Words by Colin Hinshelwood/CPA Media
Banyan Tree Krabi, a 72-key luxury resort nestled on a verdant hillside with spectacular vistas of limestone cliffs rising from the sea, opened its doors to the public on October 24 at little-known Tubkaek Beach, a 45-minute drive from Krabi International Airport.
Launched by Banyan Tree Group, one of the world’s leading independent, multi-branded hospitality groups known for sustainability and wellbeing, this latest five-star hotel is owned by Thailand-based Asset World Corporation (AWC).
The new resort backs onto a lush national park and Naga Crest Hill, granting three ultra-luxury beachfront pool villas, 10 beachfront pool villas, and 59 pool suites, each of which has its own private pool and a westward-facing view of sunset over the Andaman. A natural spring flows downhill into the property where it is transformed into a flower-fringed canal ferrying springwater to the sea.
Facilities at Banyan Tree Krabi include two restaurants and a beach bar, a kids’ club, a fitness centre, a meeting centre, and in keeping with Banyan Tree’s global wellbeing branding — a rainforest-themed spa.
The centrepiece of the resort, as guests walk through the ‘Naga’ legend-inspired entrance, is a circular water feature in the lobby that cascades into a cavernous meeting room area below. With a backdrop of emerald sea and karsts, the awe-inspiring spectacle is shaping up as one of the resort’s signature images.
“Water and nature are the predominant themes here at Banyan Tree Krabi,” said the resort’s new general manager Robert Sexton. “You are never more than a few steps from a canal with quaint wooden bridges or within earshot of fountains and waterfalls among the gardens.
“One water-related concept we have adopted is that of the ‘Naga’, a sea creature from Hindu mythology that is popular among local legends in Krabi. Long ago, people believed that the Great Naga lived here in the four mountains behind us. From the sea, you can see the rollercoaster-shape of the range, somewhat like a slithering serpent. It stretches from Naga Crest Hill, just 500 metres behind the hotel, to Laem Hang Nak Mountain, which represents the tip of the Naga’s tail.
“From the lobby, an eye-catching Naga staircase leads downstairs to a shaded ‘grotto’, and you’ll see Naga-themed design inspirations throughout the hotel, including wavy artwork on the walls and amenities in all the rooms. The designers have clearly applied elements of the natural landscape to create a unique ambience and a sense of place.”
Banyan Tree Krabi offers eight suite and villa types. The most modest accommodation type, coming in at 99 sq.m, is the Deluxe Pool Suite. A highlight of the room is the sumptuous double bed, situated beneath a pitched hardwood ceiling and fan, while a private terrace, plunge pool and jet pool surround the bedroom, giving guests the feeling of being on a small island.
The largest is the majestic seven-bedroom Presidential Villa, which sits directly in front of the beach. Guests can reserve the villa as a three-bedroom unit or take an option to combine the three-bedroom with the two adjoining two-bedroom beachfront villas, transforming it into a seven-bedroom wonderland of saltwater pools, canals, and myriad balconies and terraces. Designed as a retreat for multi-generational family vacations and intimate wedding celebrations, the Presidential Villa commands a palatial 1,335 sq.m as a seven-bedroom arrangement.
All suites and villas have private saltwater pools and water features. Each is modern and bright with gentle tones of wood, stone and sand. Decor is modern chic, while bathrooms are resplendent with sandy beige marble tiles, a double sink, and decorated with Naga art. Mod-cons include a lavish bathtub and jet pool, high-speed Internet, IPTV with multiple-device connectivity, a full range of multi-lingual channels on state-of-the-art flat screen TVs, and a premium coffee machine.
In keeping with Banyan Tree Group’s ‘Safe Sanctuary’ programme rolled out during the Covid-19 pandemic, guests at the new resort will be assured of enhanced safety and hygiene protocols with emphasis on wellbeing and nature-focused offerings. Among them is a personalised check-in and check-out service in their rooms. Prior to arrival, each guest is assigned a Banyan Tree Host – similar to a dedicated butler. Upon checking in, guests receive a Portier Smartphone with unlimited international calls and data – to contact their Banyan Tree Host at the touch of a button and enjoy personalised service, ranging from in-room dining to arranging tours, as well as room service and housekeeping requests.
One of the most dramatic features at Banyan Tree Krabi will be the three ‘Bird’s Nest’ tables perched precariously among the trees around the resort’s highly-elevated signature restaurant, Saffron. With a lush jungle scene as backdrop, and a sea vista of Krabi’s world-famous limestone wonders at sunset, this romantic dining spot will make for some memorable Instagram moments.
Saffron and its accompanying Sunset Wedding Deck can be accessed by a quaint electric funicular, large enough for eight persons, which will ascend and descend the hillside throughout the evening.
The resort’s all-day dining destination will be called The Naga Kitchen, catering for breakfasts, lunches and dinner with a plethora of international choices. Executive Chef Jakkrit Traibun, who was the sous-chef at Banyan Tree Samui for seven years, is a southern Thai and specialises in the aromatic and spicy flavours of that culinary style.
Always popular at Banyan Tree is its in-room dining. Exuding romance and relaxation, novelties include a floating breakfast, floating sunset tapas set or a sizzling poolside barbecue prepared by a personal chef.
Spa and wellbeing
Renowned as a global wellbeing brand, Banyan Tree has an avalanche of awards mirroring this acclaim. In Banyan Tree Krabi, the spa will build upon the reputation, maintaining its sense of ‘Thai-ness’ with local treatments and ingredients such as coconut potions and pearl powder massage.
Fully supervised while mum and dad enjoy some alone time, the Kids’ Club is cantered around a small waterpark with a slide and shallow saltwater pools – all of which are treated and sanitized by UV lights. The play area also includes a rope bridge, a Naga-themed cave, and a climbing wall.
Banyan Tree has been recognised worldwide for its sustainability stewardship. Sister resort Banyan Tree Samui was lauded by global organisation EarthCheck in 2018 as the first hotel in Thailand to receive its highest certification. Banyan Tree area general manager Remko Kroesen, who will oversee both southern Thai resorts, aims to maintain the same high standards at Banyan Tree Krabi.
“We feel we have all the magical elements at Banyan Tree Krabi that a discerning and well-travelled visitor is looking for,” said Kroesen. “As an industry leader, we aim to elevate aspirational travel – catering with a difference to weddings and honeymoons; multi-generational families and couples seeking relaxation; and even the combination of nature-lovers and business conferences.
“Our owners have held onto this piece of land since 2006, waiting for the right time to open the resort,” he added. “Now, with so many areas in Phuket and Koh Phi Phi perceived as overcrowded and undoubtedly impacted from an environmental point of view, the time is right to make this stunning resort at Tubkaek Beach a sustainable reality.”
Banyan Tree Krabi becomes the group’s fourth Banyan Tree resort in Thailand, following Banyan Tree Phuket, Banyan Tree Bangkok, and Banyan Tree Samui.
Address: 279 Tambon Nongtalay Amphoe Muang Krabi 81180, Thailand
Phone: +66 75 811 888