Background In 2009, Ritz-Carlton opened a property in Thailand so special, it required the creation of an entirely new category under the Ritz-Carlton brand. And so Phulay Bay became the world’s first Ritz-Carlton Reserve. The difference between Ritz-Carlton Reserves and their regular sister properties? Remote locations, petite size and bespoke service. In the 14 years that have followed, only four further Reserves have opened, with a sixth set to open in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea development this summer.

Where is it? Nestled in a private bay on Krabi’s picturesque coastline, it’s roughly 45 minutes from Krabi International airport.

What’s it like? First impressions set the tone for a stay that’s truly outstanding at every level. The red carpet is metaphorically rolled out for guests at a welcome ceremony at the Sala Srichan, a welcome pavilion set overwater, guarded by high stone walls in deep mauve. From there, guests are whisked to their rooms, of which the hotel has just 54, on buggies driven by their dedicated Ton Hung, Phulay Bay’s iteration of a private butler. Everything is dotted around the grounds, which feature lush gardens, tranquil lily ponds and streams that flow from the mountains behind the resort.

The resort has a collection of 54 villas and pavilions. (Image: Supplied by The Ritz-Carlton)
The resort has a collection of 54 villas and pavilions. (Image: Supplied by The Ritz-Carlton)

Rooms A collection of 54 villas and pavilions are designed to make the most of the locale, each one unique in its layout and finish, but all rich and grand in their aesthetic. I stayed in a one-bedroom Reserve Pool Villa, cleverly laid out so the terrace at the back, where a sunken tub is flanked by palm trees, enjoys the morning sun, while the private pool at the entrance benefits from the afternoon heat. Touches like the enormous domed ceiling bathroom, the largest beds in the world, and hand-painted Thai-Lanna screens lend a lavish feel, but it’s the little extras that make the difference. Traditional Thai sweets are left on the pillow each evening, a statue of a sleeping lady is left out to be used as a fun do not disturb, and on a day trip to a local elephant sanctuary, my Ton Hung Habib brings an insect repellent that’s free of harsh chemicals.

Food and drink Phulay Bay’s culinary credentials are truly outstanding, with five restaurants and bars to choose from. On the seafront, Chomtawan is the perfect spot for sundowners, where local artisans are often on-hand to lead crafting sessions. All-day dining is instantly elevated by lush surroundings and stretching views at Jampoon, where flavours of East-meets-West fuse Mediterranean dishes with southern Thai classics. Then there are casual eats at poolside Plai Fah, a 22-seater restaurant by the sea, Lae Lay, where an elegant afternoon tea is served, and fine dining Thai restaurant Sri Tang completes the culinary lineup.

Meetings Indoor and outdoor meeting spaces include a 426 sq ft meeting room, a traditionally designed conference room for formal business get-togethers, as well as an array of outdoor venues backdropped by Krabi’s spectacular scenery.

Phulay Bay has five restaurants and bars to choose from. (Image: Supplied by The Ritz-Carlton)
Phulay Bay has five restaurants and bars to choose from. (Image: Supplied by The Ritz-Carlton)

Leisure The resort’s infinity pool benefits from some seriously show-stealing views, stretching to Hong Island and across the calm Andaman Sea. While it would be easy to simply soak it all in from a plush poolside cabana, Bay’s myriad activities encourage adventure. A Muay Thai class led by a professional fighter, sunrise hikes, and a long-tail boat trip to Hong Island are all unmissable parts of the Phulay Bay bucket list. Then, there are more low-tempo pursuits, like an afternoon in the instantly relaxing spa, adorned in dark woods and bathed in natural light.

Verdict The above-and-beyond ethos radiates through this property, from its detailed design to the thoughtful service that ensures every guest’s stay is entirely bespoke. Alice Holtham

Best for: Luxury down to the finest detail

Don’t miss: A private dinner at Sala Srichan, the welcome pavilion that gets illuminated by 2,000 candles after dark

Price: Internet rates for a Reserve Pool Villa in mid-March start from US$1,040

Contact: 111 Moo 3, Nongthalay, Muang, Krabi, 81180 Thailand; +66 756 2811;