“Spectacular serene boutique hotel with glasshouse pool villas, an aristocratic guest list and panoramic views over Cape Panwa”
Among a landscape of mature trees (none of which were harmed in the making of this hotel), a wide range of suites and villas, built in phases over recent years, sit contentedly in their own ‘mini-estates’. Gated entrances, outdoor salas that can be used as a private dining pavilion, blue-glass tiled infinity pools with jet bubbles, gardens, terraces and sun decks create a feeling of sumptuous luxury. Many have jaw-dropping ocean views that you’ll be desperate to write home about.
Indoor living areas have big doors, big windows, big cushions and sofas you can semaphore on without disturbing your partner. Furnishings make use of texture and pattern and come in earthy colours - nothing detracts from that blue bay out there. And if you want gadgetry, it’s all here: TVs, DVD players, CD stereos, WiFi and cool music on the pre-loaded iPod.
Everything you’d expect to find in a good hotel is taken to extremes: bathrooms (twin sinks, indoor and outdoor rain showers, centre-stage soaking tubs) have a range of luxurious unguents and balms. In the dressing room, there are woven sandals that actually fit!
The pantry has a well-stocked fridge, and its complimentary contents (including the - joy - Belgian chocolates) are replenished daily (Family Suites have kitchens, too). There’s also an espresso machine, a hob and a microwave. But don’t worry about mastering how they work, as your on-call villa assistant will organise snacks and drinks for you. And plump your pillows. And make reservations. You won’t have to move a muscle.
Villas come in 1- and 2-bedroom varieties: both either Ocean View or Garden View. For couples who don't mind more compact accommodation (or those seeking lower prices), there are Pool Suites. These lack the salas, pantries and lounge areas of the villas, but retain the floor-to-ceiling windows and ocean views. Inside, each has a bedroom, a bathroom and a walk-in wardrobe; outside is a sitting area and a small infinity pool perched on the private balcony.
You never need to leave your villa if you don’t want to. Catering, bartenders, chefs and barbecues can be arranged at your room, whether you’re planning a romantic dinner by the light of floating candles or hosting a small party.
It’d be a shame, though, to miss out on the hotel’s restaurant, Baba Soul Food, focused on home-style Thai food, which comes recommended by Gordon Ramsay, who should know what he’s talking about. Menus are eclectic, with ingredients sourced from local organic farms; dishes are designed for sharing and sampling in the traditional Thai way. Perhaps Phuket style braised pork belly, or scallops with local herbs in a coconut soup and spicy green mango salad with a local ‘yam’ citrus dressing. A tempting dessert menu includes pannacotta with green tea and a jasmine crème brulee that was so good we had it twice.
Breakfast is à la carte and served at Baba Poolclub. It’s either Western and dainty, made beautiful by the jewel colours of exotic fruits and the primaries of perfectly cooked eggs and ham, or wildly strange and Asian, bursting with flavours and textures you never thought you’d end up craving first thing in the morning.
Baba Poolclub also serve an international mix food throughout the day and into the evening in their venues called BabaQ and Baba Hotpot, as well as on the sun deck. There’s a huge mix of food on offer, including an a la carte sushi menu, Chinese hotpot, burgers, salads and lots of fresh seafood - it would be incredibly difficult to bore of the food.
One of the highlights of stay at Sri panwa is undoubtedly enjoying a sundowner on Baba Nest (located on the roof of Baba Soul Food), a floating deck with an incredible 360 degree view over the sea an surrounding islands. It’s unsurprising then, that you must book in advance!
Outside the hotel and within walking distance, you’ll find a couple of terrific local Thai and fish restaurants on Cape Panwa. Within 20 minutes’ drive is Phuket’s standard-setter: Mom Tri’s Boathouse, and its new, even more scenic sister, Mom Tri’s Kitchen. It goes without saying that your on-call assistant can organise taxis to and from both.
Welcome back to the level of carefree holidays that you used to have before you had kids. Children are welcome here and there's a personal assistant on hand to make sure that you don't experience any element of stress during your stay. Even grumpy teens will like the pre-loaded iPods and raft of films in the DVD library.
2-Bedroom Pool Villas and 2-Bedroom Luxury Villas have a master bedroom and a smaller double room on the floor below it. All villas and residences have a single sofabed and can fit a baby cot, too.
Babysitting is available by arrangement. The babysitters are all trained by Bangkok International Hospital and are excellent.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Whatever you want, it's yours: private dining, BBQs cooked in your villa by a chef, simple self catering using items from your complimentary pantry, dinners in the excellent restaurant or by the beach a short walk away. Baby food can be reheated with the microwave or stove in your kitchenette. Arrange dining timings to suit you. Again, nothing is too much trouble for the staff.
Private infinity pools aren't fenced.