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Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve looks something like an impenetrable fortress. Concrete walls awash in a deep purple hue spring toward lofty heights, forming a labyrinth that conceals the resort from the outside world.
If these physical barriers aren’t enough to evoke a sense of escapism, there’s also the matter of location. Set in southern Thailand’s Krabi province, the 54-villa resort is tucked into the secluded shores of the Andaman Sea. Clients can arrive by luxury car from Krabi International Airport (about a 45-minute drive) or Phuket International Airport (roughly 2.5 hours); private transportation by speedboat or helicopter can be arranged, as well.
No matter how clients arrive in style, however, Phulay Bay is in a class of its own. As the Ritz-Carlton Reserve brand’s inaugural property, Phulay Bay is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Helping to usher in the special occasion are eight newly renovated Beach Villas. Each accommodation is decorated in one of four signature shades (amber orange, red, purple or light green) that represent the bountiful flora found throughout the resort. Other enhancements include expanded bathrooms and closet areas, as well as upgraded technology.
My late November stay took place ahead of the anniversary celebration, but in no way did it lack the care and service that create an exceptional experience. Beyond the property’s entry walls, I discovered idyllic streams, ponds and pathways that intersected the sprawling grounds in every which way. Also in sight was the Andaman Sea, where lush islands rise from impossibly turquoise water.
One of those limestone isles is Hong Island, a popular destination due to its glassy lagoon that beckons visitors to take salty, satisfying dips. (One shortcoming of Phulay Bay is the lack of an easily accessible and swimmable beach.) Clients should book the long-tail boat excursion to Hong Island in advance (it departs at 8 a.m. to avoid the crowds), in addition to upgrading their experience with a traditional Thai picnic of mango sticky rice, chicken satay skewers and more.
When I did tear my eyes away from all the natural beauty, it was to rest inside my Reserve Pavilion guestroom. Flaunting floor-to-ceiling windows, plush furniture, gilded Lanna art and a king-size bed, the accommodation was far from understated. A massive, fully marble bathroom featured a double sink, an oversize soaking tub and a separate shower. An outdoor shower and another tub were also within reach through glass doors.
Phulay Bay guests are appointed a personal butler who not only handles check-in/checkout procedures in-villa, but also stays in constant touch via the WeChat messaging app. My butler, Nam, left several thoughtful gifts in the villa, including a sweet treat of steamed pandan cake (a green-colored sponge cake). After a day so perfect that it felt like a fantasy — including beachside Pilates, a transportive treatment at the Phulay Bay Spa and a swim in the infinity-edge pool — nothing could have been sweeter.
As of press time, the U.S. State Department’s Do Not Travel global health advisory is in effect for Thailand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DetailsPhulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reservewww.ritzcarlton.com