Stop looking for a destination that suits everyone: families, couples, wellness warriors and the solo traveler…. Yes, it does exist… and I’ve found it! Just a short 25-minute drive south of Hua Hin (which is a great town for shopping and eating 230 kilometres southwest of Bangkok, and the oldest beach town of Thailand) there is a tiny squid-fishing village called Pranburi. And on the coastal outskirts of this village is THE DESTINATION for all. Evason, Hua Hin and Six Senses Spa. Just to back track, my girlfriend and I (let’s call us chalk and cheese) decided we needed a getaway together. She lives in Perth and I’m in Sydney, so a tropical destination without too much time spent on a plane or having to make big time-zone adjustments was the main criteria for the ‘where’. I wanted wellness she wanted wine (ok, I was happy with the wine too). She wanted to dip her toe in a ‘healthy style’ of holiday, but not so far that coffee, cocktails and chocolate would be contraband. I wanted a great Spa, the opportunity to do some physical exercise, and to eat some clean food. We were both adult enough to take ownership of our preferences without forcing them on the other, and were equally happy to dabble in the other’s preferences too. Evason Hua Hin was the perfect choice. It ticked both of our ‘must have’ boxes. And then we arrived… I’ll admit it, when our driver pulled up at the front desk we did look at each other with a ‘this is not what it looked like on the brochure’ look. Sensing our panicked disappointment, we were quickly told that we were just at the drop-off point because no vehicles are allowed on the property. It is an eco-friendly destination and no pollution-forming motors were permitted. Relief. Followed by big grins of awe slowly rippled across our face, as we are taken to the main reception in our sustainability-conscious buggy. The expansive grounds are absolutely divine and the live music from birds played like a well-rehearsed Symphony to greet us. This was better than the brochure. Even these words can’t capture the vision of 20 acres of lush, green gardens and lotus ponds, or the smell of the flowers, or the orchestrated sound of the ever-present wildlife. Natural beauty personified. Grass cut with clippers, staff making deliveries on bicycles, fallen leaves on lawns being raked by hand – every face happy, purposeful and ready with a smile as you pass by. What a welcome. We were then taken to our rooms – neighbouring villas with a shared front gate and entry courtyard. The villas are, without overusing the word, perfect.
Actually, I will pause for a moment and share some of the little known or boasted-about sustainability practices of Evason. They do it, not because it makes for a good story, but because it matters to them and the environment surrounding them. It also makes for a much nicer guest experience being surrounded by nurturing people and a peaceful setting. There is an organic herb and vegetable garden using permaculture principals and an on-site recycling program. Raised garden beds are built using recycled materials. There are coconut trees and mushroom gardens, and all wet wastes are reused for either mulch for the gardens or livestock feed. “We are experimenting building garden beds using old beer bottles, wine bottles, mud bricks and aluminium cans to grow a range of different organic vegetables (yard long beans, chillies, buttercrunch, lolla rossa, oak leaf and cos lettuces as well as rocket and a range of herbs). “The results have been great. The idea is to use the area as an educational tool for the local community to demonstrate that the concept of waste is essentially a question of perception,” says Alan the General Manager of Evason. The food is a notable highlight. It is literally paddock to plate complete with plenty of raw food options on every menu. Fresh, nutritious and delicious. Even the bread is made on the premises – brushed with cold-pressed olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and homegrown rosemary. Old sheets become laundry bags, all drinking water (distilled on the premises) is in glass bottles (not plastic), and the bathroom amenities are in handmade glass pump-packs filled with the Six Senses natural products. But it is not just the environment Evason cares about! It is a very socially supportive resort too. Contributing money, manpower, and offer as much support as possible to local NGOs, government agency, local school, community to help them reach their goals. As a guest, you feel you’re contributing to this as well. As you holiday, you are actually doing something very meaningful for the local community. Evason also has an English education program in place to help to locals learn the language of the majority of their guests. And the local Foster home receives food gifts lovingly prepared by the resort’s chefs. Most of this just happens, and possibly the majority of the guests are unaware of the ‘giving-back’ programs Evason has in place. Take the time to understand these, it will truly add to your experience. That greeting smile you receive from the staff is one of pure, heart-felt gratitude… you can feel it!
