In the words of His Majesty, the late King Bhumibol Adjulyadej, “the sufficiency economy outlines principles and practices for life. It is based on the principles of rationale, modesty, and resilience to external shocks or unwanted internal change. The practices of morality and intellect are combined so that knowledge is used carefully, and promotes harmony. Every organisation, in every community, in every country can apply this to all activities, at all branches, and in all careers to achieve balanced and sustainable development."
Over his seventy-year reign, King Bhumibol Adulyadej was the most travelled Monarch in Thailand’s history and had a first-hand appreciation for the challenges faced by rural people. As a solution, he initiated the Royal Projects in 1969 to develop a sustainable approach to Thailand’s agriculture, water and soil management, and electricity systems.
The philosophy of sufficiency economics is an approach to sustainable development that has influenced the last forty years of policy-making in Thailand. Numerous projects and programs are developed and implemented every year, including the Sustainable Villages Program which Eco-Logic Resort - alongside partner organisation Thai Child Development Foundation (TCDF) - became the centre of in 2016.
Students of TCDF Special School learn to plant trees at Eco-Logic Resort
Ingrid Van Der Straaten, a Director of Eco-Logic Resort, explains “the village of Pak Song was chosen by the Thai Government to be in this program. Each year, the government chooses four to six villages to be funded on account of sustainability projects that are already up and running. For example, Pak Song produces local products, bio-gas, organic farming, and composting products. Eco-Logic Resort partnered with TCDF and was specially chosen for bio-gas production and the placement of solar panels. We receive materials and expertise from PTT, who installed it for us. The funds we save must be re-invested into other self-sustainable projects in Pak Song village.” This public-private partnership enables financial returns from a private company to build social and environmental capacity on behalf of the Thai Government and Thai people.
The Eco-Logic Resort markets itself as a social enterprise. Once you understand exactly what this means, it gives you an appreciation of a business that truly embodies the phrase, ‘beautiful on the inside and out’.
The resort is uniquely positioned amongst virgin rainforest, local fruit and coffee plantations near Ton Nam National Park. If you love having a view over the tree canopy then you may easily wind up spending a few hours in their open-air restaurant. With 270 degree views of unspoiled rainforest before you, the rainforest air feels refreshingly clean to breathe and the sounds of the river and birdlife are uninterrupted. As recently as fifty years ago, about 65% of Thailand was covered by virgin tropical rainforest. Today, that figure is around 10% with most of the remaining rainforest existing in the Northern highlands.
The Eco-Logic restaurant looks over the rainforest canopy
The surrounding province of Phato is known as "Thailand's fruit bowl". Many local people here make their living from fruit plantations or the palm oil industry. Historically, palm oil and rubber has long been a major driver for Thailand's rapid deforestation and the Eco-Logic Resort is exerting much effort to see this trend change. Where possible, the resort’s resources are sustainably sourced on-site or from the local community. This reduces the resort's demand for gas, electricity, bottled water and food stuffs and in turn, reduces their consumption of goods from other communities and countries.
Haew Lome waterfall
The resort advocates that guests get out and experience the natural Thai culture and environment for themselves. Depending on the time of year, adventure-seeking guests can visit Haew Lome waterfall, Ranong Natural Hot Springs, experience hiking or try river rafting. For those who want a taste of local Thailand, Eco-Logic provides Thai cooking classes, language lessons, and day trips to Buddhist temples or small local markets.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej believed it was possible for businesses to do good and be profitable too. The Eco-Logic Resort follows a philosophy of community-based tourism and all profits are donated to the Thai Child Development Foundation, supporting local educational and medical projects. The most visible is the Special Needs School near the Eco-Logic Restaurant. The students each have a training role: caring for the vegetable and herb gardens, growing mushrooms, raising fish and chickens, producing natural soap, managing a laundry and bakery, printing T-shirts or running a recycling program.
A student of the special needs school looking after the mushroom farm
“This gives guests the unique opportunity to get involved with the local Pak Song community. There is also the possibility to help out at the Eco-Logic farm or gardens, visit the Special Needs School, or learn about adobe clay-house building at the DinDang Natural Building and Living Center,” Ingrid explains.
Modern capitalist business models advocate economic growth as a means to develop and bring prosperity to people. Sufficiency economics, on the other hand, is a consistent focus on balanced development that stresses environmental and social responsibilities as much as conventional measures of economic progress.
Environmental safeguards and social responsibilities are visibly evident inside the resort. You will be hard-pressed to find any plastic being used to serve your food. Tropical fruit smoothies are served with reusable bamboo straws and water from the mountain well is served in elegant metal pitchers. The resort recognises how difficult it is to reuse and recycle plastic so it champions a "plastic bag free" policy to guests.
If you have any aches or pains, a local Thai masseuse is on hand. Early risers can opt to do daily sunrise yoga sessions located in the riverside sala. Certified yoga instructors regularly visit Eco-Logic to teach a variety of different yoga practices. And daytime relaxation includes a reading room, hammocks, meditation sessions, and a riverside beach to catch some sun during the dry season from October to March. “Especially in rural areas, Thai people dress very modestly so we keep the bikini-wearing inside Eco-Logic Resort and encourage guests to dress respectfully when in public,” Ingrid mentions.
Views of Pak Song at twilight
Not only are you exercising, breathing fresh forest air, and sleeping well, you also eat like a king at Eco-Logic Resort. The Eco-Logic Restaurant serves a daily buffet of Thai cuisine fresh from the Eco-Logic farm and gardens. It could not be any fresher as nearly all of the ingredients on the menu are seasonal, sustainably grown and sourced on-site. This includes fresh produce, mushrooms, herbs, fish and eggs.
Despite being hidden in a tranquil rainforest, Pak Song village is not far away from sea or city comforts. You can easily organise trips to isolated beaches such as Bang Ben beach, 45 minutes drive away on the Andaman Sea. You are also only a 45 minute drive to Ranong City Pier which runs boat trips to nearby islands, Koh Phayam and little Ko Chang (not to be confused with big Koh Chang in Eastern Thailand). For those, wanting the big smoke there are also daily flights from Ranong Airport to Bangkok.
Pak Song is a short trip to neighbouring Koh Phayam Island