Sarah Ivens, Founding Editor-in-Chief of OK! Magazine in the US, continues to share her tips from Krabi, Thailand and beyond!
The Perfect Cocktail
The natural beauty of Southern Thailand and the luxurious setting of the world’s first Ritz Carlton Reserve at Phulay Bay is an intoxicating blend that will leave you heady with relaxation. The 200 islands of the Andaman Sea float like giant ice cubes in the blue curacao waters, garnished with palm trees and coconut shells. With only 54 villas, the resort is small enough to make you feel pampered while vibey enough to let you know you’ve come to the best place in the country. It’s exclusive but homely, an addictive gulp of the good life.
After we get comfortable in our breath-taking bedroom (with the largest beds in Asia – two kingside beds put together then made dreamy with gigantic, custom-made linens), I meet the general manager, who worringly, considering she’s in charge of the just- opened flagship hotel, has tears in her eyes and looks rather shaken. ‘A guest just came up to me and grabbed me,’ she recounts in her charming Argenitinian accent, ‘and he looked me in the eyes and said “Stop the time! Stop the time! This is what life is about, this is the perfect place.” ‘ Her eyes well up again, happy with the fact she and her 97% Thai staff are doing their jobs so well. What’s strange is that my eyes well up too. I’d only been there for a few hours yet already know how that emotive, German tourist feels. I want the clock to stop as well.
Each villa comes with its own outside water feature – be it a rain shower or an infinity pool overlooking the sea. We had a totally private swimming pool, perfect for skinny dipping our burnt bits, and an outdoor, oversized bath, just made for relaxing under the stars. Indeed, they supply lanterns, candles, incense and locally-grown floral oils to enhance the experience. The villas also come with their own butlers. This sounded a bit pompous to start with but we soon fell into the trap of needing Tanya, our personal helper. She not only organized the basics performed by any good concierge desk at a top hotel like booking restaurants and filling our room with flowers and sweets each night, but she organized a beachside yoga lesson (for me), a trip to an elephant sanctuary (for him indoors) and would inform us of the best times to go to the bar for sunset each evening. Before long, we were scared to rejoin the real world without the help of Tanya.
Thai food is considered one of the greatest cuisines in the world and the chefs at Phulay Bay are doing everything they can to further this reputation. If you like the classics – pad Thai, green curry, tom yam guang – you’ll eat yourself silly each day. Wash it down with a glad of locally made house wine, surprisingly good considering we didn’t even know Thailand produced wine until we got there. Breakfast is set in the shade of the jumgle-like main lawn. Jams made from the fruits of the gardens and honey, served still dripping from the comb, moisten the freshly made breads and pastries. If you need something sturdier before a caving or diving trip, the seafood stir fry and eggs benedict fill you up for hours. We stayed for two nights and it wasn’t enough. You can get used to every need and desire being anticipated and uncomplicated – a refreshing, mouthwatering swig of how good life can be… Thailand never tasted so good.
TOP TIP! If you need to water down the price of this expensive elixir, for the room rate alone will drink your dollars, do what my husband and I did: rough it for a few nights in Phuket or Phi Phi, or in the nearby town of Krabi, in a hostel first.
These can be easily booked on arrival and you can get a decent room with a private bathroom and A/C for around $20 per night. These cheaper nights will allow you to get over your jet lag and into the swing of Thai life on a budget, before you make it to Phulay Bay for the spoiling you have always deserved. Don’t do this trip in reverse though. It will make you seriously depressed.
For more info or reservations, call toll free in the US, 1-800-241-333 or visit the company website at www.ritzcarlton.com