Date: 9 June 2024

Heaven On Earth: Pimalai Resort & Spa

Beach 2low

The name Pimalai, is derived from ancient Sanskrit, meaning “a little patch of heaven”. And regardless of your religious beliefs, the word heaven depicts a peaceful paradise and that’s exactly how I would describe Pimalai Resort and Spa…

 

LOCATION

Pimalai Resort & Spa is situated on the picturesque island of Koh Lanta, located in the Krabi province. Koh Lanta is known for its stunning landscapes, featuring crystal-clear waters, white sandy beaches, and lush tropical forests. The resort is perched on a hillside, offering breathtaking views of the Andaman Sea from every angle.

The journey to Pimalai from Krabi Airport, which is the island’s main gateway, is an unforgettable experience and a great first encounter of what’s in store. After arriving in Krabi (about an hours flight from Bangkok) you’re met by someone from Pimalai’s transfer team. Depending on the time of year, weather, and sea conditions the transfer to the resort can take up to two and a half hours. In the high season (Nov – April), this transfer usually consists of a short road trip and a scenic 60 minutes boat ride.

I am travelling in the high season, so I’m transported to the private pier where a sleek speedboat takes our small group across turquoise waters to Pimalai. This boat ride is an adventure in itself, stopping along the way to take photos of incredible escarpments reminding me of Katherine Gorge.

As we turn around the bottom of Koh Lanta island, Pimalai comes into view. Traditional Thai buildings cascading down the the mountain right to the ocean’s shore. The resort is protected by a sea of green, palm trees, lush ferns and glorious Thai flowers. I’m told some of these trees are 80-metres tall, over a hundred years old and are home to several colourful birds, including hornbills, and monkeys. The welcoming picture takes my breath away… so this is heaven?

Hillside Pool 2lo

ACCOMMODATION

Pimalai Resort & Spa offers a variety of accommodation designed to cater to the diverse needs of their guests, and various budget too. Singles, couples, families, explorers, relaxers, water sports enthusiasts and those wanting to recharge in an exotic location, all feel at home here. You can choose from Deluxe Rooms, Pavillions, Beachfront Villas, Pool Villas and Hillside Ocean View Villas.

On one side of the road are the beachfront villas, the beach (obviously), deluxe rooms and pavillions, the main reception, several restaurants, the spa and a large pool for all the guests to enjoy. And on the other side of the road are the Hillside Ocean View Villas, which has its own entrance. This is the side I’m staying.

As the name implies, the Hillside Villas, are perched on the hillside, with panoramic views of the ocean. Each villa is designed with a private infinity pool, a large terrace, and an outdoor sala complete with daybed for reading and afternoon snoozes (as I discovered). The spacious interiors include multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, making them ideal for larger families or groups of friends. They also have a full kitchen if you wish to cook, or have one of the chefs come in and prepare dinner for you.

Plowhillside Ocean View Private Pool Villa One(11)

On the hill side of the resort there is a large infinity pool that’s perched on the edge of the cliff,  giving a front row seat to the every changing, colourful sunsets. While it isn’t specifically an adults-only pool, more adults and less family use this pool, preferring the bigger pool by the beach. Next to this pool is Banyan Tree Poolside Cafe, which conveniently serves happy hour drinks to live music as the sun sets. Yes, this feels like I’m in heaven

The fine dining restaurant (Seven Seas) is also on the hillside, as well as the fitness centre, yoga pavillion, and Muay Thai gym – which I use throughout my stay. I would highly recommend taking one of the Muay Thai classes. Professional instructors will train you at your level. It is hard, coordinated work, but a lot of laughs. I also recommend doing the yoga classes, in particular the Aerial yoga. I had a private class, and was fortunate enough to have my Muay Thai trainer take this class. So the muscles he tormented in the Muay Thai class, he tamed with the yoga.

Aerial Yoga Classlo

I loved being this side of the resort, while it is hilly, it made for great incidental exercise. There are constant shuttles to take you from the beach and up the hill, I preferred to walk. Not just for the exercise, but to inhale the smell the Jasmine flowers in bloom, and say hi to my monkey mates.

The food is outstandingly great at each of the restaurants, so these hilly climbs made for a great balance. There’s five restaurants, and I had to try them all, including room service. On my last night I did the chefs degustation at Seven Seas restaurant. Did I mention how wonderful the food is?

 

ACTIVITIES

While you can simply relax, there is an inviting blue playground before you. Motorised water sports are not permitted at Pimalai as part of their commitment to the environment, yet there are a host of other eco-friendly water activities to enjoy. Swimming, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing and stand-up paddleboarding are all free activities for guests. If you want to use your holiday to learn one of these crafts, you can get one of the beach team to give you a lesson.

