Sri panwa

Cape Panwa, Phuket, Thailand Book from THB14,251

Reviewed by Viv Monahan
Spectacular serene boutique hotel with glasshouse pool villas, an aristocratic guest list and panoramic views over Cape Panwa
Rainforest shades the long, private road to Sri panwa, so when you finally walk through the unassuming hilltop entrance to this gorgeous hotel, it’ll take your breath away. Wide white steps lead you down to a glass pavilion, moated by a purple water-lily pond, to a view that’s suddenly open and wide, sun-filled and sparkling: islets hunker around the turquoise bay; longtail boats carve slow furrows in the perfect blue sea, 40m below.

The hotel connects via endless walkways and lanes to cool and sensuous suites and villas, perfect for families as well as couples. Be on your guard: glass-walled bedrooms floating above infinity pools, walled gardens, sundecks and luxurious outdoor bathrooms will seduce you into a lotus-eater mentality. Yet there are times when Sri panwa rocks: international DJs host the occasional celebration, and bright young things (including a Thai princess or 2) flutter from spa to bar. Take as much or as little as you like from what’s on offer. Both the tranquility and the hipness are far too well-mannered to intrude.

Highs

  • The secluded suites and villas are so well-designed and kitted out, it might slip your mind that you're only a temporary resident here (Gordon Ramsay christened it his ‘second home’)
  • This is a perfect location for twice-a-day sun salutes - pink sunrises, golden sunsets
  • You can enjoy the glorious feeling of throwing open your doors and leaping straight into your infinity pool. Bliss
  • There's don’t-lift-a-finger service - your on-call assistant will arrange everything from unpacking to running your bath
  • The food in the restaurant and poolclub is imaginative, delicious and cooked in an open kitchen, plus the views from the hotel's bar will leave you stunned!

Lows

  • It's seriously expensive, though prices include a load of extras
  • The private coral beach is petite and rocky. When you get that irresistible Crusoe urge, head off to the deserted white sand beach at Maiton Island, 10 minutes away by longtail
  • As Sri panwa’s built on a steep hillside, getting around on foot uses up a lot of energy. Fortunately, there’s a fleet of tuk-tuks to chauffeur you about
  • It’s hard to lure people from their villas and the hotel can feel deserted. A plus for some
  • Constructed in 2015, we're yet to view the Pool Suite (West) Ocean View and 1-Bedroom Penthouse Ocean View options

Best time to go

From December to April is when Phuket’s weather is cooler, drier and at its most lovely (but it’s also when prices are higher). Christmas is a particularly good time to escape to Sri panwa: celebrations happen throughout the period in the restaurant, with blow-out menus to tempt even the most rigorous dieter. Thai divas and international DJs are usually booked for the festivities.

Our top tips

If you can bear an early morning start, accompany the chef to the market to choose the freshest local produce. Then learn how to create a delicious Thai lunch with the ingredients at the on-site Baba Hotpot cookery school.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Honeymoon
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 59
  • Restaurants and bars (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Tennis Court
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Luxury Villa

Rooms

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.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bose entertainment system
  • Cd player
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Ipod dock
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Nespresso coffee machine
  • Phone
  • Pre-loaded iPods
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Swimming pool
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

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.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Cooking classes
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating: Baba Soul Food
Activity:

Activities

  • Swim at bird-height in Cool Spa’s cliff-top pool before indulging in a fragrant, sensual massage for 2 in one of the 2 therapy rooms. For long-lasting benefits, you and your partner can learn how to do it yourselves
  • Party in Baba88, located at Baba Poolclub; it often sees big name DJs. In the day though, you could play pool in its game room, or learn how to cook with Baba Hotpot cookery school
  • Go night-time squid- or big-game fishing with an experienced team who’ll take you to the best hunting grounds
  • Or, for less competitive sailing, cruise with a champagne glass in hand and a picnic box at the ready, through the Phuket archipelago. Sri panwa has 2 crewed boats, a longtail and the 21ft speedboat. Both are loaded with towels, soft drinks, snacks and equipment for snorkelling, wakeboarding and waterskiing
  • Diving is recommended nearby at the Racha Yai or Racha Noi Islands, Shark Point at Phi Phi Island and Dokmai Island around Phi Phi Island, where private or group diving lessons are both available
  • Feed the fish or snorkel in the sheltered waters beside the hotel’s floating pier - equipment is provided free of charge. Sri panwa also has kayaks and canoes available
  • There are 2 tennis courts and an air-conditioned gym on site; private instructors and tennis buddies are on standby
  • Special classes are occasionally held in batik, tie-die, pool aerobics and Srivananda yoga
  • Take part in a full moon yoga session, a tranquil alternative to all-night partying, on the floating deck overlooking the Andaman Ocean. Some believe the full moon heightens the mind... See Rates for class dates
  • Eco-tours can be arranged to local work places or rubber plantations
  • Take a cultural tour of antiques shops and the old town during the day, then go to an evening performance of Simon Cabaret, a gloriously kitsch (and slightly overpriced) lip-synching show put on by Phuket’s celebrated ladyboys
  • You can play golf at one of 7 courses on Phuket (Sri panwa recommends Red Mountain, the newest and most challenging), or go riding at Rawai, both 30 minutes away by car

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Kayaking
  • Nightlife
  • Private guided tours
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Tennis coaching
  • Well being
  • Yoga

Kids

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.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

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:

Babysitting is available by arrangement. The babysitters are all trained by Bangkok International Hospital and are excellent.

Baby equipment:

  • Cots
  • High chairs

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

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.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Swimming pools
  • Games room with Foosball, table tennis, pool
  • Batik art and porcelain painting classes
  • Swimming lessons
  • CD and DVD library
  • Board games
  • Tennis courts and lessons

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Boat trips
  • Beaches
  • Snorkelling and diving

Families Should Know:

Private infinity pools aren't fenced.

Distances:

  • Airport: 40 minutes
  • Hospital: 1 hour
  • Doctor: Can be called to the hotel
Kid Friendly: Baba Poolclub

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
8/
Food
10/
Service
8/
Value
9/
Overall

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Rates for Sri panwa