Thailand. – If my parents hadn’t named me Dawn they would have done well to call me Zeavola, meaning Love The Sea. As I truly do.
Taken from the exotic Scaevola Taccada half flower tree, better known as ‘Rak Talay’, this is where Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Island on Laem Tong beach, gets its name.
Yet today Zeavola is more synonymous with the true barefoot luxury that allows you to relax, replenish and celebrate your time at this unique property. The only luxury Five Star resort on Phi Phi, Zeavola is located on the northern tip near Tong Cape and faces out towards Mosquito and Bamboo Islands.
It enjoys a prime stretch of soft white sand and the enchantment of towering trees and lush vegetation, as it backs up on a hill with protected forest.
My arrival was by long tail boat and happened to be in a soft drizzle, intensifying the colours and experience as the driver carefully saw me to a gentle arrival on the shore. I climbed off into ankle deep warm water and walked with kind assistance on to the beach.
There to meet me was General Manager Florian Hallerman himself, with all the charm and warmth that you could hope for. I was immediately handed a cold scented towel to freshen up, my luggage was whisked away and I was invited to the reception area for check-in. From there an easy explanation and I could retreat to my lovely cool room.
Zeavola Resort began welcoming guests in June 2005 and has been presenting the spoils of rural Thai living to the world ever since. Laid out like a romantic village of a bygone era, the reception area is set around a village square, with the suites and pool found down meandering paths that are thankfully marked. Although I did happily get lost on more than one occasion.
With nearby attractions such as Maya Beach, Phi Phi Ley Island and Bamboo Island drawing people to visit, I believe it’s the serenity and peacefulness found amid the trees and lushly landscaped gardens, as well as in the beautifully appointed suites, that delight once you’ve arrived and you won’t want to go too far.
The accommodation comprises of pool villas, beachfront suites, garden suites and village suites featuring open air living, lots of teak, hand-painted murals, gardens and outdoor rain showers as well as ample detail in the finishings, fabrics, day lounges and decks. You are literally on the beach and it is charming to step out of your room and on to the white sand. Leaving fresh footprints as you do.
I stayed in one of the Garden Suites, No 46 which I’m told is the GM’s favourite. It was simply put, perfect.
There is 24 hour room service and the mini-bars are well equipped in this 53 rooms intimate boutique hotel.
Activities on Offer.
At Zann Zanook, the resort’s dive and sports centre you have professional guides to show you the best of Phi Phi. From scuba diving courses to individually tailored island hopping and trips to Phi Phi National Marine Park by speedboat, scenic tours aboard traditional Thai longtail boat and leisurely sailing aboard the 32” yacht.
Alternately you can book to go out with a small group of guests to enjoy the beauty of the local marine park’s beaches, lagoons and uninhabited islands, as well as those farther flung locations in Phang Nga and Krabi for swimming and snorkelling along the Andaman coast. There is fishing, game fishing and kayaking available too.
I spent a morning at two beaches, a deep swimming cove and three incredible snorkelling spots as I blissfully hopped on and off between the boat and warm water. My trip included time at Ma-Ya beach where we started the tour, the site of the movie The Beach, today a crazy tourist filled destination.
The scenery with tall rocky outcrops enclosing the blue waters, was incredible.
Otherwise you can enjoy swimming in the in front of the resort sea or taking some time out at the pool.
Zeavola has two restaurants. Baxil, where breakfast is served and also offers dinner in the busy season, and offers traditional Thai cuisine. Influenced by the architecture of Thailand, it has high ceiling artfully decorated with symmetrical patterns effectively made up of Thai picnic mats, and vintage style lighting. By day all the shutters open to give a sense of open air living.
The other option is Tacada, the beachside restaurant and bar which is open from 10a, to late and offers light meals and drinks. By night the romantic mood of candlelight under the stars with sand under your feet, is hard to beat.
On one of the nights of my stay they offered a Fisherman’s BBQ Dinner rich with flavours and keeping with the tradition of original fishermen island food.
Zeavola Spa is tucked up among the trees and offers what they call an adventurous spa experience to enliven the senses with a strong emphasis placed on nature.
I opted for their Phi Phi Lomi treatment which is a combination of a Polynesian Lomi Lomi and Thai Massage which uses rhythmic dancing techniques and long stroking movement and stretching to release tension, increase blood circulation and enhance spiritual healing. It certainly did all of that for me and I was so relaxed I could hardly speak when I came out …
Zeavola Spa uses a range of traditional, ethically sourced and imported products and have a steam room, sauna and rain shower facility for guests to enjoy. You have the option of a couples massage too if you like and there is a gym if you feel you need more exercise than is on offer from the sea.
