No visit to Krabi province is complete without a trip to Railay peninsula, home to two world class beaches and surrounded by the towering limestone cliffs for which this region is famous.
Whether you are up for rock-climbing or just enjoying the breath-taking beauty, Railay should not be missed. Located on fully half of Railay's usable land area, framed by three beaches and surrounded by majestic limestone cliffs, the Rayavadee Resort boasts a sprawling complex filled with tropical flora and tasteful guest bungalows that blend in with the slightly over-manicured but undeniably stunning tropical setting.
By comparison, the peninsula's other 14 resorts are crammed cheek by jowl into the other half, meaning that guests at this resort have several thousand percent more space per person to roam around in when at their resort. This hotel is particularly good for children, who can run around and play while their parents lounge by the pool or relax in the restaurant with half an eye on their charges.
Although the grounds are huge, even visitors with mobility problems should not be too concerned, as the resort offers 24 hour electric buggy service to help guests navigate the area.
The Rayavadee does not just have direct beach access to one or two beaches, but uniquely has access to three different beaches (click here for more on the beaches in Railay). Two of these beaches, Railay West and Phranang, are world class, and should not be missed.
However, it must be pointed out that during peak season these beaches are extremely busy, resulting in a handful of Rayavadee resident complaints on Tripadvisor about the lack of private beaches. The image on the left, taken off the hotel's website, must have been taken 19 years ago.
If one is after a quieter beach experience, then it's best to look to Pimalai resort on Koh Lanta, Phulay Bay near Ao Nang or Paradise resort on nearby Koh Yao Noi. Conversely, guests who wish to avoid crowds may consider Rayavadee ideal during the quieter green season.
When entering on the west side of the Railay peninsula, guests can relax, look over Railay West Beach and eat lunch or dinner at the Raitalay Terrace, which demonstrates the swish style typical of the Rayavadee. We would, however, recommend that the best time to come here is for an evening dinner or drinks because during the daytime, long tail boats roar in and out of the bay, making it less than peaceful for guests hoping to keep noise pollution out of their holidays.
It is inexplicably ridiculous that long tail boats are allowed to thunder around with no silencers, given that the boatmen have been offered silencers in the past, but many chose not to install them as they subtract one or two knots per hour from the boats' top speed. One suspects that, like teenage boy racers, these guys saw the silencer offer as a way to take an inch or two off their manhoods, rather than a knot or two off their top speeds.
Located near the Raitalay Terrace, the resort's enormous swimming pool with jacuzzi jets and a kids' pool is an oasis of relaxation and comfort. Unlike other resorts, where some guests show up at 9am to place towels, books and other belongings on lounge chairs so as to save them, guests here will not have to get up early to save lounge chairs.
There are plenty of comfortable loungers and the pool is large enough that guests will barely notice the other visitors swimming with them. Additionally, the Rayavadee boasts a world class spa, an exercise-room and tennis courts.
The Rayavadee offers spectacular views of three beaches, including the Railay West beach, pictured right and below.
Rayavadee offers multiple haute cuisine restaurants for their guests, as well as 24 hour room service. The Raya Dining Room is located on the East Beach, at reception.
This restaurant offers guests breakfast, which according to one recent reviewer on Tripadvisor is "extensive and very good", as well as lunch and dinner.
Another restaurant, the Krua Pranang Restaurant, offers romantic dining adjacent to Phranang beach and is connected to the Grotto Bar which offers guests drinks and snacks and is located directly on Phranang Beach. The Grotto is decorated with classy lounge sofas, where guests can relax with a cocktail and look over this magnificent beach.
The Grotto (pictured left) is framed by the signature cliffs for which the region is famous, and the backdrop is a fantastical cave with walls like a stone moonscape dripping stalactites like wax from a candle.
Even in peak season, when the beach is heaving with throngs of tourists, one still can enjoy people-watching from the Grotto, as it is reserved for guests only and sits atop a sandy platform, rising approximately one meter above the beach itself.
This premier luxury five star resort boasts 98 enchanting two-story pavilions and 4 luxurious pr
ivate villas spread over 26 acres of coconut groves and tropical gardens. The architecture is award-winning and it blends beautifully with the natural surroundings to create a unique atmosphere that evokes an idyllic southern Thai village - one populated exclusively by millionaires.
The resort offers 6 room types, most of which are centrally-located, two-storey pavilions. These pavilions are similarly decorated, with the exception of some being recently renovated and some offering different outdoor amenities.
All pavilions are fully equipped and spacious, with living quarters downstairs, sleeping rooms upstairs and all are appointed with mini bars, offering snacks and drinks for a cost as well as complimentary tea, coffee and water.
The resort's four private villas are located either on West Railay Beach near the swimming pool or directly on Phranang Beach.
Sixty-nine Deluxe Pavilions make up the bulk of Rayavadee's accommodations. Although these pavilions have not yet been renovated, one could easily be fooled into thinking they had been, because there was nothing unkempt about them.
