Attentive and Mindful: Koh Samui’s First Green Resort, Tongsai Bay
Petra Haubner is Hollightly: a green lifestyle blog and a style bible for sustainability fans. Petra traveled around the world in 180 sustainable days and Green Pearls showed her some of its unique eco-friendly hotels, such as the Tongsai Bay on Koh Samui in Thailand. Here she writes about her impressions:
The Tongsai Bay is nestled between green, rolling hills and a white, sandy bay. It was the first green luxury resort on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand. A smiling staff member of hotel picks us up with an electric golf cart and takes us to our cottage. We’re giggling in the back: we’re so not used to being chauffeured around! We drive and drive and drive and it dawns on us that this isn’t just a fancy bit of luxury, but a well thought out, eco-friendly and quiet means of transportation in this spread out resort.
The founder Khun Akorn Hoontrakul stumbled across the bay some 30 years ago, fell in love and decided to build a luxury resort. He was so in awe of the natural surroundings that he built a high-end resort first and foremost based on eco-friendly principles. The hotel is now in the hands of Khun Akorn Hoontrakul’s son Khun Gob and daughter-in-law Khun Goya Hoontrakul. Thoughtfulness, respect and mindfulness are the evident guiding principles of the hotel’s philosophy. This is a family business run from the heart, and not just with a bottom line in mind – and it shows.
During our stay we’ve come to appreciate the love they feel for their environment and this unique slice of paradise. It’s the attention to small details that shows that sustainability is not just a marketing concept for this resort, but a passionate commitment through conviction. Not a single tree was felled to build the resort; they were either replanted or integrated in the architectural design. We marvel at the beach bar: its roof is a huge tree. One of the rooms has a balcony that is built around a tree trunk.
Besides the no-tree-felling principle, the resort also abides by a self-imposed no-chemicals rule. Many hotels in Thailand use chemical pesticides and antrycides which destroy the biodiversity. The Tongsai Bay produces its own cleaning detergents and pesticides made from natural ingredients like chili and lemongrass. Fruit, baking powder and sugar are fermented and turned into cleaning detergents. This has even lead to animals from the neighboring surroundings seeking refuge at the Tongsai Bay.
There are 66 different bird species on the property and a variety of cute and scaly little critters. No animal is to be harmed on hotel property, another rule that just makes us love and respect this place on a different level compared to other resorts. The hotel has an eco-manager, a qualified member of staff solely in charge of ensuring a sustainable approach in all its operations. And that doesn’t just mean recycling and waste management, it also means creating and supporting educational programs for locals and training staff on sustainable practices. The love of detail given to environmental issues is only trumped by the luxury and comfort of the accommodation and the exceptional food in the restaurants. We have proof on a daily basis why Thailand is called the “Land of Smiles”.
You may say this sounds corny but they really do exude the feeling that they love working here and looking after us. And I get it, there is a relaxed sense of contentment here at the Tongsai Bay, spread across the resort like icing on a cake. By the end of our stay I have adopted their smiley attitude and it makes me sustainably happy 🙂