A hillside resort set on tranquil Koh Yao Yai, the Santhiya resort offers everything you need for a short paradisiacal break.
Located a short 20 minute speedboat ride from Phuket’s Ao Po Grand Marina (double check the timings of your transfer as ours was changed without our knowledge!) Santhiya resort is set along the hillside of Koh Yao Yai. Try and get to the boat nice and early so you can sit at the front of the speedboat and admire the seascape as you bounce along the waves en route. On arrival at Santhiya you will be treated to a welcome drink and mini-massage as they prepare your room.
The resort itself comprises of around 150 rooms and villas, several restaurants, and two pools. Santhiya offers a range of activities for guests to enjoy including stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, island excursions (for an additional cost), Thai dance and Muay Thai classes.
As the resort is spread up and down the hill Santhiya offers a wooden car service in order to transport guests around. It might not seem that far between each location but everywhere always seemed uphill, and in the tropical heat I was quite happy to be lazy and take the car!
We stayed in Santhiya’s supreme deluxe sea view room, the bathtub on the balcony had completely sold me!
The rooms are split across five buildings, each with a ground floor featuring garden view rooms, and a top floor of sea view rooms offering spectacular views across the sea to the neighbouring islands. The villas are dotted in-between the five buildings with their own little front gate and private infinity pool, all also offering amazing views. As the hotel has been embedded into the hillside nearly every room has that picture perfect view of the sunset dipping into the sea.
The entire resort is clad in beautiful carved wood, you can spot various animals incorporated into the woodwork around the hotel and within the rooms. I particularly loved the intricate carving around the top of the balcony, framing the sunset and sea view perfectly.
Although our room was the smallest in terms of square footage it was certainly plenty large enough with a ginormous four poster bed (incredibly comfy!), a huge shower and of course a balcony large enough to house a bathtub. If you really wanted to splurge the pool villas do look phenomenal though.
We most enjoyed our evenings spent in the bath with a bottle of bubbly watching the sunset (as wrong as it is to have a bath in a tropical country!) I have to say, those moments really were a slice of paradise…and then the cicadas would start their dusk chorus and the moment was more comedic then romantic.
There are two swimming pools in the resort, an infinity pool at the top of the hill and a waterfall pool nearer to the beach.
I loved the infinity pool at the top, the blue waters of the pool seemingly melted into the blue sea with the blue skies barely distinguishable creating a mesmerising medley of blues. There are only a few sun loungers adjacent to the infinity pool though, so if you’re wishing to top up your tan get there early to bag one of these. It is worth noting that these sunbeds don’t get any sunshine until 10/11ish so you’ll need to be patient!
The lower pool has a nice waterfall flowing into it and is surrounded by vegetation creating a peaceful atmosphere. During our stay we noticed that more families tended to frequent this pool so perhaps the atmosphere is not that peaceful! With the trees shedding leaves into the pool the water was a little less clear that the infinity pool, even though the staff did their best to fish out the dead leaves several times a day.
There are wooden boat shaped sunbeds in the shallower part of the waterfall pool which looked epic on the hotel’s website. Sadly when we visited they were falling into disrepair making them slightly unstable. I even saw one guest fall into the pool when trying to get onto the sunbed, he wasn’t hurt, just a tad wet!
In order for the ultimate relaxing stay at Santhiya I would highly recommend a trip to the spa – they offer a wide range of treatments to suit everyone.
On arrival at the spa there is the usual paperwork to fill out as they offer you a refreshing towel and cold ginger flavoured tea (yuck!). If you’re booked in for a massage there are several oils that you can pick between, my favourite was the jasmine.
Having chosen the Santhiya signature massage for the combined massage techniques and in the hope that as the name suggests this would be their top treatment, we were not disappointed. A word of caution for anyone receiving a massage in Thailand, medium is certainly strong pressure in the majority of other spas around the world! The massage itself worked us over in every which way, including a stomach massage (a new one for me!) leaving us slightly bruised but incredibly relaxed. Amazing value for the price too.
Post-massage we were then given tea and a cream cake, not exactly the healthy snack you are normally given at a spa! After eliminating our toxins during the massage we needed some put back in, it is a holiday after all!
There are various options of dining venues within the resort. The majority offer similar menus across several locations, some with spectacular views. The food is not overly expensive for a five star resort however it is worth venturing out to a local beachfront restaurant for some fresh seafood and a lively atmosphere at least one night of your stay.
Our favourite restaurant within the resort is this gem located at the end of the iconic wooden pier. Jetinn Teppan offers small plates of freshly BBQ-ed meat and seafood and is a great place to watch the sun go down with a glass of wine (the waiters may have to run back to the main restaurant to grab your choice!) Be aware that in adverse weather the pier is rather exposed and it can get quite windy, hold firmly onto your napkin!
Offering a traditional style of dining where several dishes of food are presented on a tray as in Lana tradition, this restaurant should definitely be on your list to try when staying at Santhiya. Serving only set menus to share this gives you the opportunity to try a variety of Thai dishes, all very tasty. They are also one of the only restaurants in the resort to serve Thai wines, matching the spicy cuisine very well.
With tables both under cover and a number of extremely romantic tables set on the beach with candles dug into the sand and a view out across the waves, this restaurant caters to both families and couples very well. Titan Grill specialise in flame-grilled burgers and seafood, the latter you can pick fresh out of the tanks. We had a blue crab, delicious and extremely good value, followed by the largest tiger prawn I have ever seen (and consequently consumed)!
Breakfast for those staying within the hotel rooms is served at the Saaitara restaurant adjacent to the infinity pool. Included within the room price the breakfast itself comprises of a wide assortment of hot and cold stations (the mini eggs benedict is adorable!). The options varied slightly each day and were accompanied by hot drinks, juices and infused waters. You could easily eat enough breakfast that it would keep you going nearly all day!
Annoyingly if you wish to spend the day at the beach or at the waterfall pool you were not allowed to enjoy breakfast at Chantara (the restaurant located nearby to Reception) as this was reserved for guests staying within the villas and visitors only. One day we paid the additional cost to eat our breakfast here and my honest opinion is that it isn’t worth the extra money as the only extra items were a few hot Thai options, smoked salmon and duck breast charcuterie.
Find Out More…
Santhiya Koh Yao Yai – https://www.santhiya.com/kohyaoyai/