Always a favourite among tourists who want to skip the crowds, Krabi has a lot more to offer. Writer Nicole Webb.
Krabi on Thailand’s south-west coast has long been a favoured corner of the world for those who want to avoid the tourist crowds and indulge in some rest and relaxation, away from the masses.
The fact that it’s still developing (albeit at a rapid rate) remains one of the main draw cards for visitors. Home to lush tropical jungles, majestic limestone peaks and powdery white beaches, Krabi is a jewel in the sparkling Andaman Sea.
Low key and away from the limelight it may be, but this paradise is definitely not short on luxury hotels and spas.
We’ve narrowed it down to a few of the very best.
DUSIT THANI KRABI BEACH RESORT
One of the few hotels in Krabi with direct access to its own pristine beach, the Dusit Thani’s stunning location will take your breath away. This tropical oasis is nestled steps away from the turquoise sea that lazily laps Klong Muong beach and is surrounded by plush greenery, waterfalls and caves. Its low-rise villas are interlaced within large, spacious tropical gardens and ponds, each with its own private balcony facing the Andaman Sea.
Go snorkelling, kayaking or sailing for the day or take an island-hopping adventure. Later, unravel from the day's demands in the serenity of the world famous Mandara Spa. Just 100m from the beach, it stands secluded by centuries-old trees and preserved tropical fauna. The spa menu offers all the traditional treatments plus exquisite packages representing a global fusion of influences from Bali, Thailand, Japan and China. For couples, the Double Royal Spa suite will leave you feeling utterly pampered. Escape into a world of Dusit magic. www.dusit.com
PHULAY BAY, A RITZ-CARLTON RESERVE
As one of only three Ritz-Carlton Reserves in the world, Phulay Bay resort exudes extraordinary luxury.
A sanctuary amongst the jade hills and sandy beaches, this 54-villa and pavilion boutique resort, each with an outdoor bath or private plunge pool, is all about allowing nature to do the talking and inspire your senses.
From the moment you arrive, your journey into another world begins; starting with a traditional Thai ceremony welcome, followed by an elixir of lemongrass and ginger tea and an introduction to your very own personal butler.
With restaurants under a starlit sky, an infinity pool and destination spa, your every wish is Phulay’s command.
Lying quietly in its own peaceful haven is The Spa. You can relax in one of 11 treatment rooms, set next to an immaculate lagoon. It combines the best of ancient and modern therapies using the finest quality ingredients and a holistic wellness approach.
The signature Thai Herbal Infusion Ritual is 120 minutes of pure bliss. The Thai balancing treatment begins with a welcoming foot cleanse and renewing full body exfoliation. The massage that follows uses warm essential oils and herbal poultices with acupressure movements to either invigorate and restore the flow of energy through the body. An ESPA express facial cleanse and oriental scalp massage using traditional Praioil completes this heavenly treatment.
With the catch cry “Where the mountains meet the Andaman sea”, Phulay Bay will transport you to a place where time is luxuriously treasured. www.phulay-bay.com
OPENING PAGE : Serenity at Phulay Bay Resort, Krabi. THIS PAGE: Eclectic setting at Dusit Thani. OPPOSITE PAGE: Krabi Beach Resort Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villa boasts exceptional views ; two-storey pavillion at Rayavadee Krabi
RAYAVADEE KRABI, THAILAND
In the heart of the stunning Phranang Peninsular on the edge of Krabi Marine National Park, Rayavadee sits amidst tropical gardens and coconut groves, set against the sheer limestone cliffs, jungle foliage and emerald waters of the Andaman Sea.
Boasting 98 enchanting two-storey pavilions and four luxurious private bungalows, the award-winning architecture blends seamlessly with its natural surroundings to create an atmosphere reminiscent of an idyllic southern Thai village.
The Rayavadee Spa’s extensive range of therapies draw on ancient Thai healing traditions and a philosophy of well-being that combines body, mind and spirit to create treatments that impart a deep sense of relaxation. From revitalising facials and scrubs, energising body wraps and soothing massages to salon treatments and spa packages – all are individually-tailored to your needs.
The Rayavadee Boutique offers Krabi’s only five-star shopping experience with a treasure trove of more than 2,500 items from jewellery to clothes, ceramics, home accessories and antiques.
Make friends with exotic birds, wild monkeys, lizards and beautiful butterflies while you surrender to a life of luxury. www.rayavadee.com
CENTARA GRAND BEACH RESORT & VILLAS KRABI
Centara Grand is the place to escape the crowds and get away from it all. Accessible only by boat, the cove is a public beach but is rarely used by anyone but resort guests.
Amid spectacular grounds, this hidden gem is laid-back and beautiful. Bathed in understated luxury, whether you want to relax or explore the surroundings, this is a place boasting the ability to satisfy all your holiday desires at once.
Spacious accommodation with 192 rooms, the villas provide absolute exclusivity and exceptional views.
