Wondering where to go for your next trip? Well, we just got back from Phuket, the largest island in Thailand. We went to Cape Panwa, a town at the southernmost tip of Phuket. We stayed two tranquil and luxurious nights at Sri panwa Phuket (yes, panwa is spelled with a small p), a resort just forty minutes drive from Phuket International Airport.
Our flight was early, but by 0800 hours the staff were already waiting at the airport to fetch us. As soon as we exited the main arrival hall, we were greeted by two handsome staff holding Sri panwa’s signage and they were wearing casual Sri panwa’s collared t-shirt and khaki bermuda shorts looking just like Ralph Lauren models. They were courteous, friendly and truly made us feel like they were just as excited to have us staying with them.
We were then transferred to the resort via a sporty medium-sized Toyota Fortuner SUV. We got really energised by the warmth of the staff and the luxuriantly tranquil images of Sri panwa from the resort’s website appeared repeatedly in our minds along the way.
As we were going uphill passing the main entrance of the Sri panwa estate, we saw lush greenery and pristinely kept environment. The resort staff who saw us passing by along the way stopped whatever they were doing and welcomed us, made us felt like royalties.
As we reached the reception building, we were welcomed by two demure female staff, one handed us towels and juices while the other processed our check-in formalities. The guys (the earlier ‘Ralph Lauren models’ ) informed us that our luggage will be taken to our villa straight away and went off.
The reception area is as stunning as a postcard shot, with clear glass walls so that we can view the shimmering Andaman Sea and the open air space that gave us our first taste of Sri Panwa style – an uber-cool blend of swanky modernism mixed with traditional Thai interior that is so refreshing.
Then came a staff who introduced herself as Khun Ting, the PR assistant for the resort. She briefly explained where we were at and the spots that we might want to check out such as the Baba Poolclub, Baba Nest, Baba Soul Food and the private beach.
Since we reached early, Khun Ting offered us breakfast while waiting for the villa to be prepared. We then hopped on a covered tuk-tuk (a classier one, of course), which was the mode of getting around the resort. However, guests could also instead opt to hike the covered walkways and steps to explore the sprawling and hilly estate.
We had breakfast at BabaQ. The list of the ala carte menu ranged from Thai cuisine specialties to Western favourites that left us spoiled for choice. The most unique feature of the outlet was the custom-made rocking chairs, besides sofas scattered on the outdoor deck.
We bet everyone would enjoy their chairs and want to have them at home! Every angle of the seating area offered sea view. I found myself rocking on the chair back and forth, immersed by the resplendently serene sea view and water features.
As soon as we finished our meal, Khun Ting informed us that our villa was ready. Although we arrived a few hours well before the designated check-in time, we were allowed to enter our room much earlier, which was a great plus since I preferred to freshen up after the journey.
Our One Bedroom Pool Villa is at the end of a stretch of villas (even more private), equipped with CCTV at the entrance. We were welcomed by our personal villa assistant before entering the carved wooden entrance door heading to the courtyard.
We were awed by the luxurious ambience and architecture of the villa. Every detail was carefully thought off. There was a private infinity pool that seductively surrounded the whole villa in ‘C’ shape and the breathtaking sea view that we can enjoy from our villa all day long while lazing at the outdoor seating area on the private sun deck.
As Khun Ting showed us around the villa and how to operate the integrated Bose audio sound system complete with TV, DVD player and iPod, the sauna and outdoor jacuzzi (which was a large tub for two), we spotted the kitchenette. There was a large refrigerator stocked to the max with ice-creams, chocolates, juices, soft drinks, fruits and instant noodles, all complimentary and replenished every day!
There were also plates, bowls and cutlery for guests who would want to dine in and relax in the villa. A microwave and an expresso machine further complete the kitchenette. Before leaving, Khun Ting told us that we can call her anytime for anything by dialling 71 and press 0 for 24-hour tuk-tuk service. “Am I in heaven?”, I wondered.
We continued exploring the villa by ourselves. We went to check our luggage that were readily placed in the walk-in wardrobe. They were nicely placed on the rack. Two cute bathrobes in pink and blue were hanging there, with abundant towels, a safety deposit box, slippers, extra pillows and a huge mirror on the wall.
As we crossed over to the his-and-hers dressing area, we calmly entered the spacious and sexy bedroom overlooking the Andaman Sea, with the bed dressed in the finest linens. The villa’s high wooden ceiling provided comfortable natural ventilation, equipped with ceiling fan. Those who prefer cooler indoor climate could just switch on the air conditioner.
