A naturally-lit, airy corridor flanked on a side by a thick growth of trees is an anomaly for a typical hotel corridor, which by default across the world is akin to a dimly lit alley.
A pitched-roof pavilion open on all sides and surrounded by water, instead of the usual reception desk is also an out-of-the-box concept. So is a resort with waterslides and free-form pools spread out among landscaped tropical gardens.
Gulf Times came across such sights and more in the enchanting province of Krabi in southern Thailand earlier this month during a familiarisation trip organised by Qatar Airways in association with the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
The variety and diversity of hotels and resorts across Thailand is reflected in Krabi, highlighting the availability of a well-developed infrastructure that helps the country sustain and further develop its position as a premier travel destination.
Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort, surrounded by a lush tropical garden, is a just a few steps from the quiet Klong Muang Beach and Andaman Sea. The gentle breeze from the sea greets guests as they enter the lobby, which is open at the front and back.
The 10-year-old 5-star property has 276 rooms spread across three floors on two wings on either side of the lobby. A walk along the corridors is in itself a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. The green surroundings soothe the eyes. Chirping of birds during the day and crickets at night is a treat to the ears. Fresh air calms the mind and body.
The views from the rooms are also full of lush greenery. Plastic bags or bottles are not used in the hotel. Drinking water is supplied in glass bottles in the rooms. The laundry and shoe bags are from recycled fabrics. In line with the policy of Accor Hotels, guests have the option to reuse their towels and bedspreads. The hotel group claims to plant one tree every minute with savings made on water and energy.
Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Krabi, is where the reception desk is replaced with a traditional Thai pavilion, surrounded by water. The debut Reserve property of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Phulay Bay is cradled by white-sand beaches below and limestone cliffs above.
Thai for ‘where the mountains meet the sea,’ Phulay Bay is described as a luxurious hidden retreat, ‘designed for those who seek to escape the stresses of everyday life and immerse themselves into a completely bespoke and personally-tailored-to-suit vacation experience.’
Set on the shores of the Andaman Sea, Phulay Bay is a beautiful 54-villa and pavilion boutique hotel, a work of the noted Thai architect Lek Bunnag. Twenty ft high aubergine walls and ‘hedges’ made from indigenous trees create a sort of maze that secludes guests from the outside world.
The ESPA villa at Phulay Bay is another avenue for relaxation and rejuvenation with stepping stones meandering through the spa leading to decked walkways and relaxation terraces surrounded by vegetation and reflection ponds.
Phulay Bay uses rainwater harvesting in addition to channelling the natural water flowing from the mountains, Puntip Cartlidge, director of business development, told Gulf Times.
“We have significantly reduced the amount of plastic bottles in the last three months and plan to replace all plastic bottles from the guest-rooms with glass in 2017,” she explained. Currently, the plastic bottles used are recycled. Plastic bags have given way to those with recycled fabrics.
Tapping solar energy is next on the agenda. “This is something we are currently investigating,” the official said while revealing that more environment-friendly measures are in the pipeline for 2017. Phulay Bay also has an organic chef’s garden on property. “We have a spa garden which is utilised by the spa for treatments and a nursery on our land which partly supports our in-house decoration,” she added.
Holiday Inn Resort, Krabi, Ao Nang Beach is a green haven within walking distance of the main shopping and entertainment centres. A total of 173 rooms and suites are spread across wings dedicated to couples and families, some with private balconies and direct access to the pool. The views on offer include that of the resort pool, a natural mangrove patch or the scenic Ao Nang Bay.
(Qatar Airways flies from Doha to Krabi and back on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Flight QR824 departs Doha at 5.30am and arrives in Krabi at 4.20pm. Flight QR825 departs Krabi at 5.20pm and arrives in Doha at 8.45pm. Krabi, GMT +7, is four hours ahead of Doha).
GREEN: One of the many water features at Phulay Bay. Photo by Bonnie James