Unveiling the essence of Asia

The Heart and Soul of the Masterminds: Discovering the Favourite Spots and Activities of Owners and Managers

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Insider Knowledge from a Selection of Secret Retreats    

Have you ever wondered what makes the owners or managers of your favourite hotels or resorts fall in love with the place they own or manage? Is it the breathtaking views or the unique activities? At Secret Retreats, each property has its own charm and character, and its own stories. And so, for this week’s edition of Secret’s Out, we have reached out to the owners and management of some of our Secret Retreats properties and asked them to share with us their personal favourite spots and activities at their property and destination.

We hope this glimpse into the minds of these hotel owners and their personal connections to their properties will inspire you to visit their properties and create your own unforgettable memories.

So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the stories of these passionate owners and management. As always, thank you for your continued support of Secret Retreats.


Yessi Sari – Co-Founder
Sequoia Yacht

Yessi Sari’s Favourite View

Yessi Sari, the owner of Sequoia Yacht, is a true lover of nature and adventure. Sequoia is about ‘Celebrating Life’ and doing things for the first time. That can be trying new foods, scuba diving instruction, visiting secluded islands and exotic tribal villages. Her passion for exploration has led her to discover some of the most beautiful spots in Indonesia.

Her favourite spot on the yacht is the SkyDeck. From this vantage point, Yessi can take in the stunning views of Misool – one of the 4 major islands of the Raja Ampat archipelago in West Papua, Indonesia.

Misool is a place of unparalleled natural beauty, with crystal-clear waters, colorful coral reefs, and an abundance of marine life. As Yessi looks out over this breathtaking scenery from the SkyDeck of Sequoia Yacht, she feels a sense of awe and gratitude for the natural world. Also, below the water line there is the incredible view of the more than 2,200 coral reef fish species, with as many as 200 species only found in the waters here. For Yessi and her crew, being surrounded by this rich variety of nature is a reminder of the importance of protecting our planet and the need to preserve its natural wonders for future generations to come.

Yessi Sari’s Favourite Activity

One of the favourite activities of Yessi Sari, the owner of Sequoia Yacht, is the perfect blend of scuba diving the unspoiled coral reefs of Raja Ampat, followed by enjoying delicious food and drinks on a deserted island that is exclusively set up for guests. Exploring remote islands also involves the opportunity to meet and connect with the islanders, including highland tribes, and to learn about their way of life and their admirable resilience in surviving in what are sometimes such challenging circumstances.

One of the most significant highlights of these encounters is the opportunity to connect with communities and offer much needed support. Over the years, Yessi’s guests have supported village schools and provided opportunities to villagers to further their education. Yessi feels deeply appreciative of the thoughtfulness and generosity shown by the guests towards the local communities. For her, these experiences are not just about creating memorable moments but also about learning and giving back to the communities that make such unique adventures possible.

Mark L’abee – General Manager
Koh Jum Beach Villas

Mark’s Favorite View

Mark L’abee, the General Manager of Koh Jum Beach Villas, has a deep appreciation for the tranquil and serene atmosphere of his resort. His favorite view of the property is from the new yoga sala, Sabai Sala, which offers a panoramic view of the breathtaking Koh Jum Beach. The guests can take in the spectacular natural beauty of the island while practicing yoga or simply enjoying a moment of peace and relaxation at Sabai Sala.

Koh Jum Beach Villas is a sustainable resort that seeks to minimize its impact on the environment while providing guests with a comfortable and luxurious stay. The resort has implemented a range of eco-friendly practices, including using renewable energy sources, minimizing water usage, and reducing waste. The villas are built using natural materials, and the resort employs local staff to support the surrounding community. The commitment to sustainability is evident in every aspect of the resort, from the design of the villas to the sourcing of ingredients for the restaurant. Guests can enjoy a guilt-free vacation knowing that their stay is helping to preserve the beautiful natural surroundings for future generations to enjoy.

His Favourite Activity

One of Mark’s favourite activities is to explore the island’s natural beauty. He would take a boat trip from the resort to visit the isolated islands of Koh Loga, located at the north of Koh Pu, and Koh Lola, situated to the south of Koh Jum, to snorkel and marvel at the pristine coral reefs and abundant marine life.

Apart from snorkeling, he likes to stop at Koh Jum Village to experience the local culture and appreciate the sense of community that is strong on the island. The village is home to friendly locals who are eager to share their way of life and traditions with visitors. Mark believes that such experiences can create a deeper connection with the place and its people, helping guests to appreciate the island’s unique charm and character.

Kiet and Olivier – Founders and Owners
Le Passe-Temps

Their Favourite Spot

Kiet and Olivier, the owners of Le Passe-Temps in Krabi, have a special spot in their hearts for the property’s brand-new terrace. With its fantastic view of Phang Nga Bay, the terrace is the perfect place to unwind and relax with a cocktail as the sun sets. The magical atmosphere makes it the ideal spot for romantic dinners or enjoying a glass of wine with friends and loved ones, or to just simply sit and enjoy the view. It’s also an ideal spot for yoga and Tai Chi practice, allowing guests to enjoy the beauty of the bay while practicing these ancient arts. In addition, the terrace hosts all kinds of events, from wine tastings to birthday parties, providing an unforgettable experience for guests. With its friendly atmosphere, Le Passe-Temps is known for creating a home away from home for its guests, making every stay a special one, truly a place where you arrive as a guest and leave as a friend.

Their Favourite Activity

One of the favourite activities of Kiet and Olivier is the Thai cooking class they offer to guests. The class begins with an early morning visit to Krabi’s central market, where guests can purchase fresh produce and ingredients for the class. The cooking class itself takes place at the resort’s beach restaurant, Le Bac-a-Sable, and consists of learning to prepare and cook a 3-course meal. This hands-on experience allows guests to learn about Thai cooking techniques and flavors while enjoying the beautiful surroundings of the resort.

