A Dif­fer­ent Lux­u­ri­ous At­ti­tude

Sri Panwa re-de­fined Phuket’s lux­ury re­sort scene when it opened 13 years ago and is do­ing it again with sis­ter brand, Baba Beach Club


Sri Panwa – A Site to Be­hold

Beach­front prop­er­ties in Phuket are dime a dozen, but Sri Panwa trumps with an ex­clu­sive lo­ca­tion on Cape Panwa’s south­ern­most span. Un­in­ter­rupted tableaus of crys­tal-blue waters are par for the course, thanks to the es­tate’s cliff-side el­e­va­tion. All-out in­dul­gence takes the form of the ocean-view pool villa. There’s a sun ter­race and sep­a­rate liv­ing room, but the clincher was the 12-me­ter in­fin­ity pool that sprawls the length of the villa. The list of pam­per­ing ameni­ties con­tin­ued: A free­stand­ing dou­ble-bed jacuzzi, a shower that dou­bles as steam room, and another out­door shower for soap­ing up to views of the An­daman. Soak-time is clearly sacro­sanct at Sri Panwa and they’ve spared no ef­forts. I was smit­ten with the cas­cad­ing, Olympic-size pools at The Habita. With­out the pun­gency of chlo­rine, the salt­wa­ter in the pools smelled fresher and more invit­ing, and also seemed gen­tler on my hair and skin. I ex­pected lux­ury, and Sri Panwa more than de­liv­ered with its at­ten­tion to de­tails.

Meal time threat­ened to burst my happy bub­ble, only be­cause I’m con­victed that no­body would dine on-site ex­cept out of ne­ces­sity. As it turns out, Sri Panwa is a des­ti­na­tion-din­ing fa­vorite for Phuket’s well-heeled res­i­dents. Cheesy moniker aside, Baba Hot Box was an im­pres­sive grill house. The team’s adroit­ness with the Josper oven did jus­tice to every­thing – es­pe­cially that thick-cut wagyu ‘ba­con’. An elab­o­rate omakase at the mod­ern-lean­ing Baba Iki show­cased fi­nesse and a keen eye for sourc­ing. Baba Soul Food, where the spot­light is on south­ern Thai flavours, lived up to its prom­ise. Fi­nally, Baba Nest is Sri Panwa’s crown jewel. There are just 12 ta­bles on this ex­clu­sive perch at the very tip of the is­land, so reser­va­tions are para­mount. The rooftop bar shim­mers in the cen­ter of an in­fin­ity pool and com­mands a 360-de­gree panorama of the en­tire craggy cape.

Baba Beach Club Phuket – Of Chaos and Zen

Mean­while, Baba Beach Club Phuket is a re­sort for mu­sic lovers, run by mu­sic lovers. Mr. Vo­r­a­sit ‘Wan’ Is­sara, founder and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Sri Panwa and Baba Beach Club, is a self-pro­fessed mu­sic man and this is his idea of a luxe Ibiza-style re­sort.

The pool­side bar boasts a solid ros­ter of in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal DJs that fa­vor house, techno, and un­der­ground beats – some of those con­nec­tions date back to Mr. Is­sara’s uni­ver­sity days, when he was hus­tling gigs for Florida’s clubs. Acous­tic de­tails weren’t just for the pool­side bar. Our du­plexstyle Ga­bana vil­las were hooked up to Bose sound sys­tems and a pre-loaded iPod. The also re­sort has its own Soundcloud ac­count, cu­rated by Mr. Is­sara and visit­ing DJs. On the ground level, each Ga­bana func­tions as a ca­bana, with floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows that open to the pool deck, al­low­ing the mu­sic to pul­sate through. For its party-cen­tral im­age, it was sur­pris­ingly easy to find calm here. The beach­front is fringed with a grove of palm trees and deck chairs; am­bi­ent mu­sic from the pool is faint, leav­ing only the roar of the waves. By night­fall, I was tempted to grab a beach mat and lay on the pow­dery sand. There’s so lit­tle light pol­lu­tion, the en­tire night­sky is vis­i­ble in its full grandeur. Stargaz­ing is a rare treat even at sea­side re­sorts, and a beach club was cer­tainly the last place I’d ex­pected to ex­pe­ri­ence such a mo­ment of zen.

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