Sri Panwa reminds me of Angelina Jolie-- it's virtually impossible to take a bad picture of her since she’s gorgeous from every angle. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that just one of its many awards is Hotel with the Best View in the World- by Beach Tomato - The Best Beach Property Awards 2011 (UK).
Before I tell you why I was so completely enamored with this family owned hotel, let’s get the cons out of the way first.
1.The breakfast pastries were not buttery enough for my tastes. This actually turned out to be a good thing since it left me more room to fill up on the scrumptious local treats.
Other than that, I can honestly say that everything else was sheer perfection. After the first day I emailed my niece and told her that she had to scrap her upcoming honeymoon plans to Bali and come stay here instead.
Three photos later she was sold.
Why did I so love my dream vaca at S.P.? Here are just a few of the hundred reasons:
1. Phuket, a large island in the Andaman Sea (roughly an hour’s flight from Bangkok)
makes an excellent base from which to explore the surrounding islands and their beaches. However, many parts of this beautiful and deservedly popular island, such as Patong, have turned into a year-round Spring Break scene- noisy, dirty and overcrowded, with lots of drinking and endless partying. However, if you’re looking for a luxurious, secluded, island retreat, the hilly coastal property of Sri Panwa (including both a villa hotel and private residences) offers the idyllic choice. Located in the very most South-Eastern tip of Phuket, perched high above Cape Panwa, and surrounded by a 40-acre rainforest, it doesn’t get much more private than this.
2. The 52 luxe villas were designed like glass jewel boxes, offering breathtaking views from your comfy bed, oversized jet-stream Jacuzzi bath, the kitchen…just about everywhere except from the toilet! The two separate sides, one for living/dining and the other for sleeping, felt very homey with minimalist, handcrafted décor. I had so much fun running back and forth between the two sides playing my own solo version of “Marco Polo”. The designer wisely chose to keep it clean and contemporary --all the better to enjoy the natural backdrop. Outside is even cooler with your own private infinity swimming pool (which just cried out for a midnight skinny-dip under the stars) rain shower and sunset pavilion with a loungy sofa bed which is perfect for enjoying the background music from the state of the art entertainment system (the owner’s son has incredible taste in music and put together some fab, eclectic mixed tapes) while watching the sunset. It just kept reminding me of Lifestyles of the Rich and famous without any stuffy pretentiousness.
Other hospitable touches include (all complimentary) high-speed wireless Internet access, mini-bar stocked with beer, soda, snacks, and a selection fresh fruits, a personal espresso machine with a variety of exotic teas and coffees and even a freezer full of fruit popsicles.
There’s no better way to start the day than with a full buffet brekkie at the in and outdoor BABA Poolclub, which sprawls out over 5,000 square meters featuring a 25-meter infinity-edge lap pool. Other Baba delights include the Baba Pool Bar, BaBaQ, Baba Cooking School, Baba88 Disco (which has a great rep for their changing roster of international DJs) a Game Room and Yaya Boutique. The Poolclub is where most people can be found hanging out if they do choose venture forth from their private lair. The adorable wait staff was dressed in very chill Ralph Lauren-ish Bermudas and tennis shirts and could not have been more helpful. Breakfast started with grabbing my favorite table, complete with rocking chairs, and then checking off boxes on the made-to-order menu. I also began with a Cappuccino, then sometimes the Eggs Benedict (loved the one with Parma ham and bok choy) and always a cup of the fresh Coconut yogurt. I forgot one morning that I had special ordered, 24 hours in advance, the assorted dim sum plate so the next morning I had two breakfasts. Then a stroll down the buffet line, which included assorted fresh juices, tropical fruit, cereal, the afore- motioned not flakey enough pastries, and usually around eight changing Thai hot dishes with at least four different curries. I was addicted to my morning crab in green curry over rice noodles-yum!
Take a short walk down the steep hill (or chauffeur driven tuk-tuks, like golf carts, are readily available to scoot you around) to enjoy a tasty Thai dinner at Baba Soul Food, or head up the hill (burns as many calories as about 20 minutes on the Stairmaster) in time for panoramic sunset views while sipping cocktails at the Baba Nest. I kept thinking it would have made a perfect closing shot for the old TV show, Robin Leach’s “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”
4. Cool Spa
Although I gave serious thought to working off some of my breakfast with a workout at the fitness center, a game of tennis, or at the very least a yoga class, I opted instead to go for some indulgent pampering. Great choice! I was greeted by my lovely therapist, Lee, who handed me a cup of chrysanthemum tea, had me do a sniff test to choose from six fragrant massage oils, before leading me to my private room via gorgeous lily pad ponds, and Zen sounding waterfalls, where for the next 90 minutes I gratefully succumbed to Lee’s intuitive hands of velvet/steel.
Next time I’m going all out for the decadent sounding Moët & Chandon treatment that invites you to soak in a rose petal and champagne bubble bath while drinking a bottle of Moët. Nothing wrong with this picture.
5. The superior service was a perfect blend of warm Thai hospitality with European professionalism. The first morning at breakfast my server asked how I slept. I said most peacefully except when I was awakened by a strange scratching noise, which upon further investigation turned out to be stray tree branch scratching against my window whenever the wind blew. When I returned to my villa, the offending branch had already been cut back.
I just want to give everyone full warning...since I left last week, I’ve started a special savings account, because I’m dibbsing the last 5-bedroom villa residence. At only a cool million $ I figure it will be mine around 2023.