Imagine a beach, beautiful and secluded, accessible to the outside world only by boat. What if you could stay in this pristine Paradise, away from the sordidness of the rest of the planet? Just you and the palm-fringed white sand embracing a seductive curve of blue-green bay. I found that at the Rayavadee resort in Krabi Thailand, it’s actually possible to make this delightful dream come true.
“As you fly in to Krabi, the frenzy of bawdy Bangkok is already receding from the mind’s eye amid the vistas of coconut palm plantations opening up before you.” The saga of lemongrass-scented cold towels starts right from when you’re ushered into a resort-owned vehicle at the little airport. The short drive to the well-designed and quiet Nong Nuch pier brings you to the white-leather accented luxury speedboat that will put you down in your personal paradise in 20 minutes.
A warm welcome with sunshine smiles and a cool mango-coconut drink that looks like sunshine in a glass sets the tone for the friendly pampering that awaits you throughout the stay at Rayavadee. What started as a few cottages on a remote beach decades ago, soon became one of the plushest resorts on Krabi. Surrounded by limestone karsts and only accessible by boat from the Andaman Sea, Rayavadee is where you go to truly get away from the humdrum of daily life. While the resort’s 96 two-storey pavilions and five state-of-the-art villas are as luxurious as can be, they resonate with the local Southern Thai architecture and blend seamlessly with the foliage they are set amidst. In fact, the au naturale property on the edge of Krabi’s National Marine Park retains a certain rustic allure in general that acres of manicured lawns just cannot beat.
In my book, that’s the best part of this resort, and what sets it apart from others of its ilk. The way the villas and dining spaces flirt with Mother Nature even as they hold their own distinct uber-luxe identity. Like my own two-bedroom beachside Raitalay Villa, all of 260m, with its own outdoor tree-shaded hydropool. Backed by a limestone cliff, the villa lets me enjoy the entire expanse of the West Railay Beach stretching out in front of it at will.
As I luxuriate in the blueness of the sun-dappled pool and look into the branches above, I often spot the simply adorable monkeys called the Spectacled Langurs with their long tails and patches of light fur around their eyes swinging through the leaves.
“It’s a bit like glamping but better.” Here I have the privilege of pampering skincare products from Pañpuri, the option to shower quickly or soak under the skylight in an egg shell-shaped bath-tub. I have access to king-sized beds with high thread-count cotton or linen, from where I can wake up to the stunning sea view framed in wraparound floor-to-ceiling windows. I can entertain myself and guests in a separate circular cottage with a sumptuous dining room, a well-appointed kitchenette and spacious seating with its own attached powder room.
And when I want to get around the 26-acre resort, there are soundless golf buggies to transport me up and down the trails lush with tropical plants and koi-filled ponds. Rayavadee boasts of three beautiful beaches. The tide-sensitive Nammao is the one used for entry and exit to the resort. “Scenic Railay Beach is all powder white sand and sea the shade of emerald that inspires poetry.” It’s also where the local long-tail boats draw up and disgorge day-tripping tourists. Phranang, with its drama of limestone cliffs rising from the edges, an intriguing (and rather risqué) cave shrine and some uniquely shaped islands accessible on foot at low tide, has a lot of character.
The rules in Thailand ensure that all beaches are public and no resort or private owner can stake a claim on their gorgeousness. While this is definitely democratic, it means that you may not have the luxury of a lounger right on the beach or a stretch of sand limited to only hotel guests. The folks at Rayavadee have cleverly worked around this by creating beautiful dining spaces over-looking the beaches at a slight elevation, giving you an exclusive experience with the same awe-inspiring vista.
Krua Phranang is the fine-dining restaurant that offers the most exquisite Thai cuisine and features mood lighting and ancient Thai artefacts. It’s a place you dress up for. The Grotto, meanwhile, set in a craggy cave with sand underfoot at the other end of the same beach, is great for pre-dinner sundowners. The spectacular sunset from here is better than any top-dollar dinner show. The dulcet vocals of the singing duo dove-tail beautifully with the sweetness of the fresh seafood and European delights the kitchen dishes up. Day-time dining is no less splendid. While there’s a sumptuous spread for breakfast buffet enthusiasts at Raya Dining, I really cherish the memory of my meals at the breezy Raitalay Terrace. From bespoke brekkie that spans everything from sashimi to granola to upma, to lunch that escalates from light and liquid to lavish pretty quickly!
A large part of Thailand’s charm is its warm hospitality and this is much in evidence everywhere you go in Rayavadee. The spacious monkey-themed spa offers some really relaxing and rejuvenating therapies and I got even more into chill mode after my aromatherapy massage. For those who like a harder and more invigorating experience, the classic Thai massage here is much recommended.
All in all, Rayavadee is a refreshing refuge from the red neon signs and girly bars that many associate Thailand with. If you’re looking to escape from loud music and lewd gestures, this place is just right for a very private honeymoon, or a holiday for families that like to bond over nature and nurture.
214 Moo 2, Tumbon Ao-Nang
Amphur Muang 81000 Krabi Thailand
Phone: +66 2 301 1861-3
Note– The critic was invited by the Rayavadee, Krabi Thailand. But all the opinions expressed herewith are her own.