Santhiya Resort Koh Yao Yai Review: A Piece of Paradise?

ARE YOU THINKING OF STAYING AT SANTHIYA RESORT KOH YAO YAI?

Then you’ve come to the right place. I stayed there and have written this first-hand Santhiya Resort Koh Yao Yai review.

The Santhiya Resort – the name is derived from the Thai words meaning “natural” and “beauty” –  is marketed as a luxury beach eco-resort. It offers:

villas … and rooms that blend in perfectly with the natural mountainous surroundings and offer a rare private stretch of beach frontage

But does the Santhiya beach resort live up to its marketing hype?

To help you decide if it is worth a flashpacking splurge, here’s a review of my stay at Santhiya Resort & Spa Koh Yao Yai. I stayed there for six nights as a solo traveller.

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Santhiya Resort & Spa, Kao Yao Yai in a Nutshell

In a hurry? Let’s cut to the chase. This is why I think you should book a room at Santhiya Resort Kao Yao Yai.

SANTHIYA RESORT KOH YAO YAI
wooden pier reaching out to sea at sunset at santhiya-resort-koh-yao-yai
  • idyllic location
  • gorgeous, spacious rooms with sea views
  • choice of pools or private beach
  • spa facilities
  • nearby local restaurants

Video: Santhiya Resort & Spa, Kao Yao Yai

To whet your appetite, take a look at the resort’s official video:

>>> CLICK HERE TO CHECK ROOM RATES & CANCELLATION POLICY AT THE SANTHIYA KOH YAO YAI RESORT & SPA

Where is Koh Yao Yai?

Koh Yao Yai is in the Andaman Sea, roughly equidistant to Phuket and Krabi.

map showing position of koh yao yai
Where is Koh Yao Yai? (click on the image for an interactive map) Map Data @ 2020 Google

Why Should You Visit Koh Yao Yai?

Koh Yao Yai is one of the few Thai islands that hasn’t been blighted by overdevelopment and mass tourism. The local trades of fishing and farming rubber, coconuts and cashew nuts still flourish.

Don’t come to Koh Yao Yai expecting a party scene.

The island has a relaxed pace of life, and you are more likely to find yourself walking along deserted stretches of sand or exploring Koh Yao Yai on two wheels. If you want to venture further afield, enterprising local operators offer boat trips, diving excursions and off-roading adventures.

driftwood on a tropical beach in koh yao yai in thailand

Where is the Santhiya Resort and Spa on Koh Yao Yai?

The Santhiya Resort Koh Yao Yai is located in Loh Pared on the southwest coast of the island and is fronted by a gently sloping white sandy beach. The property opened in 2012 and was last renovated in 2015.

traditional Thai wooden fishing boat on sandy beach with blue water at koh yao yai

The resort has a private beach frontage and is adjacent to a small, friendly village.

90% of Koh Yao Yai’s population is Muslim. As such, alcohol and pork dishes are more challenging to come by outside of the resort.

Be respectful of the local community by dressing appropriately outside the resort. It goes without saying that public nudity, including topless sunbathing, is a no-no.

How to get to Santhiya Koh Yao Yai from Phuket (Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Transfers)

You have three options for a transfer from Phuket to Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort.

Resort transfer from Ao Po Grand Marina pier to Santhiya Koh Yao Yai

The easiest and quickest, not to mention the coolest, way to arrive at the Santhiya resort is by the hotel’s own speedboat transfer from Ao Po Grand Marina on Phuket’s northeast coast. This was one of the highlights of my stay,

In peak season, the shared transfer operates five times a day and the journey takes 20 minutes.

A one-way transfer from Ao Po Grand Marina to Santhiya Koh Yao Yai costs 900 THB; a through-transfer from Phuket Airport costs 1250 THB. Discounts may be available.

Private transfers are also available.

The current prices and schedule for the speedboat between Ao Po Grand Marina to Santhiya Koh Yao Yai are available here.

woman in blue t shirt sitting in speedboat
Setting off on the speedboat transfer to Santhiya Koh Yao Yai

Santhiya Koh Yao Yai transfer from Phuket or Krabi airport from Koh Yao Travel

This local tour operator offers a transfer by bus and speedboat to the Santhiya resort from either Phuket or Krabi airport, which is slightly less expensive than the one provided by the resort.

Find out more on how to book this transfer to the Santhiya Koh Yao Yai here.

