Ask any savvy traveller about Phuket’s fast-moving hospitality scene and the conversation will inevitably drift to the legendary Sri Panwa luxury resort – a 52-villa, six-star jewel stretching across one of the island’s most beautiful plots of beachfront land, Cape Panwa.
The pool-villa-only resort is celebrated for its seamless integration with the surrounding landscape, beautiful contemporary tropical architecture, infinity pools and glass-enclosed bedrooms with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding ocean and lush landscape.
It’s no surprise the resort boasts a celebrity guest list that would make other hotels green with envy – the Thai Royal Family, Chef Gordon Ramsay and David Rockefeller, as well as Rita Ora and Snoop Dogg (who filmed the video for their single Torn Apart there).
While known for its striking villas, the resort recently unveiled its latest development phase – a new enclave of pool suites and penthouses named Habita. Like almost every other building in the resort, the new complex sits around 40 to 60 metres above sea level, commanding remarkable views of the surrounding landscape. Although not full pool villas, each suite features a private infinity pool – maintaining the hotel’s “pool resort” theme.
But delays in construction meant Sri Panwa’s latest addition wasn’t complete when we arrived, forcing our small entourage of journalists to stay in the resort’s full-blown luxury pool villas.
The 260-square-metre villas, nestled in ascending order up the resort’s perch on Cape Panwa, are luxurious to a point almost without fault. Swing open the villa’s wooden front door and you are immediately confronted with a massive, wide open view of the surrounding Ao Yon Bay and nearby Koh Lon. It’s quiet and calm, with little more than the sound of the wind against the leaves to keep you company. Once the door closes behind you, it’s hard to do anything but stand there and stare.
After the awe wears off, a luxury playground awaits. Slipping into one of the infinity pool’s two Jacuzzi nests with a glass of wine (or freshly cracked lager, in my case) is the first order of business and arguably the best way to enjoy the sunset as the day wanes. A whirlpool bathtub, spacious sundeck and fleet of relaxing furniture make it hard to convince yourself do anything but lounge the day away – my favourite option. Of course, there are flat-screen TVs, Bose sound systems and private kitchenettes if you fancy it.
The last one probably won’t get much use. Sri Panwa’s F&B options offer more than enough variety to keep you busy. A whopping 10 dining venues are packed inside the resort’s walls – all under the moniker “Baba” and all equally enjoyable. The piping hot southern Thai food (for a foreigner’s tongue, anyway) at the intimate Baba Soul Food is a perennial favourite that lives up to its reputation, as does the sky-high Baba Nest – a rooftop venue offering arguably the best panoramic views this side of Phuket.
But the best experience of Sri Panwa is probably the first you have each day: waking up in the morning. With the sun rising gently in the corner of your vision, you rise surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows on all sides and nothing but wide, far-reaching views to
fill your eyes – like you are waking up at the edge of the world, wrapped in cosy 1,000-thread-count linens.
It’s a heck of a way to start the day, and something you’ll dearly miss when you’re back home stumbling out of bed to the grating buzz of your iPhone.