Monday, April 18, 2011

Serendipity at Sri Panwa

Sri Panwa was wonderfully kind enough to host me on my trip to Phuket two weeks ago, and I have to say -- staring out my window on a gloomy Sunday afternoon, I can't help but wish I could close my eyes, click my stiletto heels, say "There's no place like Sri Panwa" and somehow magically be transported back to this sunny paradise.

It had rained to the point of flooding in the days before our arrival, and a super-busy pre-holiday schedule meant we weren't even yet in holiday mood even after arriving the airport and boarding the plane. All that changed when we settled into the comfort of our hotel car and wound our way down the curvy road to the southern tip of the island, Cape Panwa, where the hotel sits. They welcomed us heartily and put us in a "relax room" for a couple of hours while our villa was readied. Sri Panwa used to be an all-villa holiday and semi-residential resort, until they built a newer complex, the Baba Pool Club, which is a series of standard hotel rooms whose balconies are outfitted with infinity pools. Holiday mood achieved! I was geekily excited to find a clipping of an article I wrote on them way back in 2008 for Le Tatler. I want to say that it was coincidence and fate, rather than them planting it there for my enjoyment, because the room we later transferred to had different clippings.

Instead of sullying the room, we headed upstairs to get some food, including a watery curry and an awesome duck larb. The venue is awesome -- cute modern touches all over a semi-outdoor venue that looks out onto a system of mini pools, lounge pods and tables. Very Hei-Hei meets Phuket and good taste.

The room we were then transferred to was... yowz. First of all, calling it a room is an egregious understatement; what I meant to say was palace of greatdom, villa of formidableness, temple of excellenosity. A two-hut structure connected by an outdoor circuit of land and pool, it brought together everything you might ever want in a resort hotel, and then some. In the first hut: bedroom with lounge area, bathroom with bathtub-for-two overlooking the beach, outdoor shower, and direct pool access from balcony doors at the bedroom AND bathroom. Direct, as in, you open your doors and... pool.

In the second hut: another bathroom, dining area, day bed for two, full kitchen with free snacks, drinks, instant noodles etc. Oh and of course, the fabled liberty that ties it all together, more balcony doors with pool access.

Needless to say, we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly without ever having to leave the villa (although we did venture down to the bottom of the hill for a walk and some street food. Get yourself some pork balls on a stick or crispy crepe with condensed milk and banana, or dine at the Thai restaurant closest to the property. OR, of course, order into the villa, because room service is always, for me, the ultimate luxury.

We also spa'd -- I had a "Sweet Surrender," a two-hour ritual which included a mango scrub (yums), milk bath (at a decent temperature so you're not baking in there, it's quite nice actually) and then a massage (bliss and actually with enough pressure, which is rare). I was a happy camper indeed. It sure beats sitting here watching Curious George on TV when the Amber rainstorm warning icon pops up. Sri Panwa, where are you when I need you most?

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