Every so often, you just need one of those holidays.
You know the holidays I’m talking about, right? They’re the ones where alarm clocks don’t exist, where a day spent by the pool is a day well spent, and where going out for dinner means leaving your room and walking 27 metres to the hotel restaurant.
After a year of long hours, a family illness that took everything out of me and the stresses of moving house, five nights in Thailand at the Cape Panwa Hotel could not have come at a better time.
I’m here with a few other writers for the 12th Phuket Race Week, an annual sailing regatta held over four days mid-late July. The event is now in its 13th year of operation and every year it draws crowds of sailors and their families from around the world.
Located on the south east tip of the island of Phuket and about a 40 minute drive from Phuket airport, Cape Panwa Hotel is one of many luxury hotels in Thailand run by Cape and Kantary Hotels.
Cape Panwa is one of the more remote regions of the Phuket, but that’s part if its charm. Aside from the occasional beauty salon or suit tailor, there isn’t much outside the confines of this hotel. (But for those who, unlike me, are interested in big nightclubs and GoGo bars, the bright lights Patong are not far away.)
There is something seemingly old world about the hotel,is nestled in the hills, overlooking an expanse of aqua blue ocean. From the cable car that takes you down the hill, to the colonial style buildings that front the beach, there’s a feeling of traditional luxury (but with all the modern amenities like free wifi, of course).
Over five days, we drink cocktails, watch the regatta from the sea, take the Panwa Princess yacht to surrounding islands, dine at the hotel’s restaurants and take the occasional trip to various regions of Phuket.
And there were a few things I learned along the way.
Thai food is easy to make – and even easier to eat.
During a cooking class on Day 1 at the resort, we started at work stations like this.
And somehow, we made a pad thai in just a few minutes. That looked like THIS.
We were guided by one of the hotel’s top chefs, but I was really surprised by the speed and simplicity of what we made.
If you’re considering Thailand, go for the food alone. It’s fresh, cheap to eat and the flavour combinations are unmatched by anywhere else.
I’m not great with boats.
On day 2 of the regatta, we set out on a 24-metre motor yacht called the Da Vinci. Boats were racing, drinks were flowing.
And I’m like…
I’ve never really been on a boat that wasn’t a ferry or a ship before and I soon discover that motion sickness tablets would have been a worthy investment.
A few minutes later, when the crew TURNED BACK TO THE MAINLAND SO I COULD GET OFF, I was met by this legend with a first aid kit.
You know, just in case.
While the rest of the group continued on the water, I spent the rest of the day with my head in a book, by the pool.
Dotted throughout the property are two swimming pools, a private beach, a spa and 5 bars and 5 restaurants. The hotel offers a range of rooms. At the very top, there’s the Absolute Suite – a private penthouse that offers its own infinity pool, 2 bedrooms 360 degree views of the peninsula. Further down the range, there’s the Private Pool Villa, the Cape Signature Suite – with a private balcony spa – and a Junior Suite – a more compact room, but still with stunning views from a private balcony – plus many more.
A fresh coconut is the best hangover cure there ever was.
On Day 4, we visit the Rawai Fish Markets, about a 40-minute drive from the hotel.
The restaurants in Rawai offer an unusually low price for their flavour-filled dishes. The only condition? You have to bring your own seafood from the markets that surround.
It’s a business-model I’ve never experienced before, but one that is so much more exciting than simply choosing from a menu.
We take our time wandering the expanse of fresh seafood, checking out the selection, the prices and just the general atmosphere. The salespeople assure us the fresh clams, prawns and fish were loaded ‘off the boats just two hours ago.’
In the end, we decide to chuck all our money on one hero – some super-sized king prawns. We take them over to a restaurant called “Mukdee” and have them cooked in chilli, plus a side of pineapple rice.
It’s a winner.
On our way back to the car, the cocktails from last night’s Phuket Race Week Prizegiving night catch up with me.
Quick fresh coconut to hydrate.
Travelling somewhere so beautiful will turn you into a social media humble bragger.
Much to the annoyance of your family and friends, who will inevitably ask ‘where was my invite?’ you’ll post photos like this:
Lucy traveled as a guest of Cape and Kantary hotels.