All of that said, don’t think you go without. You want for nothing on the comforts of home (and then some) offerings. You know you are in a luxury resort, but one of homeliness, not hoity-toity-ness (that is a word!!). You have WIFI, beautifully appointed rooms with flat screen TV’s (and Foxtel). A butler, daily cleaning services, air-conditioning, fridge, room service and privacy. As I was saying… The villas are, without overusing the word, perfect. They are spacious, with a sitting area and a large four-poster-bed romantically enshrined with white mosquito netting. The room opens out to your own private garden with plunge pool, cabana, daybed and outdoor stone bath. The bathroom is massive and the shower feels like a tropical rainforest. You could spend all of your time in your villa if you were on a romantic holiday. I wasn’t, I was with a friend and we were ready to devour everything Evason has to offer. And that’s a lot. Did I mention how great the food is? Our days would go something like this: Wake-up, make a fresh coffee using the in-room Vittoria Coffee machine. A quick swim in ‘my’ private pool and then hit the gym. Breakfast. Always long and lazy, fresh tropical fruit, eggs done to your liking and different local delicacies to try each day (with raw options too). We’d discuss the day’s itinerary. We’d then wander across to the main pool, while breakfast settled and to watch the hub of activity both around the pool and out to sea (a night fishing trip with the locals is highly recommended). You are spoilt rotten for ‘what to do today?’ choices – spa, yoga, a bike ride around the village, or do a day trip to one of the many eco-tourism destinations. You can also visit the local vineyards – Hua Hin is the Hunter Valley of Thailand. And there is a daily shuttle to take you into Hua Hin town to get your obligatory $10 massage and genuine-copy bags, shoes and watches. Or do we stay at the resort relaxing by one of the many pools, do the daily resort activity (from cooking courses to soap carving) or visit the Spa (always a yes). After the Spa we’d then, over a quiet afternoon juice and a gently teasing sea-breeze, decide which of the resort restaurants we would go for dinner. Ahhh! The Spa.
If you have been to a Six Senses Spa – all I will say is… enough said! For those who haven’t, Six Senses Spas pride themselves on offering healing therapies in a setting that integrates the local environment and using products that are as pure as possible. The Six Senses Spa at Evason has a combination of inside and outside treatment areas so you can have an open air massage in one of the Bures by the lotus ponds, or a treatment in the privacy of a spacious room. You can also do a full wellness retreat while at Evason, working with both the Spa and the chefs to create a program based on your goals and requirements. Or, as we did, booked in for a treatment every day, based on the recommendation of the resident energy healer – who we saw on our first day. Every guest receives a 30-minute complimentary treatment, however, I’ll warn you now – take the 30 but it won’t be enough. By day four every ounce of stress had oozed out of my pores. My body felt strong (gym) yet subtle (yoga) and my taste buds had been on an evocative journey (fresh food, Matthew Kenny Cuisine and the awesome chefs). The food, and in particularly the Matthew Kenny Culinary Cuisine School deserve and entire chapter and verse (in another blog). Suffice to say Matthew Kenny has taken raw food movement to entire other level and Evason is the only destination in Australasia that offers his culinary courses. Google Matthew Kenny and you’ll see what I’m saying – he is the Jamie Oliver of raw food. During our time at Evason we were asked to judge the dishes of the graduates of the very first school. It was both an honour and a privilege, and an absolute eye opener for my girlfriend who though raw food was a salad… not a chocolate desert to die or cheese made from cashews.
On our final night, as we sipped our bubbles and watched the fairy lights from the fishing boats dance on the ocean, we toasted our fantastic holiday. We both got exactly what we wanted and even decided we would come back again… but with our families as they would love it too!
- Book in to do one of the Matthew Kenny Culinary school Courses
- Spend time with the resident Energy Healer
- Have a Spa treatment (or several)
- Go for a bike ride on the newly opened bike path along the oceanfront
- Eat at every restaurant – trust me
- Take a bath in your secluded outdoor bathtub
- Walk around Pranbura, unless you have an aversion to seeing freshly caught squid drying on racks in the sun!
Getting there Fly to Bangkok and either catch a train, take a taxi or arrange a driver to get you to Evason, Hua Hin. If you take the train, you still need to get from Hua Hin station to Evason. The resort will help you with transfers. If travelling by car, a Taxi/Driver will cost about AU$80-$150 and take about 3 hours if you time your departure and arrival in Bangkok to avoid peak-hour traffic. My tip would be to spend a couple of days in Bangkok and then get a driver/taxi straight to the resort. Lots to do in Bangkok, and if you get all your shopping done, then you can just relax at Evason. For more information: http://www.sixsenses.com/evason-resorts/hua-hin/destination