In addition to the cooking class, Kiet and Olivier recommend a full-day boat tour in Phang Nga Bay. While the waters in this area may not be crystal clear due to its location in the northern part of the bay, it has its own unique charm. The northern part of Phang Nga bay remains mostly untouched by mass tourism and boasts breathtaking landscapes of imposing rocks and deserted beaches, making it perfect for travelers who want to relax and connect with nature. This excursion provides guests with an opportunity to appreciate the natural beauty of the area and discover the hidden gems of the region.

Marcus Cotton, Managing Director – Jhalak Raj Chaudhary (JC), Operations Manager  
Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge

Marcus and Jhalak’s Favourite Spots

Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge is a wonderful 18 room boutique hotel set on a ridge overlooking the Pokhara Valley with a spectacular Himalayan backdrop. The lodge has been designed with a deep respect for the natural environment, using local materials and traditional building techniques to ensure minimal environmental impact.

One of Marcus’s favourite spots at Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge is the path from the main lodge leading northwards towards the pool. The path is particularly stunning during the summer months of April to June and the early monsoon season, when it is covered with lush green ferns and offers glimpses of the mountains beyond. Set in 7 acres of natural gardens and woodland the scenery at Tiger Mountain changes with the seasons, providing a unique and ever-changing experience for visitors.

Jhalak Chaudhary, the Operations Manager at Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge, has a favorite spot on the property as well. Jhalak enjoys the breathtaking view of the high Himalayas as guests emerge onto the lodge terrace. The terrace offers stunning vistas of three 8,000-meter peaks – Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, and Manaslu – as well as the iconic Fishtail or Machapuchare, a perfect pyramid of snow-girt rock with its steep angular ‘fishtail’ profile facing the dawn. This panoramic view of the Himalayas is sure to take every guest’s breath away and leave a lasting impression on their visit to Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge.

Their Favourite Activities from / around TMPL

Marcus enjoys starting his day with a morning walk through the local community forest along with the Lodge’s guide to spot and enjoy the diverse birdlife that Nepal’s middle hills are famous for. While walking through the local community forest the guests can expect to see and learn about a diverse range of bird species. The guides have a deep knowledge of the local birds and are able to spot and identify even the most elusive and rare species, providing guests with a truly immersive experience.

For Jhalak, he likes to take a walk around Thulakot, also known as the Great Fort – one of the hill forts that guarded the boundaries of the Kaski Principality. This fort was built to protect the territory from the adjacent Lamjung Principality until the mid-eighteenth century when King Prithivi Narayan Shah unified Nepal. The lodge guides are well-versed in local culture and history, and they provide the guests with insightful information during the walks.

Joel Ponte – Co-Founder
Surya Shanti

Joel’s Favourite Spot

Surya Shanti Villa is a peaceful retreat nestled in the heart of unspoilt rural Bali, in the beautiful Sideman Valley. The property is surrounded by lush rice paddies and ancient temples, making it an ideal location for those seeking a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The villa is designed in a traditional Balinese style and is decorated with local artwork and handicrafts, creating an authentic and inviting atmosphere. Guests can relax by the pool, enjoy a massage, or take part in yoga or meditation classes offered on the property.

Joel, the Co-Founder of Surya Shanti Villa, has a favourite spot on the property that he loves to share with guests. The Agung Villa offers a breathtaking view of the majestic Sideman Mountain, which is considered sacred by the Balinese people, providing a serene backdrop for meditation or simply taking in the fresh air and wonderful valley views. This peaceful and secluded spot is the perfect place to connect with nature and find inner peace. The villa is elegantly designed with traditional Balinese architecture and is equipped with modern amenities allowing guests to relax in privacy while enjoying stunning views of the surrounding valley and Sideman Mountain. Whether guests are seeking adventure or relaxation, Surya Shanti Villa offers a tranquil and authentic Balinese experience.

His Favourite Activity

Joel has a deep appreciation for the local culture and way of life. His favourite activity is to trek the Sideman Valley, where he can observe the locals as they go about their daily routines. He loves to learn about their traditions and customs, as well as gain insight into their unique way of life. A trek through the Sideman Valley offers a unique opportunity to see the natural beauty of Bali up close, from verdant rice paddies to lush green forests and rolling hills. It’s a chance to experience the peacefulness of the countryside and gain a deeper understanding of the island’s culture and rituals.

After a long day of exploring, Joel’s favourite way to unwind is with a relaxing massage and spa treatment at the resort’s spa. The tranquil setting of Surya Shanti Villa is the perfect place to indulge in some much-needed pampering and rejuvenation. The spa’s skilled therapists offer a range of treatments, from traditional Balinese massages to aromatherapy and reflexology. Surrounded by the soothing sounds of nature and the scent of fragrant oils, guests can let go of their stresses and immerse themselves in total relaxation.


Discovering a destination’s hidden gems is the key to creating memorable and authentic travel experiences. Secret Retreats offers an exclusive collection of properties that provide guests with the opportunity to explore Asia like never before. From the lush mountains of Bali to the serene beaches of Krabi and the awe-inspiring landscapes of Nepal, the properties highlighted in this newsletter offer unparalleled experiences that cater to the most discerning travelers. By booking with Secret Retreats, guests not only gain access to unique properties but also to the insights and expertise of the owners and local guides who can offer a deeper understanding of the local cultures, the surrounding nature, and the local way of life. Don’t miss out on the chance to discover Asia’s secrets with Secret Retreats contact the concierge team today on dream@secret-retreats.com and start planning your next vacation in Asia.

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