Rayavadee review: remote jungle luxury
Arriving at a five-star hotel by speedboat is not something I ever thought I would experience. But now that I have, I’m not sure I can go back.
My entrance to Rayavadee Resort should have been the highlight of the trip, but it was really just a sign of what was to come at this incredible jungle-hotel.
With a welcome party waiting for me on the beach and a cocktail immediately placed in my hand as they checked me in it seemed like no hotel I had ever stayed at before. And that’s because it’s not really like any hotel in the world.
Located on the idyllic Phranang Peninsula in south Thailand, Rayavadee has been built into the jungle with the aim of causing as little disruption to the local wildlife as possible. This means that on your way to breakfast you’re likely to catch a glimpse of one of the three families of monkeys that live here, though fair warning, be sure to stay clear of the macaques as they’ll steal your morning croissant in a heartbeat.
The big advantage of being on a peninsula, aside from the speed boat entrance, is that Rayavadee is also home to three separate beaches, as well as a massive outdoor heated swimming pool, tennis court and everything else you would expect from a five-star stay.
The one aspect that made the difference for me was their concierge service. During my trip, I somehow ended up with two personal concierges, Lex and Keiko. Lex was kind enough to offer me his phone number so I could just WhatsApp him if I needed to find out the time of my dinner reservation or what I should take for my day’s excursions.
I would also send him photos from my activities, be that visiting an ancient temple or kayaking in the surrounding mangroves, and he would send back his expertly taken shots from around the hotel of the monkeys, toucans and other wildlife he’d spotted. These were often far better than what I had managed to capture, meaning that I had some decent images to send back to my family so they really knew what they were missing out on.
Rayavadee is home to 101 pavilions and villas dotted throughout the jungle, with a standard pavillion boasting a living space downstairs and an ensuite bedroom at the top of the staircase that wraps itself around the building. There are a few different types of pavilions available, including deluxe, terrace and spa, as well as luxury villas for those looking to really splash out on their stay.
I was staying in a terrace pavilion, meaning I had a downstairs living room and toilet, an outdoor covered terrace and upstairs the ensuite bedroom. None of this was lacking in space, with the circular construction giving a surprisingly airy feel to what looks very compact from the outside.
The bedroom featured a large double bed, a flatscreen TV, lots of storage and a desk by the bay window, while in the bathroom there was a large bath, two sinks, a loo and possibly the most powerful power shower I have ever experienced. You can safely leave your loofah at home, as this will exfoliate without the need to scrub.
Despite being on a rather isolated peninsular, Rayavadee offers four completely unique dining options, meaning that you never need to eat the same thing twice. My personal favourite was The Grotto, located inside a cave looking out to sea and serving some of the best barbecue food I've ever had.
If you’re looking for some more traditional Thai cuisine, the best place to head to in the evening is Krua Phranang. Just down the beach from The Grotto, this romantic restaurant offers great sea views and also has an air conditioned room for when the mercury rises.
With all the great food on offer, it is easy to just laze on one of the three beaches or float around in the huge outdoor swimming pool during the day. But if you fancy seeing a bit more of the surrounding area, or getting off the peninsular for a while, the hotel will organise a whole raft of excursions and activities for you.
The highlight for me had to be the kayaking trip that took us near Khao Phing Kan, or as it’s better known to use westerners, “James Bond Island”, where they filmed some of the most iconic scenes in The Man With The Golden Gun. The kayaking also took us through thick mangroves where we were lucky enough to come within about 15ft of a king kobra. That was probably about as close as I fancied getting.
Besides the kayaking and other sporty activities like rock climbing and guided hikes through the jungle, the best place to unwind at Rayavadee has to be the spa. Offering a range of treatments including traditional Thai massages, body scrubs and facials, I can’t imagine anywhere better to fix the aches and pains of sitting behind a desk every day.
While all of the facilities at Rayavadee were amazing, one thing that has stuck with me about the hotel was the people.
Every last one of the staff was happy to see you, greeting you with a bow and a friendly “Sawasdee Kha” whether they were taking your dinner order or just walking past you as you head to the pool.
In a place so unlike home, this is what made Rayavadee somewhere you can completely relax. It is easy when you are treated like family.
To find out more or book a stay at Rayavadee, visit: https://www.rayavadee.com/en/