SAii unravels upper crust Thai hospitality

Nestled amid Nature, SAii Laguna Phuket and SAii Phi Phi Island Village offer guests access to incomparable rejuvenation and relaxation options

There is something that the Far East offers to the world, and makes it their own trademark offering. If one was to guess, it is in their DNA. They are, as a general rule, soft, polite, gentle and utterly welcoming people with their smiles and mannerisms, barring the exceptions, of course. The area has many good locations so far as travel, tourism, hospitality and F&B are concerned. 

That said, let us get down to Phuket, Phi Phi Island and SAii in Thailand. It takes a lot more than just good experience and team to deliver and - hand on heart - SAii Laguna Phuket and SAii Phi Phi Island Village deliver on sure footing with some style. Under the able charge of their affable and experienced Belgian skipper, the Cluster General Manager Bart Callens, the twin resorts enthrall guests throughout their stay – be it food, outdoors, activities, rooms and the works. Resorts are where the guests are 24x7 through their stay, so the entire team better have their best plans and acts going, and sure enough, they do. The culinary team, led by in-house Suisse, 6-feet-3-or-so Chef Roberto Conrad, does a great job of what is his vocation: F&B. Or take for that matter, the genial Thai GM at the SAii Phi Phi Island Village, Chao Treenawongse. Twenty-two years in his job in the same island resort, he knows the busy asset and island like no one else and does a pretty good job of it.

A private 800-m beach, the Andaman Sea and 70 acres of coconut palm plantations encompass the SAii Phi Phi Island Village Resort. Nestled amid Nature are 189 traditional Thai-style bungalows and 12 exclusive hillside pool villas that provide guests access to unparalleled rejuvenation and relaxation. Located close by is the SAii Laguna Phuket, providing views either of the Andaman Sea or the lagoon.

“When it comes to accommodation, you have your infrastructure – the hardware. But what is more important for us is the software, that is how we interact with our guests. A lot has changed post-Covid19. People, now, are not just looking for a room or a restaurant, but an experience. And this is where we are very different from other hotels – translating the overall Thai hospitality into a lifestyle experience,” says Bart Callens, Cluster General Manager, SAii Phi Phi Island Village and SAii Laguna Phuket.

These are two of the four resorts that the SAii Group has in Thailand, the remaining two being SAii Koh Samui Choengmon and Santiburi Koh Samui. Thailand itself is a major source market for these two resorts. Russia, the UK, India, continental Europe, Australia, Middle East and China are also important (this is irrelevent). “It’s interesting because these change over seasons. Some source markets are seasonal while some remain robust throughout the year,” explains Callens.

SAii is a brand of S Hotels & Resorts, a subsidiary of Singha Estate Public Company Limited, the makers of the world-famous Singha Beer. It is a new era Thai-inspired personalised hospitality brand that caters to upscale travellers with an independent spirit. The Group offers guests a portfolio of 38 hotels with a total of 4,522 keys in top destinations such as The Republic of Maldives, The Republic of Fiji, The Republic of Mauritius, The United Kingdom and Thailand, all of which are attracting diverse numbers of tourists worldwide and provides guests with the opportunity to experience the best destinations from a unique perspective while enjoying world-class facilities and tailored services. S Hotels & Resorts’ properties are located in attractive, unspoiled locales to provide an exclusive playground built around Nature, culture, wellness and adventure, with a generous helping of creature comforts and fine cuisine. Each property boasts its own distinctive, destination-sensitive designs and unique signatures while also providing consistency, thanks to a well-defined brand philosophy and a service culture that focusses on exceptional guest experiences backed up by Thai-inspired hospitality and global quality standards.

Your first stop when doing Phuket and Phi Phi Islands in the Krabi district of Thailand has to be a short stay in Phuket after a flight because the 60 to 75-minute speedboat ride takes longer than just that as you get to the marina at the edge of Phuket from where your speedboat departs and arrives.