I take the opportunity to explore the vibrant coral reefs and marine life around Koh Lanta. The Koh Haa Sunset cruise is the hot ticket. It sails through limestone islets enclosing an aquamarine lagoon, a technicolor reef, and a pure white beach. The boat moors, as I enjoy the trifecta of snorkelling, exploring the Koh Ngai & Emerald Cave and catching my breath on an uninhabited pristine beach. Just when you think it can’t get much better than this, we head back to Pimalai as the sunsets. Up-close and personal to this daily show.

Pimalai 55low

The resort can also organise cultural excursion with guided tours to nearby temples, traditional Thai cooking classes, and visits to local markets. There is also a nearby National Park worth visiting. You can walk there from the resort, passing an elephant sanctuary on your way. Just know your abilities, especially if it’s hot.

Once you enter the Koh Lanta National Park, you pay a small entry fee, add more if you want a guide. I felt I wanted to explore on my own and set my own pace. At the heart of the forest is a small waterfall accessible by the same trail that will lead to Khlong Chak Cave. The trail cris-crosses a running creek and ends at this small waterfall. During the dry season there is very little water flowing down. And rock hoping across the stream is joyous – I’d imagine a slightly different experience in the Green (wet) Season.

 

The Spa

The award-winning spa is a mini replica of the entire resort’s philosophy. Respecting traditional Thai architecture, each sala has been designed with nature at heart and constructed from stones, native wood, bamboo, iron ropes and ceramics. All set in lush, tropical forest, complete with a running stream. The spa aims to bring the guest back to nature. And it does.

The spa treatment menu is quite extensive and is inspired by traditional Thai techniques and ingredients – many originating from the time of the Buddha. According to my therapist, the Thai massage treatments are based on aligning and balancing the energies of your body – an ancient art.

On that note, I had booked a Therapeutic Classical Thai Massage. A treatment designed to improve blood circulation and stimulate my lymphatic system. A good therapist will read your body and go off-script if they sense there is an area needing extra attention. My therapist did just that. Expert hands, at just the right pressure cleverly recalibrated my body, and while I knew an hour wasn’t enough, my therapist certainly had the gift from the Gods. Balance incoming.

Pimalai Spalow

As I said, more than an hour was needed for total realignment. I booked a second treatment with the same therapist. If you find a therapist that can read your body and provide the release you require – stick with that therapist. That said, Thai Therapists seem to have extra senses in their finger-tips!

My second treatment was the Pimalai’s Signature Massage which combines Traditional Thai massage, Aromatherapy massage and Ayurvedic massage. My three favourite massages in one! This treatment begins with choosing the scent for the oil. There are four scents, and I’m drawn to Uplifting. This massage was a bit more robust and I could feel the stimulation through my body, yet an incredible state of calm followed.

After my treatment, I let the feeling linger sipping lemongrass tea in an open lounge area. Just enough breeze to let the trees sing and a final light breeezy touch before I leave.

 

SUSTAINABILITY

Pimalai Resort & Spa has stepped up its commitment to responsible travel with a 10-year plan that will preserve the precious environmental surrounds of Koh Lanta and empower the local community. The Koh Lanta resort was granted a coveted Green Globe certification in 2022 after an independent audit of Pimalai’s practices and has no plans to slow down on its environmental initiatives.

“We have made considerable inroads over recent years in reducing our carbon footprint but it is important, not only for our property but the local communities that we are working with, to achieve environmental targets and sustainability,” said Pimalai Owner Charintip Tiyaphorn.

Operating a zero-food waste policy, with excess organic food being used to fertilize the resort’s organic gardens, the resort’s responsible, zero-waste approach includes an island-wide waste management program (with Pimalai collecting refuse from local villages), a zero single-use plastic policy, and extensive recycling. The resort forms part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World’s (SLH) Considerate Collection, an exclusive portfolio of socially responsible and environmentally conscious five-star hotels. It has also signed onto the UNESCO Sustainable Travel Pledge.

Plowmangrove Forest Tour

 

KHAP KHUN

“When our founder, Khun Anurat Tiyaphorn, discovered this enchanting plot of land in the 1990s, he immediately fell in love,” said Pimalai Resort & Spa General Manager, Brice Borin. “Chinese feng shui philosophy says that ‘a house leaning against the mountains and facing waters can bring good luck for people living in it’,” he said.

As I leave to head home with a friendly wave from my Pimalai family, I do indeed feel very lucky. Still waving as we head out of view, I realise there are things about a property that you can’t put in a travel brochure. If a destination was given a ranking for how much they fill you heart…. Five Stars would be given here. In a heart beat!

To learn more or book your stay visit Pimalai Resort & Spa.

Words: Kris Abbey

 

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