Aside from the the TVs which seem as old as the pavilions themselves, these two reviewers saw nothing that suggested they even needed renovations. However, the resort informed us that they indeed will be updated in 2013, with slightly different furnishings and flat screen TVs, but unless one is inclined to be glued to the TV, this should present no problem for the visitor.
The stylish tropical decor indoors includes polished wood floors, richly colored fabrics and hand-crafted details. We loved the swing lounge/sofa in the middle of the living area, but were informed that once renovated, these will be removed to add even more space to the ground floor.
We also enjoyed the circular shape of the pavilions, with windows all around, that offer the guest a great way to be inside, yet still be surrounded by all the beauty and serenity of nature for which the Railay peninsula is known. These windows allow guests to open the rooms up and be a part of the panorama or close the wooden shades and settle into their own private love nest.
We especially appreciated the lovely wooden staircase that led from the living room up to the bedrooms, and the fact that because the resort is 19 years old, the wood is even more attractive than when first installed. The quality of the wood floors is as solid as the quality of the resort itself, and is a welcome contrast to the vaneer quality one finds in most resorts on Railay Beach.
The bathrooms have huge circular tubs and spacious separate showers. We did, however, notice that the showers in these 19 year-old buildings exhibit a tiny bit of grout decay. Having said that, only the most uber-pampered of travelers would feel that this is a big deal. The toilets are enclosed with a door for added privacy. Every pavilion has two comfy loungers outside the bungalow which have cushions thick enough so that even the most pampered of princesses would not feel a pea under her lounger.
These Delux pavilions are located in the center of the resort. Some are nearer to the pool and further from breakfast, while others are nearer to the breakfasts but further from the pool. Let us know where you prefer to be located and we will request one of the most appropriatedly-located pavilions.
Eight Terrace Pavilions, located besides the pool, offer guests all of the amenities of the Deluxe Pavilions, but have been renovated with more modern lounge furniture and are enhanced by a more open and airy living room floor plan.
As the name implies, they also come with glass doors that open onto a breezy, spacious, covered outdoor terrace, ideal for relaxing or for private in-villa barbeques. The terraces are furnished with a large comfortable sofa, a table with chairs and blend beautifully into the lush tropical gardens for which the Rayavadee prides itself.
These are a good choice if one wishes to be closer to the pool and have a terrace that allows for hours of relaxation or entertaining outside of the bungalow.
Eight Spa Pavilions offer all of the same charms and amenities of the Deluxe Pavilions but with the added attraction of a garden with a jacuzzi, outdoor shower, sun loungers and a small 2 meter by 2 meter gazebo for outdoor comfort and relaxation. The indoor space is renovated, has new furnishings, flat screen TVs, and offers a more spacious open floor plan.
The bedrooms have a writing desk at the window, so guests who need to catch up on email can do so while enjoying the panoramic views of nature the huge windows afford. The bathrooms are updated with two sinks and a beautiful bamboo mirror, however, we noted that the new bathtubs, while large enough, are not as luxurious as the huge round ones in the non-renovated rooms.
The enhancements offered outdoors make these choices atmospheric places to eat dinner or entertain, and are totally private, with three meter high bamboo fences. Sea-smoothed pebble beds surround the outdoor jacuzzi, and the outdoor rain shower is an added luxury. Attention to detail is apparent here, as we noted that these bungalows have lovely, outdoor antique foot washers that look like they could be found in a museum of Asian art. Some of these Spa Pavilions are more private than others, and we would be happy to help you request the most private of these.
Hydro Pool Pavilion
Nine Hydro Pool Pavilions offer all of the above indoor accommodations and appointments, but are enhanced by an outdoor 4.5 by 2.5 meter hydro pool, or plunge pool, as we like to call them, since they can be used by guests to cool off in the middle of the day without leaving the bungalow area.
We liked these private hydro pools, mostly because they are private enough to bathe with one's significant other without worrying too much about what other guests may be able to witness. These hydro pools are also surrounded by two seriously comfy lounge chairs and a large bamboo hammock for a guest's further relaxation and enjoyment.
Four Family Pavilions, two of which come with hydro pools, offer the same comforts and features as the Deluxe Pavilions, but are equipped with an additional bedroom on the ground floor that has two queen sized beds and an ensuite bathroom, making them great choices for family holidays.
They come with an outdoor dining area and a terrace, ideal for private dining or barbecues. They are located close to the shear cliffs and are nestled amongst the coconut palms, offering an idyllic setting with lots of privacy.
Unfortunately, as we were unable to view theresort's four Villas, we will update this page as soon as we are given the opportunity to do so.
According to the website, three of these have private pools, one has a private hydro pool and all have kitchens and spacious living, dining and sleeping areas; some include guest bedrooms.
Three of these villas are located on Phranang Beach and one overlooks Railay West Beach, located very near the swimming pool.