Having sliding glass doors as walls suggested that guests can simply jump straight into the pool from the bed. Amazing! Imagine waking up every morning to the breathtaking sea views surrounded by tropical isolation – this probably comes close to paradise.
We were extremely excited to try the water. Since the pool is just within our reach, we decided to slide in before heading to the beach. The infinity pool had sweeping views over Cape Panwa and wrapped around the bedroom villa.
There is even a shallower pool with water jet just outside the bedroom, perfect for lounging. The water is salty (half chlorine, half salt), similar to sea water! The villa had an indoor and outdoor shower for guests to use after their dip.
The stereo for the outdoor played a fully loaded list of jazz, ballads and slow music from an iPod to suit the relaxed mood. The Bose audio system was superb, making the entire atmosphere fabulous.
Later while enjoying the lovely romantic sunset on the expansive sofa bed in the villa’s spacious, well crafted and customised living room, we checked what was on TV. To our delight, there were two hundred channels to choose from, ranging from local stations to international ones. The home theatre system is impressive, offering great viewing experience.
If guests are tired of television, then they could instead browse the internet, which are all connected via unlimited wireless broadband access that is fast and reliable.We decided to have a local Thai cuisine for dinner. Calling the tuk-tuk service to fetch us was like making a wish to the genie – it appeared in just seconds!
We then decided to walk along the road outside the resort and tried the local noodles. There were a few good little local restaurants that served authentic Thai food at very reasonable prices. There was also a convenience store where we bought snacks and packed local pancakes for munching back at the villa.
When we got back, the villa was already turned down. The lights were dimmed, curtains and blinds were pulled down and the massive bed was made comfy, inviting us to doze off to our hearts’ content.
Waking up to the view of the sea made us long for the private beach, located beside the Baba Poolclub. That is the resort’s main pool, very smartly designed with a splendid sea view and a bar nearby offering a cosy atmosphere for us to quietly cavour the sound of the wind and the sea. What a bliss!
We then headed over to the Cool Spa.Overlooking the ocean, totally secluded as it is located within a rainforest and characterised by a zen-inspired design that allowed one’s mind, body and spirit to receive extraordinary sensory experience.
I chose the spa’s signature Cool-Body Polishes (Natural Sweet Mango Delight), which was suitable for all skin types. This body scrub exfoliated and rejuvenated while nourishing my skin with minerals and anti-oxidants. The staff showed me how they prepared my scrub before indulging myself in one of the six extremely spacious waterfall treatment rooms.
The freshly-made scrub combines the meat of sweet ripe mango, natural yoghurt and local mint containing vitamins A, B and C. These qualities make the skin complexion fairer, softer and brighter with a nice mint aroma. The treatment was sensational and therapeutic!
Right after the scrub, the masseuse gave me the signature Cool-Full Body Massage (Sri panwa Serenity), one of the most aromatic and relaxing massages I ever experienced.
Using a combination of strokes and acupressure techniques, this soothing yet gentle massage transcends the body into a serene state of positive energy and calmness. I highly recommend Sri panwa’s Cool Spa as the therapists are highly experienced and professionally trained in techniques and pressure points.
We wanted our last night at Sri panwa worth the stay so we got Khun Ting to reserve us a place at the Baba Nest, the world’s most stylish and exclusive rooftop bar. The rooftop deck is surrounded by an infinity pool, affording us 360° panoramic views of the surrounding islands, Andaman Sea and Phuket’s Southeastern peninsula.
We were very lucky that during our trip, we had the view of the fiery sun melting away into the horizon while leaving reddish shades in the sky. The sunset viewed from the top of Baba Nest was probably the most perfect sunsets one could ever wish for!
Mind you, no two sunset views will ever be the same. When in Phuket, Baba Nest is a definite must-visit rooftop lounge that offered the most gorgeous sunset experience. It is thought that guests experience at Sri panwa is not complete if they do not get the chance to savour sunset at Baba Nest.
The two unforgettable nights at Sri panwa made it difficult for us to eventually leave. We were truly overwhelmed by the resort’s staff who were so attentive and polite.
They never failed to smile whenever our eyes met. I truly felt like a princess throughout my stay in Sri panwa, making me never forget my experience staying in this excellent property. As a matter of fact, I am still mesmerised by it. Overall, we found Sri panwa similar to a magical place that needs no recommendation.
The whole resort has been built to preserve the natural beauty and nothing seems to be out of place. Somebody definitely did put his or her heart and soul into designing the villas to take full advantage of the tranquil setting and panoramic ocean views. This is definitely one of the places that we will return to soon.
Many thanks to Khun Ting and the Sri panwa team for the wonderful, world-class stay and sincere hospitality.