I have been to the Thai Palestinians more than once. I lived in lovely family hotels, where only a couple of rooms are rented, and in the evenings, seven spoons are dipped into the brew sizzling in the wok, ringing in unison: six of the host and one of the guest. I stayed at Bangkok “Oriental” – a living legend, visited by tourists hardly less often than the Royal Palace. The Four Seasons chain is generally my undisputed favorite. But there are places of a different kind – they enchant the soul and torment with dreams of returning.
One of these places is Sarojin Hotel – the child of the British couple of passionate travelers Kate and Andrew Camp. Hotel on the shores of the Andaman Sea, in the town of Khao Lak, in the Thai province of Phang Nga.
I first heard about him in the fall of 2006. In a rainy, muddy October, the cover of Conde Nast Traveler looked defiant. Above the emerald surface of a magnificent pool, a girl sat on a platform. Her tanned legs were ankle-deep in cool, refreshing water, and sunbeams joyfully jumped across her face. Her whole being embodied the bliss and joy of life. That joy, which is available only to young and very pretty creatures in their early twenties. “Wish you were here?” the cover asked treacherously. And I honestly wished… I wished to taste something that was awarded Asia’s Leading Boutique Hotel 2006-2008 and World Luxury Romantic Hotel in 2009 three times.
The best travel publications have long attached all the most enthusiastic labels to the hotel, and therefore, in order not to be repeated, I will simply say that Sarojin is a place for the elite, captivating not with splendor, but with a special atmosphere.
Everything here is arranged divinely simply: two-story cottages are scattered on a fragrant meadow with freshly cut grass. There is a swimming pool, there is a garden. But no matter what you prefer, you’ll have at least a hundred meters of artfully decorated space at your disposal: a large bedroom, a cozy living room with a minibar, a bathroom with a stone bathtub and a rain shower.
The extraordinary charm of the living room gives a huge window to the entire wall. Each residence is adjoined by a sala – a covered Thai gazebo, conducive to quiet long evenings.
Aerial roots of a huge age-old ficus wrap around the restaurant (which is called Ficus). The institution was twice awarded the “sign of excellence” by the leading American edition of Wine Spectator – for an impressive wine list. Breakfast is served here on a sun-drenched platform overlooking a picturesque pond. If you are used to having a hearty breakfast, feel free to take phad thai. Crispy fried noodles with vegetables, egg and shrimp in tamarind sauce will energize you until noon.
In fact, the best way to enjoy delicacies of international or Thai cuisines is in the open pavilion of The Edge restaurant, which offers a heartbreaking panorama of the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea. The most pleasant thing is to order a layered cocktail at sunset to watch how the sky becomes the ocean, and the ocean becomes the sky, turning into the colors of melted gold.
Sarojin is full of temptations: you need to make it from the beach to the infinity pool, from the pool to the restaurant, and then drown for a long time in the soft couches of the spa or set off on an excursion. The choice of the latter is huge: here and walks on a luxury yacht “Lady Sarojin” along Phang Nga Bay among bizarrely weathered limestone cliffs, and deep-sea fishing, and elephant rides, and a romantic dinner at a waterfall decorated in your honor with a myriad of candles, and diving in the water area Similan Islands, one of the ten most interesting dive sites in the world. In addition, there is a good 18-hole golf course within an hour’s drive from the hotel.
Barbecue on the beach is an absolute must. The main concern is to choose your favorite marine reptiles swarming in baskets. But your duties are not limited to this: having effectively demonstrated an elegant sundress (well, or cheerfully colored trousers from the latest cruise collection), you should comfortably lounge on a snow-white sun lounger in the uneven light of torches stuck in wet sand and, sucking on a semi-sweet Riesling, meditate on the chef a chef working on your dish. Very soon, the air around is filled with sweetish-spicy vibes, and the rustle of the waves washes the ears so that in ten minutes it washes away all fatigue and desires, except for one thing – hearty and delicious food.
For my taste, the best entertainment in the hotel is the Thai cooking classes. Of course, it is unlikely that you will be able to manage the kitchen of a Michelin-starred restaurant after them, but you can learn to understand the main ingredients, distinguish between spices and cook some classic dishes like tom ka kai – chicken soup and yam som-o – spicy salad from pamelo with shrimp – quite possible.
A chubby excursion menu, it would seem, foresees any desire of the guest, but if your sophisticated mind manages to come up with something that is not in this tome, if you please, imagineer will immediately take up your ideas. Jowell Philemond-Montout is a former Moulin Rouge dancer and now a full-time magician who can fulfill any whim as if by magic. What can I say, everyone, absolutely everyone (it’s even somehow embarrassing to call these sincere people with the dry word “staff”) was ready to fulfill any, even not yet formed, desire. I still remember their reassuring smiles focused on me.
The pride of the hotel is Pathaways SPA. A whole collection of procedures – aromatherapy, Thai massage, royal massage with herbs, stone therapy, baths from exotic flower petals – will return even those who are pretty tired of it to a full life. I especially recommend the foot massage – terribly nice! Please note that all these manipulations with your body are performed with a view of the stunning snow-white eleven-kilometer beach.
If you can still overcome the temptation to never leave this enchanting oasis, then every hour and a half a free shuttle leaves the hotel to the center of the small town of Khao Lak. And to fight the temptation, of course, it is advisable: from here, up to five national parks are within easy reach, forming an ecosystem of the oldest forests on the planet.
One evening, I was sitting in a sala. Drizzling warm rain. Beating a shot on banana leaves, he carried the smell of flowers and wet earth around the territory. But the most delightful sounds of the tropical night were different: frogs buzzed organously from a pond densely overgrown with lotuses. Under these sounds, I dozed off and in the sweet predawn haze I had a dream that I was riding an elephant through the jungle in search of mysterious caves with countless treasures. This is exactly what I was going to do the next day. But that’s a completely different story…