How Phuket Panwa surprised me on a casual weekend getaway …
by Anita Zaror
What do you look for when choosing a home? Distance to work or your kids’ school? It having a vintage or modern feel? Or maybe an affordable price? What I’ve noticed about the choices I’ve made for places I’ve in lived in recent years is that they always have an architecture that slightly escapes the usual apartment layout. They are duplex lofts with high ceilings, no doors—except for closets and bathrooms—, an open kitchen, and long curtains for a huge window that always offers a stunning view on the other side. That’s why when I entered the Andaman Loft Pool Room at Phuket Panwa (→8/88 Moo 7, Sakdidech Road, Vichit,
Muang Phuket, Phuket; 076 302 900; www.phuketpanwabeachresort.com), located on the quiet Makham Bay in Cape Panwa, the first thing I said was “wow.” This place felt like home.
Phuket Panwa’s decoration was inspired by the beach town’s Sino-Portuguese heritage. Each of its 227 rooms has either a private balcony or terrace and soundproof design (not that it’s really required), along with 40-inch LED TVs and DVD players, iPod docking stations, and complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi. But what that really stands out, from the Panwa Room’s 42 square meters to The Royal Suite’s 330 square meters, is the rooms’ spaciousness, and the tranquil atmosphere that is encompassed by the resort’s 200-meter stretch of private beach facing smaller islands in the Andaman Sea.
From Patio, the resort’s Mediterranean seaside restaurant where bossa nova is playing, to the sound of the barman’s cocktail shaker and that of small waves breaking on the shore, Phuket Punwa is full of comforting music to the ears of those who wish to escape the noise of big cities. Your eyes might want to rest on the beach houses sitting on the green hillsides spotted with bright red and yellow flowers, or on the longtail boats, yachts, and ships far behind, floating peacefully after a busy morning out in the open sea. You may spot as well the occasional honeymooners kissing far out in the water.
My favorite dish at Patio was Chef Vira’s fried rice with onion, chili, shrimp, and egg, which can be eaten together with a choice of mustard beef, pan-fried fish, duck in orange sauce, or chicken with mushroom sauce.
But my absolute favorite dining outlet at the resort is Biscuit, a bakery-café offering homemade bites—like their delicious macarons—and a selection of premium teas and coffees. Mosaic, the all-day dining Thai cuisine restaurant; the Lobby Lounge, particularly suitable for afternoon tea or evening cocktails; and Splash Pool Bar & Beach BBQ, for poolside refreshments—together with prompt and convenient room service—complete the resort’s F&B outlets.
Phuket Panwa offers several water activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, and sailing. I tried the stand-up paddleboard in order to take a closer look to the colorful beach houses that look so nice from the beach. And it was indeed interesting to see them, and a jellyfish the size of a football (the largest I’d even seen in my life!), as well as the smiling villager who said, “Sawasdee krub” when I paddled past him watching him fish with a rudimentary net held together with Coca-Cola bottles and the water up to his chest.
Not that I needed more relaxation in that quiet environment after I had chilled in my room’s Jacuzzi, slept in a super comfortable queen size bed the previous night, and swum in what felt like my room’s private swimming pool that morning. But after some sports at the resort’s 24-hour fitness center, I headed to the spa and let go in the capable hands of the therapist while I indulged in the Aromatic Suit Massage (THB 2,000 for 60 minutes and THB 2,500 for 90 minutes), a complete face, scalp, and body anti-stress treatment done with essential oils of the customer’s choice.
Phuket Panwa has three meeting rooms on the resort’s top floor, and it’s also commonly reserved for weddings. As for my little holiday there, it was blissful. How could it not be when it felt like being at home, but at the beach.