Thailand’s SAii resorts are a luxurious gateway to relaxing beach vacations

The resorts offer fun-filled times replete with watersports, leisure activities and tropical delicacies

Praveena Parthiban Published :  18th February 2023 07:08 PM   |   Published :   |  18th February 2023 07:08 PM
SAii Phi Phi resort in Thailand

SAii Phi Phi resort in Thailand

Many of us are familiar with how popular and sought-after Thailand is as a tourist destination. The country is intriguing with lively night markets, crowded streets and city lights juxtaposed with pristine, sandy beaches and aqua blue waters. Adding to the palette is vivid greenery that would have you believe you are in the midst of a rainforest. Even as these various scenes danced enticingly in our minds — our destination had our heart, at least that part of us that craved serenity and tranquility. Our five-day, tropical getaway to the SAii Laguna beach resort in Phuket and SAii Phi Phi Island Village in Thailand was nothing short of unforgettable, with the trip offering a small but memorable surprise around every corner.

Aerial view of SAii Phi Phi
Aerial view of SAii Laguna Phuket

We were welcomed at SAii Laguna Phuket — which overlooks Bangtao Beach — around noon with refreshing drinks in the lobby and staff who greeted us everywhere in the resort with a Thai version of namaste (sawasdee kha), much to our delight. The lobby also had small sparrows hopping around and chirping cheerfully, completely in contrast with the vast reception area that had gleaming marble tiles, skyhigh ceilings with chandeliers and pillowy couches — highlighting the reassuring thought that luxury need not always come at the cost of sacrificing nature. We were greeted in our room — which had a mind-blowing view of the ocean from the balcony — with a personalised note and to our mild confusion, an empty steel water bottle and a jute bag. “You can now fill this water bottle using any of the taps in the resort instead of buying water bottles. It helps the environment,” one of the staff members tells us later.

Rooms at SAii Laguna Phuket
Rooms at SAii Phi Phi

The little touches of Thai culture too did not stop with the traditional greetings. Our room also had what appeared to be a comfy reading nook with couches, pillows and a mini table in the middle, but was later clarified to be an imitation of the traditional, Asian-style, dining area. Cute, cosy and apt for a reading session, or to watch the waves through the window at the end of the day!

Thailand’s SAii resorts are a luxurious gateway to relaxing beach vacations
The cosy reading nook

Our first meal at the resort was lunch at Miss Olive Oyl (sans Popeye), which began with a round of focaccia bread and falafel. However, the highlight of the meal was the Phad Kra Prow — a mix of spicy and sour, wok-tossed, minced chicken/pork with rice, half-boiled eggs, and cucumbers on the side. We finished the meal with a satisfyingly big bowl of cookies-and-cream ice cream. After a bit of rest, we went on to do some sightseeing around the resort. One look at the three swimming pools, massage spa, a 55-metre water slide, and the outdoor courts — and we knew that the location was perfect for a family-friendly vacation. Our day ended with dinner at Mr Tom Yam by the seashore. With twinkling fairy lights, indigo skies, and the sound of the waves crashing behind us — the dinner venue had all the makings of a dreamy, romantic evening, with our menu comprising Buffalo Cheese Salad, Golden Fried Squid, Spicy Shrimp Noodles with Thai spices (and drenched in chilli oil), Thai Green Curry and mango sorbet on a cone that was light, fresh, sour, and not overdosing on sweetness.

Thailand’s SAii resorts are a luxurious gateway to relaxing beach vacations
Buffalo Cheese Salad
Thailand’s SAii resorts are a luxurious gateway to relaxing beach vacations
Spicy Shrimp Noodles with Thai spices

Thailand’s SAii resorts are a luxurious gateway to relaxing beach vacations

Also read: Here are five budget-friendly international destinations you can visit

Pina coladas & perfumes

The second day of our trip began with a breakfast of pancakes and fresh juice by the lagoon. We were headed to the second resort in our itinerary: the 70-acre SAii Phi Phi Island Village, which meant an hour-long, extremely bumpy ride by boat (Heads up: Do take sea-sickness pills if you are the type who gets squeamish easily). However, the view of the waters and what came after made the ride worth it: a welcome party of two singers on the beach, who were playing upbeat renditions of popular tracks with a guitar. Completing this lively sight was the offering of virgin pina coladas as we were ushered away to make our own perfumes, body lotions, conditioners and shampoos at the MIY (Mix It Yourself) shop. We felt like quite the potion-maker as we went about mixing cedarwood, ylang ylang, and grapefruit oils for a body lotion.

