Culture and nature are part of the package at Phulay Bay in Krabi, Thailand
By Massimo Morello
“I draw inspiration from the beautiful things in the world to create a setting in which the senses are constantly switched on,” says Tew Bunnag, Thai architect and ‘tropical style’ guru.
This inspiration is made manifest at the Phulay Bay Ritz-Carlton Reserve, which combines the forms and structures of many Orientalist traditions, from Thai to Middle Eastern to Moroccan.
No wonder, then, that it is the first property in Ritz-Carlton’s new ‘culturally conscious Reserve collection’.
The resort redefines the concept of high-end hospitality, interpreted as ‘intelligent luxury’ – knowledgeable, sustainable, not luxury for luxury’s sake, but a tool for better appreciating a destination, its culture and its nature.
The location is truly unique, set among a spectacular tropical ecosystem of tree-topped limestone cliffs, towering 300 metres above the turquoise waters, that protect all below them: a beautiful coral reef, white sandy beaches stretching along the coast or enclosed in tiny bays, and largely uninhabited islands that summon fantasies of prehistoric man.
The region is a paradise largely unknown until the 1970s, when it was discovered by chance by the first independent travellers as a landing place for sailboats.
The refined sensory experience achieved by Bunnag begins the minute you reach the teak entrance: a door that seemingly discombobulates space and time, revealing a tropical park on the other side made up of gardens, beaches, bamboo plants and palm tree-covered islands.
The 54 villas owned by the hotel are reached through ‘secret’ paths, pavilions and panoramas. The smallest, the beach villas, have 50 square-metres of indoor space and about 300 outdoors.
The larger options, royal beach villas, have 120 square-metres inside and 500 out. Combined, the breathtaking spaces constitute the ultimate hospitality habitat.
Dinner on spec
The butler assigned to each villa can organise a champagne picnic on one of the surrounding islets, a family barbecue on the beach, or a romantic sunset dinner for two. To experience the best of Phulay Bay’s culinary offerings, it is possible to enjoy a personalised menu at the Chef’s Tasting Table.
Managed by the internationally renowned ESPA, the spa combines the best of ancient and modern therapies with the finest quality ingredients and a holistic wellness approach. Surrounded by indigenous forest and rugged rock formations, the spa is situated in an environment of stepping stones meandering between teak walkways and relaxation terraces.
A label not taken lightly. The resort organises courses of every kind, from traditional Thai massage and Muay Thai boxing to Thai language and floral decoration, as well as walking meditation and rue si dat ton, Thailand’s oldest form of stretching.
An excursion not to be missed, Wat Tham Seua (Tiger Cave Temple) lies about five kilometres north of Krabi town. The prayer rooms and monks’ cells are inside the caves and according to the locals the abbot has thaumaturgic powers (the ability to work miracles). The wat has also become a popular destination with Western youngsters who team extreme sports with neo-mystical meditation.
Tel: +66 7562 8111. Web reservations: reserve.ritzcarlton.com/phulay_bay/home.