“Secluded luxury resort set in lush tropical surroundings with stunning swimming pools, a jungle spa, a dive centre and a vast unspoilt beach”
The 121 rooms, suites and villas are spread over 100 acres of tropical landscaped gardens, split in 2 by a small road. The décor throughout follows the same contemporary Thai style: solid teak floors, ochre-coloured Thai silk, floor-to-ceiling windows with bamboo blinds, occasional Siamese artefacts, carved wooden furniture, and art-deco style seating out on the veranda. Bathrooms (functional, but a tad dated) come with a tub (many with a nice view) and separate walk-in shower decked out in ochre-coloured tiles.
There are 64 Deluxe Rooms and while they may be the cheapest, they're not far from the beach and they certainly aren't pokey. Those on the upper floors have partial views of the sea through the trees, and all have balconies; from our room we enjoyed some memorable sunsets over the bay.
The 4 Bayfront Deluxe Rooms are slightly larger, though we didn't feel the additional space was worth the extra cost. However their standalone design and elevated views of the beach make them popular with honeymooners.
The 7 Pavillion Suites (sleep 2-6) are located near the beachfront and come in 2 sizes (1 or 2 Bedroom). All have a living-dining area and large wooden deck with partial views of the beach and bay.
Similarly, there are 7 Beach Villas (sleep 2-14) that also come in different categories (1, 2 or 3 Bedroom). These are set within landscaped gardens with direct access to the pristine beach just a few metres away. A cluster of four 1 Bedroom Beach Villas, which share a pool, can be taken individually or together to sleep a party of 8-14 people. If all 4 villas are taken, a communal living room, dining room and kitchen facilities are available to complete your own little estate. The larger villas each have 2 private pavilions, one with a large bathroom equipped with outdoor bathtub and the other with a living-dining area and kitchen facilities, these overlook the private infinity pool that offers views of the Andaman sea. Note that these may not be suitable for families with young kids as the pools have a steep-drop off and aren't fenced.
The 39 Pool Villas sit high on the hill above the existing Pimalai resort. These 1, 2 and 3-Bedroom Villas, with ocean views, are perfect for those who want complete privacy. You get a sizable infinity pool, an outdoor sunbathing deck, spa treatments in your own sala, a living room, a full kitchen and your own private chef if you desire - there is little reason to venture out! The Pool Villas are a short walk up a steep hill, and furthest from the beach and main breakfast restaurant (however, cars are available to ferry you around and there's a large, spectacular infinity pool, as well as cafe and restaurant on this same level). Note that these may not be suitable for families with young kids as the terraces and infinity pools have a steep-drop off, and the pools aren't fenced.
There are no less than 4 restaurants at Pimalai. Breakfast is served in the main restaurant Spice 'n' Rice, a huge room set under a soaring thatched roof and 3 sides open to the outside with sweeping views of the resort's pool, landscaped gardens and bay beyond. It's an impressive buffet, catering both to Thai and Western tastes: tropical fruits and freshly squeezed juices, continental and English breakfasts, eggs however you desire, as well as more exotic Asian fare. Lunch and dinner menus offer traditional Thai dining choices.
Rak Talay is the beach side restaurant which serves light meals and snacks including an abundant array of fresh, succulent seafood caught locally and grilled or steamed to your liking. You sit in huge rustic chairs made out of chunky driftwood while sinking your toes into the sand. Located up by the Pool Villas are Banyan Tree Poolside Cafe and the Seven Seas Restaurant both with truly stunning views of the bay. The former serves fine wood-fired pizzas, the latter offers decent fusion cuisine at 5-star prices, alongside which is an award-winning (Wine Spectator) wine list and an open kitchen so you can watch the chefs at work.
Guests in the Pool Villas and larger Beach Villas have their own kitchen (with oven, microwave, and fridge) and can buy simple ingredients in the local 7/11 store. A private barbecue chef is available to cook ensuite.
For those who want to go beyond the resort and eat out, we highly recommend a 5-minute stroll (heading South along the beach) to Same Same but Different, a welcoming bar and restaurant which offers cheap but excellent Thai food. In the opposite direction the Why Not Bar is a popular backpacker hang out.
Children are welcome at this resort and there's plenty to keep families amused, from building sandcastles on the beach (sometimes the simple things are the best) to snorkelling to nearby islands, learning scuba diving, and playing outdoor games at the sport centre.
From May to October only, a room can be arranged for day care if needed. Note that this is not a kids' club but your child can be dropped off here for a couple of supervised hours of play. As Pimalai attracts couples and honeymooners as well as families, there are a few areas reserved for over 12s only. Children are only allowed in one area of the upper hillside pool near the Pool Villas, but are welcome in the lower main pools near the beach.
All rooms have day beds that can be turned into an extra bed. There's plenty to choose from, with 1, 2 and 3-Bedroom Villas and Suites. All have baths, and some of the larger rooms have kitchens.
Babysitting available by arrangement, note 1 day's notice is required.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Between May and October the resort has a complimentary Toddler Day Care Room open from 9am-12pm and 1pm-6pm. It's supervised by staff and has a playroom with toys for 4-8-year-olds and a games room with Playstations for 9-12-year-olds.
Food is available all day and the restaurants have a kids menu. Parents are asked to look after their children in the dining areas (waiting staff are carrying trays of hot food and beverages) including during the busy breakfast service. Note that the signature Seven Seas Restaurant (nearer to the Pool Villas) is a designated tranquil dining setting so while families can dine here, children are expected to remain seated and be quiet at all times, but there are other restaurant options (in the lower part of the resort). There's a meal delivery service so you can eat in room and there's an on-site shop
The Pool and Beach Villas have steep drop offs from their terraces and infinity pools, plus pools aren't fenced, so parents with young children will have to be vigilant here. With lots of steps, we found a baby/toddler carrier easier than a pushchair. A number of areas are for over 12s only.