Thailand’s New Eco-Resort

Jamie Wetherbe The family-run Faasai Resort & Spa is positioning itself as a one-stop gateway to unknown Chantaburi province in Thailand’s historical southeast, 3½ hours’ drive from Bangkok. At the Faasai, clients can experience spa and beach relaxation, sample freshly caught seafood, go hiking,

By: Jamie Wetherbe

The family-run Faasai Resort & Spa is positioning itself as a one-stop gateway to unknown Chantaburi province in Thailand’s historical southeast, 3½ hours’ drive from Bangkok.

At the Faasai, clients can experience spa and beach relaxation, sample freshly caught seafood, go hiking, biking, bird watching or kayaking and take excursions to temples and historical sites.

While the resort only has 15 rooms, it offers a large number of locally priced eco-tour options that reflect a province characterized by large mountains, fishing villages, hilltop temples, rubber plantations and a winding coastline.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) says Chantaburi province is a surprise to many visitors.

“The mountain vistas, rural lifestyles and picturesque coastal communities give Chantaburi a grandeur that is appropriate for a province that played such an important role in Thailand’s history,” said Chanchai Doungjitta, the director of the TAT’s regional office in adjacent Rayong.

It was from Chantaburi that King Taksin gathered a fleet and sailed to Bangkok to liberate Siam from occupying Burmese in 1767. Barely 100 years ago, Southeast Thailand was threatened by French expansion in Indochina and between 1893 and 1905 Chantaburi was occupied by France.

The remains of fortifications built by the Siamese in 1843 can still be seen at Noen Wong Fortress, which is also the site of Thailand’s Maritime Museum, 30 minutes from Faasai Resort.

Faasai’s list of optional tours give great insights into a province that today Thais mainly associate with fruit plantations and gemstone mining and which is unknown to all but a few foreigners. Visitors to the resort have no shortage of options to find out more about Chantaburi past and present. Tours available at Faasai Resort include boat tours, nature walks trekking and dolphin shows.

“Faasai Resort offers a convenient base for many kinds of trips and activities,” said owner Bronwen Evans. “But it is also a place for relaxation with spa treatments and home cooking for those who just want to take it easy and unwind.”

Bronwen’s husband, Surin Laopha, leads many of the bird watching and hiking excursions into the local forests to spot the greater racket-tailed drongo (saeng saew), coucal (kabok) and his favorite, the lineated barbet (poradok) known for its green plumage and cuckoo-like call.

Faasai (which means “clear skies”) adopts a low-key environmentally friendly approach and encourages visitors to visit village markets and buy products during temple fairs.

Water tanks are heated by solar power. Grey waste water is reused on the gardens. Balinese-style bungalows have been designed to maximize insulation and allow natural ventilation. Many native trees, including a magnificent Bhopal tree, have been retained on the three-acre hillside property that also offers wild herbs.

Faasai offers spa treatments such as the Royal Thai Spa package, herbal saunas, body scrubs, massage, aromatherapy with oil massage and Ayurveda healing and detoxification. Most of these take place in the resort’s small spa center beside the swimming pool.

Bronwen and Surin are now promoting Faasai to specialist Bangkok-based bird watching, mountain biking and kayaking groups.

“After a long week in Bangkok, a stay in Faasai is good for body and soul,” says Bronwen. “It’s a good window on country lifestyles and a way of life far removed from the city.”

www.faasai.com

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