After a 50-minute car ride from Krabi International Airport and a 45-minute speed boat ride from a private jetty, you’ll arrive in style at sunny Pimalai Resort & Spa on Krabi’s Koh Lanta, weather permitting.
White sailboats and local fishing boats float gently on the glistening water before your eyes. The vast and pristine stretch of Bakantiang Beach is set against the background of the lush hill where Thai-style villas nestle. As you walk on a pontoon walkway, your ears pick up the cacophony of cicadas that grows louder the closer you reach a pavilion where you’ll receive a welcome garland. From there, you’ll be whisked away on a golf cart uphill, while enjoying lushness on both sides, and arrive at a beautiful lobby to check-in.
If that doesn’t leave you with a good first impression and a true sense of arrival then I don’t know what will.
Since opening its doors in 2001 to welcome a couple from New Zealand, Pimalai Resort & Spa has grown into an internationally-known resort that boasts Thai hospitality with international standards, having been bestowed with many accolades and being a member of Small Luxury Hotels of The World. The name Pimalai can be broken down into two parts; piman for the residence of deities and alai for longing for a place. Put them together and you’ll get a patch of paradise.
Occupying 250 rai of tropical forest, Pimalai Resort & Spa is sectioned into two zones with a public road in the middle and boasts almost 1km of pristine and idyllic beachfront. There are 121 units of accommodation. The beachside zone features rooms and suites for those who want closer beach access. The uphill zone features villas where guests can enjoy breathtaking views that cover surrounding lush hills all the way to the beach from private balconies.
I stayed in a spacious Two-Bedroom Hillside Ocean View Private Pool Villa, which feels like an island home away from home. A gazebo precedes an elevated walkway that curves along the hill slope, leading to the villa’s door. The first thing that catches your eye is the pool in the centre, while two ensuite bedrooms and ensuite living room are housed in separate buildings. You should call dibs on the upper bedroom since it has this deep tray ceiling that adds even more spaciousness to the room. Both bedrooms come with sizeable bathrooms that allow guests to luxuriate in bathtubs with a view. Or they can enjoy an unfiltered view from their private pool.
While one may not want to leave the comfort and luxury of a villa, there are other impressive facilities awaiting your discovery.
The breakfast service at Seven Seas is definitely one of the highlights. Besides the usual egg dishes, you can assemble a plate of international dishes. I went with steamed white rice slathered in beef green curry with sides of chorizo, salami, smoked salmon, shumai, gyoza and golden bags. I washed them down with DIY miso soup and ended with French toast because YOLO. If you can’t have breakfast without eggs, then opt for kai kata or eggs Benedict with salmon gravlax. Obviously, the food selection at breakfast is very varied and international. You should definitely return for a sumptuous East-meets-West dinner with a view of the sunset sky and the bay down below and put your phone’s night mode to good use. The savoury highlights include Spicy lamb spring rolls, Thai style larb tuna tartare, Braised pork ragout with rigatoni and Parmesan and Capellini with prawns, chilli flakes and cherry tomatoes.
Tour the mangroves of Tung Yee Peng Village.
To chill out, Rak Talay Beach Bar and Restaurant awaits you. You can take in the stunning sunset with an aperitif in hand before enjoying an international dinner with the likes of Aglio e olio, Chicken satay and Stir-fried baegu leaves with egg and glass noodles.
Now that I’ve filled you up with eating indulgences that Pimalai has on offer, there’s another side to your stay if you choose to be active and adventurous. The main infinity swimming pool adjacent to the Seven Seas Restaurant is a must-visit for guests for IG moments and a real swim. You can sign up for a Muay Thai session where you’ll be guided on how to execute punches, jabs and hooks before individual sparring in the ring with your trainer, who will push you to punch and kick him (while he’s wearing protective gear, obvi).
Take your quest for adrenaline further with a selection of beach activities, a mangrove tour or island excursions to Mu Koh Lanta National Marine Parks aboard a luxury speedboat. Tour the mangroves of Tung Yee Peng Village with a local guide, who provides insight on local fauna and flora, while on a rowing boat big enough for four. Cruise into the sunset on a speedboat to Koh Ha Island where a mini beach hidden among impressive rock foundations forms the perfect spot for snorkelling. Or opt for the Talabeng scenic cruise, which takes you through awe-inspiring rock formations before kayaking to explore a hidden cave.
Rak Talay Beach Bar and Restaurant.
You can do as much or as little as you want while at Pimalai. Indulge in a blissful pampering session at the award-winning Pimalai Spa where individual treatment rooms are in nature’s embrace.
You’re always surrounded by nature at Pimalai. You’re likely to have little but memorable moments of encountering the island’s fauna during your stay. A butterfly took shelter under my dining chair during breakfast. A cicada showed up in my villa as if to confirm the origin of the buzzing sound that I heard during my stay. If you’re lucky, you may even encounter a pesky monkey.
Known as being one of the most eco-friendly resorts on Koh Lanta or even in Krabi, Pimalai has many green efforts from the repopulation programme of clownfish at Koh Ha to having its own water treatment facility to beach cleaning. While the ongoing pandemic has put a halt to most of these, you still come across a few eco-friendly attempts in small details from no single-use toiletries to the no single-use plastic policy.
Although Pimalai isn’t easily accessible, given it’s a flight and a speed boat away from Bangkok, it’s well worth the effort to get there, especially if you want to enter into another world. Pimalai Resort & Spa is offering a “Thai Resident Rates” promotion until Sept 30, 2022, with starting rates varying depending on booking periods. A three-night stay in a Deluxe Room is priced at B7,905 from May to September. Visit pimalai.com.