The hill of Cape Panwa, with its stunning views of the Andaman Sea is home to one of Phuket’s most luxurious stays, Sri panwa. Thirty two acres of hilly lush tropical green enwraps 60 lavish villas affording each a verdant canopy and enchanting vistas of the seascape below. A small private beach bordered by dark rugged boulders divides the land and the sea, forming an undisturbed piece of paradise for in-house guests. Both sunrise and sunset is viewed from the peak of the property, placing Sri panwa firmly on our list of The Most Beautiful Stays in the World.
A guarded entrance gives little clue to the striking beauty awaiting beyond its boundaries. Dense vegetation skirts the windy ascent to reception. A glass walled pavilion, girdled with a lily-filled pond, leads the eye out to a spectacularly serene ocean scene dotted with the random curves of tree-thronged islands. Still negligible suggestion is given however as to the composition of the property. It’s not until we arrive to our villa that we finally get it. Privacy, seclusion, the feeling that you’re alone with the flourishing jungle and the magnificent view – that’s what Sri Panwa is all about. And… now it’s obvious from the start…
Buildings are nestled into the hillscape and, although there are numerable structures, each feels as though it exists alone. An understated resplendence in modern design is interwoven with the natural beauty of the landscape bringing to form a sanctuary of tranquility and unquestionable luxury.
|Sri Panwa Views|
Our one bedroom pool villa is stunning! Glass and open areas lead out to the infinity-edged pool, which drops over the hillside and down to the shimmering sea below. A sole luxury yacht is anchored in the bay below and, a random long tail Thai boat occasionally crosses the scene.
|View from Villa Infinity Pool|
Our villa makes a clean, elegant statement of contemporary tropical design. Multiple glass walls and sliding doors allow the flora and fauna to take care of much of the visual stimulation. Soft neutral fabrics and upholstery mix with a gentle hint of Moroccan architecture complementing, but not competing with, the natural surrounds.
The bedroom is surrounded by blue provided by our infinity pool, which is also fit with not one, but two jet stream Jacuzzi systems (choose from which end of the pool you’d like to be pounded). I can’t imagine a better way to wake up than to slide open the glass doors in the morning and dip directly into the cool calm water as the sun rises on the horizon before you.
|Master Bedroom Living Area|
Early morning and evenings are best appreciated in the outdoor sala where the most pleasant background sound, taken with a sip of wine, is the tranquil call of the wild. When the sun reaches its peak, anexpansive sofa provides a grand place to lounge in cool air-conditioned comfort. This separate pavilion contains a kitchenette and separate bathroom. It can also be made into another bedroom at the request of the villa-assigned butler.
|Living Area in Villa|
|Living Area Pool Villa|
A colourful basket of tropical fruit adds a homey touch to the villa. An iPod with a built-in playlist and dock further contribute to the hospitable atmosphere. I’m even happier when I see the espresso machine and discover that the mini-bar snacks are complimentary and replenished daily.
|Kitchenette in Villa|
While I try out the infinity pool with its massage jets, the double indoor Jacuzzi, outdoor shower and, indoor shower with steam room, Kirsten ducks off to immerse herself in every other water source on the property.
After trying the lap pool at Baba Poolclub, the lagoon pool jutting out from the cliff face, the beach and, a splash off the private jetty, Kirsten returns with stories of “butterflies flitting over bougainvilleas” and a dreamy look in her eye. Smiling I tell her she’s missed two pools and will have to return on her adventures to the Cool Spa pool and Baba Nest infinity pool to truly complete her mission. It’s a terrible prospect of course,
|Walkway to Beach|
|Sri panwa Beach|
The entertainment hub is based in Baba Poolclub. A 25 metre infinity-edge lap pool, game room, pool bar, boutique, meeting space, disco and even a cooking school are housed in the indoor/outdoor building.
|Where does this path lead?|
|Best Seat in the House|
The Fitness Centre is one of the best equipped I’ve seen in a hotel. Complete with a Muay Thai boxing ring and all of the associated equipment, a Power Plate (advanced vibrating technology used by the rich and famous) and, cardio and weight machines, it’s a comprehensive set up. Those who like to tune into a personal visual display unit might be disappointed, but will soon find that the lush foliage encircling the building is nicer than a screen anyway. There’s too a yoga deck, aerobics room and tennis courts to supplement the facilities.
Eight gorgeous islands of the Phuket archipelago are within 15 – 40 minutes away by boat. Snorkeling, diving, island hopping and cruising are activities favoured by many Sri panwa guests and can easily be arranged by the concierge.
|View to the West|
|View to the East|
After almost too much fun dipping, sunning and playing on the beach we’re exhausted (in the most pleasant way possible) and decide a visit to the Cool Spa is in order. Relaxation and beauty therapies, such as massage, facials and manicures, make up an extensive and holistic menu. Read about ourblissful experience via this link.
Food and Beverage
The thought of leaving our haven only crosses our minds when tummies begin to rumble. We do have a kitchenette in our room though with a full-sized fridge. Upon better advance preparation next time we might bring a cooler of cold cuts, cheeses, drinks and more and, truly never have to leave our sanctuary. It’s not the case this visit though so we set off again to explore.
Three locations make up the restaurant concept, Baba. Breathtaking sunsets are viewed from Baba Soul Food, which offers an intimate setting and fine Thai cuisine. We spend a pleasant evening with lovely service in this peaceful place. Our favourite dishes from the menu were the homemade coffee ice cream and the classic mango sticky rice.
|Mango Sticky Rice|
Baba Poolclub spreads over 5000 square metres and doubles as an all day entertainment outlet. Japanese, Italian, BBQ, Thai and hotpot dishes ensure all taste buds and proclivities are pleased. This too is where breakfast is served, which turns out to be a light buffet with eggs, pancakes and waffles ordered a la carte. I enjoy the Baba Eggs Benedict with a Truffle Sauce instead of Hollandaise.
|Baba Eggs Benedict with Truffle Sauce|
Our favourite spot though is Baba Nest. Named in the Top Three Beach Bars in the world it sits at the peak of the resort. A wooden deck seems to float atop a pool with three infinity edges dropping over the hill slope and down to the bay. The beauty lies in the simplicity of the design. Beanbags and low tables are all the adornment that is required. Nature is left to do the rest with the golden sun casting its fading rays across the Andaman Sea, turning island humps into deep blue shadows and, fashioning that magical dusk light that turns everything an enchanting flaxen. It is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent locations for a drink we’ve visited.
|Sunset Cocktail at Baba Nest|
Corporate Social Responsibility
Knowing the location is a key factor in the beauty of this property, CSR activities are taken seriously. The team at Sri panwa is actively involved in community programs on Phuket Island. They regularly donate to selected charities and partake in betterment activities on the island such as blood donations, clothing donations, rubbish collection at designated beaches, and baby sea turtle release programs at the Phuket Aquarium. Every three months a group of Sri panwa staff select a charity to support such as the local Phuket Orphanage or Foundation Aiding the Elderly, and plan a day of activities with them including lunch, games and presents. They also have an Energy Saving Team who conduct checks throughout the property and analyze ways to save both electricity and water.
Sri panwa is one of the most stunning properties in which I’ve stayed. Marrying nature with contemporary design and affable service has established a property that will forever be forged in the memories of all those fortunate enough to visit.
Reasons to visit: stunning location; ultimate in privacy and service; currently in our top 10 list of the Most Beautiful Stays in the World
Sri panwa, Phuket
88 moo 8 Sakdidej Road
+66 076 371 000