Keeping the local community close to the heart of her wellness-focused hotels, including exclusive island retreats Cape Fahn and Cape Kudu, Tirawan Taechaubol offers an authentically Thai experience for guests in search of off-the-beaten-track luxury.
From ‘feet in the sea’ picnics and floating breakfasts to tropical fruit tasting and building homes for island birds, Cape & Kantary Hotels immerses guests in the surrounding natural beauty and culture of its charming local inhabitants, all the while maintaining a serene sense of seclusion thanks to castaway settings on two of Thailand’s tiniest islands.
What does being ‘Independently Minded’ as an hotel owner mean to you?
As our hotels are family-owned, we have the freedom to create what we consider to be the best for our guests and the authority to ensure enjoyment and to impress our guests no matter how big or how little that touch, without any constraint or restriction of having to adhere to the brand book. Any improvements can be swiftly and efficiently implemented to take full advantage of emerging technology and ensure that we maintain full association with current trends and popular activities. We are able to work closely with the local community to our mutual benefit and of course, maintaining that essential local charm instead of modifying it in any way.
What was the inspiration behind the hotels, and where do you continue to find sources of inspiration?
Hotel operation and management is a long-established family passion. We select beautiful locations for our properties where relaxing and restorative nature can easily be accessed and explored. Our inspiration derives from our travels around the world where I am able to source attractive and intriguing artefacts to satisfy my personal passion for art.
How do you think your hotels stand apart from other boutique hotels?
There is one aspect of the experiences that we offer of which we are particularly proud and it all boils down to close attention to the small things, those details which make all the difference. We are able to offer truly local experiences such as sampling local food, local culture and local attractions. We have succeeded in acquiring the best local ingredients for our kitchens from local fishermen and farmers as well as gaining local understanding of the traditional methods of food preparation. Wherever possible we involve the local community in our activities, for example the local food featured in our breakfast; local workshops where batik has been practised for decades; and fishing or collecting shellfish with local fishermen.
If you only had 24 hours to get a taste for your hotel experience, what would you recommend a guest must do?
Cape Fahn, Koh Samui…
- Dinner at the hotel’s Long Dtai Restaurant where diners are regaled with authentic Southern Thai food. The restaurant is in the very capable hands of Michelin-starred David Thompson whose love of Thailand and its food keeps sustainability and the use of local ingredients which can be sourced seasonally front of mind – all fish served in the restaurant is line-caught, for instance.
- Our ‘Feet in the Sea’ picnic – this is a totally unique experience where small groups of guests can enjoy a luxury picnic seated in the shade at the beach while waves lap soothingly at their ankles.
- The simple pleasure of relaxing in a luxury room surrounded by stunning views of nature with the tropical sun bathing this lovely private island in warm sunlight from dawn to dusk.
Cape Kudu, Koh Yao Noi…
- Floating Breakfast in the National Park – guests can enjoy a dream-like luxury breakfast overlooking one of the most exotic sunrises imaginable and an island-hopping tour by long-tailed boat. The exhilarating crescendo of the dawn chorus brings magical scenery into view at Koh Hong.
- Excursion tours to Koh Ling, Koh Ka, Koh Kudu and Koh Roi – Koh Kudu with its charmingly secluded lagoon and simply stunning views is home to exotic Hornbill families, monitor lizards and colonies of fruit bats. By kayak, guests can glide over mirror-like limpid waters into an area of splendid silent isolation. At Koh Roi, the mangrove forests are full of life and archway caves can be explored at low tide.
- Sunset Picnic on Laem Had Beach, Koh Yao Yai – enjoy a picture-perfect sunset picnic in completely natural surroundings on Laem Had Beach on Koh Yao Yai as the sun slips smoothly below the horizon.
- Cycling around the beautiful island – take the opportunity to see life as the locals live it, by visiting local markets and stopping off to take in the spellbinding views.
- Take a boat trip around the island then go and scour the beaches for shellfish and visit a combined fish farm and conservation centre.
How would you describe your own perfect luxury experience?
For me, it is the memory that will last for years and years after the holiday and the feeling of fulfilment that I felt. It can be anything from a peaceful relaxing experience or feeling inspired by something new that could come either in the form of an unanticipated ‘wow’ factor, some memorable little moment that impressed or the unexpectedly high level of service from the hotel staff. These happy and pleasant surprises will form a lasting impression so that, on checking out, the guest effectively takes the holiday home with them.
Do you have a vision for the future of the hotels?
I think that an important lesson we have learned over recent years is that travel must keep sustainability at its heart. I can also foresee that wellness travel packages are likely to figure more prominently as the pandemic subsides. A further development is the growing popularity of tourism to what might be termed ‘Second-tier Provinces or Cities’ in Thailand. These are the more off-the-beaten-track destinations where tourists can enjoy undiscovered local experiences where local food and charming local inhabitants will play an important part. These also have the advantage of being less crowded than the mainstream destinations but still able to offer luxury and authentic experiences, ideal for ‘Staycation’ or ‘Work From Hotel’ breaks.