Written by Jennifer Ford.
One year ago a group of my artist friends and I adopted a formula for creative production. On a monthly rotating we check in with each other, keeping each person accountable to their creative medium. As the motivating influences behind Jennifer Ford Art, I owe this epic vacation to them. After working hard in April to finish my Ph.D. studies, my husband and I scheduled a rest hard to the number one location on my bucket list. Thailand was it!
We wanted to go to an idyllic resort and spa, but we have a tight budget. Thankfully, I learned some tips and tricks from my younger crazy traveling days. The number one factor in budget traveling is to book your vacation during a shoulder season. In Thailand, Peak Season is October through April, but prices reduce BY HALF in May! We were taking the risk of having a rained out vacation, but our only goal was sleeping and eating, so we set ourselves up not to be too disappointed by inclement weather. Six Senses Yao Noi is a private island resort with 24-hour personal butler service, infinity pool bungalows, and 5-star dining options.
It was the perfect place for our very busy schedule of sleep, eat, swim, REPEAT. We threw in one Tuk Tuk Boat excursion to the surrounding islands and one local food trip, but beyond that we RESTED! The next big purchase was the flights.
I had heard so many rave reviews about the Emirates airline that I was slightly fixated on finding a cheap flight with them. It took about two weeks of price alerts before I took the plunge and purchased some very reasonable flights. As a bonus, I was able to book flights that gave us a 24-hour layover in Dubai each way. This was a fun way to make it a two for one vacation! I spent the next few weeks trying to figure out how to get upgraded to their legendary First and Business class seats. I did everything I could from signing up to their frequent flier miles’ programs, exchanging credit card points, and trying to get put on a waiting list as soon as we got to the airport. Nothing worked, UNTIL we were put on in business class for one leg of our flight from Thailand to Dubai! It was glorious. It was JR’s first time in business class, and that six-hour flight of gourmet meals, free-flowing champagne, a private bar, hot towels, unlimited movies, and sleeping swag bags was totally worth the hours of leg work I did to try to get us those seats.
Since, I had been through Dubai before I was eager to have more of an authentic desert experience. Camel riding, falcon hunting, and Bedouin tents were preferable to skyscrapers and elegant dining. Bab Al Shams was the ideal location for all of my romantic images, so we drove 45 minutes outside of the city for our overnight stay.
To be honest, it didn’t go so well. I got horribly carsick on the way out to the resort and JR got sun poisoning once we were there and had to stay in. The only saving grace was that my friend Sarah who recently moved to Oman flew in to say hello. We had a fantastic dinner at the Arabian Nights show that the resort put on, and I got to check off all of the items on my list: Camels, Falcons, Arabian horses, and tents, along with the best Middle Eastern feast I have ever had (and a pretty fantastic hookah as well). To be honest, I always had to fight off the feeling of guilt at my self-indulgence, but if I had known what awaited me when I got home, I would have been more thankful for the reprieve! My mood was improved, my mind was clear, and I was a healthy enough to handle the stress of a new Art Opening and the news that we were accepted to The Market Art and Design fair in the Hamptons. For more on the Hamptons prep and my unexpected trip to Miami see my next blog…