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Sri Panwa is sitting pretty atop breathtaking Cape Panwa on the south-eastern tip of Phuket. This luxury resort has snaffled the whole of the Cape Panwa Peninsula and is nestled amid 16 hectares of lush vegetation. Water is everywhere in these tranquil surrounds, from the sunken tables in the Baba Pool Club dining area to the frangipani-adorned infinity pools surrounding each villa. There are seven suites, 45 villas and seven private residential villas 40-60 metres above sea level, offering jaw-dropping views of the Andaman Sea and neighbouring islands.
The accommodation is very private so the resort is quite spread out, but modern tuk tuks are readily available to whiz you to dinner or for a spa. Or, you might want to chill out at the resort's private beach. This is serious luxury and the resort's main competition could well come from within its own group when the Charn Issara Group, the team behind Sri Panwa, opens Baba Beach Club on Natai Beach just north of Phuket. This new resort with a 180-metre sandy beach frontage will also specialise in spectacular scenery, offering commanding view of northern Phuket.
Large wooden doors open to our luxury beach villa to reveal two beach lounges plonked in front of a 180-degree ocean view. To the left of these is a pagoda-style glass-fronted building with king-sized bed, lounge and TV. A wall of blue ocean and sky dazzles through glass doors which provide easy access to the 12-metre infinity pool that hangs off the side of the villa above the ocean below. It's breathtaking. Beyond the bedroom is a spa bath, sauna and indoor and outside showers. Then there are our "spare" rooms in another pagoda-style building on the other side of the sun lounges. This contains a day bed, another TV, bathroom and kitchen – perfect for teens holidaying with the olds.
Our villa is serene, luxurious and super private. But it's the little touches that impress. An iPod complete with playlist; a staff member on call just for us; a birthday cake that appears out of nowhere after dinner; the bowl of fresh fruit that arrives daily. (We are not the only fan of this – a couple of times we catch a squirrel helping himself to a banana). Soft drinks and beer in the fridge and snacks are also complimentary. On our first night we are woken by exploding blooms of fireworks cascading in the night sky across from our pool – a magical celebration for a newly married couple. We are happy campers.
Our pick of Sri Panwa's many food options is Baba Soul Food. This is seriously authentic Thai food and many of the dishes are new to us. The crab in yellow curry is a standout. Other dining options include Baba Poolclub which offers a mix of Thai, Italian and barbecued seafoods and meat; Baba Iki, the on-site Japanese restaurant, and Baba Hotpot, an on-site cooking school that transforms into a restaurant at night where guests cook Thai meals under the supervision of a chef. All food options are available via room service or you can chill in your villa while a staff member cooks you a barbecue feast on site.
The breakfast buffet has a huge assortment of local and western dishes and fresh fruit. We watch with interest as an American guest uses her iPad to document every dish her husband manages to eat. She may well have a feature film on her hands.
Once ensconced in your own private haven you won't want to venture out – possibly ever. You could grab a bus or tuk tuk and head into Phuket Town, but there is plenty to do on site. Hire a long boat that from the resort's floating jetty to a nearby island to snorkel, or snorkel from Sri Panwa's private beach. There's a gym, tennis courts and a games room or head to the Cool Spa for a massage or facial. Before dinner, perch atop Baba Nest, the resort's ultimate cocktail bar. Set on a platform high above the resort, it is the highest pinnacle of the south-eastern peninsula and is surrounded by a 360-degree infinity pool.
Sri Panwa, Moo 8, Sakdidej Road, Vichit, Muang, Phuket.
One-bedroom pool villas are priced from $620 per night. See www.Sripanwa.com.
From the moment we arrived on our Thai Airlines flight (rather disconcertingly to the strains of Send in The Clowns) we are bowled over by Thai hospitality. This is taken to a whole new level at Sri Panwa. The resort is perfect for honeymooners, those in need of pampering, or for family groups or friends wanting to reconnect. Sri Panwa offers luxury amenities in a sympathetic standout setting, exceptional attention to detail, and professional service with a relaxed vibe. This is luxury with heart.
HIGHLIGHT The friendly, dedicated staff.
LOWLIGHT The staff uniforms – shorts, runners and polo shirts scream more Australian Olympics 2000 volunteer than luxury Thailand 2015.
Jane Richards was a guest of Sri Panwa, Phuket.