We are somewhat reluctant to add to the previous glowing reports of Pa Sak Tong because it may just get booked out 365 days year in, year out, which they deserve, but could mean we miss out...! BUT we would be doing a disservice to John Dunbar (GM) and his FABULOUS Thai “family team” – because that is what they truly are! We knew John previously from a past position he held at another hotel and immediately felt a rapport with his easy style and humour, which is how we came to know of Pa Sak Tong and to be visiting this AWESOME establishment at his insistence. Neither John nor his team disappointed and within 3 (too short!) days (on route to our usual haunt in Southern Thailand), we already felt part of the warm family, who not only tended to our every need, but made us laugh until our bellies ached. We went with my fiancé’s 10 year old daughter, so there were just three of us and it was blissfully private. The villa is gorgeously decked out in polished wood floors with warm colours and beautiful artwork, an exquisite demonstration of taste in architecture and simple, tasteful interior design – spacious, airy, modern but not at all ‘coldly modern’ – it really makes you feel “at home”, helped immensely by the warm service from the staff and John’s relaxed style of hosting. The grounds are gorgeous, with a large pond in front with 5 water buffalo grazing peacefully (occasionally MOOOOOOO-ing) and rice paddy fields beyond. Little plant lined paths lead down to and around the pond (and fortunately the buffalo are not only tethered but placid!). The swimming pool is gorgeous and surrounded by lawns with exquisite flower beds and a flowing fountain with a vast marble ball turning in the centre, somehow magically suspended.
We felt we had total privacy and yet there was an extra sensory perception from our personal hostess, Khun Ni (who as somebody else said must be psychic!) to know when we might need or want something – anything! We are not into yoga or gyms and really just wanted to chill, drink some booze (fruit smoothies on the ready for my fiancé’s daughter at any moment!) and hang around. With only three days, we did not wish to spend too much time out and about as we didn’t want to miss out on the Pa Sak Tong experience! Chef Khun Boi was fabulous and catered tailored meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner (my fiancé’s daughter being vegetarian, she got her own special dishes each meal – she is fussy and she was not disappointed with his special creations!). He consulted with us each morning about what we might wish to eat, making mouth-watering suggestions for us to choose from.
When we were collected from the airport by Khun Ni, we were first taken to the famous and quite staggeringly elaborate ‘wedding cake’ white temple 5 minutes from Pa Sak Tong – we have never seen anything like it! John offered us several options for excursions during our stay, but with our limited time we opted only for the one hour traditional Thai ‘long boat trip’ along the river and a 30 minute elephant ride before returning by road to enjoy a relaxing afternoon by the pool. The boat trip was amazing – such incredible scenery and local women fishing in traditional garb with nets along the banks, wearing their ‘coolie’ hats and waving merrily with their gorgeous Thai smiles. We bought small bags of food (bananas and sugar cane) for the elephants and I was so busy photographing that it was fortunate that I suddenly realised that I had ants from the food bag swinging from my wrist climbing up my arms and into my armpits that I jumped back just as I realised that 5 very BIG and HUNGRY elephants looked ready to trample me if I didn’t give them that food! My fiance’s daughter and I were somewhat disappointed as John had informed us that he got ‘conned’ into doing a 2 hour elephant trip when he first arrived in Chiang Rai and that within 20 mins he not only had blisters on his backside but he was covered in elephant snot!!! We laughed until we cried – especially at my other half’s expression of disgust and declaration that he was going to walk beside the elephant ‘out of snot range’ – NO WAY! Sadly, there was NO elephant snot and it was actually perfectly comfortable on the padded seats, so John must have been ‘set up’ with a concrete seat and an elephant with a heavy cold! Each elephant has his or her own special (can’t remember the proper name!) devoted carer (all of them are TINY, with various styles of ‘top knot’ hair sprouting like little palm trees from the tops of their heads) who commits to training and bonding with his personal elephant from a young age and stays with that elephant for life, forming a close family love bond, practically living with his elephant, which is kind of nice – they’re in the job together fully.
John also arranged the incredibly talented Thai Musicians and Dancers for us on our second night before dinner, with all the lanterns lighting up the paths in front of the villa. We know the brilliant Dr Ant from a previous hotel spa and she is one of the best – sadly she was on holiday during our visit, but is to be HIGHLY recommended. As is Khun Taew, soon to join the spa at Pa Sak Tong! If you like a good spa treatment, besides the other therapists, these two are worth the visit alone, as if there wasn’t enough on offer!
Khun Nam was lovely and she invited my fiancé’s daughter to join her in handing out Teddy Bears as gifts to the injured and sick children in the local hospital one morning, which was a fabulous and moving experience for her – she just loved the happiness on all the little kids’ faces as they received their teddies!
Lastly, I don’t wish to spoil things for the staff by letting on what we did prank-wise, but John had informed us that they have a great sense of humour and it would go down well if we played some jokes on Khun Ni. Our ‘prank’ had the whole team running to see what was up, screaming and then in relief, hugging and kissing us – and the joke has continued to run with the gifts we sent from London on our return! Little Khun Ni is like a tiny, fearless little Meerkat and is simply THE BEST!
We simply cannot recommend this lovely retreat enough – if you want quiet, peaceful, healthy time with plenty of meditation and yoga, it is perfect! If you want (like us!) to smoke copious cigarettes, drink booze (even Bloody Marys for breakfast!) and listen to music of your own choice, it is also PERFECT! If you are serious people, it is perfect! If (like us), you have a sense of humour with which you wish to engage the staff (and John), it is PERFECT! This place caters for all – couples, families, a group of mixed friends – you name it! There really is something for EVERYONE – unless you prefer nightclubbing in Ibiza, in which case, don’t bother!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Pa Sak Tong is Northern Thailand’s most exclusive and luxurious resort villa. This private sanctuary of serenity and tranquility is surrounded by lush tropical gardens and offers spectacular, uninterrupted views over rice fields of a beautiful panorama of the mountains. Pa Sak Tong is an all-inclusive experience. The service is personalized and friendly and ensures the ultimate in pampering and care that comes naturally from the genuinely warm and caring people of Northern Thailand. ... more less
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