In a world of constant overstimulation and way too much time spent with our heads buried in laptops, tablets, and smartphones, it can be nearly impossible to absorb the innate beauty of your surroundings—even, sadly, when you’re supposed to be in vacation mode.
So when it finally comes time for a true escape from reality, an authentic experience is the ultimate luxury, no? That was Ritz-Carlton’s exact intention when it decided to depart from the ordinary to launch the Ritz-Carlton Reserve portfolio, a collection of resorts located in rare and exotic destinations, untouched stretches of paradise tucked away in the most exquisite corners of the world. The goal for each? To offer a meaningful escape within an intimate sanctuary of the resort’s native surroundings to allow for a more authentic experience, with a strong emphasis on incorporating local culture and heritage into every element of a guest’s stay.
The brand set forth on its mission to weave individual countries’ culture with highly responsive, individualized service, launching its first property, Phulay Bay, in Krabi, Thailand. Nestled along the shores of the Andaman Sea, the luxury property offers everything you’d expect from the Ritz-Carlton brand. At Phulay Bay, 54 decadent villas with private plunge pools and the largest, coziest beds you’ll ever see in a hotel are ensconced in vibrant rain forests and waterfalls, so much so that you can barely find even one villa amid the backdrop.
Local flavor is added to every element, from cold lemongrass-infused towels at every turn—these made the 20-plus-hour trip to Thailand worth it all on their own—to the local offerings in spa services and wellness, fitness, and renewal classes. After spending a few days exploring the stunning landscape and indulging in the local Thai cuisine, it’s nearly impossible not to disconnect. I didn’t bother charging my cell phone—or even giving it a second glance, mind you, for days.
Phulay Bay is the world’s first Reserve property, and considering the rave reviews guests give the experience, it comes as no surprise that there’s an increasing demand for more of its kind. This spring, Ritz-Carlton welcomes the fourth property to its Reserve portfolio with the opening of the brand-new Zadún, dotted along the alluring San José del Cabo coastline in Mexico.
In addition to offering up insane views of the Sea of Cortez from its rooms and two-story villas with private plunge pools, Zadún also presents the region’s most innovative wellness experience: the one-of-a-kind, 30,000-square-foot Spa Alkemia, complete with a variety of customized, locally inspired treatments—including Templo de Calor, a modern interpretation of the traditional Mexican temazcal healing hut—and an outdoor renewal garden called Alkemia al Fresco, where body scrubs are preselected based on local ingredients and blended by hand.
For those who want a deeper understanding of the natural habitats in Baja California and the protected marine sanctuaries of the Sea of Cortez, they can enjoy hands-on programming designed by Jean-Michel Cousteau.