BY: Pattarawadee Saengmanee
Phuket Island shows no sign of releasing its grip on the imaginations of foreign tourists and Thai families. That's not surprising, given its lively main town kissed by sun, beautiful sea and glittering sands. However, the growing ribbons of bars, restaurants, department stores, hotels and resorts aren't to everyone's taste.
Fortunately, those who pine for peace and quiet don't have to wander far. On the neighbouring Cape Panwa nestles the newly renovated boutique hotel Kantary Bay, a laid-back lodging where visitors can soak up the tranquillity and take advantage of a full range of facilities.
Late last year the Kantary Group, which has run the Cape Panwa Hotel in Phuket and other serviced apartments and hotels around the country for decades, refurbished the Kantary Bay Hotel, transforming its four bright-coloured buildings into a chic boutique hotel in warm, earth tones. Inside, the decor is contemporary Thai-style, with the flowing forms of hardwood furniture gleaming from every corner.
"Originally we opened here as The Bay, offering 27 serviced apartments," says general manager Somjai Teera-Umpornpunt. "But the rise in popularity of boutique hotels convinced us that we should rethink. The result is the Kantary Bay, with its chic and intimate feel."
Tucked away on Sakdidej Road, the 15-year-old hotel is located on a five-rai plot of land and houses 104 cosy rooms, a small fitness studio, two swimming pools and conference rooms.
Guests weary of sunbathing and the crowds in town can take a break at the reading room on the first floor. It serves coffee, tea, cookies and snacks free all day long, with magazines and newspapers also available. The hotel has several restaurants offering both Thai and international food in the evening. The open-air Laerm Panwa serves up delectable barbecued seafood, while Uncle's Nan has scrumptious traditional Italian dishes.
If you're only in the mood for a snack or light meal, the Clock House Pavilion at the heart of the hotel dishes up aromatic coffee, tea, sandwiches and snacks. Anyone looking for a corner to hangout with friends should head to the Dolphin Bar, which serves a selection of drinks and cocktails.
The hotel has saved some room for a shopping area, the Panwa Village, where guests can browse for souvenirs and gifts.
The Kantary Bay offers three room types - studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom - each of which has a separate living area. To encourage a homelike atmosphere, the rooms come in pastel shades and are decorated with finely carved wood furniture. All have a television, stereo with DVD player and, importantly, a pantry-cum-kitchen equipped with tableware, fridge, microwave, oven, toaster and sink.
One-bedroom and two-bedroom options have an en-suite bathroom with tub and shower. The living area is decked out with a six-seat dining table and comfy family-size sofa while the veranda makes a great place to watch the sun go down - choose your perch from the swing or the wood bench.
Kantary Bay Hotel Phuket at a glance
High points: Rooms are spacious with full facilities
Low points: No private beach; the stretch of sand is shared with Cape Panwa
Pay for it: Bt1,500 for a studio, Bt2,200 for a one-bedroom and Bt4,400 for a two-bedroom room. These introductory nightly rates are available until October.
Find it: 31/11, Sakdidej Road, Cape Panwa, Phuket
Book it (076) 391 514, firstname.lastname@example.org
Browse it: KantaryBay-Phuket.com