“Do you hear that!?” Was exclaimed wide eyed as our aged and previously abused rental car exerted itself up the winding roads that bring you to Paresa Resort Phuket.
Most resorts will happily provide a variety of transfer options to and from the local airport, however we thought the more interesting approach would be to rent/hire a car allowing for much more freedom and options to explore. Also, driving in southern Thailand is a great experience… it’s a two lane road? Why not make it three by using the shoulder area? The white lane lines are apparently just a suggestion, and you have to be vigilant and prepared for the myriad scooters, sidecars laden with watermelon or other in-season fruit on its way to a local market, and of course the very occasional elephant which we saw around one of the winding corners as we drove from the busy Patong to the tranquil Kamala.
Paresa Kamala Resort is creatively positioned on the cliffs affording fantastic, only-interrupted by trees views of the Andaman sea from every room (13) and suite (36) at the property. It’s unique layout also allows for a very memorable and distinct hotel visit - epecailly when looking at other resorts in the area. You arrive at the very top of the property and descend to the reception area where we were warmly welcomed, provided with much needed cool and scented towels, a fragrant chilled tea, and asked to pick a scent for the room (lemongrass or coconut) as you run through the check in process.
Paresa apparently means ‘heaven of all heavens’ and here because of the cliffside layout over many private acres you descend and ascend throughout the resort either on foot or with one of the many on-call buggies. It is a unique set-up that creates a sense of isolation and privacy… and your legs will remind you of your efforts (it is a great way to work off a bit of the fantastic breakfasts and or dinners you will experience while on site – again with unrivalled views).
And that noise that we heard when we were first driving to the resort? Thousands, if not millions of cicadas and other chirping critters in the surrounding jungle/forest… a cacophony that rises and falls throughout the evenings there and serves as an unforgettable backdrop to the scenery – and thankfully those critters were heard but not seen as we gazed out at the squid boats lit up in green and white in the distance and the heat lightning that illuminated the night skies.
At risk of repetitiveness, the resort’s infinity pool (if you get sick of your own room’s pool) is located just below the restaurant and just a cliff level above the spa – all again with amazing views of the sea that will have you reaching for your phone or camera over and over again trying to capture that elusive perfect angle that captures the feel of Paresa (it is difficult to do).
The spa itself offers many of the traditional treatments one expects to find, but with organic oils and materials and all created locally. I opted for the special ‘after sun’ massage (peppermint, eucalyptus and tea tree) after foolishly spending some non spf time outside of our suite – it did not banish the burn but definitely made it a bit more manageable! (thank you)
Paresa also offers a host of activities (and yes - a fantastic beach as well) – both their own and then some offered by a boutique third party provider where unique opportunities have been selected that keep you away from the tourist hoards and engaged with the local culture. We chose to hop in our car in order to explore the Phuket Old Town on our own schedule. The Old Town was a very pleasant surprise. It has been both preserved and modestly gentrified – a great blend of the old Sino tin mining heritage and a nod to reforming and cleaning up its more ‘dusty’ areas which are now full of color and good smells (for the most part!).
We’d highly recommend visiting this area of the world. Phuket has a little bit of everything – depending on what you are in to and looking for. We came looking for interesting adventures, new cultural knowledge and an understanding of the area and some tranquillity / downtime and found it all at or within striking distance of Paresa Kamala.