I’d be lying if I said we did much at Sri Panwa, beyond lolling in the pool villa. When your hotel
room house is so heavenly it does rather reduce the desire to do anything AT ALL.
We had arrived on 27 December from The Racha, the hotel on the tiny island of Koh Racha just south of Phuket, where we had spent three days over Christmas, by speedboat and by car transfer.
The boat part involved disembarking on the jetty at Chaong Pier, and then being taken up the very long pier in these extremely pink passenger lorries to the main entrance, where we were met by a charming man with a sign from Sri Panwa.
The journey from Chalong Pier in the south of Phuket, to Sri Panwa on the very south-eastern promontory takes around 30 minutes and, from the moment that you enter the estate, the feeling is one of being in complete seclusion.
The fifty-two villas are spread on a wooded hill, on long winding roads, and the only way in which you can realistically access them, the sports centre, spa, the pool club, and restaurant, is by tuk tuk, of which, thankfully, the hotel has an entire on-call and gratis fleet.
It’s hugely enjoyable whizzing around the estate, holding on tight, as the scenery unfolds before you.
We had missed lunch during our journey so first mission, after taking a few moments to put our jaws back in place after seeing our villa for the first time,
was to call a tuk tuk to take us up the hill to the Baba Pool Club for immediate sustenance.
The stark modern entrance of the pool club is a full statement of intent: this is not your trad hangout, but rather the vision of a fervent Elle Deco and Wallpaper* Thailand aficionado.
There are glorious views out over the sea, and limpid pools of water breaking up the Ibiza-style lounge seating. Along with the 25 metre infinity pool for laps, there is a bar for casual drinking, a shiny new teppanyaki restaurant on the roof, and the main casual restaurant on the main deck for Thai and international light meals.
These photos were taken very early one morning – Rachel and I have been awake most mornings by 7am at the very latest, thanks to the time difference, but the Pool Club was never buzzing at any time that we were there in peak season, not even at breakfast. I suspect that it comes into its own at weekends, and for special events. Thing is, when the villa pools are so wonderful, I suspect it’s hard to summon up the enthusiasm to swim elsewhere.
(There is another beautiful infinity pool with its own bar half way down the hillside, which was full of children when we were there, and a staggeringly beautiful one rather improbably half way up the tower that houses the spa – sadly only accessible if you having a treatment. I tip my hat to Sri Panwa’s structural engineers.)
After the lacklustre and expensive food offer at The Racha (I can forgive dull but not if I am paying through the nose for it), we fell upon the delicious-sounding menu with greed in our souls.
From the love of mincing chillies, seeds an’all, causing steam to blow out my ears and snot to pour from my nose,
to the wonderful breakfasts with fresh noodle soup stations, every fruit you could wish for, piles of great roti, myriad fresh juices, made to order pancakes and waffles, eggs, bacon, cakes, curries, croissants and more, everything we ate there was both authentic and excellent. And the staff! I asked for salted (as opposed to unsalted) one morning, and the next they proudly presented me with my own specially ordered butter pot.
And then it was back in a tuk tuk, and back to the villa for advanced navel-gazing, reading, and sky worshipping.
Our villa, perched on the west hillside, gave us a wonderful view of the setting sun each evening, and one night we headed up to the top of the spa tower to the sunset viewing platform, Baba’s Nest, of which more later.
And I felt like every wrinkle had been ironed out after our stay there.
And then, sadly, after two nights of luxe, we packed our bags into a tuk tuk, and headed back to reception, and thence to our next destination, Paresa on the west coast of Phuket, for the 29, 30 & New Year’s Eve.
Tamara Salman scarlet Minerva bag (gift)
Nicholas Kirkwood gold & white Leda sandals
Havianas leopard flip flops
Bric’s Life Clipper Medium Holdall (l)
Sweaty Betty On the Go Luxe gym bag (r)
Hat from a Phuket market stall
Vintage coral necklace from eBay
Jaunt Accessories blue & white ikat Doria travel clutch
Monsoon blue & white block print clutch
Rachel and I were hosted for two nights bed & breakfast by Sri Panwa, and covered all other food and drink costs ourselves.