The Keemala Resort takes you away to foreign worlds
BY ANJA FAHS
In the old Kingdom of Siam in the rainforest-covered hillsides of the Thai peninsula of Phuket, there is a mysterious place. High above the beach, small buildings, like giant birds’ nests, are visible through the dense leafy cover of the jungle, hidden in the treetops. Just under them is an infinity pool that provides an amazing view of the bay and the Andaman Sea. It all feels like a magical world, because through its architecture, the Keemala Resort brings the ancient culture of Phuket back to life. With its design, its different villas, their particular style and the skilfully crafted materials, the whole site tells a tale many hundred years old, of an ancient people who were washed ashore by a storm and decided to settle on the majestic beaches of Phuket.
At the time of early seafaring nations, there was an old navigation route that brought the exotic East closer to our own Western world. Traders from various countries sailed many weeks eastward or westward to sell their goods there.
Thus, one day, a caravan of people of different origins and nations started on an epic journey to China. As they were crossing the Indian Ocean, they were caught by a furious storm. Though many a ship sank, a few withstood the hurricane but found themselves thrown way off course. All they could do was to follow the stars, so they finally landed on a peninsula in the Andaman Sea better known today as Phuket. There, they built a village in the hills beyond the beach, where the dense forest protected them from rain and storms while still allowing a view of the sea. The “Keemala” kingdom was born and united four different tribes, each with its unique style and particular ways of living.
The Pa-Ta-Pea folk were fishermen, farmers, gardeners and gifted craftsmen. They wove wonderful carpets, built a smithy and worked in the mines. A down-to-earth people who lived in harmony with nature. Clay was their preferred building material and they worked it skilfully in their houses.
The 16 “Clay Pool Cottages” of the Keemala Resort reflect these ways of living. The cottages are—depending on the number of bedrooms and including their own pool and terrace—between 126 and 180 square metres, built of wood with natural-coloured plastered walls and a window facade with a view of the sea or the jungle. The bathrooms are equipped with rain-showers or freestanding bathtubs. They are decorated in dark wood and earthy tones, but above all, in those that have a spectacular black bathtub, the mirrors are framed with pieces of driftwood. Fine, veil-like curtains in creamy colours are attached above the beds and can be closed to serve as mosquito nets.
The nomads from the Khon-Jorn clan saw themselves as wanderers and hunters. They longed for adventure and moved from one place to the other along with their herds; they were discoverers, traders and artists. This lifestyle required houses that were easily movable. The seven “Tent Pool Villas” are some 140 square metres, including pool and terrace, as well as a generous bathroom. Their vaulted, tent-like roof and the glass front are reminiscent of these nomadic origins. The interior also evokes that of a Bedouin tent with its leather-covered cupboards and walls, and its soft, fluffy rugs on the floor. In the airy, spacious bathrooms, the freestanding bathtubs made of light-grey stone placed in front of the ceiling-high windows offer a fantastic view of the sea.
Thinkers, researchers, and constructors were of the We-Ha clan. They investigated the universe and loved to discover new things. The sky was the only limit to their creativity and so they built their houses on stilts. The seven “Tree Pool Houses” have a surface of 169 square metres each, including terrace and pool, and are divided into two levels. The ground floor has a lounge area that can be transformed into a bedroom for two extra guests. The master bedroom is on the top floor and includes its own outdoor area. The glass walls surround a construction of tree limbs that strengthen the airy atmosphere. Here, the wind literally whispers through the rooms. Here, there is nothing to confine the mind.
Opulence and luxury were the attributes of the Rung-Nok clan. They valued their private sphere and thus built roomy, extravagant birds’ nests way up in the trees. Due to their intellect and abundant creativity, they were considered as superior. Artists, astrologists, philosophers and poets, they yearned for more exclusivity. The interwoven, net-like design of the nest villas is reminiscent of cocoons. On a total of 185 square metres, they have a big terrace with a 30-square-metre floating pool. The interiors are crafted with finesse and creativity. Wood and warm colours create a cosy ambience. Great bathtubs dominate the bathrooms and offer a breath-taking view by day and by night; the Rung-Nok people believed that bathing in the moonlight contributed to the renewal of the soul.
Furthermore, the Keemala Resort has four high-class restaurants. Each of them sets great value on offering healthy and balanced fare. The meals are prepared with fresh, raw, microbiotic and gently cooked ingredients. Upon request, this wonderful cooking can also be purely vegetarian or only with fish. Superfoods are, of course, part of this cooking and, upon request, the cook can prepare dishes free of gluten, wheat, lactose or sugar. Like the ancient peoples, the kitchen uses a great variety of biological herbs, vegetables and fruits grown in an own enchanting little garden. The resort gets all the other ingredients from verified providers—even the ingredients for the tasty cocktails from the bar. Since the Keemala Resort is set on the west coast of Phuket, it definitely offers some of the lodges with the most beautiful sunsets in all Asia—and “The Bar” is the ideal place to bid farewell to yet one more incredible day. The menu includes classical drinks and signature cocktails, but also alcohol-free cocktails and tropical fruit smoothies, as well as a great selection of teas in the afternoon, amongst them local herbal teas for a healthy body.
The well-being of the guests is a priority, also at the Mala-spa. Here, one finds relaxation, revival and pampering treatments. Guests seeking relief from the everyday stress of modern life find a place to relax and connect with their inner self again. The Mala-spa uses a traditional healing approach and combines it with modern luxury beauty treatments. On top of this, it offers a rejuvenating cure for the body, spirit and soul through Reiki, a wonderful and effective method of energy healing. All this is based on a holistic approach. The Keemala Resort belongs to the Small Luxury Hotels of the World and is located on the west coast of Phuket, along Kamala Beach, between Surin and Patong Beach. Phuket’s international airport is a mere 40-minute drive away.
This article was published in The Produktkulturmagazin, issue Q1 2017. Picture credit © Mr. Brent Madison