First impressions always count, and some of them stay with us for a lifetime. The latter rings true in the case of Phulay Bay, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve. From the moment one steps into the grand aubergine-coloured entrance – the resort’s imposing architecture is the work of famed Thai architect Lek Bunnag – it’s quite evident that an exceptional experience awaits. The sound of a gong and a line of Ritz-Carlton “ladies and gentlemen” welcoming guests with a special herbal drink reaffirms that.
Set on the shores of the Andaman Sea, this impressive beach resort was the world’s first Ritz-Carlton Reserve when it opened nine years ago and set the benchmark for other Reserve hotels that would later follow in Ubud, Bali and Dorado, Puerto Rico. It’s all thanks to an awe-inspiring combination of contemporary architecture, unique Thai touches and luxury indulgences that are synonymous with the Ritz-Carlton brand.
My butler for the next three days introduces herself to me as Taeng, before driving me up and down a hilly, narrow pathway on a golf buggy to a spacious private villa situated among lush greenery. The first things I notice are the private pool and a large outdoor
day bed, the vast spaciousness of the villa itself, a supersized bed, Lanna artwork, a high Moroccan-inspired ceiling, stone baths (both indoor and outdoor) – and a big plate of Mieng Kham, or betal leaf wraps, as a welcome snack. It’s all very impressive.
It’s hard to tear yourself away from a pool villa that has all the comforts and luxuries your heart desires, but the resort has much to explore. Chomtawan Bar is a great place to chillax before dinner. Speaking of which, enjoying a seafood grill by the beach at Lae Lay restaurant is a stand-out, with the freshest and best quality produce procured from local fishing communities. Guests are also spoilt for other choices at Jampoon with its Mediterranean-inspired and Western cuisine; Sri Trang, a Thai fine dining experience; and Plai Fah, the poolside restaurant serving international favourites.
For those seeking activities and excursions, the resort’s personal explorer has plenty of ideas – from snorkeling at nearby Koh Hong or taking a trip on a long-tail boat. Meanwhile, spa enthusiasts will be in seventh heaven. Set against the impressive backdrop of a tropical jungle and the tranquility of a limestone hill, the luxury spa is a peaceful haven where personal pampering takes place in one of 11 treatment rooms. There are also vitality pools, steam and sauna rooms. The spa combines the best of ancient and modern therapies with the finest quality ingredients and a holistic wellness approach.
The striking 54-villa and pavilion resort has one more trick up its sleeve, and that’s the impeccable and thoughtful service guests enjoy throughout their stay. It’s no wonder then that Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve is being upheld as the standard to strive for.
Bangkok Airways offers three direct flights daily between Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Krabi with complimentary lounge access at both airports.
Blue Ribbon Club passengers have access to premium services at Blue Ribbon Club Lounges. For more information log on to bangkokair.com