Enjoying the lagoon at Phuket

A mere 25-minute drive from the Phuket International Airport takes you to SAii Laguna Phuket. Spread across four floors, the resort boasts of 255 keys divided among rooms providing the view of the sea and the lagoon. Like its sister resort, SAii Laguna Phuket has several activities to keep the guests entertained.

Three swimming pools and a 55-m water slide take care of those who are looking for some time to soak in the water. A fitness centre, an international tennis academy (with indoor and outdoor courts), badminton and squash courts are also available for sports and fitness enthusiasts.

The resort also has facilities to keep the tiny tots entertained with Mafeung and Mafai’s Junior Beach Club and camp and a children’s programme. Guests also have the option of availing babysitting services for a little extra.

Four restaurants make up the food and beverage offerings at the resort. “Starting at the beach, we have Mr Tomyam, which has a combination of Italian and Thai food. Miss Olive Oyl is unique because this is where we offer more of a Mediterranean setting with dishes from Italian, Spanish and Lebanese cuisines. Then we have Locavore where we, at present, serve breakfast with an international spread. We also have bean/Co Café in the lobby for light snacks and more interesting drinks in the evening,” shares Callens.

SAii Laguna Phuket has a dedicated 1,900 sq m space for holding meetings and events, weddings and conferences. A total of nine venues are available at the resort of which three meeting rooms and pre-conference areas are at the lobby level. Then there is a standalone meeting and events centre besides multiple breakout rooms.

Jetting off to Phi Phi Islands

This sail on a good day when the sea is quiet and not choppy is scenic, enjoyable and a lot of fun. On turbulent days, guests can see the water jumping into the speedboats. Each of the two makes for its own unique experiences and the journey remains memorable nonetheless. Just like these speedboats do, let us head over to the scenic SAii Phi Phi Island Village and explore the wonder. 

The first impression of the SAii Phi Phi Island Village is a luxury resort boat that picks up the guests from the marina in Phuket or Krabi. From that point itself, the top-notch hospitality of the resort sets in. 

SAii Phi Phi Island Village, a world of its own, has much to offer for guests staying there. Apart from eight different categories of rooms across suites, bungalows and villas to choose from, the resort has two large swimming pools to lounge and Lèn Forest Spa on the hillside to relax. But that’s not all - for adventure enthusiasts the place has a recreation centre, a five-star PADI dive centre, a marine discovery centre, a tennis court and a fitness centre. The key outdoor activities for guests include kayaking, snorkelling, paddle boarding, trekking and excursions. The resort offers parents the facility of babysitting for an extra charge. A kids’ playground is also a part of the many offerings by SAii Phi Phi Island Village.

Phi Phi and the world’s rare wonder of nature

“Phi Phi has one of the rare wonders of nature. The most popular thing to do here is go to the beach or indulge in water sports. Phi Phi is part of the Big Four of the world along with the Caribbean, the Great Barrier Reef and Red Sea. So, nature and diving fans would like to come to Phi Phi,” says Callens.

Staying with wonder of nature, not only is the Phi Phi island a great location to be in, at least once, the adjacent Maya Bay is a stunningly beautiful bay. It is sheltered by nearly 100-m high cliffs on three sides and cradles to protect the endangered species like corals, and other sea animals and plants. The sea is pristine blue and white. The good thing is, it is opened just a few times a year so that the island life and corals recoup and are not lost to too much traffic and trampling. The speedboat ride to and from Maya Bay and surrounding locations, while you snorkel on the way, adds to the stunning experience.

A key aspect of the resort is sustainability. Post-Covid19, it puts a lot of focus on sustainable tourism, Callens explains. There is no single-use plastic here, and all water bottles are glass and reusable which are filled in-house and not sourced from factory operations. “At the marine discovery centre, we breed bumble sharks and clownfish and we have a programme of releasing them. We have a marine biologist who looks after them,” reveals the Cluster General Manager.

While SAii Resorts at Phi Phi Island and Phuket are distinguished by their distinct offerings for wholesome stays, it is the signature hospitality that unites them and makes them worth a visit when in Thailand. 

This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled 'BW HOTELIER - THE TALENT POOL SPECIAL'


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