Public speedboat to Koh Yao Yai

Public speedboats operate between Koh Yai Yai and Phuket’s Bang Rong piersThere are also services between Koh Yai Yai and Ao Nang and Koh Phi Phi, amongst others.

Check the times of public speedboats to Koh Yao Yai here.

Although this service is cheaper than the hotel’s transfer, most boats arrive at Chong Lard Pier on the northeast of the island. As travel is expensive on the island you will have to factor in at least 300 THB for a taxi to the Santhiya Resort

When I did the maths, the hotel’s transfer service worked out to be the least expensive option for a solo traveller.

wooden pier reaching out to sea at sunset at santhiya-resort-koh-yao-yai

Santhiya Resort Koh Yao Yai Review

Check-in at Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort & Spa

 Check-in was efficient and started at the resort’s office at Ao Po Marina.

After the speedboat transfer we were escorted into the Santhiya’s reception area where, cold drink in hand, the hard-sell by the spa staff started. A captive audience, we could but listen.

The Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort is built over a hill, with its rooms split across five buildings.

2-storey wooden building overlooking sea t santhiya resort koh yao yai
Santhiya Resort’s buildings

The garden view rooms are on the ground floor and the sea view rooms are on the upper floors. The villas are sprinkled between these five buildings.

As much of the accommodation is some distance from the public areas, guests are transferred by wooden songthaews from the central area to a drop-off point.

From there it’s a short walk to your room. Electric buggies are available for those with mobility issues.

En route to my room, the Nepalese porter carefully explained about the resort. Although he was perfectly pleasant, it did feel a little scripted.

Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort room

The accommodation at the Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort is the jewel in its crown. It is one of the most gorgeous hotels in which I have stayed.

Designed in traditional Thai style, and housed in steep-roofed pavilions, the rooms are constructed from teak wood. Their elegant, traditional, hand-carved furniture is made from the same wood.

This Thai aesthetic is echoed throughout the resort.

elegant bedroom with carved wooden furniture considered in santhiya resort koh yao yai review
My bedroom at Santhiya Kao Yao Yai Resort & Spa

At 60 sq.m, my Supreme Deluxe Sea View room was spacious enough to accommodate a small family.

Entering the room really had the wow factor.

The bedroom opened onto a large terrace housing a day bed and bathtub. From here, there were sweeping views of Phang Nga Bay, with its limestone islands peeking out from the emerald water of the Andaman Sea.

carved wooden hotel balcony looking over sea and island
Santhiya Resort, Koh Yao Yai, Thailand

If indoor bathing is more your style, then you are in luck with the bathroom’s spacious rainfall shower and plentiful fluffy white towels.

The natural oil burner was a nice touch. In line with the resort’s eco-credentials, liquid soap, shampoo and hair conditioner are provided in refillable dispensers.

My only criticism is that the bathroom’s lighting veered towards the atmospheric rather than the practical.

ornate hotel bathroom with teak walls

For me, a comfortable hotel bed with plump pillows is a must, and the Santhiya Resort did not disappoint. A turndown service was offered each evening.

I loved the little touches such as the Pioneer sound system to connect with my iPhone –  and thence to my Spotify playlist – a basket to use on the beach, a sun parasol and elegant, complimentary faux silk slippers.

Plentiful bottles of water were provided daily. There were also tea and coffee-making facilities.

>>> TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT ROOMS AT THE SANTHIYA RESORT KOH YAO YAI HERE

Santhiya Koh Yao Yai breakfast

The breakfast buffet was plentiful and offered a broad selection of Western and Asian options. Fresh eggs were cheerfully cooked on request.

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Santhiya Resort’s breakfast buffet

Breakfast was served at the Saaitara restaurant, perched on the hillside, and at the resort’s beachside Chantara restaurant. I opted for the Saaitara which was a short walk from my room and, from its terrace, there were fabulous views of Phang Nga Bay.

breakfast setting for one on terrace overlooking bay
Breakfast with a view

Restaurants at the Santhiya Resort

The Santhiya Resort has six restaurants. However, as I did not spend a single baht in them I am unable to comment on the quality of their food and service.

There are two reasons why I didn’t dine at the hotel.

I am not a naive traveller and expect a markup on the price of food and drink. But at three times the price of an equivalent offering outside the resort, I wasn’t prepared to pay this premium.

But it goes a little deeper than mere frugality. In the spirit of ethical travel, I believe that it is important to support the local community. Therefore, each night I would try a different local restaurant, either on the beach or in the village.

