Ritz-Carlton Reserve is the brand’s ultra-luxury extension offering guests exotic hideaway destinations around the world. Phulay Bay is the very first Ritz-Carlton Reserve property to open its doors. The concept was created for those who seek to escape the stresses of everyday life and immerse themselves into a completely bespoke experience. In other words, each Ritz-Carlton Reserve experience is tailored to suit the specific needs of the guest.
Set on the shores of the Andaman Sea, in Krabi, Thailand, Phulay Bay is a striking 54-villa and pavilion boutique resort offering unspoilt views of the naturally rugged shoreline and dramatic limestone karsts which make up this beautiful part of southern Thailand.
Designed by the renowned Thai architect Lek Bunnag, the resort is an inspiring combination of modern styling and architecture. It is grand and oversized in scale with distinctive accents primarily from Thai culture, along with hints of Middle Eastern and Moroccan. Bunnag has created an environment where the senses are continuously triggered and enlivened from the moment guests enter the resort driveway to the moment they leave.
Upon arrival, guests are greeted by 20ft high aubergine walls and ‘hedges’ made from indigenous trees, creating a sense of wonder from the outside and a sense of peace and stillness once on the inside. Guests enter the resort through the high walls and walk over a stepping-stone pathway that leads them to a magnificent pitched-roof Thai pavilion situated on an island surrounded by thousands of gently flickering candles.
Once inside the accommodation, guests are subtly introduced to the resort’s signature scent while indulging in the resort’s welcome drink and taking in the stunning scenery. The furnishings in the villas and restaurants are covered in 100% Thai silk.
“When styling and designing Phulay Bay, we were very conscious of the abundant natural beauty surrounding us which is what makes people fall in love with Thailand,” the resort’s General Manager explains. “We want guests to enjoy and discover the extraordinary diversity so have worked with nature to maintain a setting that evokes the very best of the natural environment and sourced local and sustainable materials in its construction and styling.”
The contemporary interiors and public spaces of the resort were designed to complement the local culture and the natural flora of existing trees and plants. The latter also doubles as privacy screens throughout the grounds. Lanna, the traditional story-telling art, lends itself to the architectural structure and also in paintings and artworks on the walls and doors of villas.
Each of the resort’s 16 signature Reserve Pool Villas is unique, being slightly different in physical design and styling. Guests can opt for a villa with a lap pool and lawn area for sun worshipping, a private rooftop for alfresco dining and sunset viewing, or a completely secluded pool bathing area for total privacy. However, every accommodation has oversized 4×2-metre beds, deep sunken baths, walk-in closets, expansive decked gardens and vast ‘keyhole’ doorways that create a welcoming setting.
With an emphasis on personalised, bespoke experiences, guests can ‘design’ or tailor-make their visit to suit their needs. The dedicated villa butler can, for example, organise a romantic BBQ dinner at a favourite beach spot, a meditation class with local monks, a helicopter tour of the region’s dramatic scenery, an in-villa personal yoga session, or a boat journey to surrounding islands. The customisation possibilities are seemingly endless.
The culinary experiences, as one would expect from a Ritz-Carlton property, is world-class, and available at the resort’s five intimate and carefully thought-out restaurants and bars. Each venue is designed to accommodate a small number of guests for highly personalised and non-intrusive service. The chef personally meets diners to better understand their tastes and preferences and all ingredients are sourced from local markets and cooked fresh.
The resort’s signature Thai restaurant, Sri Trang, is a modern and stylish venue with a private dining room for ten, set on a private jetty overlooking the shoreline. Lae Lay, the resort’s seafront pavilion sits parallel to a 23-metre infinity pool stretching out to the sea. Beautifully appointed with oversized chairs and hanging lanterns among rustling trees, guests can also choose to dine under the stars on their private sala, seating up to 8 guests.
Plai Fah, the infinity pool bar offers soft loungers and silk pillows by day with lighter more relaxed culinary offerings, while the resort’s sunset bar Chomtawan, offers day beds, a chill-out lounge, live music and fire torches for an intimate and relaxing feel.
The Spa at Phulay Bay is a sanctuary for relaxation with stepping stones meandering through the spa, and leading to decked walkways and relaxation terraces. The latter is surrounded by vegetation and reflection ponds that capture the unique character of Phulay Bay. The Spa itself comprises three traditional Thai pavilions set over two levels offering 11 treatment rooms including single and couples massage rooms and two VIP treatment suites with attached expansive decks for massage and showering.
Phulay Bay, which means “where the mountains meet the sea” is a truly spellbinding place. And on such an enchanting tropical paradise setting sits a Ritz-Carlton Reserve that takes the definition of luxury hospitality to a whole new level.