The sun had set and a steady rain was falling when we pulled into Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Southern Thailand. It was getting dark, and I was hopeful my family didn’t look as bedraggled as I feared. Enroute to the property from the Krabi International Airport, we stopped at Tiger Cave Temple, where one of the most sacred Buddhist temples in the area is accessible only after climbing 1,237 steps.
I know what you’re thinking. Crazy, right? Yep, pretty much, but it gets better. On the way down, the huffing and puffing continued as ominous clouds let loose a drenching incentive to move fast. When my family of three pulled into Phulay Bay, about a half-hour after our mountain top adventure, to say we were a bit of a mess would be an understatement.
We had barely made it out of the car, when Bao, our personal butler for the next few days, pulled up in his golf cart to deliver us to our Reserve Pool Villa. There is no lobby at Phulay Bay; all check-in and check-out paperwork is done with your butler, in the comfort of your villa.
The rain didn’t show any sign of letting up, so wandering the grounds would have to wait, but exploring our villa was an entirely different story. One of 54 one-bedroom pavilions and villas, it’s the type of space that brings a smile to your face when you enter, regardless of the weather, or whether or not you can feel your legs.
Stepping stones lead the way across a private infinity pool to the veranda, complete with a large outdoor bed. Inside an oversize and incredibly comfortable king bed awaits, but it may not get all the attention it deserves thanks to an enormous, neighboring soaking tub, encased in room with walls made entirely of glass. Make it past the bathtub and the bed and a set of doors that can remain open or be closed for privacy, leads to a large dressing area, a long, walk-in style closet, and the bathroom.
Luxurious and romantic, the bathroom layout leaves even traveling families feeling spoiled. The toilet, and large shower, complete with Rainforest shower head, both have their own space with door, so privacy is never an issue. In both rooms, the exterior wall is made almost entirely of glass, (the surrounding outdoor area is secluded) so natural light floods in.
A powder area, offers a well-lit make-up mirror, chair, and table with plenty of room to spread out toiletries. Instead of a having a mirror behind the double vanity, the back wall of glass provides a clear view into the villa’s backyard, that along with lush landscaping, sports an oversized soaking tub.
There’s a generous desk with easy to access electric plugs, but don’t plan on getting any work done. Thai for “where the mountains meet the sea,” Phulay Bay, the first Ritz-Carlton Reserve property, is set along the shores of the Andaman Sea.
It’s easy to lose an afternoon exploring the property. Unless you’re an early riser, you most likely won’t catch sight of the many gardeners responsible for the meticulously manicured grounds that include indigenous plantings, reflection pools, blooming water lilies, and pathways that seem to venture in every direction. Hedges compliment 20-foot high, vibrantly colored walls with peek-a-boo windows that showcase even more flourishing gardens. Prepare to get lost the first couple of days. It’s part of the fun.
Be sure to find the way to the Reserve’s main infinity pool. Ocean views from the pool or nearby lounge chair, highlight the property’s seaside location. Phulay Bay offers a number of amenities, from beachfront morning yoga and Pilates classes, to movie nights, but the opportunity to visit Hong Island is a standout.
Using traditional Thai long boats, Phulay Bay runs daily complimentary shuttles to the island. Leaving from the Reserve’s beach, the scenic journey takes 15 to 20 minutes. From beach towels and water, to snorkeling gear, staff provide everything you need to enjoy the lesser-known, but still popular island. Around 1pm, just as the crowds start to arrive, staff whisk guests back to the property.
Forgetting about the rest of the world is easy at Phulay Bay, but if you need to stay in touch, high speed internet is complimentary. Daily breakfast for two people is included, (you’ll dream about the croissants) and complimentary bottled water and soft drinks are replenished daily.
Review and photos by Dana Rebmann. Her stay was hosted by Phulay Bay, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.