A small family owned resort near the coast at Kung Wiman, Chanthaburi province in Thailand came 2nd in the “Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards.” Winners in four categories were announced at a ceremony in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on November 21. Faasai Resort was the runner up in the budget category. The judges gave it a score of 96 percent for its sustainable practices.
Over 40 entrants from across Asia entered the awards. Eight finalists from Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines and India made it to the final round.
The criteria used to judge the budget accommodation category included conservation of resources such as electricity and water, minimizing waste disposal, protection of nature and the environment, support for the local community, education of visitors and fair treatment of staff.
Surin and Bronwen Laopha, a Thai/New Zealand couple, built the resort from scratch completing it two years ago. Says Surin: “At the beginning, people raised their eyebrows because we did things differently. We kept native trees on the property, built a small number of high quality buildings, rather than lots of cheap accommodation, kept most of the land as open space for gardens and put in solar water panels. We built the resort with restraint and a love for nature in our hearts.”
The peaceful 15-bungalow Faasai (“clear sky’) has many rare trees and herbs onsite, including aloes wood, barking deer mango, monkey jack and neem trees, which have culinary and medicinal value and provide shelter for birds and other wildlife. More than a dozen varieties of frogs, over 50 varieties of birds, as well as lizards, turtles and indigenous squirrels have been seen at the resort, which nestles at the foot of a hill 200 meters from the beach.
Leaves, fruit and herbs from the local plants and produce from the resort’s own vegetable garden infuse many of Faasai’s menu items with freshness and a unique character.
Bronwen believes that the concept of responsible tourism fits the mood of travelers today who are looking to save money, protect the environment and have an authentic travel experience. “The ultimate luxury today is peace, experiencing nature and friendly service. We offer all this to our guests. The luxury of nature is affordable. It’s not only for rich people.”
Faasai Resort and Spa is easily accessible from Bangkok. The resort is three hours’ drive away, with buses every hour to Chanthaburi from Bangkok.