Pimalai Resort & Spa (www.pimalai.com) can do this for anyone. Located on the island of Koh Lanta in southern Thailand, Pimalai is secluded and picturesque. Bountiful blooms and lush greenery border the paths within its undulating 100-acre tropical rainforest. The trails ripple and weave around Thai-styled accommodations and down to the spa, restaurants and beach. The nearly 3,000-ft pristine shoreline is blanketed with white sand so soft it feels like talcum powder.
This paradise is accessible via a flight to Krabi and a one-and-a-half hour ride over land and water. When the weather is clear, the ride is lovely. Clouds scatter across the blue sky. Karsts rise out of the glassy water. But then comes the hard part - navigating the hotel’s 492-ft. “pier.” Resembling giant milk bottles fastened together, it floats up and down with the waves. So do I. It is like being on a roller coaster without a seat.
Once on land, a golf cart whisks us away to our villa. Perched on a steep cliff, its two buildings are separated by an infinity pool and outdoor lounge area. One building contains a living room, kitchen, bathroom and eating area while the other has a huge bedroom, dressing room and bathroom. (An extra nice touch: because it’s our anniversary, our bed is strewn with flower petals in the shape of a heart - the word “love” in the middle.) Our complex is surrounded by wooden gates. We quickly learn to keep them closed or will get uninvited guests - monkeys!
The resort trails are steep and curvy, and I am afraid I will get lost. So, I call down to the lobby. A golf cart quickly arrives to take me anyplace I want to go.
I opt for the spa. Here, pampering is honed to a fine art. Let me share my spa experience. A cool towel and a cool drink greet me at the reception hut. My therapist leads me past a fountain that soars above a tropical garden to a gated hideaway. She eases me into an outdoor, sunken Jacuzzi tub that is covered with flower petals. A wooden trough spews warm water into it. A Japanese garden and soft music surround me.
Thirty minutes pass. My therapist appears, helps me out of the tub and leads me to the massage table in the indoor part of the treatment area. Fresh flower petals are piled in a bowl on the floor. A soft breeze passes through the open French windows. Holding her fragrant hands over my nose, she repeats one of her few English phrases, “inhale please.” So begins my massage. When it is over, I sit in the reception hut enjoying a cup of ginger tea. I am so relaxed, my brain is blank and my body limp.
Once I get my energy back, I want do something a bit more active. Pimalai offers many non-motorized water sports like kayaking plus incredible scuba diving. An endless variety of underwater denizens weave through odd coral formations expanses of radiant coral - yellows, fuchsias, cobalt, purple and green. Their bright colors make you wonder if nature has been ingesting psychedelic drugs.
On land, the resort offers trekking, tennis, cycling, workouts and even cooking lessons. My favorite is the elephant trek where I get an elevated view of the jungle from atop a pachyderm. Eerie looking caves have giant tree roots wrapped around them. Except for the squawks and squeaks of birds and monkeys, it is silent. Then I dismount and ford a stream to a waterfall. The cool water feels good on my feet. The water trickles into a river. Then it is back to my trunked transport and to Pimalai for dinner.
The hotel’s restaurants offer fine dining, great service and variety. But, since I am in Thailand, I cannot get enough Pad Thai. The rich peanut sauce is so good, I have it two nights in a row
The time flies by. I am sad to leave this special place. Many others feel the same way. So it is a given that Pimalai has amassed a plethora of travel awards. In 2013, Fodor’s Guides voted it one of the top 100 hotels in the world. I couldn’t agree more.