Teething problems aside, the new Phurua Sanctuary Resort and Spa in Loei is a good place to while away a few days
Inspired by Taoism philosophy, Phurua Sanctuary Resort and Spa focuses on the idea of living in harmony with the natural flow to restore and rejuvenate life energy.
Located one hour away from Loei Airport, the resort offers an endless panorama of mountains, rice fields and a lush garden planted with herbs and organic produce.
“Loei province has rich soil. I might be biased that I think the produce grown here tastes better than elsewhere. All the food we serve at the resort comes right from our farms. We have our own organic vegetables, rice paddies and orchards from which we supply Phu Luang Restaurant, our sole eatery. We are also planting coffee and macadamia nuts for future use,” says the resort’s owner, Pornsin Tamsirichai.
In operation for less than a year, the hotel and its staff are new to the hospitality industry but meet any hiccups guests may experience with a friendly smile and a helping hand.
The lobby is small and not equipped to deal with mass check ins, as was the case for our group of 30 journalists. The staff got round the problem by setting up a special check-in table at the meeting room next to the main building and we are happy enough to take photos of the lush roses or relax around the swimming pool while waiting our turns.
Getting the key card for room number 1305, I realise I will have to wait a while for the only elevator to whisk me up to the third floor.
“There’s no need to rush once you are here. Take your time and get connected with nature,” Pornsin had told us earlier and so I take his advice and retreat to the garden to take more photos of the roses until the elevator is clear.
My room is spacious and clean with two queen-sized beds, a long writing table, flat screen TV and a balcony. Decorated in contemporary style in earth tones, it’s peaceful and cosy.
Having caught an early flight and with a busy day ahead, I take a quick shower to freshen up before the resort’s next activity. The bathroom has a bathtub on the left and a separate shower stall on the right. As I adjust the water temperature, the shower handle for the hot water falls off. Thanks to my dad, who taught me how to handle problematic household appliances from an early age, I shrug my shoulders, put the handle back on and continue my shower like nothing has happened.
Back in the lobby, the hotel staff offers to lead us to the organic farm to hand pick our dinner. Armed with baskets, we collect the vegetables under a hot sun though no one seems particularly bothered by the heat.
“Wow! I love string beans, and look at those papayas. We just need some chilli peppers and then we could have som tam,” says my friend.
It isn’t long before our baskets are brimming with red chilli peppers, string beans, lettuce, coriander and mushrooms. Assured that the baskets will be delivered to the hotel’s kitchen, we follow the staff to the rice paddies. Along the walkway, a row of Jamaican Cherry trees provide refuge from the sun. They also provide a snack, and we pick and munch the small red fruits until we reach the rice paddies.
A small airy shelter in the middle of the rice fields is like an oasis in the desert. We rest and let the wind dry the sweat. Some of us choose to get our hands dirty by transplanting rice seedlings while the rest remain in the shelter sipping cool water.
Later that day we sit down for dinner at Phu Luang restaurant where chef Bee turns our harvest into authentic north-eastern dishes like papaya salad, steamed banana blossom and stir-fried catfish with spicy herbs.
Even the most entertaining feast has to end. I walk back to my room planning to jump into bed. I fall asleep thinking of the shower handle and praying it won’t fall on me again.
AT A GLANCE
High point: Close to other natural attractions like Phu Ruea National Park and Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary. Helpful and friendly staff.
Low point: Some facilities need to be fixed.
Pay for it: Visit the hotel’s website for the best deals.
Find it: 216 Moo8 Tambon Nong Bua, Amphur Phu Ruea, Loei 42160 Thailand
Call it: (042) 810 890-2, |(042) 810 885
Browse it: http://www.PhuruaSanctuary.com or Facebook.com/phuruasanctuary.