Len Forest Spa

Next came the Thai massage at the Len Forest Spa that was tucked away in a quiet corner of a rainforest. The one-hour session was sheer bliss, almost sending us off into a peaceful doze. Feeling quite rejuvenated, we headed for dinner. The spread included fresh tuna salad, Tom Yum Goong soup (a sharp, spicy, orange broth with lots of meat and greens), and a grilled seafood platter (with octopus, sea bass with crispy skin and prawns) with boiled potatoes. The winner was, however, the much-raved-about Thai delicacy: Sticky Rice and Mango. The plated dessert included sweet coconut milk, ice cream laid on a thin biscuit for some crunch, mango slices and blue sticky rice (dyed using butterpea flower essence).

Chasing satay-sfaction

Snorkeling at Maya Bay

Day three at the resort began with a trip to Maya Bay, a stretch of crystal-clear water surrounded by islands with powder-like, sandy shores. We also had the surreal experience of snorkelling at the Bay, going underwater and watching colourful fish swim gracefully towards us. Lunch back at the resort featured an array of dishes including Chicken Satay, Prawn Wanton and Blueberry Cheesecake for dessert. This was followed by kayaking, which turned out to be an upper-body workout, ensuring that our cardio routine for the day was done. Despite the adventurous exertions of the morning, we find ourselves not exhausted and move on to a tour of the resort in golf cars.

We spot more efforts toward sustainability and environment-friendly measures as we drive through the resort. For instance, the water from the AC is collected in an earthen pot outside the room with a coconut-shell ladle in it, so people can wash their feet before entering the room — more homage to Asian culture.

The endangered species of clownfish

Our next stop on the tour is the Marine Discovery Centre — a pet project of the SAii group that aims to increase the population of certain species of sharks and the endangered clownfish by breeding them there and releasing them into the sea much later. We find out, much to our dismay, that the Disney-Pixar movie Finding Nemo was probably the worst thing that could’ve happened to clownfish in the last 20 years, with the animated film having resulted in increased poaching of these orange-andwhite striped beauties. Our stay at the island resort concluded with an excellent platter featuring Lobster Bisque, Sea Bass with Cream and Spinach, and a Coconut Creme Brûlée.

Also read: Backpacker's guide: The Thai road less travelled, weekend getaways to beat the crowds

Bollywood Phuket list

After a hearty breakfast of pancakes with maple syrup, a vegetable omelette, blueberry muffins, and a taste of Massaman Chicken Curry with Potatoes, we check out of SAii Phi Phi and take the boat ride back to SAii Laguna Phuket. Another surprise that awaited us in Phuket was the prevalence of Bollywood, with Alia Bhatt being a popular name due to her recent release, Gangubai Kathiawadi. To add to it, we also visited an Indian restaurant-cum-restobar named Bollywood, which had posters of Gangubai Kathiawadi, Sholay and Devdas on its walls!

As we felt the trip coming to an end, our last day in Thailand wound down with shopping, dinner and some local sightseeing of the village behind the resort. With a heavy heart, we check out of the resort the next day and head back to India, carrying unforgettable, exciting memories of a completely new culinary experience (even if the food didn’t agree with us initally), several adventurous watersports, and a much-needed respite from the daily grind.

SAii Laguna Phuket is a 25-minute drive south of the Phuket International Airport.
SAii Phi Phi Island Village is an hour’s boat ride away from the mainland.

SAii Laguna Phuket at INR 3,900 onwards per night;
SAii Phi Phi Island Village at INR 4,700 onwards per night.