It really is a tranquil area with large wooden decks and soft fabrics, the rustle of the leaves on the trees and the most incredible massage therapists.
Have a look and the Spa Menu to help get you dreaming.
Some of the touches that make your stay special.
– On arrival a welcome photo is taken of you and delivered to your room in a handmade saa paper frame, which you keep as a momentum. I’d never heard of Saa or Mulberry paper, it is native to Northern Thailand and as a perennial regenerates itself after each harvest. The bark is soaked and boiled with wood ash, then it is pounded into pulp, which gives a wonderfully unique feel.
– At turndown a teddy is placed in your bed to sleep with, in my case it was ‘Chicken’ that I fell for and cuddled with. By day Chicken disappeared, but when time was right for sweet dreams, he magically reappeared.
– The resident cat called Candy, an affectionate retired mother of 8 that seems to have taken up a permanent position of comfort outside the resort gift store, where her water and food bowl are kept for her convenience. Please, if you get there and see her, stop and give her some love, she’s very affectionate.
– The outdoor showers and open style living of many of the rooms, allowing you to be connected with nature at all times.
– The scented burner which made the whole room smell of heaven.
– Stained green and blue and yellow glass which reflects light into the room and bathroom, stunning.
– At a barefoot luxury resort such as Zeavola, you have these big water bowls outside your room, to wash your feet before entering, as you really are living on the beach and shoes are not needed.
– The bird walk which takes you along the paths and wooden walkways that join the rooms, with signs pointing out the 18 species of birds to look out for. There is even a resident breeding pair of Brahminy Kites which can be seen circling above or in one of the tall palm trees.
– The many green focussed practices, making it easy to understand why Zeavola Resort was awarded ‘World’s Best Sustainable Boutique Hotel’ in London last year.
– The detail in the information provided, the personal touches and the sense of home. The fact that they take the likelihood of mosquitos seriously and provide mosquito nets, sprays and antihistamine to cover all bases.
– The way you can sit on the beach past dark, catching a glimpse of fire throwers from the hotel next door, or sea gypsies out on the water, while the night cools down.
– The Tom Yam Martini, really delicious. Get the recipe here.
I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
The best option for arriving on Koh Phi Phi are flights into Krabi or Phuket.
My arrival was into Krabi and I then took a ferry to Phi Phi Island’s Tonsai Bay pier, where I was met and walked the five minutes across to a Long Tail Boat for my half an hour transfer past Camel Rock and around Tong Cape point to Zeavola.
It was wonderful to be exposed to the light spray of the water as we passed the tree covered islands before arriving at the Laem Tong beach and Zeavola Resort.
Another option, depending on where you are coming from, is transferring by ferry or private speedboat from Phuket. Transfers from the airport can also be arranged on request.
Wherever it is from, the resort will do their best to get you there in the safest and most convenient way and I recommend that you leave it in their hands to ensure that a credible operator is booked.
How to book your stay.
Something that I was surprised by is that many people only come to Zeavola Resort once, for that extra special occasion, holiday or honeymoon. Of course, it is a wonderful choice for just that, but I can’t understand why you wouldn’t want to return here for much more of the magic.
This thought prompted me to take a closer look at their Special Offers and I see that you can book a packages that includes meals, activities or spa treatments. Also that the low season promotions provide excellent value and early pre-paid bookings a 15% discount. I encourage you to take a closer look.
Do remember too that if you book through Green Pearls, you receive a complimentary room upgrade, subject to availability.
In closing I’d like to add that when I mention staying on Phi Phi Island, many people make an immediate connection to wild Full Moon parties, backpacker madness and a different kind of holiday or travel experience to the one I seek out. Yet there is so much more to the place and I am thrilled to have discovered it.
Here at Zeavola Resort you find a piece of land with unspoilt beachfront and forest, where the focus is on sustainability, a symbiosis with the environment and a positive relationship with the local community, all while ensuring that every guest is made to feel special and awarded the sense of being entirely at home.
We’ve all heard the expression barefoot luxury before, and here at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Island, that is exactly what you will find.
Last thing, very shy, harmless and elusive protected Pythons live in the woods behind the resort, if you are ever lucky enough to see one, do let me know. I will be most jealous of your luck!
In the meantime when you visit, give Chicken a squeeze from me.
Read more about the Phi Phi Islands here.
- Zeavola’s Tom Yam Martini Recipe.
- Zeavola Resort’s Award Winning Sustainable Practices.
- Taking to the Sea off Koh Phi Phi.
More posts on my visits to Thailand.
Note: I was hosted by Green Pearls and Zeavola Resort accommodated me on a fully inclusive with Spa Treatment and activities basis. I am most grateful.