drinking water bottles, recycled paper is used for the Thanyamundra’s stationary and menus, and even the electric buggies used to whisk guests around the property use rechargeable batteries instead of fuel. It doesn’t get much greener than this!

Thanyamundra
102 Moo 6, T.Klong Sok, Panom
Surat Thani, 84250
+66 (0)77 395-031 to 4
http://www.thanyamundra.com/en/

The Racha: If you want to play Robinson Crusoe, this one is for you. The Racha takes up beach space on unspoiled Racha Yai Island, a 35-minute speedboat ride away from Phuket. The resort looks out upon some exquisite Andaman scenery; a perfect white sand beach and plenty of emerald water, and befitting such a paradisiacal spot, it remains true to environmentally sound principles.

The single storey villas here blend in with the land, and for every tree that has been cut in order to build something at the Racha, two more have been planted as replacements. Plenty of rope lights and energy saving lamps are used throughout the resort, the pools use ozone instead of chlorine, and there are no fabric curtains used anywhere, as a way of cutting down on laundry. Additionally, the resort cleans the public beach in front of it daily, and has even installed public toilet facilities for visiting day trippers from Phuket.

Koh Racha is one of the premiere dive spots in Thailand, with beautiful crystal clear water and plenty of coral reefs, and the Racha makes a most perfect base from which to explore this green paradise.

The Racha
42/12-13 Moo 5, Rawai,
Muang Phuket, 83130
+66 (0) 7635 5455
www.theracha.com

Supanniga Home: One would never expect to find one of Thailand’s most luxurious green hideaways in downtown Khon Kaen, but the Isaan city is home to Supanniga, a boutique resort set on 16 acres of private gardens. There are just three villas set amongst the gardens at this tranquil spot, which is on the prestigious Relais & Chateaux list of global boutique lodgings.

Each of the villas have their own characteristics, a mix of contemporary Thai, traditional Isaan, and rustic cottage charm, and are all enhanced by the verdant surroundings, which feature groves of fruit trees, walking paths, wooden tree swings, and other magical niches to snuggle up with a good book in. One gets the feeling here that the owner built her dream home here and was just kind enough to share it.

Isaan is no beach destination, but what you will get here is plenty of kindness, great food, and a chance to experience Thailand as it used to be. Cultural tours around the area are available, to rural spots like the King Cobra village or the ancient pottery site of Ban Chiang. Even more amazingly, you can be eating at the night market or enjoying Boeng Kak Lake in downtown Khon Kaen in just a 5 minute drive from your private paradise.

Supanniga Home
130/9 Potisarn Road
Muang, Khon Kaen, 40000
+66 89 944 4880
www.supannigahome.com

The Houben: While Koh Lanta may not be the secluded and unknown island it was 15 years ago, it still floats pretty far off the touristed path as far as the Andaman islands go, and a great way to appreciate Koh Lanta’s gorgeous jungle beauty and white sand beaches is by calling in at the Houben, a sleek and small family run minimalist resort built on top of a cliff overlooking the stunning beach and bay of Ao Kan Tiang. The Houben has only 15 stylish rooms, all with sea views, featuring amenities like rain showers, private Jacuzzis, and plenty of sea breezes and natural light. Additionally, there is a large red infinity pool with a Jacuzzi, as well as a pampering spa. The restaurant at the Houben, Red Alert, keeps up with the resort’s green practices by buying rice from local farmers and vegetables from organic farms, as well as getting all their wonderfully fresh seafood from local sea gypsy boats in the Andaman. The resort also provides cooking courses, jungle elephant rides, and other cultural programs and tours around Koh Lanta.

The Houben Resort
272 Moo 5, Koh Lanta Yai
Krabi, 81150
+66 (0)75-665144
www.thehouben.com

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