Located right in the heart of the resort, ready to take care of you from head to toe is Spa Cenvaree – a refuge of well-being and relaxation. Cenvaree offers a place to rejuvenate in one of seven treatment suites as well as two new honeymoon suites. Celebrating Thailand’s wellness heritage, there is an extensive selection of massages, holistic therapies and healing rituals, passed down the generations. Choose from more than 50 therapies, including Ayurvedic programmes, spa journeys for couples and facial and body massages that use locally-grown herbs. The signature treatment, the Ultimate Wellbeing, covers three hours and is inspired by village rituals of deep cleansing after a long day in the field, using earth stones to increase strength and vitality.
Centara Grand wants to make sure your Krabi experience leaves you feeling completely rested and reinvigorated. www.centarahotelsresorts.com
THE TUBKAAK KRABI BOUTIQUE RESORT
Tubkaak literally means ‘home for visitors’ and The Tubkaak Krabi is just that. Situated on a hidden stretch of beach, draped in Krabi’s stunning landscape, it has all the ingredients for a relaxing hideaway.
Listed in 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, locals say the secret to the beauty of Tubkaak is the large twin islands Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi in the distance that provide great shelter from the south-west monsoon winds, creating a safe beach with calm waters all year round. Showcasing beautiful sunsets against the emerald cliffs, the rustic Tubkaak Krabi is made up of 49 uniquely designed villas. Each bears cosy and inviting interiors wrapped around a distinct Thai ambience that has seen it awarded Outstanding Environment, Design and Best Romance Hotel for many consecutive years.
Tubkaak’s latest collection of private pool villas has added luxuries, including spacious layouts, large private pools and exquisite furnishings. L'escape Spa, meanwhile, is tucked amongst huge shady trees and features cocooned treatment rooms. The spa menu blends oriental and traditional Thai therapeutic healing with modern day pampering, including treatments that deliver health benefits from improved circulation and joint movement to stress relief and soothing sunburn. Therapists use only the highest quality natural herbs, oils, fruits and spa products for maximum well-being and wonderful aromas.
This exotic environment combined with well-designed grounds and a spectacular beachfront with island views make The Tubkaak Krabi hard to top. www.tubkaakresort.com
AMARI VOGUE KRABI
Imagine opening your door and stepping into a tropical paradise, where horizons and sunrises merge in a kaleidoscope of colours. Amari Vogue is an intimate 57-room resort where a scene like that is nothing out of the ordinary. With elegant Lanna-inspired architecture in a tropical garden setting on the shores of TubKaak Beach, Amari is the place to slow down the pace of life and be swept away by Krabi’s heavenly magic. Dine on impeccably prepared seafood and pastas at the beachfront Bellini Italian Restaurant; toast the stars from the balcony of your suite and dip your toes in one of the multiple pools from infinity to plunge style. Pamper yourself at the renowned Breeze Spa and escape from the world. Set over three floors, each spacious treatment room is designed to provide a soothing haven of relaxation. All feature a private steam room and large bathtub for soaking in the floral essence of a bath or steam treatment, while the indulgent VIP Room features a rain mist Vichy shower. For couples, the two Spa Suites offer the ultimate spa retreat getaway. A stone’s throw away is an outdoor Thai massage pavilion, creating the perfect retreat from the midday Krabi sun. Breeze Spa’s menu has been carefully designed to combine the best of Thai, Asian and Western healing traditions, and whether you’re a lifelong spa devotee, a newcomer to wellness or just someone looking to recharge or unwind, they want to show you how fun it is to feel good! Try one of their many ‘Mood’ Massages from the Dreamy Take it E-Zzzz to the Rejuvenated Let it Glow. An exceptional experience awaits and you’ll be hard pressed not to take advantage of everything Amari Vogue has to offer. www.amari.com
CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Don't miss the dining scene in Amari Vogue Krabi; take a dip in Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra Golf and Spa's pool; kick back and relax at The Tubkaak Krabi
SOFITEL KRABI PHOKEETHRA GOLF AND SPA RESORT
Renowned for its timeless elegance, this luxury resort offers 276 stylish rooms, including 23 luxurious suites, all set within beautiful gardens. Each is decorated in classic style with teakwood floors and furniture and private balconies overlooking the crystal clear Andaman Sea, vibrant gardens or the resort’s famous pool. Boasting the largest lagoon swimming pool in Thailand at 7,000sqm, this design masterpiece has a swim-up pool bar, Koh Poda and is praised for its charm and serenity.
The outstanding design and facilities coupled with gourmet restaurants blend Sofitel’s art vivre with gracious Thai hospitality. Guests can dine at three restaurants and a cafe savouring the international flavours of Maya, Italian cuisine at Venezia, Thai and Indian delights at White Lotus, and a delicious bakery selection at Café Vienna.
An exclusive nine-hole golf course only adds to the resort’s 2016/2017 AsiaSpa Thailand 49 repertoire; and if golf doesn’t take your fancy, the resort is a short distance from Krabi’s idyllic tropical islands, by private speedboat.
Recharge at SPA with L’Occitane, which has 12 exclusive treatment rooms with single rooms as well as four double rooms for couples. Choose from rejuvenating therapies that combine contemporary French cosmetology with ancient Thai rituals.
Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra promises you’ll find a peace and calm that will soothe your inner soul and ensure your stay in paradise is unforgettable. www.sofitel.com