Sanctuary in the mist
Nestled in Khao Sok National Park, the all-suite Thanyamundra Organic Resort is perfect for anyone wanting absolute quiet
Don't be put off when you check out Thanyamundra Organic Resort on the map. Yes, it is located just by the Khao Sok rainforest in Surat Thani’s Panom district and yes, it does look very isolated, but in fact the five-star resort is only a two-hour drive from Phuket airport and its nine suites set among the majestic scenery of Khao Sok National Park are worth every minute of the journey.
The resort has no reception: just two golden teak two-storey villas in contemporary Thai style. Newly arriving guests are greeted by a foot-bathing ritual at the spa overlooking the limestone hills of the rainforest topped by mist. Inside the antique furniture and artworks including magnificent Tibetan thangka paintings creating a sanctuary-like ambience.
As I start to explore, I find myself enjoying the sense of wellbeing at Thanyamundra, from its well-groomed design, the 65-rai organic farm, 50-metre outdoor lap pool, which overlooks the whole resort and the state-of-the-art gym, which is far better than many five-star health clubs. I'm also impressed by the butler Kitti, a friendly man from Trang.
Accommodation is comprised of two executive suites, two deluxe suites and five superior suites spread over the two villas with some on the ground floor and the others on the upper level. All are calm and spacious with warm wood furnishings, five-star amenities and a glorious view of the surrounding mountains.
Kitti, who is the head butler, gives every guest a mobile phone, so he will be on hand whenever guests need help. This also allows guests more space to enjoy their privacy. He shows me to a superior suite on the ground floor. It is very spacious, with a living room, a bedroom and two bathrooms. It's pleasant to have a strong wireless Internet in the room, so I leave the large LCD flat-screen TV turned off. I spot a yoga mat on a corner of the living room, and leave it rolled there for now. A plate of mangosteens is on the coffee table in the living room and I can't resist the delicious fruit. A winning touch is the coffee making machine and I make myself a decaf espresso to sip while watching the misty mountains fade into the rain.
The four-poster bed is large and comfortable There is no bathtub but a big rain shower head and a handheld shower. There's no built-in wardrobe either but an antique cabinet equipped with a safety box, cotton bathrobes and plenty of space for those who come with large suitcases.
Guests at Thamyamundra can order their breakfast in advance in the evening, and arrange to be served either in room or at the restaurant on the upper floor. While having a relaxed breakfast of mushroom and spinach eggs benedict in my room early the next day, the rain starts again. It stops later in the morning so I venture out to visit the national park, just a few kilometres away from the resort through a little village.
A good selection of Thai gourmet food is served for dinner. The talented chef proves that Thai food can be very tasty without loads of chilli, but simply prepared with well-rounded flavours and fresh ingredients from the organic farm. Cooking classes are also offered for those interested in learning his techniques.
Although the resort sits quietly in the middle of the rainforest, it a real luxury escape. It's been named as one of Asia's Top Three Eco-Boutiques and one of the Asian Top Five Zen Destinations by the popular booking website Agoda, and the UK's Independent newspaper has also heaped praise on it.
At a glance
High Point: It's the only luxury resort in Khao Sok National Park and boasts own organic farm, making it a super-healthy place to stay.
Low Point: It is extremely quiet. You need at least two hours by car to get to Phuket and one hour to reach Surat Thani town.
Pay for it: Bt14,000 per a superior suite or Bt22,500 for an executive suite. Prices are inclusive of breakfast and dinner, as well as complimentary wireless Internet, mini bar, tea/coffee in room and organic farm tour.
Find it: 102 Moo 6, Klong Sok Sub District, Panom District, Surat Thani Province 84250.
Phone it: (+66 (0)76) 336 000 Fax: (+66 (0)76) 336 069
Browse it: www.Thanyamundra.com.