Zoe Macfarlane checks into one of Thailand's most sustainable properties, the Island Hideout on sleepy Koh Yao Noi island.
Only a 30-minute speedboat ride from Phuket, the Island Hideout has claimed the southwest tip of Koh Yao Noi as its own. Set amid an old cashew-nut plantation, it's an opportunity to take a break in an undisturbed natural setting, away from the world.
Check-in experience? I'm greeted at the Island Hideout by owner Anita, welcome drink in one hand, mosquito spray in the other (the perils of travelling in the rainy season). The tranquil infinity pool and spectacular rolling limestone rocks in the distance draw my attention away from the check-in details.
Room? With only four tree houses, the two-tiered rooms are simplistic yet luxurious.
Though not technically a tree house (the base and bathroom are concrete, to offer stability from the elements) they have been built using local eco-friendly materials. The bedroom is on the upper level with unobstructed views across the treetops. It's open plan — perfect as the fauna springs to life at night. If that bothers you, there are bamboo privacy blinds. The cliche "at one with nature" springs to mind as the lush landscape invites you to disconnect from the worries you carried in with your luggage.
What's so good about the place? There are so many attractive features. Being surrounded by nature and able to switch off from the outside world are hands down the most positive attributes. If being without Wi-Fi chills you more than a night on Stewart Island, you need the Island Hideout's imposed digital detox.
And the bad? The very puffy pillow doesn't work for a stomach sleeper like me. I nabbed some cushions from the hangout spaces for my second night.
The bed? Very comfortable! The mattress is plush and the extra beds use coconut and kapok fibres.
Bathroom? I had expected a rustic bathroom, but was charmed by both its comfort and romantic luxuriousness. With the no-power feature of the resort, you can only cool down in the large bathtub or rinse off the jungle humidity with the rainforest showerhead. This is not an issue with Thailand's tropical climes.
Leave your own toiletries at home, as you're encouraged to use the ones supplied. Theirs are biodegradable and made in-house, and mosquitos hate them; yours will interrupt the four-tier water recycling system.
A room with a view? Large karst rocks spike your aquamarine sea view, with acres of trees filling the skyline in-between. This is Mother Nature's playground and we're all invited.
Facilities: Chill out in the hammocks or the small saltwater infinity pool. There are books to borrow to encourage you to switch off and zone out. If you're looking to go deeper during your stay, opt for the De-stress and Eat package. I enjoyed a yoga class and rejuvenating sound healing therapy with Aimee. For Koh Yao Noi exploration, the Hideout team can organise activities like bike rentals, boat trips, or an island excursion.
Food and drink? Close to 100 per cent of the menu items are locally sourced, with owner Anita teaching families to grow, then sell, their own produce. Fishermen bring their catch direct from the shore. It's farm-to-table at its most fundamental. The breakfast provides an enticing start to the day with a menu of fruit, pancakes, or local dishes. For lunch or dinner, the tamarind prawns are a highlight or opt from burgers or traditional Thai dishes. Vegan options are available.
Price? Koh Yao Noi is, on the whole, a pricey destination and the Island Hideout sits towards the upper-end but it's a price worth paying for the most sustainably built property I've stayed at.
Free Wi-Fi? No! This is one of the most appealing elements of staying here. Switch off your device and spend time connecting with nature and yourself. There are tales of couples rekindling their relationships here thanks to the lack of distractions.
Noise: Nocturnal birds, monitor lizards, and the occasional mew from the kittens playing. There is nothing to disturb your sleep but your own imagination.
What's in the neighbourhood? Are we counting geckos? The nearest human neighbour is about a kilometre away.
Would I return? Yes! It takes a couple of days to unwind so if time and budget allow, I'll be booking for at least three days next time. This was one of my favourite recent stays.
Perfect for: Solo travellers, couples, honeymooners, and friends. Leave the kids at home; this is an adults-only property to maintain those chill vibes.