When I was a kid, one of my biggest dreams was to spend a night at a department store. I used to imagine how fun it would be to run through the empty aisles, jump on the fluffy display beds, gorge on candy and play with all the toys.
Just think about it: how much fun would it be to have complete run of the place, if just for one night?
That feeling of absolute freedom and whimsical giddiness is the closest thing I can think of to describe what it’s like to stay at Baan Paa Talee. Instead of an after hours department store, staying at this villa feels like you and your friends have been given a backstage pass to a massive private resort.
The term “villa” is thrown around casually to describe anything from a cute one-bedroom bungalow to hilltop mansions and everything in between. Well, Baan Paa Talee is most definitely a villa with a capital V. Describing the size and grandeur of this place is a challenge.
In sheer numbers, Baan Paa Talee covers nine bedrooms, 10,400 square feet of land and includes a whole team staff, ranging from the guest relations manager to the personal chef and from the security guards to dedicated butlers.
The Lay of the Land
After zig zagging across Kamala, an area also known as Phuket’s Millionaire’s Mile, our driver pulls up at Baan Paa Talee. Ushered in by waterfalls and Buddha statues, we follow the steps down to the open-plan lounge where the rest of our party is already waiting to show us around. Turns out, there’s another floor below us. And above us. And yet another level way down below. Oh, and did we mention the huge treetop viewing deck?
By this point, it’s already clear that this place is huge. Our group of 11 will have more than enough space to make ourselves comfortable – and then some.
Baan Paa Talee’s nine bedrooms can sleep up to 20 guests, with the rooms well spread apart across the cascading hillside property. The rooms begin with the master bedroom housed at the very top of the hillside estate and finish with two bedrooms located in a separate ocean villa at the very foot of the hill. That’s another example of just how large the property is: there is an actually villa inside the villa.
All the bedrooms are beautiful, featuring king-sized beds and spa-style bathrooms and lush views of the jungle and the ocean. But the two rooms housed in the ocean villa are something very special.
It’s a 150-step climb to get down here, but boy, are the views are worth it. Two of our group had already spied on the floor plan beforehand and are dead set on staying at these oceanfront rooms. If you don’t like the idea of hoofing it to the main living areas several times a day, these two rooms also have their own private living and dining areas.
In between choosing our rooms and settling down for lunch, I pause to really take in the views. There are many ocean view villas in Phuket, but none quite compare to Baan Paa Talee. From these great heights, you can really see the curve of the horizon and feel the magnitude of the world. It really feels like standing on the edge of the world, with infinite possibilities before you.
Celebrating in Style
Baan Paa Talee is the perfect place to mark a special occasion – and that’s exactly what we do. Two of our group are celebrating a birthday during our stay in the villa, so one fine night we get all dressed up for a white party.
Before the party, everyone has retreated into their rooms and there’s a sense of anticipation in the air. I wander through the walkways and empty rooms, feeling that giddy kind of electricity which always precedes a party. The staff is kind enough to iron my dress which has wrinkled during travel. As I return to my room, I spot a few of the girls taking sunset selfies out on the balcony. Looking at the views, I can already see that no filters will be necessary.
Once my dress is nice and smooth, I make my way down to the party which is happening right by the pool. Walking through the lush corridors with the jungle closing in around me, a Janis Joplin songs floats though the air. For a second there, I wonder if someone really is that good at karaoke. But as it turns out, it’s just the villa’s epic sound system. We have pizza and mojitos prepared fresh by the staff, followed by billiards by the pool.
Before too long, it’s time for the inevitable: karaoke in the huge media room. We take turns passing the mike around and sing along to everything from Elvis to the Bee Gees and from Britney Spears to Adele.
Just as Frank Sinatra is in full swing, the room goes dark. For a moment, I fear we’ve been signalled to turn it down. But instead of a curfew, it’s a late-night birthday surprise. The staff appears with a candle-lit birthday cake, made from scratch by Baan Paa Talee’s chef. Passion fruit, mango and a graham cracker crust, oh my!
Long after the stars have crept out to the sky, it’s time to call it a night. It’s been the perfect evening. One by one, we wander back to our rooms through the sprawling estate, calling out our “good nights” as we go. I fall asleep to the sounds of the jungle around us and the ocean down below.
The final verdict? Forget about sliding down empty corridors at a deserted store – spending the night at a huge private villa is definitely where it’s at.