Any trip to Bangkok begs a detour to one of the picture perfect beach regions that Thailand is also known for. To escape the bustle of the city and to sample the best of seaside Asian hospitality, we opted for Phuket where we checked into the luxurious Sri Panwa Hotel.
Sri Panwa’s opulent presence is felt from its entrance at the bottom of a lush palm strewn driveway. Colorful tuk-tuks exclusive to the property are manned by cute college kids lined up to whisk you away to one of the villas on the 32-acre property at the Southeastern tip of the island, high above the Cape Panwa peninsula. The sense of tropical chic bursts from the doorstep of the passing orange-colored villas, quietly decorated with frangipani flowers and tasteful praying buddha statues. It’s a property that’s dominated by landscape and the setting is easily likened to a botanical garden, encompassing a private beach, a forest park and more paradisiac nooks and strolls than you can imagine.
All 70 suites and one and two bedroom villas offer stunning views over the east and west ridges of Andaman Sea, while private pools feature the seamless indoor/outdoor spaces and a quiet tranquility (and romance) for many honeymooners. The décor is of the cleanly modernist yet tropical aesthetic that the region does so well, while caramel colored wooden floors, built-in furniture and carving iconography subtly remind you that you’re still in Thailand. Stunning flora and fauna frames each building to create dramatic lines to the turquoise ocean in the distance. And the music is so thoroughly curated on the personal iPods docked in each room that you can change the mood from Café del Mar to bossa nova without missing a beat.
The arc on this property is privacy. You’re unlikely to see another guest on walks along the many trails or even at the stunning communal Beach Pool. Guests tend to stay in their rooms and have everything delivered. It’s as though you’ve landed on a private island with all the amenities available and the choice not to see anyone else.
Guests who want to make a move (unlikely off the property) can call a tuk-tuk to be taken to anywhere—from the tennis courts on the northeast side to the Cool Spa, which offers everything from yoga to massage to a fully outfitted salon for mani/pedis and haircuts. Breakfast at the Baba Pool Club and Baba Dining Lounge is one of the few times guests choose to leave rooms and perch at water drenched areas, or check out the small boutique and Baba Cooking School. Some guests also emerge again at sunset to claim a spot a Baba Space, an uninterrupted perch at the very top of the resort complex which offers a 360-degree view of amazing sunsets that create a soft outline of the surrounding islands as far as the eye can see.
To visit Phi Phi, Coral, Racha, Maiton or any other of these nearby islands in the Phuket archipelago, guests can launch a tour from the docks for the 15-40 minute trip. Water-loving visitors can also go scuba diving or snorkeling just steps from the hotel in nearby Panwa Bay.
Sri Panwa is the kind of hotel where all the amenities are at the ready but there’s never the feeling of heavy-handed service that becomes obtrusive. The entire stay can exist in your room, but paradise is on tap just outside.