Thanks to its exquisite locale, dramatic architectural design and exceptional service, Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve is a sanctuary where extraordinary moments unfold.
As dawn makes way for the first rays of the sun, streaks of warm light slowly illuminate my villa, seeping into my bedroom through strategically placed skylights that are meant to enhance the palatial space below. If it wasn’t for a scheduled, early-morning island tour, I wouldn’t have bothered to leave the cocoon-like comforts of my plush, and ridiculously oversized bed.
Phulay Bay, one of only a few Ritz-Carlton Reserves in the world and one of three in Asia, bears a label of distinction that is centered around the indigenous culture and traditions of its setting, assuming a very strong sense of place. An extension of the prestigious Ritz-Carlton brand, the Reserve properties take the quintessential brand DNA up a few notches through intuitive service and deeply individualised experiences.
Nestled on a 25-acre private reserve on the southeastern shores of the Andaman Sea, an hour’s drive from Krabi Airport, Phulay Bay is a unique destination, designed as a magnet for discerning travellers who seek out meaningful experiences. As with all Ritz-Carlton Reserve resorts, the emphasis here is on providing a slice of “uncommon luxury”; an experience that’s tailored around the needs of guests, thus creating unforgettable moments.
On arrival at the Pavilion, I am greeted by the general manager and a traditional drumming ceremony. The beautiful Thai teak pavilion is flanked by reflective ponds, and is lit up by hundreds of candles – evoking a feeling of a sacred, mythical site.
From the artworks, interiors and use of natural materials, every element of the resort is inspired by nature, blending effortlessly into its surroundings. The striking expanse of the resort fans out to numerous facilities, including four choices of villas, which are set in lush, tropical gardens. Each of the 54 Resort and Ocean Pavilions, Beach and Reserve Villas, as well as the impressive Royal Beach Villa, feature a private outdoor space and plunge pool.
My Reserve Villa is a 180-square-metre haven featuring all creature comforts and amenities one’s heart desires. The elegant and contemporary design, especially its high-vaulted ceilings, resemble Moroccan-esque aesthetics, reflected also in the painstaking attention paid to every texture and fitting. This is prevalent in the en suite too, with touches such as a deep colour palette, marble stone bathtub and intricate wooden lattices. The bathroom leads out into an outdoor hamman-style pebbled courtyard, and a second, al fresco marble deep soak bathtub as its focal point. The villa’s spacious outdoor area is your very own exclusive enclave – a place that does not invite relaxation, but insists upon it.
Over the next few days, I had the opportunity to explore five unique dining establishments, the spa, as well as local attractions and experiences. One of our most memorable meals here was at the rustic and yet elegant Sri Trang restaurant and its delectable menu of fiery southern Thai dishes, served family-style as per local traditions. Another favourite evening spot is the Chomtawan lounge bar, which is the place to catch the most surreal of sunsets.
Set in the heart of the resort, the beautiful pool area is a great place to unwind, in plush cabanas or at the swim-up bar, and soak in the incredible vista while mingling with other guests. This area affords one of the most spectacular views of Krabi’s famous limestone cliffs jutting out from the Andaman Sea.
Espa, the resort’s spa, is the nucleus for spiritual and physical healing. The facility allows guests to escape the stresses of everyday life and discover peace of mind through a range of comprehensive wellness and lifestyle programmes that are inspired by Thai culture and incorporate European healing techniques. Other indulgences here include a wellness studio, steam and sauna, as well as a vitality pool.
Krabi’s strategic position in the south of Thailand make it the ideal destination for visitors looking to explore attractions both on land and water. The area consists of more than 200 exotic islands that are protected reserves and which offer a wide array of leisure activities such as scuba diving, snorkelling, rock climbing and kayaking. Another fantastic way to explore hidden gems such as Hong Island is a day trip on a private longtail boat.
Every Ritz-Carlton Reserve property affords guests the personalised services of the “ladies and gentlemen” of Ritz-Carlton; from a dedicated butler to other bespoke services that are intuitive and make every stay utterly memorable.
On the last evening, I head over to Chomtawan lounge bar to view the majestic Andaman sunset one last time. With a cocktail in hand and to the soothing background scores of a violinist, I watch as the sun changes its colours from soft pink to flaming orange, sinking gradually into the horizon and illuminating the surreal surroundings in its trail.
For more information, visit Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve.
This story was first published in the February 2021 issue of Prestige Thailand.