Being a frequent tripper, “a holiday in Phuket” – at first – didn’t really sound very exciting to me. Having been to Thailand a couple of times, I had already lived the sun, sand and the sea. But as soon as I browsed the website of Keemala, what I simply wanted to do was pack my bags and head right out of that door! The property looked unbelievably enchanting in pictures and I was curious to know if something like this really existed on the world map. A large part of travel often depends on where you stay, and my stay at Keemala gave me the finest experience of the paradisaical island.
Keemala is exactly what dreams are made of. At some point in life, we all dream of living in a dimly-lit, swanky villa; sleeping like royalty on a beautifully-carved canopy bed; and swimming in our private pool while sipping on a glass of old, pricey wine. And this rainforest retreat fulfills all these fantasies and more, in the most understated manner possible.
VILLA WITH A PRIVATE POOL
So, when I finally arrived at Keemala and checked into my Tree Pool villa, I still thought I was living in my little bubble of bliss and that someone would burst it any moment.
The villas come in four different categories: hut-like Clay Pool Cottages apt for solo travellers; Tent Pool Houses with wildlife-inspired interiors, perfect for adventurous nomads; pod-shaped Tree Pool Houses with an upper, outdoor relaxation space, great for a family of four and opulent Bird’s Nest Pool Villas with giant terraces overlooking the Andaman Sea.
Housed in an imaginary village and connected together by a network of jungle walkways, the 38 pool villas are inspired by tales of four fictitious tribes of Phuket. The characteristics are reflected in the intricate details like mosaic flooring, textured cement walls, glittering shell-embedded terrazzo tiles, leather, brass and cherry wood furniture and textiles that brace an earthy, elemental aesthetic.
The cherry on the cake was the balcony surrounded by lush-green foliage, offering pleasing resort views. And it all looked all the more prettier when lit up at night.
DELICIOUS THAI FOOD
Think any Thai delicacy and you can sample its most heavenly version at Su Tha – the only restaurant at this boutique resort – which dishes out a wide variety of Thai, Indian and international items. The culinary creations are truly a feast for your senses. The ‘Healthy Living’ menu emphasis on eating low-calorie food that is prepared out of organic, farm-grown ingredients, using slow cooking methods.
I particularly relished Tom Krati Pak Miang (Southern-style jungle pak miang leaf coconut soup with shallot, shrimp pate or sea prawn) and Yam Tua Pu (Wing bean salad with roasted coconut, fried shallot, peanut, chili coconut sauce).
Su Tha – with an indoor as well as outdoor seating – is indeed a paradise for a Thai food lover. If you do not wish to dine here, you can either have your meal by the large public pool for a change of scenery or opt for in-villa dining. Want to plan an intimate dinner with your partner? Keemala’s Wine cellar is that ideal chamber you are looking for.
Little surprises: Every evening, the chef sends you a homemade sweet something as a little treat and it’s all so delicious! Multi-flavoured macaroons and fresh pound cake served with orange sorghum were my top favourites. Pampering my sweet tooth to the core 😉
Thai food is something you seriously can’t get enough of. To be able to savour delectable Thai food back home, learn the tricks of the cuisine in the surroundings of the enchanted garden at Keemala. Soak in the aroma of exotic herbs and fruits while you get to know some secret cooking tips from the chef.
REJUVENATION AT THE SPA
With eight pod-like treatment rooms set in picturesque flower and water gardens, the Mala Spa is the perfect sanctuary where you can de-stress, get rid of all the negative energies and return with renewed mind, body and soul. Apart from traditional Thai massages, it offers treatments like holistic acupuncture, aromatherapy, vibrational attunement, body polish, anti-aging facials, body wraps and energy re-balancing body work. Well-trained staff, Siam Botanical’s all-natural products and hot and cold Thai teas served along with hot and cold towels before and after every treatment enhance the entire experience. Opt for a spa session or two or sign up for a three or six-day Holistic Living Programme which includes a variety of treatments, fitness sessions, beach walks and a healthy spa cuisine.
MOVING AROUND IN A BUGGY
Nestled in the lush woodlands of Kamala village, Keemala is spread across a huge area with every villa well spaced out from the other. If you are good with directions unlike me, you can walk up to your villa or else a buggy is just a call away. I did try going on foot a couple of times, just to enjoy the serene surroundings of the rainforest but ended up frantically looking for a buggy ride after losing my way and foolishly reaching the wrong villa.
THE WARM, EVER-SMILING STAFF
Since every villa is appointed a host who looks after everything you need, you’re constantly getting all the personal attention and interaction you’re looking for when vacationing at a luxury resort. The staff at Keemala doesn’t give you a single opportunity to complain. Whether it’s May who is always there to greet you as you arrive at the restaurant for a meal or Ken who happily caters to your needs during his night shift, the service at Keemala is packed with a lot of warmth and love. Why would you ever want to leave ?
THE ACTIVITIES: THERE’S SO MUCH TO DO
After lazing in your private pool, you can head for a good swim to the giant pool complete with a waterfall or burn some calories at the fully-equipped, state-of-the-art fitness studio. Learn yoga, Muay Thai boxing, Tai Chi on the breezy beach – yes, these sessions are complimentary! Got a creative instinct? Learn the traditional art of Laai Thai drawing, master the art to capturing the best sunset shots on the scenic beaches of Phuket under the supervision of photography experts or experience farming and picking fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs at Keemala’s enchanted garden. Get closer to nature by taking a leisurely stroll at the fruit orchard or visiting the mushroom hut where straw and oyster mushrooms are grown in an enslosed shed. Make friends with resident water buffalos and learn about their daily routine and significance in Thai culture. Traditionally, these buffalos were an integral part of rice farming, helping farmers plough the fields before tractors were available.
Close to the liveliness of Patong and Surin beaches yet far removed from the hustle and bustle of Phuket, Keemala is located in the interiors of the tranquil Kamala village. Just a 40-minute drive from Phuket International Airport, it is easily reachable by taxi.
The pricing for a villa starts at THB 21,100 plus taxes (Rs 40,221). Daily breakfast, daily fresh tropical fruit, afternoon tea, in-room mini-bar, Wi-Fi and daily health and wellness activities are all included in the rate.
Outdoor terrace, private pool, bathtub, monsoon showers, complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access, tea and traditional coffee making facilities, smart TV, i-pod dock, IDD telephone, well-stocked larder, personal safe, hair dryer, resort bag and umbrella, luxurious, localy sourced bathroom products, bathrobes and slippers.
Keemala doesn’t entertain kids below the age of 14 years, only to maintain serenity.
HAVEN FOR COUPLES
With features like a private pool, couple spa massages, luxury-defining villas and king-size bath tubs, Keemala makes for a lovely place to celebrate a special occasion and rekindle romance or unwind and begin a new chapter in your life post a stressful wedding.
WHY KEEMALA TOUCHED MY SOUL
Opulence need not always be in your face and this is what I realised after my stay at Keemala. The hideout elegantly blends luxury with an earthy, homely feel. Absolutely unpretentious! How often do you get a chance to live in the wilderness, in the middle of a rainforest-like ambiance, and wake up to the call of the birds while indulging in all the life’s riches at the same time? Not quite frequently, for sure
Are you ready for the most magical experience in Phuket?