By: Lisa Collins-Haynes
I live an ordinary life and extraordinary things happen to me throughout the course of a day.
~ Lisa Collins-Haynes
I Must Be Dreaming
There was no doubt in my mind that my first trip to Thailand would be an epic journey like none I’ve ever experienced before. Getting a phone call from a friend who announced she had won airline tickets to anywhere in the world that Qatar Airways flies—doesn’t happen every day or at least not to me. I was so happy for her, but even happier when she invited me to accompany her on this trip of a lifetime. I thought I was dreaming. Obviously, the Travel Gods where smiling on me and I didn’t hesitate to accept her offer—even before I got the go ahead from my hubby.
Fast forward three weeks and I found myself in Business Class on Qatar Airways flight 714 heading to Phuket, Thailand byway of Doha, Qatar. Let me say, it takes a different mental preparation to get ready to fly across the world—thirty-seven hours including the overnight layover in Doha. However, the free upgrade to Business Class made it much easier to endure. The service on Qatar was impeccable to say the least. There’s a reason why Skytrax awarded them World’s Best Airline. I can’t say enough about the extraordinary service provided by the cabin attendants; who all could have passed for professional models in my opinion. During a flight that long, the food service becomes an event. I had no idea that airplane food had evolved so much to become so delicious and plated so beautifully. If it’s true what they say about eating with your eyes first; then I was full before I even tasted one bite.
Arrived in Style
When I finally reached Phuket, I breezed through customs and immigration with ease and was greeted by the driver from Paresa Resort. The drive was slated to take about a half hour and to my surprise, the driver asked if we wanted the WIFI password. Yes, the shuttle car was wired for WIFI; just as I thought I had been outdone and amazed with Qatar Airways, Paresa Resorts was gaining momentum for more jaw-dropping moments.
The property itself is perched on the side of a cliff and constructed as a labyrinth maze; staff driven golf carts are always available to help guests make it up and down the inclines. When I checked into Aqua suite, the staff had prepared a light snack, a fresh fruit tray and a bottle of champagne for my arrival. The room had an oversized king-size bed with luxury bedding, a plush seating area, LCD TV and Ipod docking station, well stock mini bar and the most dramatic cliff side view of the Andaman Sea. There was also a very nice bistro style seating area outside that was out staged by the private and serene infinity pool I wasn’t expecting…and you guessed it, all this plus the backdrop of the sea and my jaw dropped again. Back inside my suite was an equally impressive powder and bathroom area. Bright lighting, long-length mirrors that seemed to reach the ceiling, beautiful glazed-orange sink basins that matched the traditional Thai décor of the suite, designer toiletries, an oversized bathtub with a picture window view of the sea and an outdoor shower, with steps that led into the infinity pool.
My Compliments to the Chef
My first meal of many at Paresa was like a finely orchestrated event. I had French toast with passion fruit syrup, topped with a slice of pineapple, mango, flavored mascarpone cheese and bacon. One day I ordered lunch and it was served to me in a pineapple hull full of jasmine rice and seafood medley of prawn and lump crabmeat. Dinner, I admittedly don’t recall anything after I tasted the caramelized pork belly. I ate so much, it’s a wonder I didn’t go into a pork belly coma. I did manage once to save room for the dessert; coconut ice cream, infused with Rosemary. Needless to say, the gourmet cuisine prepared by Chef Luca Mancini will stay in my memories for a lifetime.
She Climbed On My Back
The visit to the spa was an undeniable treat. When in Thailand, of course I couldn’t resist ordering a traditional Thai massage. Yes, the little woman climbing up on me and pulling me from side to side took some getting use to; but it was exactly what I needed after flying half way across the world. The spa menu was extensive and all the treatments looked inviting. After my services, I was led to an outside relaxation area to enjoy the unobstructed view of the sea; while sipping a detoxifying tea.
Getting Off Resort
Obviously, I enjoyed my stay at Paresa Resort, but I did find a little time to leave the resort to go sightseeing. The resort staff arranged all my tours for me, which included elephant trekking, a snorkeling trip near Chalong Bay, visiting the Big Budda, a quick trip to the Central Festival shopping mall, stopping to see the Wat Chalong Temples and partying the night away at the resort’s offsite Zazada Beach Club.
Elephant trekking and snorkeling definitely took me out of my comfort zone, but I can honestly say I am glad I had the opportunity for those once in a lifetime experiences. I absolutely have not regrets. Leaving the resort, I was also able to see, hear and be exposed to the heartbeat of the city and the Thai way of daily life. It was exhilarating to watch the scooters weave in and out of traffic and interesting to see the Buddhist monks out and going about their daily routines. While walking along Patong Beach I lit and released sky lanterns and tried to gather up the courage to taste squid-on-a-stick and fried insects being sold by the street vendors.
Thailand was invigorating and deeply rooted in culture and tradition. It was exciting to learn so much about the Thai people in such a short time. I made a point several times during the trip to stop, take a deep breath and savor the moments. I left Thailand unexpectedly changed and with a new wisdom and insight on the importance of traveling to become one with the world and truly embrace the people that are in it. I was grateful for the opportunity to visit this wonderfully incredible place on Earth and I still ask myself, was it just a dream? #AmazingThailand