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Naturally lovely: Botanica Khao Yai

Guest blogger Julie Miller discovers a luxury resort embracing the natural environment of Thailand’s first national park.

Business is booming around Khao Yai National Park. A three-hour drive from Bangkok, this formerly sleepy mountain haven is becoming increasing popular as a weekend escape for wealthy cityslickers, with new condominiums, a shopping mall and even a state-of-the-art waterpark about to open.

Khao Yai Botanica Infinity Pool

Yes, Bangkokians love their creature comforts, and even those who are into wildlife spotting, bird watching or swimming in waterfalls crave a touch of luxury. A new resort, Botanica Khao Yai, manages to fit that bill without sacrificing its connection to the surrounding environment, with gardens and pools offering far-reaching views across the mountains and a cliffed backdrop where the sounds of the jungle prevail.

Khao Yai Botanica bamboo forest and pool

The clean, modern lines of Botanica’s five-storey structure are a risky choice for a so-called ‘nature’ resort. With a heavy reliance on concrete, it could have become an eyesore, at odds with the lush environment.

Somehow, however, it works: the main building mirrors the sheer cliff behind it, while the curved pathways and terracing lends an organic feel. Sympathetic landscaping (including several barbeque pits) helps the resort blend with the environment, while the two pools – especially the upper-level infinity pool – are a real highlight, blissful spaces to relax and soak up the views.

Khao Yai Botanica Infinity Pool

Luxury is also at the fore in the 114 guest rooms, suites and apartments. My room, the second-category Botanica Suite, was simply enormous, with a large living room, kitchenette, a separate bedroom, en suite and a massive balcony with an outside bathtub. Facilities include free wi-fi, iPod docking station, king bed and a rainshower … there’s also a free mini-bar! “You can take anything inside,” we were told. “Just don’t take the fridge!”

Khao Yai Botanica bedroom

Seventeen rooms in the complex also have their own plunge pools, though during my visit I had the beautiful communal pools to myself anyway.

Overlooking the lower pool is the resort’s bar, an open-side ‘tree house’ perfect for a cooling afternoon Chang or evening cocktails. Nearby, the restaurant, Tempo, serves an exceptional breakfast, with a choice of Asian and western dishes.

Khao Yai Botanica restaurant

With the national park just 1.5 kilometres away, Botanica is a touch of class and a great place to base yourself for a weekend communing with nature.

For more information, visit www.botanicakhaoyai.com

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