Thailand is atop many honeymooner’s wish lists, with good reason. When it comes to beaches, Phuket gets all the fuss, but one of my favorite spots is just across the bay: Phulay Bay, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve.
Anyone who knows me knows how much I love a Ritz-Carlton club floor; I’ve enjoyed them from NYC to Seoul. But this was my first time experiencing a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, their premier line of hotels. I flew into Phuket at night and did the two-hour drive to Krabi—well worth it to get this view of the arrival pavilion all decked out with candlelight, setting a tone that said “super special.”
Things looked even better the next day. The hotel takes over its own enclave along the beach, with a beautiful infinity-edge pool facing the Andaman Sea.
Rooms are decadently spacious, with garden bathtubs and high, airy ceilings. But it was the beds that blew my mind; they’re actually two California kings put together. I literally switched sleeping direction every night — crosswise, lengthwise, diagonal; it’s impossible to find a bad position.
The Beach Villas are even more spacious, with plunge pools facing the beach. What you sacrifice in privacy you more than make up for with proximity to the water and a view of the iconic rock formations offshore.
I also loved the spa, from one of my favorite brands, ESPA. The treatments are amazing, and how could you NOT relax in a couples’ suite like this?
The hotel also knows destination weddings. The big wedding scene from The Hangover 2 was shot here. (My driver was so proud of the fact, he played the movie on our drive in from the airport — and again on the way back.) Beach weddings are most popular, and you don’t need much to dress them up.
They also have a covered pavilion with a grassy lawn for a totally different style.
The food was fantastic throughout my stay, especially at Sri Trang, the Thai restaurant, and Jampoon, the main dining room that serves a fusion of Thai-influenced Mediterranean cuisine. (Yes, I ate noodles every day. It was heaven.) But my favorite spot was Chomtawan, the beachfront bar that served cocktails and small plates. Everyone naturally gravitates here at sunset, for obvious reasons.
There’s one more thing that makes Phulay Bay stand out in my heart: Did I mention they have their own elephant?! Koko is a sweet, young pachyderm who lives on a nearby reserve and comes by to entertain guests by playing harmonica, shaking his trunk and generally having as much fun as the guests. If you go on your honeymoon, be sure to tell him I say hi.