Dreaming of the road past traveled. Can’t wait to get back
Sebastiaan Seegers – European organic cuisine specialist – The Dining Room, Six Senses Koh Yao Noi
Six Senses Koh Yao Noi’s Dutch born Chef de Cuisine Sebastiaan Seegers showcases his unique signature “European Organic cuisine” at the open air over water Dining Room of the hotel. Surrounded by organic vegetable, fruit and herb gardens within view of the restaurants’ generously sized tables, Chef Sebastiaan has no shortage of fresh produce with which to work. Pumpkins (see recipe to follow), passionfruit, tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, watercress, asparagus and okra are all close at hand and are picked daily, featuring on his menus as they become available.
Sebastiaan has built up a close relationship with the traditional local fisherman of this beautiful island and his menus change daily depending on what they bring him.
Hailing originally from Holland, Sebastiaan has an impressive pedigree, having worked with the top echelon of the emerging famous chefs of the Netherlands. From the beginning of his career in 1994 untl 2010 he has worked solely in Michelin starred restaurants, rising to the position of Chef de Cuisine at Restaurant Savelberg in Voorburg (ranked in the top 30 restaurants of the Netherlands)
The opportunity to spread his wings and travel arose in 2010 when he joined the famed Le Gray hotel in Beiruit as Chef de Cuisine of the Indigo restaurant, where he remained until joining Six Senses Koh Yao Noi. An engaging and passionate chef, Sebastiaan is frequently seen in the Dining Room taking orders and customizing dishes for guests – another signature of Six Senses and Sebastiaans style.
The Siam, a spectacular luxury hotel that has just opened in Bangkok in June, lives up to all it’s abundant hype. A Bill Bensley design, it is a feast for the eyes. Owned by a prominent family in Bangkok, I heard Mr. Bensley was given carte blanche to do whatever he felt was appropriate. I have to say it is one of his best efforts.
Mr. Bensley incorporated four of Jim Thompson’s houses with contemporary elements ( Jim Thompson – fascinating American character that single handedly started the Thai Silk industry after World War 2 and disappeared in the 60’s after walking into the Malaysian jungle- http://www.jimthompson.com. A whole subject unto himself.)
One of the owners is a prolific antique collector; a popular actor and singer, his collection is seen everywhere. As a former antique dealer, I was blown away with his enthusiastic , eclectic collection. The hotel even has a screening room. On either side of the screen is a collage of old movie tickets on a pair of panels. One of the restaurants, with highly regarded Thai cuisine, utilizes one of the antique Thai houses. Food was excellent and the setting was delightful. Located on the Chao Praya, in the elegant Dusit neighborhood one is in a more peaceful part of the city. The hotel is planning to take clients sightseeing by boat- the Grand Temple is nearby. Another interesting aspect of activities offered at the Siam is kickboxing. The hotel has a ring and lessons for guests in their ample, enormous gym. As a guest, one can take lessons, and if you stay long enough , you will become a proficient kick boxer! Hmmm…
From the moment you step onto the soft wooden polished floors, without your shoes, you feel a difference in this resort. Tucked into the jungle on Phang Nga Bay – above Phuket and across from Krabi- the resort’s vibration is serenity. One hears water flowing, smells the flowers, feels the breezes, and sees lush green all around. It is a small resort, only 50 Villas, but unless you are in one of their restaurants, pools or public places, you feel comfortably private. Hilltop, at the top of the property, is the main pool and lunch cafe. Drop dead views from there.
The main focus of Six Senses is a holistic way of life for the traveler. Organic beautifully prepared meals, spa services that are beyond excellent all work together to give the traveler a sense of serenity. Yao Noi seems to convey the idea of making their guests healthy and more conscious of their surroundings at every turn. They have organic gardens placed all over the resort, three gorgeous restaurants, and 3 bars. A nice touch is the espresso machine in the room. Among the special details is a homemade ice cream bar that is open all day. Ice cream and cookies are free to all guests. 30 selections- we had passion fruit.
Activities include movies, under the stars on the beach after dinner, yoga classes, cooking classes, meditation classes,rubber tree demonstration, Thai massage lessons, mango tours, sailing lessons, kayaking, windsurfing, island tours- on and on.
The breakfast bar is one the most extensive I have seen. It rivals the Oriental in Bangkok. They have an American buffet, a Chinese buffet, a whole room of yogurt and fruit choices and another room for pastries and jellies. Of course all jams and jellies are made on property.
