“Sometimes life is full of surprises” they say, and there is probably no time in life when this is more true than when traveling. I was on a two week stint through Thailand when I took the ferry from Ko Lanta to Ko Phi Phi, knowing I would be staying at the Zeavola Resort, a place I was invited to check out to review for you guys. Before going, I had a quick look at some photos online, but all I really took note of was the size of the pool. It looked pretty small. I did however take note of the fact that the Zeavola was the only 5* green diving resort on Ko Phi Phi so I kept an open heart and was not let down…
It all started before I even arrived. I had just gotten off the public ferry from Ko Lanta when I looked for someone holding up a sign saying “ZEAVOLA”. I did find him and figured he was my driver and would take me to the resort. Wrong! Instead he ushered a guy on a boat to come closer. It said Zeavola on the side of the boat. To my surprise no cars go to the resort and all guests arrive by boat! Needless to say I loved the boat ride way more than a boring taxi.
We arrived and I was instantly smitten by the clean, wide beach and the supremely comfortable looking beach bags, where Zeavola guests can get their chill and tan on. After getting off the boat, we were greeted by two lovely gentlemen providing fresh towels and drinks. 20 minutes later we were all checked in and shown to our room. It had another surprise for me in store…
The rooms are in fact independent little cabins, made entirely of wood, glass and straw. Each cabin comes with an outdoor living room area as well as an outdoor bathroom. From my time in the Maldives I knew what an incredible start to the day an outdoor shower can be and this one was just as perfect.
My adopted home for the next three nights felt like my own from the get-go. Wherever I looked there were trees and bushes, the only sounds I heard were birds and the sound of gentle waves from the beach that was just a minute walk away. The next day I rose at cockcrow (literally!), took an extra long hot shower below the trees, and walked everywhere barefoot. I celebrated the rainy morning with a breakfast fit for kings and a few good pages from a book. Around noon, when the heavy monsoon had turned into a gentle dribble I put on my swimsuit and took a bath in the ocean – my favorite thing to do when warm temperatures and rain meet.
“Luxury here is unspoilt nature”, it reads on the Green Pearls website, and I know exactly what they mean. The Zeavola aims to give guests a true Thai experience, stripped bare from all bling and shine with a return to things that truely matter. Like nature. Like people. Like tranquility. It’s no surprise to learn that the resort was recently voted World’s Best Sustainable Hotel at the World Boutique Hotels Awards in London.
Sustainable tourism has become more important to me than ever, because traveling during Monsoon season also means coming face to face with the vast amounts of garbage in the ocean, because much of it gets flushed out on the beach. Zeavola staff cleans the beach daily, but I have seen many beaches in Phuket and Ko Lanta where the sight of plastic bags, beer cans and lots of other non degradable waste was washed ashore just to lie there, like nobody’s business. The Zeavola is a member of Green Pearls, and goes at great length to impact the environment as little as possible. The heavy investment into common electricity on this remote beach (most of it supplied with waterpower!) meant they could stop relying on generator energy which is much less sustainable. Maybe the most unusual effort the resort makes to act environmentally-friendly is by being home to a couple of boa constrictors which keep the place clean of rats. We didn’t see them at any point in our stay but my little guy especially loved the chickens that we did see freely roaming the premises. The rooster hanging out in the tree during breakfast was a pretty great photo-op.
When not lying on the beach or swimming laps in the pool we did something that almost seems crazy for a workoholic like myself: relax. A massage in the morning, a long nap in the afternoon. A stroll along the beach collecting shells, an early dinner that spreads over several hours because there is nowhere we have to be. Speaking to the Zeavola’s general manager of 8 years, I wasn’t surprised to learn that most guests who come here are looking for a true getaway. A back-to-nature type of experience, far from traffic noise, smog and bright lights. Here it’s all about unspoilt surroundings, warm atmosphere and of course great food.
I wasn’t out for much adventure, which is why I didn’t go diving or snorkeling, although that is one of the top things to do out here. People come from all parts of the world to experience the world-class diving of the Phi Phi islands while staying at an eco-friendly resort. Even non-divers have a great many possibilities to fill a week or three with activities. There are numerous water taxis lining up on the beach which can take guests not only to various dive and snorkeling sites but also to markets and shopping or the nearby national park for hiking.
There was some strange magic to this place which made a day feel like a week, in the best possible way. The Zeavola is the lovechild of hippie lifestyle and 5* comfort and proof that you really can have it all.
*My son and I received a complimentary 3-night stay. All opinions expressed are my own.