Hotels & Resorts

Review: Paresa Resort Phuket

We can’t help but love a boutiquey, all-pool-villa resort where the owner personally places your dinner order, kept all their staff during covid, and makes sure you get all your daily steps in.

Paresa Resort Phuket Aerial View

Resort Aerial View

By Kee Foong

Sep 6, 2022

THIS TIME, I TOLD MYSELF, things would be different. Instead of only lounging by the pool and barely leaving the resort, as I have done on previous visits to Phuket, I would see how the island was doing since fully reopening to travelers. I researched beach clubs, restaurants, sights, and day trips to nearby islands. 

During the first week, I made an effort to get out and about, booking a car and driver to explore the less visited east coast, though that only confirmed to me why most of the best resorts are on the west, with its superior beaches enhanced by showstopping sunsets. I sipped cocktails meters from the surf at new venues such as Carpe Diem and Pine Beach Bar, and had tongue-tingling southern Thai cuisine among the mangroves at Mor Mu Dong and in a Sino-Portuguese mansion at Raya.  

Miracle Lawn, Paresa Resort Phuket
Miracle Lawn

Then I moved to Paresa Phuket, and my plans evaporated. “Heaven of all heavens” is the resort’s tagline, a bold claim on an island replete with luxury heavy hitters including Amanpuri, Trisara, Rosewood, Anantara, Banyan Tree and Como. Compared to these, Paresa is an independent minnow perched high on the hills between Kamala and Patong beaches, a minimalist retreat of brown brick, dark wood and concrete. Its position, however, both physically and in mindset, is second to none.

If you time it correctly, as I was lucky enough to, the arrival is dazzling—literally. After striking a gong following check-in, double-height wooden doors are thrown open, and I step onto a gold mosaic tiled platform that glitters under the midday sun. Before me is manicured lawn, and beyond that blue sky meets the sparkling Andaman Sea. 

Cliff Pool Villa Terrace, Paresa Resort Phuket
Cliff Pool Villa Terrace

Hidden below are 42 suites, villas and residences among tropical foliage and rocks, all with private pools and spectacular sea views. The pick of the bunch are the one-bedroom Cliff Pool Villas located at the very bottom of the resort, with cantilevered plunge pools that almost spill into the bay. The panoramas are unbeatable, and the setup, with 160 square metres of indoor and outdoor living, gives you little reason to leave, though skinny dippers be warned, you can be seen from neighboring villas. 

I spend hours lazing in the fan-cooled sala, catching up on much needed reading time, when not staring out to the horizon, going for a cooling dip, dozing off, or trying to work. Come late afternoon, there’s no better place to be than sipping G&Ts on my own private terrace, perfectly positioned for Phuket’s famous sunsets. 

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Infinity Pool, Paresa Resort Phuket
Infinity Pool

Mornings begin with laps in the resort’s main 30-meter saltwater infinity pool, an indigo tiled vision of aquatic gorgeousness made for Instagram. At night scores of fibreoptic lights twinkle at the bottom like a dreamy underwater cosmos. Although occupancy is high, it’s rarely crowded, which is just as well, with only four sets of sunloungers poolside. (There are also no shower facilities, unusual for any resort, but more so here.)

Paresa has just one restaurant, Talung Thai, a Michelin-recommended venue that even if you’re not staying here is worth a detour as much for its glass-walled timber deck and clifftop setting as its food. Breakfast is modest, though you’ll not go hungry. But it’s the lunch and dinner menus where things get interesting—and delicious. Guests wanting comfort classics like burgers, pizzas, pastas, and grills are taken care of, though it’s the Thai food that truly shines. 

Taluang Thai, Paresa Resort Phuket
Taluang Thai

One evening, I enjoy lamb shank massaman curry and barbecued tiger prawns in a tamarind sauce, another, it’s deep-fried crispy pork belly and crab curry with vermicelli. When I ask if the chef can make off-menu southern Thai dishes, an older woman overhears and comes over for a chat. It turns out she is the resort’s low-profile owner, and says the kitchen is happy to accommodate such requests with enough notice. 

That night, I feast on gaeng som pla, a mouth-puckering sour orange curry with fish and pineapple; phad pak miang khai, stir-fried miang leaves with egg; pad pla meuk dam, sweet baby squid cooked in their ink; and gaeng sataw, an addictively pungent, nutty and slightly bitter mix of stink beans and prawns.

Two-Bedroom Ocean Pool Suite Exterior, Paresa Resort Phuket
Two-Bedroom Ocean Pool Suite

Speaking to Anthony Dupont, the resort’s general manager, who regularly appears to check on guests and staff, I learn that Paresa retained its staff for the duration of the pandemic. The absence of guests also provided an opportunity to undertake maintenance works, and the property is in excellent condition—quite a feat when so many other seaside resorts find themselves confronting structural and furnishings degradation from two years of disuse.     

A word of advice: Paresa Phuket is a steep resort that entails lots of stairs, rendering the gym practically superfluous. Buggies are available, but it’s impossible to avoid stairs entirely. That may explain why it’s popular with millennial couples more so than elderly travelers and people with mobility issues.    

Resort Greenery and Buggy, Paresa Resort Phuket
Buggying around the steep resort

There are occasional service lapses during my stay, as staff adjust to the demands of a fully booked five-star resort following a lengthy, pandemic-induced hiatus. I wished for more variety at breakfast, which remained unchanged over five days. And the closest beach is a 10-minute drive away, though there’s a free shuttle service. 

If you want an intimate, romantic and secluded luxury getaway, however, then none of the above quibbles should stop you from booking into Paresa Phuket. Because, once ensconced in the comfort of your villa and its surrounds, it can feel for a moment like you really are in heaven.  

www.paresaresorts.com; doubles from Bt13,000 including breakfast.

All photos courtesy of Paresa Resort Phuket.

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