In a nutshell: tranquil, romantic, luxurious, perfect food and extremly friendly and caring service - we will be back!
We had been looking for months for the perfect getaway and had high expectations of the brand new Santhiya on Ko Yao Yai. stayed there from dec to jan for seven nights. It was even more wonderful than we could have dreamt up. Even though it is not even finished yet.
The Villa: we stayed in a pool villa with seaview. They look as great as on the pictures of the hotel, and the pool area is perfectly shielded from everything to ensure maximum privacy. The pool is huge, cleaned everyday, everything is beautiful lit at night. The villa itself has two ACs and is very spacious. Bed is perfect with great mosquitonet. The entire decor is warm and wonderful with many nice details. There is a small minibar with okay prices, which is refilled everyday. Huge LCD with DVDs and stereo system, but we really didn't use it because we spent most time outside at the pool terrace. The super spacious bathroom is outside (with roof), two shouers. The housekeeping is perfect! They come twice a day, 4 bottles of drinking water are provided every day.
Food: Wow! Everything tasted great! And we are really not easy to please. At the moment there is one restaurant (there will be two when the resort is fully finished) right at the ocean. You dine on a wooden terrace or if it rains or if you like it cooler inside an open pavillion. Most of the dishes are Thai. But they also have some pastas and grilled meat and fish. Most of the dishes are between 250 and 350 Baht. A few are more expensive. Twice we had lunch outside the resort - but it was never as good as at the resort restaurant.
Breakfast: Wow again! they have a little buffet with a lot of fresh fruit, pastrys of all kind, jam and honey and cereal with yoghurt or milk. The rest you can order a la carte: all kinds of eggs, pancakes, asian soups, fried rice or noodles, fresh fruit juices, tea, coffee. Last order at 10:30. For 300 Baht you can have anything you want delivered to your villa.
Spa: not finished yet. Currently there is only one therapist and the variety of treatments is very limited. Treatments are either in a makeshift pavillion at the beach (you have to change in the restroom) or at the room. But we still had more than one great Thai massages.
Activities/staff/reception: since the resort has only been open for three weeks, not everything runs as smoothly as it undoubtedly will in the future. But the staff really go out of their way to make up for everything that might still be complicated/not available yet. For examples: snorkeling was not available yet and also a thai cooking class, but they quickly organized something outside of the resort. We got the feeling they would try everything to fulfill your every request.
Beach: if you are looking for perfect white sand and crystal clear water Koh Yao Yai is not the right island for you. But the beach in front of the resort is one of the most beautiful beaches of the island. very empty and quiet. You can take a stroll for an hour and they are in the process of cleaning it.
Island: It was our first trip to Thailand so we can't compare it to any other part of Thailand. But we were trying to find something not touristy and quiet. And that is what Koh Yao Yai is. You can easily explore the island by motorcycle in one day. The beaches are not spectacular. But we enjoyed the very original atmosphere with little villages, local shops and restaurants. On our daytrip we met only 6 other tourist driving around the island.
Construction: the grand opening is apparently planned for 2014 - currently there were only 15 villas finished, with something between 60 and 80 in the planning. Don't quote us on this. We were REALLY worried about this, afraid to be constantly exposed to construction noise and the usual horror stories one hears - but to our relief the management seems to organize the work really well, and apart from walking by the in-construction archway (noise only audible when walking by, not from the restaurant, beach or the villas) it was hardly distracting. Remember that we were looking for a tranquil getaway - which we got 100% despite the resort still being built.