Wylde World: Paresa Resort, Phuket
Report by Deborah James
Champagne breakfasts, a bathtub for two and your own private infinity pool – who would you share an experience at
winner of: ‘The Most Luxurious Boutique Hotel in the World 2015’ with?
"Grown men have fallen to their knees and wept" the general manager warned, before allowing us through the 20ft door guarding Paresa’s view from any outsiders. There was no crying or fainting – we actually rolled our eyes at this dramatic statement - but the endless shimmering horizon of turquoise Andaman sea did cause a high level of murmuring and intense photo snapping. All 48 of the resort’s villas are designed so they have equal access to this seductive 270-degree seascape.
“DO NOT miss the sunset at 6.20pm”. Was our second caution. Later, watching the sun drop into the ocean turning the world different hues of dramatic lilacs and oranges, the seriousness of the first warning suddenly made sense and I felt a little ashamed of my earlier eye-rolling.
Paresa is 100% minimalistic chic. Very different from the ostentatious style of most luxury Thai hotels. Dark teak furniture contrasts against crisp white linens. Soaring pavilion-style ceilings make lightness and brightness the room’s number one feature. The amazing bathroom was bigger than my flat and nicer than any spa I've ever set eyes on. The feature that seals the deal for you never wanting to leave: a private infinity pool adorning your balcony. When you can lounge on your alfresco four poster bed in between dips, you’ll be in serious danger of never seeing any other part of Phuket.
If you can bear to tear yourself away from your private infinity pool, there's an ‘adventure team' (yes this is ‘a thing’!) on hand to make all your wanderlust dreams come true. Discover local life by traveling deep into the mangroves and across to the tiny island of Yao Noi. Meet the charming Khun Mina, a grandmother who will teach you her family's fishing and recipe secrets. The more energetic can kayak through the turquoise waters and jutting limestone cliffs of Rachaprapha Lake. And there’s the ultimate experience for animal lovers – a chance to bathe and swim with a group of well-cared for elephants.
Sitting pretty on the west coast of Thailand’s biggest island, at Paresa you’re never further than 45 minutes from any of Phuket’s big draws. Get a taste of local life at pretty Phuket Town. Here you’ll find bustling non-touristy markets mingled with Portuguese and Chinese influenced architecture. Brazen Patong, with its jumble of nightclubs, girly bars and ‘same-same but different’ shops, is a safe enough taxi ride away if you fancy a night experiencing Thailand’s ‘wilder’ side. Phuket has more than 30 different beaches there to discover, I’m ashamed to say I discovered precisely ‘0’ after becoming hopelessly unable to make it past my infinity pool in the morning.
Paresa has one restaurant, with two very different menus. Dine on local specialities such as keang pou (yellow coconut curry with white crab meat) and moo kuaw klua (crispy pork belly cubes in sweet chilli sauce). Or if you fancy a change from Thai, there's a fancy Italian carte with indulgent temptations such as slow poached veal, artisanal linguine and pan roasted cod with crispy pancetta. For a more hands-on approach to food, you have access to daily cookery classes with a top culinary team teaching you Thai, Japanese or chocolate making.
And let's not forget the spa. Your team of ‘angels’ – fluffy term for ‘staff’ - are on hand to make sure you don’t lift a finger. Whilst at dinner your bed magically gets turned down and scented with lemongrass. Fancy a bath? Why run it yourself when there is a designated team to do it for you. As for walking, stop right there. That incline up to the resort’s restaurant is rather steep. There’s a phone in every room – even the toilet – so ring for your chauffeur driven buggy to deliver you directly to dinner. Living in this type of luxury is tiring, thankfully there’s an amazing spa on hand where you can be massaged, manicured and meditated back to life. Phew.
If you get dumped two days before you visit Paresa, should you be brave and fulfil your visit alone? After comforting a drunk, lonely man weeping at dinner time who'd made that decision, I’d advise: perhaps not. Rose petals on your pillow, candle-light beach dining, onsite weddings and entwined honeymooning couples sharing romantic champagne breakfasts will just twist the knife in further. This resort might feel a bit empty if you don’t have someone to make the most of your super-sized bed and ginormous bathtub with.
Villas and suites cost from £210 (10 000THB) to £1,782 (94,500THB) per room per night bed and breakfast. One-hour spa treatments start from £42 (2200THB). Paresa's own private Adventure Team can also arrange tailor made excursions, including Jungle Trekking, Waterfall Picnics and Catch your own lunch.
www.paresaresorts.com or call +66 (0)76 302 000
Thai Airways, (0330 400 4022) has return flights from London Heathrow to Phuket, via Bangkok, starting from £530.