Travel is a distant dream in these days of Corona. So today, as a special treat, I’m going to take you far, far away to the beautiful land of Thailand. The second half of my twin-centre journey (which I enjoyed last September) is to the stunning resort that is The Sarojin in Khao Lak just an hour’s drive from Phuket airport. It’s all the dream come true of an extraordinary couple called Kate and Andrew Kemp.
This British couple had a vision for their ultimate resort which, after years of searching and planning, was due to open at the end of 2004. It was almost complete when the devastating tsunami hit on Boxing Day of that year, days before the planned opening. Fortunately, as it was Boxing Day there were only a few people on site and they managed to escape with their lives, though many employees were affected when their villages were destroyed. But the resort was decimated and they had to start pretty much from scratch.
Not one to give up, the Kemps then took on the huge task of rebuilding. And they asked the staff to help – which meant everyone needed to take on a positive can-do attitude and also develop a whole new skill set. And, incredibly, they did just that with the resort officially opening on 7th October 2005, less than a year later. That’s dedication and hard work for you.
As a tribute, the 53 staff members who were there post pre and post December 2004 had one of the guest residences named after each of them. And once you’ve worked at The Sarojin for a year you can enjoy two nights as a guest with your partner – Kate and Andrew want every employee to have the chance to experience a stay in this incredible place. For it is truly special with the warmest of welcomes, some of the best service I’ve ever encountered, a beautiful setting and food nothing short of spectacular. Here’s what I loved about The Sarojin.
My first view of the Sarojin took my breath away. Seated in reception sipping on a chilled beverage, I looked out over water-lily-clad lake towards the restaurant and sparkling pool and the promise of tropical gardens and sandy beaches in the distance (more of which later).
The guest residences nestle in the beautiful, verdant gardens and are all incredibly private. On retiring to my magnificent residence I felt like I was in my own luxurious paradise.
The guest residences
Well, they’re just too opulent to call rooms – they’re so much more than that. I stayed in a jacuzzi pool suite. And yes, this is about as decadent as you can imagine a hotel to be. My large bedroom was dominated by a super king size four poster bed with the ensuite bathroom next door which had the feel of an indoor garden with its luxury bath tub and waterfall shower. There was also a double dressing area – gotta love a dressing area.
Next door there’s a substantial lounge with a four poster day bed. This looks out onto the large terrace where the sparkling, blue jacuzzi awaits. Heavenly or what? There’s also a lovely bar area to the side with well-stocked fridge, tea and coffee making facilities and snacks. And a large desk if you need a change of scene to work from.
Off the living area is the second bathroom. Yes, there’s a second bathroom with an indoor toilet and a stunning outdoor rainfall shower. I simply can’t resist an outdoor shower and am convinced I’m twice as clean when I have one. Why wouldn’t you want to spend more time in this lovely space?
The special touches
There’s so much going on at The Sarojin that makes it a truly unique and memorable experience. Like the bed art. Every night on returning from dinner I discovered a story on my enormous bed. So beautifully done using flowers, palm leaves and towels, these tableaus had me close to tears – so creative and all that effort. Bedtimes have never been the same since!
The service is also incredibly personal and special. This was my first big trip since having surgery for a broken ankle in April and my confidence was pretty low. The staff went out of their way to ensure I was okay and made me feel relaxed and comfortable, always offering a helpful hand before I asked. I even had the hands I needed to hold when we went on our waterfall dinner.
That all happened one night when we were transported to a magical fairyland deep in the forest where what seemed like a million candles had been lit for us and a table laid at the base of a waterfall. A kitchen had been set up nearby where a delectable Thai dinner was created and served. Wow! And double wow as getting to our dinner venue included climbing over rocks and water and around giant tree roots which had me worried. No problem as I was helped and guided by several of the wonderful Sarojin people up and down. If it wasn’t for them I would never have been able to experience this and I really would not have wanted to miss it for the world .
There are lots of similar unique experiences to enjoy at The Sarojin. You really have to see them to believe them.
