After traveling more than a million miles in 60+ countries on five continents, I’m pretty sure Villa Lydia on Ko Yao Noi is one of the best possible places to enjoy a tropical getaway with friends & family.
First of all, the location. Ko Yao Noi is still kind of a well-kept secret: an island paradise with peaceful & smiling people, a lot of lush nature, empty white-sand beaches and turquoise waters surrounded by the magnificent Phan-Nga Bay archipelago.
It’s an island of fishermen families, and the local life is still surprisingly down-to-earth and laid-back. There is a bunch of nice restaurants, enough services for travellers and many things to do, but the darker sides of Thailand’s tourism business you won’t have to meet on this island.
And imagine: you can get there in less than 2 hours from Phuket International Airport.
That means after an exhaustive flight, you can reach Ko Yao Noi faster than the popular destinations like Chalong or Rawai in southern parts of Phuket – without sitting for hours in traffic jams. For a quick visit to Thailand this is absolutely a big advantage many have not yet realised.
Villa Lydia is located on a hill just above a nice beach, a few miles out of the main pier of the island. Within walking distance is a nice café (with a wine shop & book shop) and another excellent beach. There were complimentary bicycles in case we wanted to explore the island further – there’s also a scooter for rent. If we needed a ride to go the market, have a night out or to catch a boat, the villa’s caretaker Kitty drove us with his car – you won’t need a taxi.
The villa itself is, firstly and foremostly, amazing. Just like the pictures show it.
Well built and decorated in style. Bedrooms are huge and easily fit extra beds or cots for smaller kids. If you need to work or write in peace, there’s one more bedroom on the ground floor. And there’s even a massage room with proper massage beds…
Pool is big, fresh and the whole sundeck together with the shala (and the large living & dining area with sliding doors) works as the heart of the villa. There’s nothing to complain about the sound system (with extra speakers outside) or the tv/dvd set. Wi-Fi worked well even for business purposes, hi-speed.
The kitchen is big with all the cooking utilities you need, a big fridge, a freezer – and a good coffee machine.
The seaviews are spectacular. From the pool, from the terrace, from the bedrooms. You’ll get great photos but that’s still nothing compared to the IRL experience.
But the best part of the villa was the extraordinary hospitality by the manager Nicola and the villa’s hosts and cooks, Mr. Kitty and his wife Mrs. Sri.
Before the trip, Nicola took care of all the reservation & transfer business promptly and answered in a flash in all our lengthy questions regarding the island, things we would need etc (there were two small babies in our party).
Kitty and Sri must be the most welcoming hosts there can be. All is taken care of: the place is safe and spotless, they do the laundry and shopping. There’s complimentary drinking water and a ”mini-bar” to buy drinks & snacks with OK prices.
If there’s one thing that makes a tropical getaway better than in a private villa, it’s a private villa with a private chef. Mrs. Sri is a helluva cook! We got really great breakfasts with coffee, fresh fruit & omelettes and mouth-watering dinners of authentic Isaan province cuisine (Kitty & Sree hail from Northeastern Thailand).
Kitty & Sree just take a small fee for their cooking and get all the products from the local markets and fishermen, so it’s actually cheaper to enjoy their fantastic dinners than in any of the restaurants aimed for tourists in the area.
In a nutshell, Villa Lydia’s location, premises and hosts make it a really special, world-class villa getaway easy to recommend to anyone, especially families or groups of friends.
OK, it’s not a budget place for sure – but for us (two families with many small children) it was a reward after long travels on a shoestring, perhaps once in a lifetime experience – and worth every penny.
And in the end, if you count in all the money you save in transport around the island, breakfasts, lunches, dinners and drinking waters it’s not exactly expensive either. We would have needed 4 bungalows to lodge ourselves anyway and that doesn’t come for free in a location this close to Phuket Airport – and definately that would not come with a private pool right at one of the island’s best viewpoints…
All in all, 6/5.
A wonderful villa set above a beautiful beach on Koh Yao Noi. Extremely comfortable and stunning views. Awesome pool and most importantly amazing hosts. Kitty and Sre made everything possible during our stay including delicious meals.