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A test for Phuket's next six-star resort: the outlook from Phulay Bay

Phuket's Rivals Reserve the Far Pavilions

Tuesday, December 22, 2009
LIKE the angel atop the Christmas Tree, the Ritz-Carlton Reserve will stand out from the glistening stars below it this festive high season.

Today's the day that the region's most anticipated resort opening takes place, on the shores of Krabi's Phulay Bay.

The Ritz-Carlton Reserve is the first of its kind, and people are already anticipating that the 54 villas and pavilions will set new and special standards.

A second Reserve is destined for Phang Nga, in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, the people behind one of Phang Nga's outstanding resorts, The Sarojin, also have plans for a new venture, this time a little further afield.

Owners Kate and Andrew Kemp have invested in property near Siem Riap, the centre for the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia, and hope to have some designs underway shortly.

What to do without the option of an elegant restaurant fronting the beach? Our guess is, something spa-sational.

Most of the region's top resort people, though, will for now be focused on the Reserve, and there is already considerable interest worldwide.

We understand what's meant by a villa, but the concept of a ''pavilion'' sounds intriguing. Are there windows and doors, we wonder?

Ritz-Carlton spokesman Daniel Ford and others all reach for the dictionary in attempting to describe what makes this Reserve so special.

''The Reserve provides stunning views down over the beach to the sea,'' he told Phuketwan. ''Guests are ensured of privacy and luxury, with a sense of place and culture.''

Ritz-Carlton president Simon F. Cooper is quoted as saying: ''Reserve is for travellers seeking to discover a singular location and peerless resort that will offer exotic, hand-selected 'hideaway' destinations in a relaxed, casually elegant atmosphere.''

And the first Reserve general manager, Estelita Sebeto, says: ''We want guests to enjoy and discover the extraordinary diversity and beauty in this part of the country in a setting of relaxation and rejuvenation.

''So we have worked with nature to maintain a setting that evokes the very best of the natural environment of the hotel and sourced local and sustainable materials in its construction and styling.

''We see the resort as an ambassador for the local environment and for the tradition of the land here in Phulay Bay.''

With great things happening at the top end in Krabi and Phang Nga, it will be interesting to see what Phuket can conjure up next. Did someone say ''Taj Exotica?''
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