Our journey began in Ao nang with stunning scenery, lush green jungle either side of the main road, towering karst cliffs in the distance covered in greenery, the typical image of southern Thailand and particularly Krabi. I realized we were heading to a place in stark contrast to the busy tourist beaches of Ao Nang.
As we drove on, we seemed to be venturing further from the typical tourist trail, so much so, that our driver had no clue how to get to the resort. He was relying on google maps that Marco was busily checking. Without directions from the owner we would never have found the dirt track turning off the main road.
I was secretly hoping that the resort Le Passe Temps would live up to it’s name. As we turned down a dirt and gravel road, it was definitely feeling secret hence why it was part of the Secret Retreats Collection. which are unique properties and experiences – including boutique hotels, villas, cruises, restaurants and exclusive itineraries throughout Asia.
We followed the narrow gravel road for 5 minutes, the road was flanked by what seemed an endless forest of trees interrupted by the odd ramshackle wooden house every 100m.
Finally we arrived at unassuming entrance of Le Passe Temps, the lobby and lounge was housed in a round structure filled with an eclectic mix of asian antiques, creating and welcoming atmosphere of a home rather than a hotel.
I later learned that none of the antiques or decorations were bought specifically for the resort most came from the french owners; Olivier and Kiets homes in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. I was surprised to hear this, as everything seemed to be curated so elegantly and gave a feeling of almost stepping back in time. Kiet, the owner, later explained many pieces were purchased at the flea markets in Chiang Mai. Including huge antique wooden doors that had once been the entrance to a buddhist temple, now they hid a huge book case and variety of board games.
Only once leaving the lobby does that layout of the resort become apparent, uniquely designed wooden bungalows surround a swimming pool and lush gardens with views towards Ao Phang Nga, then a narrow path down some steep steps down to the beach and restaurant.
When I noticed the tables set up in the sand on the beach, my heart sang, there is something so relaxing about eating a locally prepared meal with your feet the sand. The restaurant services a delicious mix of Thai cuisine with a french influence.
The manager explained that the internet connection could be slow and only worked in the lounge, not in the bungalows or the beach. When I heard this it was like music to my ears, Marco and I had been craving a digital detox for a while and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Six days of reading, writing and playing board games on the beach sounded like heaven to me. This was the type of holiday I use to take with my family as a teenager and I was forever re-counting stories to Marco, that these were some of my happiest childhood memories.
The resort has been loving built from scratch by the french owners Olivier and Kiet 12 years ago, they had a dream to create a hidden place by the sea, away from the crowds but easy to tour from, a blend of authenticity and comfort. Each of the uniquely designed wooden bungalows has their own features and charm, although the resort is only 12 years old, the Bungalows seem like they had also been there, fitting snuggly into the curated gardens. I noted how the elegant white roofs with metal detail, resembled traditional Thai architecture.
We were staying in the big family bungalow at the bottom of the garden closest to the beach with a sea view. The theme from the lobby carries into all the bungalows, but each has their own unique features and antique furniture. For example one bungalow has a fabulous wooden bath another has floor to ceiling glass windows with sweeping views out to sea.
So our aim at Le Passe Temps for the duration of our time was to relax and try to detox a little from the online world which seems to take up so many of hours of day and sap our energy. The atmosphere and setting at Le Passe Temps made for the most perfect scenario to unplug; a beautiful secluded beach, very few people and most importantly a limited internet connection.
So our days were spent lying in the hammocks on the beach reading and writing, the girls quickly found their play spot a bamboo raised platform with a roof, this became their imaginary house for the duration of our stay and they would play and make up games for hours there. Everyday we would explore the quiet beach, looking for shells and crabs.
We didn’t have to worry about food as all our meals were included in our stay, this worked really well, and as a family it meant we had one less thing to worry about. The food was very delicious, a great mix of western and Thai dishes, Marco and sampled a new Thai curry almost every day, my favourite was the Penang Curry with prawns.
The evening meals were a set menu with mostly traditional Thai food, but there was a real french influence which worked well and enhanced the flavour of many of the dishes. With the set menu it was great to try new dishes that you might not necessarily order. Of course because the owners are french there was fantastic wine list of carefully selected wines to accompany your meal.
Even with Isabella and Maya, it was so relaxing eating at the romantic restaurant with our feet in the sand looking out to sea. The staff were always friendly and attentive and wiling to play with Bella and Maya.
The most strenuous activity we tried all week was paddle boarding, which was great fun, we would take the girls out on the front of the board. The beach and bay were quiet, so most of the time we had the water to ourselves. We particularly liked going out just before sunset when the water was very calm and the light created the most beautiful colours on the water.
So just as Isabella and Maya were going back to basics Marco and I were too. Reading a physical book not on the ipad or kindle. I was writing in my journal every day. I noticed being online less, I started to feel the benefits. I felt more relaxed and connected to my thoughts and creative side. I would access the internet once a day for about 30 minutes this would give me my fix; and let me check my email and deal with any urgent matters. I felt like this worked well as didn’t have any anxiety of missing out or getting behind, where as if I had gone cold turkey, I’m not sure I could have relaxed properly.
So although we didn’t achieve a full 6 day digital detox of totally unplugging. I did use the internet less, I seemed to stop my bad habit of constantly checking my phone, to look up something, then find myself 10 minutes later scrolling through facebook of instagram. Please say I’m not the only one that does this? Marco unplugged a little less than me, primarily due to pressing work commitments which he needed to keep on top during our stay.
Le Passe Temps is definitely remote without being lost, although we didn’t do many excursions. If you want to there is a whole host of day trips that can be organized from the resort; for example Kayaking and boat trips to visit the coral reefs of the Koh Hong archipelago.
If you are feeling energetic Kiet and Olivier regularly visit the nearby tiger cave temple: be prepared to walk up 1237 steps to the summit, the views are definitely worth the effort, Marco went with them one afternoon, check out the video below to see the view. But if you prefer to stay in the relaxing confines of the resort there is also yoga, massages and cooking classes on offer.
The atmosphere at Le Passe Temps is wonderful and and a real testament to Kiet and Olivers hard work and focus on creating a wonderfully relaxing but authentic place to switch off, and quite literally go back in time. The resort is great for families, couples or even single travellers who prefer to get off the tourist trail and experience Thailand in the most authentic way whilst supporting the local community.
Additional information about Secret Retreats
Secret Retreats is a collection of unique properties and experiences – including boutique hotels, villas, cruises, restaurants and exclusive itineraries – throughout Asia. It is a community built by independent owners and chefs to share resources and ideas. Together, we offer our guests authentic travel experiences that go beyond typical offerings to connect to the very heart of Asian culture and traditions.
Secret Retreats Members are vibrant advocates of their surroundings and passionate about sharing special moments with travellers curious to discover the “essence of Asia”. All properties and experiences also emphasis supporting local communities, environments and sustainability efforts in which they are based to ensure continued opportunities for both locals and travellers for years to come. Learn more at http://www.secret-retreats.com
Check out our video in Krabi