We had the distinct pleasure of dining with the resort manager, Fernando Arroyo, and I see why this resort is running so well. We also had the pleasure of meeting the head chef, Anthony Reynolds and his brilliant co chef Sebastiaan Seegers. Five star chefs anywhere! The passion they display is a pleasure to encounter. Our biggest regret is not having time to do one of their cooking classes. They are fun as well as brilliant.
The most obvious asset of Yao Noi is the staff. Their enthusiasm is seen and heard everywhere. From the gardeners, the restaurant and bar staff, to our butler, Alice. Their greetings and efforts to please make the experience an unforgettable pleasure.
A very special destination, Yao Noi.
With a passionate commitment to supporting and protecting the environment, SS Yao Noi has been built as an all natural resort with a very light ecological footprint. They expect to be zero emmssion by 2012. A holistic resort that aims to change your outlook about your health and the environment. They even grow their own mushrooms! All food – except the goat cheese-comes from no farther than 10 miles from the resort, and spanking fresh. They are striving to make your life healthier as well as making you more aware of your environment. World famous for their Spa, treatments are certainly as good as I have experienced anywhere.
Six Senses Yao Noi is situated on a small island in Phang Nga Bay, an area famed for its natural beauty, especially its limestone island mountains in the sea which provide idyllic views from the resort. Built in an eco-friendly manner on and around almost 24 acres of natural tropical vegetation the resort exemplifies the Six Senses philosophy of Redefining Experiences from arrival to departure. Oversized daybeds, soft organic cotton linen, architectural tree-house and rustic timber furnishings, endless culinary options and all day butler service is your invitation to the Six Senses Slow Life* – at this pace, you may never want to leave. This paragraph is courtesy of thei website, but I could not have said it better.
A little slice of heaven, I think this is one of the most beautiful hotels and settings I have ever experienced. It was filmed in the movie Hangover 2 as the destination for the “wedding”. Service is far beyond anything I have encountered, and Asian service is legendary!
Our butler is Kun Annie( Kun is a reference of respect), and I would REALLY like to take her home. She sees after our every wish, from laundry to boat tours of the islands, arranging transfers to our next destination, trips into the village, and as insignificant as how to to how to operate the TV. She appears at our poolside sala with pen in hand to take notes for our latest wishes. Oh my gosh.
The resort has three restaurants, a Thai, an International, and a Seafood restaurant.
We dinedin the Thai restaurant last night, and the Chicken soup in Coconut milk was the best I have ever tasted. Tonight will be the Seafood restaurant.
One other observation: the music at the pool is outstanding sort of Buddha Bar- Cafe Costes compilations. Recipes are coming from Phulay Bay’s French chef and I will post them soon.
I have started to plan my semiannual return to Bangkok, another visit to magical Myanmar, and site inspections in Krabi and Phuket Thailand. Myanmar is a really hot travel destination and I want to do a run on the fabulous Road to Mandalay- the Orient Express cruise on the Irrawaddy river in Myanmar. I also want to check the iconic Strand Hotel and Governor’s Residence in Yangon. I am so happy to see Bagan, Mandalay, and Inle Lake again. The people of Myanmar are so dear, and so happy to have guests again visiting their country. I am including some pictures from my last visit. Visas are necessary for Myanmar so I have sent off my visa application. One has to apply 3 months out. Weather will be hot and humid- yay!
Now is probably the best time to travel to Thailand- maybe ever! Crowds are down, you can get a reservation at any great restaurant – and there are so many – security has never been higher and traffic is down. Everyone is so glad to see Americans, and bargains abound. The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is still the Queen-unmatched service and such a warm welcome! One of their inhouse restaurants, Lord Jim’s continues to serve amazing seafood with a great view of the entertaining river traffic.
Other good hotels are the Penninsula, Four Seasons, Sukothai, and a lovely new one- the Lebua. Rooms go up to the 62nd floor- incredible views! The Lebua has Mezzeluna and Sirroco restaurants. Two of BKK’s tops.
If you are trying to figure out where to take your next trip, call you favorite consultant and book a trip with A&K Thailand. Their planning is terrific. They are the only company that will meet you at the plane and get you through customs upon arrival. They have a marvelous ground operation. They know all the good spots, hotels, shopping, restaurants. They actually go out and personally visit sites, and hotels, so it is first hand knowledge.
The flowers here are so exquisite that I am thinking of planning a Garden Tour! Let me know if you are interested.