The Paresa Resort: Paradise in Phuket
Perched on the cliffs overlooking the Andaman sunset, Paresa is unquestionably Phuket’s private piece of paradise.Matthew Priest March 24, 2015
The warm reverberation of a huge gong echoes down Paresa’s simple and rather sparsely decorated entranceway. I put down the mallet and only then does a set of grand, wooden double doors open to reveal everything that this much-lauded hotel promises to be.
Behind the doors, and painted in unbroken sunshine, is a manicured grass rooftop garden with views stretching over the Andaman Sea towards the horizon. From there you can see the sparse scattering of other properties in Kamala bay, camouflaged by the forest-covered cliffs, and very little of the hotel that cascades down the slope beneath you. You can see everything and nothing, at the same time.
“Ringing the gong is a spiritual way of announcing your arrival in heaven”, explains Pong, one of the hotel’s staff, affectionately referred to as ‘angels’. She goes on to explain that Paresa is a Sanskrit word that means ‘Heaven of all Heavens’ and that on arrival every guest must hit the gong before being led through the hotel. It suddenly starts to make sense why the hotel has a dimly-lit and understated reception area – it is a temple.
Comparing your property to heaven is a lofty task, but it is one that has been undertaken with complete diligence. As the only hotel on a strip of coastal road known colloquially as Millionaire’s Mile, the setting for the 49-room (32 of which are suites) boutique hotel is very much unique. The unspoilt views from the roof garden, in 2014 alone, have been the backdrop to 47 weddings – with even more expected this year. It is becoming clear why Paresa is one of the most sought-after luxury hotels on Phuket’s western coast, and that is before we have even set foot in one of rooms.
Due to the steep cliffs the hotel is built into chauffeured buggies are the preferred mode of transport – but if you’re more fitness focused then by all means go by foot, just remember that we warned you. Paresa has several suite and villa options, each woven intelligently into the rugged rock landscape, but each with good levels of privacy, and west-facing views overlooking the sea.
Our room, an Aqua Pool Suite, is a spacious and sleek-designed contemporary space with a luxurious, uncluttered feel to it. The inviting wood and cream colour scheme mirrors the hotel’s calm and relaxing atmosphere and does not detract from the main selling point – the windowed wall, overlooking the sea and – more importantly – the private infinity pool.
Interior-wise, the centrepiece of the open-plan room, is unquestionably the king-size bed (which in all our years of reviewing hotels stands out as the arguably the most comfortable we have ever slept in. Full disclosure: we even asked the resident manager, Mirko, for the contact details of the lady who specifically makes the linens).
Unlike previous high-end hotels, the owners of Paresa have gone the rather unorthodox path of spending an inordinate amount of time focusing on and perfecting the bathrooms – which make up half of the entire suite. Not only does each bathroom include open-planned, his-and-hers wardrobes; both indoor and outdoor showers; and sunsetting views from the bathtub, but the white terrazzo walls and flooring were personally designed by the owners to incorporate lotus flower patterns. The outcome is spectacular, with an appealing and inviting space, which makes this already spacious one-bedroom suite feel much bigger and offer more individual privacy for the staying couple.
Set atop the cape headland, the rest of Paresa's 30-acre cliff-hugging setting has been sensitively designed around enormous Banyan trees and make the most of it by complementing their natural beauty with a natural palette of stone, timber and green slate roofs, all designed to blend in with the bush.
Due to its ultra-relaxed, escapist vibe, it is no surprise that Paresa is pitched as more of an adult resort. That is not to say that children aren’t welcome as just there five minutes down the road you can find Kalama beach – a beautiful little strip of sand with safe swimming–, but there are no child-specific areas at the hotel, such as kids clubs.
That said, there remains plenty for guests to do in-house, including a popular and informative cooking course, where guests are taught how to cook three Thai staple dishes: spring rolls, Tom Yam soup and pad Thai noodles, at Recipe – the state-of-the-art cooking school. If you ask nicely, prior to the lessons you can accompany the chef to the markets in the nearby town of Patong to pick out the ingredients.
On top of the traditional Thai cooking classes, the hotel’s wonderfully cheerful General Manager, Dawid, also holds the honour of being one of only three professionally qualified Sake Masters in Thailand, and will soon be launching both Japanese cooking and Saki-tasting classes.
Just above the cooking school is the setting of the hotel’s main social area, the Talung Thai restaurant. This authentic South Thai restaurant is the hotel’s principle dining area, with breakfast, lunch and dinner served on the fantastically spacious, open-air decking area. The space also doubles up as an Italian restaurant, Diavolo, so guests have a wider variety of cuisines available to them.
For a touch of extra romance, you can book the hotel’s ‘infinity-dining’ concept, where a table will be suspended over the infinity pool and waiters will wade out to serve you your supper.
Between meals, and led by Paresa’s tranquil feel, most of the guests will generally gravitate to either their room’s private pool, or to the stunning communal infinity pool – which has lights that illuminate to mirror the stars above – or to hotel’s spa and salon.
For us, there are few better ways to spend our days than reclining on a day bed, drink in hand, sipping in the last of the daylight as sun slowly dips into the ocean and out of sight. Now, that really is a slice of heaven.
Details: Lightfoot Travel organises luxury tailor-made itineraries throughout Thailand, including stays at Paresa. For more visit lightfoottravel.com