Thailand is one of my happy places. Big surprise, I know I know but even more it is hard to dislike a place that at least for outsiders seems to be a country of beautiful beaches, delicious food, and locals that are world-renowned for their friendliness. It is a country of easy traveling. While I have gotten my fair share of Thailand during the rainy season it is a country of perpetual sunshine for me at heart.
I was excited to not only spend some time in my beloved Bangkok but also return to my favorite Koh Phi Phi hotel: Zeavola. Especially after a few days in the big city, I realized that ecotourism in Thailand is still in its infancy and to my dismay, I found myself constantly having to refuse straws, plastic bags, and water bottles. And with the language barrier that wasn’t always easy. It got tiring quickly and what was even worse was that I found myself slipping back into bad habits – surely this one little plastic bottle which was oh so convenient wouldn’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things?!
So I was relieved to return to Zeavola because the resort is a true eco-lodge in Thailand and while small it packs a real green punch. Eco-friendly travel is made super easy here – just like you would want it on a holiday!
Zeavola – THE green Phi Phi Hotel
The Phi Phi Islands are made up by Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Lee, the latter home to the infamous Maya Bay. But the recent closure of the setting of Leonardo’s “The Beach” has shed light on the environmental issues of overtourism and unsustainable practices in the area. While I don’t understand why anyone would travel to a beach and pay money for a 15-minute stint surrounded by masses of boats and other tourists, the draw has been huge and steadily growing.
There is no shortage of Koh Phi Phi hotels on Phi Phi Don and I dare say some are even nice. But while the bad party boy reputation of the island might be part of its appeal for some, it was never my scene. Until I discovered Zeavola I stayed as far away from this part of Thailand as possible.
Now I am returning and it feels a bit like coming home. I take the speedboat from the Phuket Marina and once we moor on the beach we are fetched by a tractor – low tide is asking for improvisation to get guests comfortably and most importantly without getting wet to land. Check-in happens in their beautiful lobby under the trees and there I notice the first addition to Zeavola’s green conveniences: a water tap with drinking water where all guests can refill their water bottles for free. For those who are apprehensive to drink any kind of tap water in Thailand (and apparently there are a lot, Leon the manager tells me later) there is a detailed water report next to the tap as the water quality is checked weekly.
Zeavola offers 4 villa categories: Village Suites, Garden Suites, Beachfront Suite, and Pool Villa Suite. What they have in common is a beautiful merge of outside and inside living, and most importantly for me – an outside shower. I am staying in a Garden Suite which offers just the right amount of privacy but easy access to all the facilities. Keep in mind that you can easily see into the open-air living room from the paths around the resort. So if you are looking to stay away from curious eyes, ask them for a room in the back of the resort or one that is a bit more overgrown.
As it is fitting for this Koh Phi Phi accommodation bath products come in refillable containers and every guest gets 2 glass bottles with drinking water. While there is a minibar with international products because most travelers still demand their creature comforts, this is a great way to inspire people about forgoing their Evian. Personally, I also think it is much nicer to drink out of glass than plastic bottles, and so I start taking one of my bottles to the beach and the pool with me.
Activities at Zeavola
Easy access to both, pool and ocean, is another great feature of Zeavola especially as only the Pool Villas have as the name implies a private plunge pool. Luckily other guests don’t need to despair because when the low tide hits or you are simply not into ocean swims, there is a beautiful communal pool – free of chemicals of course!
I, on the other hand, can’t wait to immerse myself into saltwater again and spend my first day in and out of the water before heading out with Zeavola’s resident dive center on day two. My new Scubapro Hydras needs to be baptized and while season is nearing its end in the waters around of Koh Phi Phi, I can’t wait to get wet.
While the visibility isn’t the greatest I enjoy being back in the water and diving with Zeavola is a treat when it comes to service: small groups and excellent dive guides, and lunch with a stunning view in a bay surrounded by the typical Thailand limestone cliffs – who needs one famous beach if you can have this all to yourself?
As you know one of my favorite past times in Thailand is getting massages and the spa at Zeavola is one of the nicest I have been to. It comes with its very own spa cat – always a plus in my book – and the treatment rooms are beautiful and serene. For something a little different, try their Phi Phi Lomi massage a mix between Polynesian Lomi Lomi and classic Thai Massage.
Read more: Where to find the best massage in Thailand.
Wining & Dining
Unlike other, in Phi Phi island accommodation you are blissfully away from the crowds at Zeavola but for those who want to venture, there are options. Unlike so many island resorts that will charge horrendous prices and don’t give you a possibility to escape, Zeavola has a few restaurants in the vicinity you can walk to (don’t go to the pizza place next door though!). Alternatively, you can take a longtail boat to the center of Phi Phi Don for some more action. Needless to say, I am lazy happy where I am and rather enjoy virgin Pina Coladas and the resort’s restaurant.
While Zeavola is one of the most luxurious Phi Phi resorts, rates are affordable as is food and drinks – perfect even for more budget-conscious travelers who want a luxurious getaway. Breakfast offers an egg station as well as an Asian noodle bar in addition to the usual array of fresh fruits, cereal, and cold cuts. For lunch or dinner, their restaurant offers a nice mix of international and Thai food with a few signature dishes. To my delight, they all deliver as does the chilled rosé.
Fortunately or unfortunately the motto is “when it rains it pours” when you are traveling in Thailand in offseason. I don’t mind because while your feet might get sandy and wet, Zeavola is still incredibly cozy in the rain unlike so many other Phi Phi beach resorts. I simply curl up in my bed, use the good wifi and the Pringles from the minibar for a Netflix marathon, and wait for the storm to pass. At night I am having company thanks to their local stuffed animals guests get as well as a little Thai dream catcher which I am to place under my pillow for good dreams. And believe it or not, it works like a charm!
About Zeavola: Zeavola is one of the truly eco-friendly Phi Phi hotels and is leading the area into a greener future. You can read about all their initiatives in their recently published Green Book or simply book a room for your next Thailand island holiday and see for yourself.
Zeavola & Green Pearls invited me for a 3-night stay – thank you!