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Cape Panwa Does Nothing Well

Friday, January 18, 2008
PHUKET has plenty of classy resorts but the word ''charming'' often only applies in the mind of the person writing the brochure. The Cape Panwa Hotel deserves that subtle accolade, and more.

Few places on the island are as charming as this one, as you come to realise when you stroll along the beach or wait for a boat on the charming ??? there's that word again ??? white-painted boat pier.

The four-star Cape Panwa Hotel is just a charming seong-taw shuttle ride up and over a steep hill from its sister resort, the newly-renovated Kantary Bay Hotel, which can be found along the road leading to the aquarium at the cape.

To get to what is virtually a private beach, you take a charming tram car ride down to the charming gardens.

According to staff, the owner insists on preserving the extremely tall coconut palms, remnants of a plantation, and they give the broad grassy foreshore and the beach its charming character.

It's not hard to see why. Few settings anywhere on the island are so . . . timeless and enchanting.

It's an attractive, peaceful place. One of the Royal princesses is a regular visitor, staying in a cliffside suite with a fabulous Andaman Sea view.

The philosophy here is a bit like the Seinfeld television comedy series. The question: ''What's the show about?'' always brought the reply: ''Nothing.''

Guests who ask ''What is there is to do at the Cape Panwa Hotel?'' are likely to get the same response: "Nothing."

True, there is a spa. But quite deliberately, there is no waterpolo at 3pm, no elephant rides, no aerobics, not even sunset yoga beneath the coconut palms.

Just as the Seinfeld series was fabulously succesful for years, so the Cape Panwa Hotel has mastered the art of doing nothing extremely well. It is every bit as relaxing as Seinfeld was funny.

Mind you, there are a couple of handsome swimming pools, the spa, and some excellent fine dining to be had at Panwa House, an old colonial-style mansion close to the beach that has been enhanced with period furniture and bric a brac, an upmarket French restaurant named the Top of the Reef, or several other options.

The quaint pier, accessed along a cliffside jungle path, attracts the occasional local fisherman and the daily boat trip to Coral Island sometimes has passengers who absolutely feel they must do a little more than nothing.

For those living and staying elsewhere on the island, the Cape Panwa Hotel makes an excellent destination for a Sunday afternoon excursion.

The delights of the secluded cape have been discovered all over again, in this modern age, with the upmarket Sri panwa resort now being extended nearby and a couple of other large spreads under construction on the main road to Phuket City.

That's not likely to change anything much at the cape's eponymous hotel where the peace is only disturbed by the occasional wedding in what remains a wonderful secluded natural tropical environment.

When asked ''Do you take this man,'' does a true Cape Panwa bride say ''Yes,'' or does she say nothing?

It's a delightfully different part of Phuket and they really should rename it Cape Charming. Now that would be something.

Cape Panwa Hotel accommodation and fine-dining reservations can be made at 076-391177.

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