The luxury transfer bus had fresh juice, phone chargers and wi-fi, so immediately this blogger knew she was on to a good thing. As the bus travelled parallel to Pak Meng beach, with nothing but sea and the humps of outlying islands on the left and fisherman buying dinner from stalls on the right, we knew for sure we heading somewhere quite special.
International guests staying at Anantara Si Kao fly into Krabi airport but it is the little-known city of Trang which is geographically nearest. Tucked away on this uncommercial coastline, the area warrants the phrase ‘untouched’ more than anywhere else I have been to in Thailand.
As soon as we entered the resort it was clear why Anantara had chosen this location. On a promontory of land jutting out into the Andaman Ocean, the resort faces the sea from several different angles, and my goodness what gorgeous angles they happen to be.
From our Sea View Room, in a section of the resort reserved for adults and couples, the aqua water dazzled below our balcony and drew the eye to neighbouring uninhabited islands and their life-life rocky silhouettes. The way the room has been designed, with sliding bathroom walls, means this view is invited into the room, the ocean and islands reflected in the bathroom mirror, and this beautiful vista visible from all parts of the room (including from within the bathtub – I tested it!)
The hotel is one of those places that even smells like happiness. From the floral offerings in the lobby to the scented oil housekeeping leave burning in the bathrooms, Anantara Si Kao really excels at the small (yet incredibly meaningful) touches.
They do well at big stuff too though. The breakfast buffet served in the gardens at Leelawadee every morning is extensive (much like my waistline when I had finished with it!) Think fresh curries and noodles, fried foods, exotic fruits, yoghurt, pancakes, croissants and that magic word – cronuts! Yes I did indulge in cronuts for breakfast on my 30th birthday (and maybe also the days leading up to and from it – don’t judge me!)
Also on site is the Acqua Italian restaurant which serves superbly presented Italian dishes with a view that is all Thailand. Whether indoor or outdoor, the sea view is an extension of your table. My favourite spot for food, drinks and pondering life, however, was The Beach House – in particular, its wide bottomed swings and triangle cushions. The Beach House serves a selection of Asian and Western food throughout the day. I can personally vouch for the perfect Nasi Goreng and impressive prawn Pad Thai, served in a giant leaf.
The resort may have a secluded location but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to do. Activities on site include kayaking, morning yoga, drinking smoothies by the adults-only pool (my idea of a holiday activity) and spa visits (more on which later.) The Diversions Team and bubbly guest experience manager Bunty are also on hand to help you explore the local area. The resort is conveniently located near to one of the top tourist attractions in the area – the Emerald Cave. On quiet Ko Mook, the Emerald Cave is an underwater jewel-like passage way which leads to a mirage-like pool surrounded by jungle. Boat-loads of tourists from the area come to experience swimming in it but as a guest of Anantara Si Kao you are only 15 minutes away. Bunty arranged for us to share a long-tail boat with another couple (to make the trip cheaper) and we set off first thing before most of the big boats arrived.
The hotel also has a beach club on neighbouring island Ko Kradan. Although the private beach at the Si Kao resort is gorgeous it is not as good for swimming as the flat, clear waters on Ko Kradan. So the hotel has set up a beach club on the island and run speedboat transfers everyday for guests who are keen to swim at what looks like a paradise island. The Beach Club staff travel over with supplies at the same time as guests so it doesn’t have a hot food menu (lunch boxes can be provided) but there is a stocked bar, sun loungers and beach towels. There is a resort on the island (called Ko Kradan Beach Resort, funnily enough) which has a bar, small supermarket and restaurant so we ordered hot food there instead.
Now let me tell you about the Anantara Spa. Stepping stones over a lily pond lead you into the soothing spa reception after which your therapist will whisk you over the water to a private treatment room. All massages begin with a humbling foot ritual, in which the therapist kneels before you to wash, scrub with sea salt and rejuvenate with peppermint spray your (unloved, in my case) feet. It’s a beautiful indulgent start to what will no doubt be an incredible massage. I opted for an oil massage which combined soothing balm with Thai massage techniques. I felt peacefully numb for the rest of the afternoon.
I must make special mention of the staff. I know you expect good service at all high-end resorts but the staff at Anantara Si Kao offered something exceptional. Their smiles and cheeriness, given without reluctance or with any expectation, really bought out the best mood in us. There was nothing that anyone wasn’t willing to look into, help provided readily and cheerily at every instance. I must give a special mention to Bunty and Pui from the Guest Experience team, Brioni at the The Beach House, Dylan the General Manager and ‘Madonna’ in the Acqua Restaurant (not her real name but they do look incredibly similar!) Everyone we came across was wonderful, so if you read this, thank you to all of you.
Things To Know About Visiting Anantara Si Kao
- The hotel has recently introduced an all-inclusive package that can be purchased when you start your stay. It includes full and half board options and if you know you are going to make the most of the on site food and beverage provisions works out great value.
- Do make time to visit Ko Mook and Charley Beach. Trips to Emerald Cave usually stop here afterwards. There is a restaurant called The View Point at the far end of the beach which comes with the view mentioned in the title!
- For visits to Emerald Cave be aware you will need to swim for approx. 85 metres through the cave in darkness. Your guide will have a flashlight and water buoy in case swimmers get tired but I was a bit unprepared for how we accessed the cave myself. We did see families visiting with young children who did it fine but if you are afraid of the dark you may want to abstain.
- The hotel charges 1000 baht per person for speed boat rides to the beach club (including a packed lunch.) You need to book with the Diversions team before midday the day before you want to travel to secure a seat.
- We don’t have children but dined with families who did and they couldn’t speak highly enough of the Children’s Club and facilities. There is also a children’s pool and in general everything is set up (including the staff) to be incredibly family friendly.
- Bring lots of bug spray. The hotel provides bug spray in all the rooms and at The Beach Club restaurant but you can never wear too much. I got caught out by not applying it to my fingers – apply liberally people!
- The hotel runs a shuttle bus to Pak Meng beach for 100 baht a ride. There are a couple of restaurants in Pak Meng (all serving Thai food), a supermarket and pharmacy (where the owner speaks good English and has all sorts of cures for inflamed insect bites!)
- Be prepared to see some of the best sunsets of your life (no exaggeration.) Just look at the pictures.
Nightly rates start from £140 per person on a bed and breakfast basis. For more information or to book click here.
Click here to read how I celebrated my 30th birthday (and surprise engagement!) at the hotel.
Disclaimer: I received a media rate to stay at the hotel after seeing the pictures online and asking them nicely if I could write this review. All opinions, pad thai purchases and day trip recommendations remain my own!