My husband and my “alone time” has been whittled down over the years so that long leisurely days together strolling around town, getting foot massages and enjoying slow meals in civilised restaurants are a thing of the past. Since we moved to Singapore things have only become worse — a constant stream of family visitors, long working hours and of course, KIDS, mean we feel like ships that pass in the night! So when we got the opportunity to go check out Sri Panwa in Phuket, we jumped at the chance to leave the kids behind (with Granddad holding the fort!) and head off on a romantic trip just the two of us.
Sri Panwa is a one-hour drive from Phuket International Airport – a relaxing journey down the island, ending at the blue sea of the southern peninsula before you turn and begin winding your way up the hill to Sri Panwa. Perched on a cliff-top, first impressions aren’t necessarily wow-ing as the grounds are left in quite a natural state — no manicuring, lawns or flower beds here, more a tangle of jungle and greenery. Once you arrive at the lobby though, you get to really feast your eyes on that view, and feel your shoulders relax and the holiday begin! As we had taken the early morning flight from Singapore, we arrived mid-morning (such a fabulously short journey!) so were too early to check in to our villa. We were however given the use of another room to slip into our swimsuits before heading off to the main pool (there’s also a second cliff-top pool) and poolside restaurant, Baba Poolclub, to grab some lunch.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Sri Panwa is that there’s nothing pretentious about it at all — staff are in polo shirts and shorts, greetings are casual and everything is low-key and relaxed. It’s quite refreshing for such an upscale hotel and there were actually quite a little few kids around so the word is definitely out that this is a fam-friendly resort! The dining options reflect the chilled-out vibe, offering a selection of simple Western and Thai options (and a smattering of sushi). Everything that we tried was delicious and tasted fresh and packed with flavour, with the breakfast being the only slightly bum note (more on that later!).
When we were able to check into our villa, we fell a little bit more in love with Sri Panwa. The villas are quite simply, perfectly designed. We were lucky enough to be in a one bedroom luxury pool villa, with a pool that wrapped around the living room, bedroom and bathroom, a separate outdoor sala and a mini kitchenette (which would be perfect if you were traveling with kids). The most wonderful thing of course is that you can enjoy the gorgeous views from many different horizontal positions.
After a day of relaxing at your villa by the pool, you MUST head to Baba Nest for a sundowner. Sassy mama tip: You need a reservation, this bar is extremely popular. Baba Nest consistently tops the “Best Bars in the World” lists, and it’s simply breathtaking. Lounging on a high platform, surrounded by an infinity pool, listening to Cafe del Mar-style tunes and sipping on a G&T, this is one of life’s great moments — romantic and awe-inspiring. After drinks at Baba Nest, head down the hill (in your private tuktuk!) for a trad Thai dinner at Baba Soul Food. We ate and ate everything in sight and then rolled our way home to bed and the deepest night’s sleep we’ve had in years, until our eyes popped open at 6am (of course) as the well-trained parents we are!
As I mentioned, breakfast is not Sri Panwa’s strong suit, though the room it is served in is gorgeous – open on all sides, with ceiling fans and clean, white decor. The buffet spread just looked a bit sad and unloved, with pastries and cereals looking like they were straight out of a packet. You can however order a la carte, which perked us up a bit — banana pancakes restored our faith and made our tummies happy. Plus, good coffee — hurray! With full stomachs we headed to the Cool Spa for some pampering. My husband tried the Swedish massage while I couldn’t wait to get a Thai massage, always my favourite. I was twisted, kneaded and pummelled into a heap of jelly by my talented, thumbs-of-tungsten masseuse. We loved our treatments so much, we booked the next day’s before we even left the spa.
When it came time to leave, we were definitely ready to head home to the kiddos, but we reassured ourselves that we would head back to Sri Panwa for another romantic trip in just a couple of months. The combination of the truly spectacular location (Baba Nest will be a lifelong “special place” for us), the casual, fun atmosphere and the fabulous villas make Sri Panwa a special destination.
Nightly rates at Sri Panwa for a one-bedroom luxury pool villa with ocean view start at THB 19,600++ including breakfast. Ask about their Family Package if you’re planning on bringing the kiddos!