Kathryn Brierley, a founding Director of The Healthy Holiday Company, and her husband spent a blissful week at Aava Resort & Spa in December 2013. Here’s Kathryn’s write up of their experience:
Atte and Kati, a young Finnish couple, were backpacking around Thailand in 2008 when they found Khanom – a fishing town on an undiscovered stretch of coastline in Southern Thailand – and fell in love with the area – so much so, that Atte bought a plot of land as an investment.
Soon they were drawing up plans for a small hotel. They are now happily living in Khanom as owners/managers of Aava with their two young fluent Thai-speaking children.
Aava is a chic, modern design hotel – a small 28 bedroom, boutique property, right on a 9km stretch of unspoilt beach. It offers all the charm and amenities of a resort hotel and yet is miles from the next closest ‘tourist’ spot. Our pool villa had stunning sea views – a generous sized bedroom and bathroom with outdoor deck and steps descending into the pool. Some other room categories are set back from the pool and don’t have views to sea, but all rooms have the same sleek Scandinavian styling
Given the remoteness of the resort, and therefore logistical challenges faced by the Finnish chef of sourcing some items, there is a natural focus on local fruits, vegetables and locally caught fish. The menu therefore has some delicious light healthy choices, but larger appetites too are satisfied by an extremely comprehensive international menu. My favourite was a steamed white snapper with Thai lemon chilli and garlic sauce, while my husband loved the Lamb rack with port wine sauce with Mediterranean herbed crispy potatoes. For guests on a health kick, the chef has created a special healthy light menu and for guests not on a health-kick, they have a great dessert as well as cocktail menu (the apple, lychee and lemongrass martini went down a treat after dark)
Yoga, tai chi, Thai kick-boxing and stretching are all offered by the multi-talented, enthusiastic Check, an ex-Kamalaya professional, who has trained Kate Moss and Oliver Stone during his career. Kati has lost over 30kg since she started training with him and embracing a light local diet. His Thai boxing class was excellent and a serious challenge and his vinyasa yoga class was strong with good structure and sequencing. Check delivers results but with a wide smile and is the one-man go-to for all wellness activities. We treated ourselves to a few deeply therapeutic massages in the small spa. As with all the staff at Aava, the therapists are charming, smiley and genuinely happy to be working there.
We enjoyed a couple of excursions from the resort – the local market in Khanom is a must (Sunday and Wednesday) to experience local life. We were the only western faces in the crowds. We then moved on to swim by a stunning local waterfall and again, not a tourist in sight. Our visit was at the end of the monsoon season and therefore the sea conditions weren’t perfect for spotting the rare pink dolphins, but we would urge anyone else to head out in the long tailed boat to see these beautiful creatures close up.
Who stays at Aava? The resort was quiet when we were there with a couple of families with very young children (enjoying exceptional levels of care by the wonderful staff), but Aava is really be the perfect quiet base for anyone – it’s personal enough for the single wellness traveller looking for fitness,yoga or relaxation to feel at home, and is also spot on for couples and families looking for a quiet and authentic taste of Thailand. There are plans afoot in the medium term to add some more rooms. We would urge a visit while the hotel is still small and very beautiful.
What does it cost? The Healthy Holiday Company has 7 night holidays to Aava Resort & Spa from £1,285 per person sharing, to include 7 nights accommodation in a Deluxe Bungalow on a half board basis, complimentary access to all daily wellness classes, private airport transfers and return flights from London. For full details about the resort and everything it offers, please see Aava Resort & Spa