Thursday, September 24, 2020

An oasis in modernism

Nov 04. 2015
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By PHOOWADON DUANGMEE
THE NATION

Casa de La Flora, member of Design Hotels, invites you to sleep among the flowers
My pool villa has a name – “Neem” – a tropical flower with a bitter taste that is also toxic to pests. Bitter and toxic: is that perhaps how other folk see me?
Next to me is “Narcissus”, and I guess its residents are too busy admiring their reflections in the pool, as I have never seen them heading out either for food or the beach. Other villas in the “neighbourhood” are called Kaffir, Canna and Zambac. Unlike others hotels that give their rooms numbers, Casa de la Flora names them after flowers. 
“If you could fly over Casa de la Flora, you would see the 36 villas are laid out in a form of a plant,” says Beam, the resort’s public relations officer as she shows us to our rooms. Unfortunately, we don’t have wings to hover over Casa de la Flora. What we do have are swimsuits, sun-block lotions, a half-finished novel and a desire for good food and drink, and that’s more than enough for two nights at Casa de la Flora. 
Nestled along Bang Niang Beach in Phang Nga’s Khao Lak district, Casa de la Flora has been a member of Design Hotels since 2010. While far from a new kid on the block, the resort and its 36 villas have earned a good reputation over the past five years and with reason.
Most of the guests here are independent and stylish. They want to get away from the glitz and cheesiness of Phuket’s bigger resort towns, but still crave comfort and a fashionable lifestyle. With a long stretch of white sand and a quiet beach culture, Casa de la Flora can be a destination by itself or used as base for exploring the Surin and Similan archipelagos in the northern Andaman Sea.
Neem, my room, is far more comfortable and inviting than its name suggests. 
The villa is minimalist in design, slightly boxy and square, creating a simple yet stylish ambience. A small coffee table dressed with a vase of flowers, and a leather armchair fill the small living area. The room is also equipped with a “smart television” that allows you to access the Internet, complimentary news channels, pay-per-view movies and more. One side of the wall is glass, offering a view of your private dipping pool and the beach beyond. The Wi-Fi signal in my room was weak, but strong in the common spaces, like its seaside bar, spa and beach.
What you don’t have in the guestroom is a proper working area for your laptop computer. Then, again, Casa de la Flora is not designed for a travel journalist writing on the run. Nobody needs a work station with fast Wi-Fi connectivity when they have a cold drink and private dipping pool not to mention world-class scuba diving sites just an hour away. 
We’re at Casa de la Flora thanks to Bangkok Airways to celebrate resort’s new menu created by the chef in time to welcome the high tourist season. We flock to La Aranya Restaurant in the evening to sample his signature dishes.
Local integration is part of culinary experience at Casa de la Flora. 
“We sort out the best local ingredients before preparing them for the style of cooking that suits them best,” says the head chef, as he prepares seafood spaghetti with crab. “The crab, for example, is a black, mud crab that’s unique and juicy. You can only have it at Phang Nga.”
Casa de la Flora also serves an international menu with a Thai twist. Try the pan-seared tuna with Thai sauce, or the green curry with soft-shelled crab. 
The more adventurous can choose to explore Bang Niang Beach and its surrounds on a bicycle. The lazier can do what I did – head to Spa La Casa for a holistic aromatherapy massage and essential oil treatment. I loved it. After 120 minutes of lying on the bed and wrapped in a sheet for inner balance and true harmony, I left the spa a younger man. 
Casa de la Flora is a stylish resort with a clear design statement of beauty and minimalism. It’s not a fancy boutique resort with a cosy bar and house music. It’s sophisticated and subtle while remaining cosy and comfortable.
 
AT A GLANCE
High points: Stylish and timeless beauty along the quiet beach. The staff are friendly too.
Low points: none
Pay for it: Check the website for the best deals.
Find it: Bang Niang Beach, Phang Nga’s Khao Lak district
Browse it: www.CasaDeLaFlora.com
 

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