Like a landscape of millenary trees, the Keemala’s 38 villas stand tall in a sort of natural open-air museum surrounded by serene tropical rain-forest high in the hills of the west of the island of Phuket overlooking the beach of Kamala and the Andaman sea. The extravagant Siamese fairy tale kingdom is close enough to the lively life of Patong but far enough to allow visitors to take a break from everyday life.
The Keemala caters to a new generation of globetrotters who choose to disconnect from the world in retreats outside the traditional circuit which offer joyful experiences and relaxation on-site. In fact, as Samornpun Somnam, Executive Director of Keemala explains “when our guests look for hotels they think about what they will take back home with them” and for this reason “Keemala strives to offer authentic local activities infused with well-being and wellness to travellers who prioritize experiences”.
Inspired by the maritime silk road trade routes that connected the west to the east and flourished between 2nd and 15th centuries, Keemala is themed around the legends of 4 different mythical settler tribes that arrived on one of these ancient trade ships. Each tribe had a different lifestyle and way of seeing the world and thus the hillside estate transports visitors to the worlds of the Pa-Ta-Pea (Earth clan); the Khon-Jorn (Wanderers); the We-Ha (Sky people); and the Rung-Nok (Nest clan).
The magical lodging options include Clay Pool Cottages, safari-style Tent Pool Villas, Tree Pool Houses or Bird’s Nest Pool Villas all of which have their own private pools with private outdoor seating and a dining area on a raised platform. The villas offer opulent views of the resort’s other-worldly architecture and a magnificent landscape of sea and forest with mist often enveloping the tip of the hill. A particularly memorable experience is using the outdoor shower, carefully secluded by sylvan vegetation, and enjoying the delightful smell of the organic selection of natural soaps and shampoos. In line with the resort’s ethos, all guest amenities and spa products are 100% natural, paraben-free and not tested on animals.
Keemala will celebrate its 3rd anniversary in December and has become a standard-bearer for Thai excellence in hospitality thanks to its sublime service and details. The journey of relaxation begins at the airport where guests are greeted by the warm smiles of the attentive staff and transported to the breath-taking estate where the rich smell of the fresh jasmine garlands marks the entrance into the unique world the Somnam family have created. Golf buggies are ready to guide visitors through the palm-fringed flowery paths that lead to the resorts many charms.
There is a surfeit of memorable lifestyle experiences to choose from including the Mala Spa, rooftop Yoga, Tai Chi, cocktail making and cooking class, learning Thai language, folding pandan leaves, Muay Thai kickboxing and meditation lessons at the hands of local experts or enjoying a tour of the gardens. There is also a fitness centre which is never crowded and offers the perfect setting to keep in shape.
A large part of the Keemala’s brand and design concept is centred around respect for the environment and the management has adopted a long list of practices that reduce the hotel’s carbon footprint. Every villa has its own water treatment system releasing cleansed water back into the environment and the quality of the treated water is analysed in a laboratory monthly. Waste is classified and recycled and greywater is reused to water the landscape. As Executive Director Tanapong Somnam points out, the construction process implemented a “reduced usage of natural materials, for example wood, by using environmentally friendly synthetic material instead to help prevent further deforestation” and they strived “to place the villas between the trees” in order to respect the original flora.
The resort’s “Mala” restaurant serves Thai, Indian and other international dishes and one can enjoy meals in the restaurant, in the room or by the pool. Signature dishes include the Malaysian laksa, the butter chicken with naan, the steamed sea bass and there is a range of “healthy living” options that are low in calories, using thoughtfully selected natural ingredients. In fact, the Keemala’s Enchanted Garden grows a range of organic herbs and vegetables which are used in the kitchen as well as in the spa. Honey lovers are bound to be impressed by the enormous locally sourced honey comb on display at breakfast time.
This world-class resort is a sanctuary for wildlife and it is common to see squirrels scuttling through the bushes and exotic birds will pay your pool a visit. It is also home to a resident albino water buffalo which was rescued by the owners as well as a delightful family of goats, ducks, peacocks and chicken. Keemala has an “anti-animal exploitation policy” and is a proud supporter of Phuket’s wonderful Elephant Sanctuary with visits easily organised by reception. The hotel doesn’t sell tickets or accept commissions for tours and shows that exploit animals, such as elephant rides and shows, tiger shows, and dolphin shows.
The Somnam family have been in Phuket for four generations. They currently own & operate The Kee Resort in Patong as well as the Keemala and are working on a new project in Phang Nga. In fact, the resorts are named after their grandmother, Silky whose is affectionately known as “Kee”.