Sri Panwa resort is at the south-eastern tip of Phuket in an idyllic part of the island. Sitting atop Cape Panwa, it's surrounded by 40 acres of lush jungle, with its own private white sand beach. It takes about a 45-minute drive, depending on traffic, to get here from Phuket airport.
Check-in experience: Our schlep from Auckland via Sydney and Bangkok to Phuket was a tiring one, but the transfer arranged through the resort was on time and efficient, making sure we got to our check-in safely with bottles of water and mint-scented refresher towels on hand. On arrival at reception we were greeted by friendly, efficient staff in smart casual uniforms of polo shirts tucked into bermuda shorts. Lemongrass wafted through the reception area and tuk tuks (open rickshaws) arrived to whisk us away to our villas not far up the winding driveway that runs throughout the resort. Once at our villa, we were greeted by a male and female personal concierge team who talked us through the amenities and let us know they were at our beck and call for the rest of the trip.
Room: We checked into the one-bedroom luxury pool Villa A, a gated oasis of two separate buildings. The main bedroom has its own spacious bathroom with a jacuzzi tub and steam room; and the living room is neatly organised with a day bed, a dining area perfect for room service breakfast overlooking the views of the Andaman Sea and a generously stocked complimentary mini bar filled with bottles of water, Phuket lager, crackers, chocolates and mint-scented refresher towels. The private infinity pool is a standout feature and compliments the overall tropical contemporary
style of the villas well.
The Bed: A kingsize bed with soft cotton linens that stayed cool throughout our stay. The sideboards had easy access to a light control panel that lets you select between romantic or sexy lighting and lets you control the temperature of the air conditioning throughout
The Bathroom: Generously sized for a couple with our own wash basins and toiletries (including toothpaste and toothbrush). The linen robes are ideal for pottering in and out of the villa, and our closet was also well sized with plenty of space for two large suitcases to be stored. Its standout jacuzzi tub is the perfect way to end a busy day exploring the island with a glass of wine overlooking the ocean views out the window.
Food and Drink: We enjoyed the complimentary breakfast from Baba Pool Club every morning with its mix of eggs done your way, steamed Chinese breakfast and fresh coconuts. Unlike other neighbouring resorts where you can find standard fare, Sri Panwa's gregarious foodie owner and managing director Vorasit "Wan" Issara makes a point of providing incredible food overseen by culinary executive Seth Ridgway, with all six of his restaurants on site world class experiences (and loved by Gordon Ramsay himself).
I loved the Baba Hot Box with its barbecue/ grill section all cooked in a Spanish Josper barbecue. Try the king prawns and enjoy the outdoor eating area overlooking the rest of Sri Panwa's newest area, the Habita with its stunning waterfall swimming pool. The modern Mexican menu at the roof top Baba Nest restaurant is a perfect way to start the night with cocktails during golden hour (6pm-7pm). See the sun-drenched archipelago and surrounding 300-degree views from atop the fourth floor building whilel reclining on oversized cushions.
Exercise: During the day, Baba Nest is transformed into a yoga studio, the perfect way to greet the sunrise. I tried this on my first morning after a late check-in the night before, and it was a great way to greet my first day in Phuket and shake off any jet lag. Try the yoga class at its Cool Spa too (by appointment), surrounded by cascading waterfalls and pretty ponds with lily pads. The resort is fully equipped with its own gym and tennis courts. I also tried its Muay Thai boxing class with a champion boxer. The hour-long session takes place in a boxing ring surrounded by bamboo and is an intense workout for the active relaxer. The two main pools are perfect for swimming, and kayaking and snorkelling lessons can be arranged with concierge.
Views: The lush green vegetation surrounding the resort is particularly special on the odd rainy day and makes for stunning views. The Andaman Sea and surrounding archipelago are breath-taking and can be seen from the resort's 52 villas, along with a white sand private beach, easily accessible at all times of the day.
Wi-Fi: Automatic free Wi-Fi that's fast and easy to connect to anywhere on the resort.
Contact: Sri Panwa, 88 Sakdidej Rd, Vichit, Muang, Chang Wat Phuket 83000, Thailand.
Price: The one-bedroom Villa A costs approximately $550-$650 depending on the season and is well priced for the villa's generous size and amenities.You can go up to $3000 a night for the five-bedroom villas for families or large groups. Smaller (but still luxurious) more affordable rooms can be booked in its Habita penthouse suites, the newest addition to the Sri Panwa estate (free mini bar applies here too).
What's so good about this place: Away from the riff-raff of Patong Beach, Sri Panwa is an informal approach to luxury which means it's well-suited for people who like to get away and have a good time. During low season, you'll be spoilt by the space and the attentive staff. It's great for families with young children and also young entrepreneurs who like the mix of good party atmosphere but a place of tranquillity where health and wellbeing is important. The unique dining experiences, especially Baba Nest rooftop bar, are alone worth the visit. Its approach to fusion dining provides some of the best food you'll find in Phuket.