The sprawling sandy white beach
Take me to the beach! My favourite refrain? Possibly. A meander through the lush tropical Sarojin gardens leads you to their private beach. It’s a stunner with its white sand and picture-perfect turquoise sea. Perfect for walking, swimming and of course lounging. I had my very first post-broken-ankle beach walk here so it will always have a special place in my heart.
There’s also an inviting bar and restaurant right on the beach. Well, there would have to be in paradise, wouldn’t there? The cocktails at The Sarojin deserve a special mention all of their own – I tried to sample as many as I could – wonderful stuff. The restaurant serves fabulous Thai and South East Asian food – more of this later.
Oh and the beachside sunsets were staggeringly beautiful. And you can have dinner on the beach to twinkling fairy lights. More heaven.
The fabulous food
Food is one of the many highlights about any visit to Thailand. And at The Sarojin it starts with the all-day a la carte breakfast at Ficus breakfast. Yes, all-day, and yes, a la carte! And what menu. Starting off with this fabulous fruit selection. Love the fruit in Thailand.
I found it hard to choose my breakfast at The Sarojin. The myriad far-ranging alternatives on the menu certainly didn’t help my menu indecision – not great at the best of times. You need to stay as long as it takes to try everything – well that’s my advice. I did particularly love this Thai omelette with its savouriness and a touch of spice – and extra bacon, naturally.
The Edge restaurant on the beach serves up a comprehensive range of Thai and South East Asian cuisine. And absolutely delicious it is too. This is my new favourite Thai dish – spicy pomelo salad with fresh prawn.
As well as their two restaurants you can opt for private dining. Choose from feet in the sand on the beach, a magical evening with everything delivered to your suite or venture into the forest for some fine dining. This is the delectable king prawn red curry which was part of our al fresco waterfall banquet.
At night Ficus restaurant serves contemporary Mediterranean dishes as well as the incredible Chef’s Table which we indulged in one night. Such a fabulous fusion of Thai and European flavours all matched with wine from the hotel’s award-winning wine cellar. A gourmet treat to dream about.
Try to capture some of that food inspiration to take home with a culinary class. We did ours overlooking the beach. Just perfect.
Poolside at The Sarojin also offers the last word in luxury. Snuggle up for the day in your own private gazebo with iced water and warm towels on tap. And try to make a dent in that cocktail menu.
The Pathways Spa
Hidden in the jungle vegetation, the winding road led me to the secluded Pathways Spa. It’s massage time! Massages are legend in Thailand – it’s the combination of the local herbs, trees, flowers and fruits into aromatic oils and the magic touch of those Thai fingers. I indulged in a herbal aroma body massage using essential oils, all while looking out over coconut groves towards the ocean and taking in the sounds of the sea. The ultimate in relaxation.
Exploring the surroundings
There’s plenty to do in the area – if you can tear yourself away from Sarojin heaven! Seriously though it’s well worth venturing out. One morning we took a delightful pleat boat ride through the Takuapa river system – also known as the Little Amazon. Beautiful and so peaceful. Say hi to my lovely driver.
We even planted our own personal mangrove. Love that I left something positive behind.
That includes the markets
Love a market in Thailand. They are such a cornucopia of colours and flavours, as was this local one at Takuapa.
And the fishermans village of Baan Nam Kam
We also visited Baan Nam Kam which was badly hit by the tsunami of 2004. I remember that Boxing Day so well and how the horrors of it all unfolded to the world. It’s hard to stand on the beach now and try to picture the tragedy happening – the little museum and nearby monuments bring it all to life. Very sobering.
This striking wave monument pays tribute to the people who lost their lives there with all their names embedded in the wall. Makes for sombre reading.
There’s also a dazzling, large golden buddha on the beach for remembrance and to pay respect.
I’m already dreaming of my next Thailand trip – though who knows when that will be. This beautiful country never fails to inspire me and a stay at The Sarojin is truly a dream come true…not only for Kate and Andrew
The Sarojin is a luxury boutique beach resort in Khaolak, Phang Nga, Thailand.
Phuket is the nearest airport.
I was a guest of The Sarojin in September/October 2019.