Normally after the rush of high season, few would dare go out and brave the rain. But it can be a good time to make a journey to the southwest. Despite thick cloud and patchy drizzle, I found peace at a remote seaside resort. Only a 40-minute drive from the airport, Banyan Tree Krabi offers soul-searching experience unlike any other.
Banyan Tree Krabi adjoins the Naga Crest Hill and the Andaman Sea. (Photos: Banyan Tree Krabi)
Located on 26 rai, the hotel sits at the foot of the Naga Crest Hill. With a background of dense vegetation, the oasis offers a panorama of the Andaman Sea with sapphire blue water, white sand and swaying trees. A cluster of islands — Koh Hong, Koh Lao Lading and Koh Pak Bia — appear on the horizon for adventurers, but the resort itself is also a sanctuary for body and mind.
Banyan Tree Krabi is the sanctuary of body and mind. (Photo: Banyan Tree Krabi)
Design and Facilities
According to legend, the naga yielded to the garuda and fell down, creating Naga Crest Hill. Banyan Tree Krabi infuses local myth into its overall design. Upon arrival, visitors can see the slithering mark of the serpentine creature on the ground. In the lobby is the altar where it lays eggs. A stairway descends into its own island, creating a transition from the human world to the naga’s underwater world.
Banyan Tree Krabi features 72 pool suites and villas in the style of Thai modern architecture. Facing westwards, every room allows guests to enjoy a view of the sunset. The resort is fully equipped with restaurants, a spa centre, gym and gallery. On a clear day, guests can chill at the semi-private 300m beach and have fun with outdoor activities like kayaking and stand up paddle boarding.
Sitting on the foot of the Naga Crest Hill, Banyan Tree Krabi draws inspiration from the local myth of the naga. In the lobby is an altar where the serpentine creature lays eggs. (Photo: Banyan Tree Krabi)
I stayed two nights at the Wellbeing Sanctuary Pool Suite (129m²). The suite has a long, narrow living room bedroom combo with a bathroom. Its entrance is flanked by a wardrobe and mini bar. Behind a writing desk, a comfy bed can accommodate two people. A cove features a ceiling fan and reading light. Nearby, the bathroom includes a shower zone, a water closet and an oval bathtub.
The use of earth tones create a peaceful atmosphere. Decorative motifs on the door, the partition and the painting recreates the undulating movement of waves. A staff member regularly provided rest items and refreshment. Guests can lay down on a couch and watch television or relax at an outdoor terrace. There is a sofa bed and a private jet pool and swimming pool. Walking further, they can also chill in a garden.
Located in a cave-like space, the Rainforest is a one-hour hydrotherapy treatment.
Located on the ground level, Naga Kitchen provides rustic delights all day. At the buffet breakfast, I enjoyed crabmeat curry with noodles and chicken curry with betel leaves. Dinner, meanwhile, is made to order. I began with sweet potato bread with pumpkin sauce, followed by steamed seafood curry served in a coconut and seafood spaghetti, which was a bit mild, but the spicy papaya salad with golek chicken delivered a full length of taste. Diners can enjoy gastronomic marvels along with a beautiful panorama. Sitting on the hill, Saffron serves Thai cuisine with a modern twist. A dish of crisp rice crackers is a good starter. Made from mung bean and pumpkin, they are served with various dips, including nam phrik ong (pork-based chilli dipping sauce). A tamarind salmon soup with ginger, crab meat rolls with mango salsas and sweet chilli dip, and deep-fried mackerel with turmeric are not to be missed.
The Naga Kitchen serves rustic cuisine all day.
Wellness programmes can help guests rejuvenate the exhausted body. Spa treatments are provided in cave-like facilities that can change colour according to health concerns. But the Rainforest — a one-hour hydrothermal therapy — is the highlight. I unwound myself in different temperatures from a shower to a sauna and a pool and outdoor springs.
In fact, some wellness programmes can help visitors put their mind at rest. Guided by Dr Subhash Shanbhag, I learned breathing meditation exercises. One of them is the “breath of fire”, whereby I moved my hands up and down like bellows. I also learned basic yoga poses, beginning from stretching to dancing god (crossing hands and legs like a starfish) and sleeping like a baby.
Surrounded by national parks, guests can also relish the sight of pristine nature. As the hotel has made efforts to preserve native flora and fauna, noise from cicadas or creatures like red-necked birds are not uncommon. A project is now under way to catalogue local species to develop an educational programme. Guided by sustainability policies, staff are conserving water and energy and phasing out plastic to minimise environmental impact.
Spa treatments are provided in rooms that can change colours.
Regardless of the weather, Banyan Tree Krabi is a destination for soul-searching individuals. Holidays are not only a time to lie down, but also to manage and renavigate your life.
An instructor and a guest during a wellness programme.
Wellbeing Sanctuary Pool Suite.
Saffron serves Thai cuisine with a modern twist.