Dreaming of a seaside haven in southern Thailand? Look to Phulay Bay, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, where eye-catching architecture and an idyllic ocean backdrop combine to tantalizing effect—and give you even more reason to dress up.
Photographs by Panji Indra; styled by Peter Zewet.
The flagship property and the first resort in the Ritz-Carlton Reserve portfolio—four ultra-exclusive, highly individual retreats from Bali to the Caribbean—Phulay Bay injected a dose of drama to the southern Thai coastline when it opened outside Krabi a decade ago. Now, on the eve of its 10th anniversary in December, this show-stopping retreat beside the karst-studded waters of Phang Nga Bay looks just as good as it did then.
Acclaimed Bangkok-based architect Lek Bunnag took design inspiration from the region’s Muslim heritage when conceptualizing the resort, blending traditional Thai flourishes (peaked-roof buildings, Lanna artworks from the north) with Moorish-inspired pendant lamps and bright pops of color. Like the high purple walls that encircle the lobby, its labyrinth of waterways are set aglow every evening with the flickering light of 2,000 candles.
The 54 villas are just as gorgeous, their cool interiors of white linen and cream granite—the frangipani-shaped terrazzo tub in the middle of the bathroom is a show-stopper—opening to pebbled gardens with plunge pools. And the villas’ two-by-four-meter beds may well be the biggest of their kind in the hotel world.
The accommodations are scattered across lush gardens of soaring palms, bearded banyan trees, and bougainvillea, while frangipani trees perfume the air around the main infinity pool and its muslin-draped cabanas. Days can be spent kayaking mangroves, zipping to Hong Island in a longtail boat or trying muay thai boxing classes. If that sounds too energetic, slip into the bamboo-and-glass spa, a little slice of zen with water features and rain-forest views.
There are five restaurants and bars to choose from: begin at Chomtawan for sunset cocktails before a seafood feast at Lae Lay or traditional Thai banquet at Sri Trang. Alternatively, design your own culinary experience and opt to dine on a rooftop under the stars or in a candle-lit pavilion while being serenaded by musicians. Either one will add another dash of style to your Andaman Sea sojourn (66-75/628-111; ritzcarlton.com; doubles from US$637).
This article originally appeared in the first print issue of DestinAsian China magazine (“True to Form”).