I also found a fantastic, chilled beach bar – Gypsy Bar – within 15 minutes walk from the Santhiya. 

breach bar with 4 deckchairs at Koh Yao Yai thailand
Gypsy Bar, Koh Yao Yai

Swimming pools

The Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort has two swimming pools: its main feature waterfall pool and a smaller infinity pool.

I preferred the infinity pool as it was quieter and closer to my room. However, it is much smaller and can accommodate only 20 or so sun loungers.

infinity pool overlooking ocean
Infinity pool, Santhiya Resort Koh Yao Yai

My one criticism is that guests were required to sign in and out for their towels, which resembled very large cotton tea towels. Failure to sign out your towel resulted in a 300 THB fine.

two people in large outdoor swimming pool
Waterfall pool, Santhiya Resort Koh Yao Yai

Other facilities at Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort

The Santhiya Resort offered free yoga and Thai boxing classes.

There were also free paddleboards and kayaks available for guests.

beach with loungers and umbrellas and pier
Beach at Santhiya Resort Koh Yao Yai

Of course, there was also a spa.

However, I didn’t use this, instead opting for excellent massages from the local women on the beach.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK A ROOM AT THE SANTHIYA KOH YAO YAI RESORT & SPA

Should You Stay at the Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort?

Staying at the Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort was a splurge. Even with bagging an excellent Black Friday deal – a good way to travel in luxury for less money –  it was expensive by Thai standards.

But was it worth it?

In a word: yes.

The room at the Santhiya was one of the best that I have ever stayed in and had spectacular views. It wears its eco-credentials proudly and is aiming for ozone-free zones within the resort, which has to be applauded.

The Santhiya’s young staff were consistently friendly, although at times service levels could be patchy.

Whilst I felt that the hotel’s restaurants were overpriced, if you looked closely there were a number of special offers in place. However, these weren’t well publicised.

However, these quibbles notwithstanding, if you want to stay in a beautiful resort on an unspoilt Thai island, then the Santhiya Koh Yao Yai is the resort for you. Just manage your expectations around service levels.

>>> Not sure if the Santhiya Koh Yao Yai is right for you? Click here to check out other great accommodation choices on the island

man walking across empty beach in koh yao yai thailand at dusk
bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at hello@theflashpacker.net or follow her on social media.

6 thoughts on “Santhiya Resort Koh Yao Yai Review: A Piece of Paradise?

    • Bridget says:

      As I didn’t island hop from Koh Yao Yai I can’t help. Sorry! However, because of its size and limited number of connections – really just Krabi and Phuket – I suggest that the island isn’t the best base for isalnd hopping.

  1. Roman says:

    We have stayed at santhiya in koh phangan and santhiya koh yao yai. The staff at the resorts are very nice and helpful.
    Unfortunately some of the mangers are family members that are employed by the family of the santhiya resorts. They do not have the experience or qualifications to bring this hotel group up to a international standard. I agree that the rooms are absolutely beautiful although some villas and the superior rooms on koh phangan should be renovated. It feels that profits are way more important than customer satisfaction. The food at santhiya koh phangan is no where near as good as the one on koh yao yai. Rooms can not be upgraded at the resort directly everything needs to be done online and you will loose money already paid for the existing booking. They do have a lot of vouchers for discounts on food and massages etc. Conditions apply. And mostly you get the answer sorry sir you can’t have this drink with this voucher because it’s premium. Same story in the spa.
    Sometimes the resort comes across like a theme park. Cheap Thai costumes are used for thai dances etc.
    The beaches at both places are pretty average there is way better beaches in Thailand.
    If the resort was managed by professionals I could really be a great place.
    If you are traveling to Thailand the first time and you are on a budget it’s probably not a bad place.

    • Bridget says:

      Hello Roman
      Thanks for sharing your experiences. Safe to say I won’t be rushing to the Santhiya Koh Phangan!
      Bridget

  2. J STEPHENS says:

    We agree the automation at Santhiya was disappointing, as was the deliberate attempt to overcharge us. The check in was awful after three other stays in Bangkok, Krabi and Ko Lanta.
    We still await an apology from Santhiya for this overcharging.

    • Bridget says:

      Oh dear. Some online reviews that I have read suggest that yours is not an isolated experience. It’s a beautiful hotel but sadly its ethos and service levels fail to match.
      I hope that you get your apology.

      Bridget

Comments are closed.