Honeymoon Paradise – welcome to Thailand

We never determined what insect made that glorious noise that welcomed us to Thailand. In chorus it was loud and fantastic and signalled our arrival in paradise for our honeymoon. We entrusted every detail of our travels to David van den Heever-Liebenberg, travel director at Marmalade Toast bespoke travel and he delighted us with a personalised service and incredible in-depth knowledge of the hotels and resorts we visited, the cities that surrounded us and the country at large. It is easy dealing with Marmalade Toast, and not stressful at all which is just what we needed leading up to our wedding day. Our itinerary: 2 nights in Bangkok, 5 nights in Krabi and 5 nights in Koh Yao Yai.

We spent two wonderful nights of discovery in Bangkok exploring the city, its markets and districts. I sampled the delicious street food and got lost walking around the city after a little bit of indecision on the subway train about which stop to take. It turned out great, with an opportunity to roam around real Bangkok. I remember fondly the thunderstorm we got caught in, the exhilarating ride in a tuk-tuk and the hi-tech digital feel you get from the skyscrapers that are all lit up at night.  It’s not typically romantic and I did wonder if it was honeymoon material but after sipping on cocktails on the 51st floor hotel bar with the Bangkok CDB at our feet, all was well. My wife looked beautiful with the city lights behind her, the view breath-taking over her shoulder and our cocktails delicious in our hands. We arranged a personalised tour of the city’s main attractions including all the main temples, the Grand Palace and even indulged in a canal tour on a long tail boat. I had the opportunity to purchase a hat from a lady on a floating kiosk where many other trinkets and authentically Thai goods were available for sale. It was a little touristy of me, but I couldn’t think of a cooler place to buy a hat!

Our room was extremely well appointed with incredible views of the city especially in the mornings as we sipped on our tea and watched the sun come up. The restaurant in the hotel basement is great for both breakfasts and dinners.

We left Bangkok for the Rayavadee Resort in Krabi. We immediately felt spoilt with the attention to detail of the staff that continued to make us feel like royalty for our entire stay. Like a magical tooth fairy, “someone” left new and fresh sample sized baked treats next to our bed each night. Delicious! And imagine our thrill when returning to our villa to find a flower petalled bath prepared for us to enjoy. The staff all seemed to know our name and aware that we are honeymooners.

The hotel has a selection of two excellent beaches, with our biggest decision during our stay being which beach to visit and when. Generally we watched the sun rise on the one, and watched it set on the other, sometimes in the hotel pool our jacuzzi, or while walking the length of the beach asking a friendly holiday maker if they wouldn’t mind taking a photograph of us.

There is a selection of excellent and well run restaurants at the hotel, one in a picturesque beach cave aptly named “the Grotto” which ensured we never tired of eating at the same place for five nights. As honeymooners, we loved the fact that you could also stay in your villa and order appetising take-out delivered to your door 24 hours per day. The food at all the hotel outlets was incredible with a good mix of eastern and western foods to choose from.

The hotel is nestled near the local Thai community, and walking on the narrow footpath through the community is a treat. You can shop for clothes and keepsakes, go for a massage or have a beer and pizza in a very charismatic and authentically Thai area. It is a little gritty and we found it a nice change up from the very polished experience at the hotel.

There are 12 local islands that you can visit by boat from the hotel area. We recommend arranging a tour with a local long tail boat skipper which will provide a more rustic experience in addition to knowing where the best snorkelling is. And the snorkelling is incredible with an absolute abundance of aquatic life in the sensational emerald green waters.

We will never forget lounging in the super comfortable day beds on the beach as a 1,2m long monitor lizard strolled past unperturbed. It’s a sign of good luck according to the Thai and a good omen for us the newly married couple!

Our villa was amazing. It’s a double storey circular building with the TV lounge at the entrance, fully stocked mini bar and generous complimentary eats and drinks ingeniously stowed in space saving areas. Stairs lead to the bedroom with a large en suite bathroom that featured a bath big enough for me to comfortably enjoy. We loved the interior design elements and the wooden blinds, that when opened revealed the dense flora and the ever present monkeys!

I was sad to leave Rayavadee. I loved our 5 nights but we had more honeymooning to do elsewhere. We hoped on a boat and jumped into a car and headed for the Santhiya Hotel on the stunning Koh Yao Yai Island. Our jaws dropped when we saw the hotel complex from our taxi speedboat and took photos of it not believing this could possibly be our destination. Imagine our surprise when the boat docked at the hotels jetty!

I was wowed by the architecture of the hotel instantly. All the buildings are either constructed from or finished in wood with murals and decorative flowers carved into what seemed like each square centimeter. The hotel is breath taking, but our beach villa was extraordinary! The views alone are outrageously beautiful and so we made a point to watch each sunset while we were at Santhiya. We had our own private infinity pool and all the privacy a honeymoon couple could want. The villa is exceptionally well appointed with each room facing the ocean. The outdoor bath was a delight as was the bathroom configuration.

Again, we had so much choice in terms of dining out with a selection of restaurants at the hotel. It was a case of breakfast on the beach and dinner on the hill. We spent our days lounging around at one of the pools, sipping cocktails and indulging. It was perfect!

Would we do it again? Only if Marmalade Toast made all our arrangements!

by Graham and Candice Hartlett

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