A grand entrance
The journey to this island oasis starts at Phuket’s Chalong Bay – the site of The Racha’s mainland office and lounge – where you will be asked to choose either a lemongrass, jasmine or lavender scent for customised bath products. Attentive staff serve refreshments before whisking you aboard a private speedboat for what has to be one of the most glamorous arrivals to any hotel in Thailand.
The spectacular, sun-soaked 35-minute ride from the southern end of Phuket to Koh Racha Yai sets the tone for this ultra-luxe island resort. As the boat docks by a jetty on Batok Bay, porters are already waiting to carry suitcases to beachside abodes. Stepping onto the palm-lined shores of this tiny island reveals clear, turquoise water and powdery sand backdropped by hills and karsts carpeted in a lush juniper green – this is the stuff of travel brochure dreams.
More than a fly and flop destination
The property is home to 85 strategically placed low-rise villas, including 21 suites and a five-storey lighthouse with uninterrupted views of the jungle-festooned island and the glittering Andaman Sea. Each lodging boasts a striking tropical design – think sleek teak furniture and private terraces with loungers and outdoor rain showers – which may have some inclined to while away their days inside their villa (or by one of the resort’s three striking pools – one with an infinity edge, one with its own waterfall and one by the beach).
However, The Racha also has a plethora of activity facilities to choose from, from tennis and basketball courts to its own dedicated water sports centre, offering kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and snorkelling gear. There’s also a dedicated dive centre staffed by experienced instructors; the archipelago is home to some of Thailand’s most exquisite coral reefs. Boats can also be chartered for fishing trips or expeditions to nearby islands, such as the notorious “James Bond” rock formation (The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed here in 1974).
In 2018, The Racha received the Green Hotel Award (Gold Level) from Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. It was also certified as an EarthCheck Silver resort last year. The resort works with the Reef Ball Foundation to restore and preserve the ocean’s natural environment and it has its own hydroponic farm growing fresh, organic produce; a biofuel station; reservoirs harvesting and recycling rainwater; as well as a 2,000m2 250kWp solar-diesel hybrid station that produces up to 50% of the resort’s daily electricity requirements. Plus, its jetty is a floating, moveable pontoon rather than a marine-environment-damaging concrete pier.
Koh Racha Yai is a small but beautiful island that you can explore in just a few hours. Flora and fauna abound – whilst here, we encountered monitor lizards sidling through the resort, shoals of fish flying above the waves on Batok Bay and water buffalo bathing in the shallows.
SEE ALSO: Review: Baba Beach Club, Phuket
This article was originally published in the February 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine