The five-star Keemala resort, which will open in Phuket in October 2015, has been designed using storytelling to create its own folklore. The designers have created a fictitious tale of ancient Phuket settlers from four different clans to underpin the design.
The development will include 38 cottages, tent villas, “bird's nest” villas, and seemingly suspended treehouse villas – all with private pools.
Owned and operated by the Somnam family and spearheaded by executive director Tanapong 'Note' Somnam and his sister, Samornpun 'Tarn' Somnam, who is executive director of marketing, the Keemala will include an eight-room Mala spa, built at a cost of 18 million Thai baht (approximately US$534,000; €475,500; £345,000).
The four different villa types, designed by Thailand-based Architect Space, with interiors by Pisit Aongskultong of Pisud Design Company, will reflect the skills and way of life of each of the four fictitious clans.
The 16 one- and two-bedroom Clay Pool Cottages reflect the earthiness of the Pa-ta-Pea clan, while the Khon-Jorn Clan, or Wanderer Clan – an adventurous group of foragers, herders, performers, traders and explorers – will be represented with the resort’s seven Tent Pool Villas, which take inspiration from the semi-permanent nature of the nomadic clan’s housing and feature interiors inspired by wildlife.
The seven two-storey Tree Pool Houses are built to represent the We-Ha people who worshipped the universe and chose to live nearer to the sky. The tree houses are seemingly suspended from the trees and are accessible by a skywalk.
The Rung-Nok community, which enjoyed an opulent way of life, inspired the design of the eight Bird’s Nest Pool Villas. This clan was comprised of artists, poets, musicians, philosophers and astrologers who would bathe under the moonlight believing that their souls would be replenished.
The Mala Spa at Keemala will be run in-house by Dr Cherisse Yang, a wellness consultant who has worked in Southeast Asia and New Zealand. It will feature eight treatment rooms and use Voya and SpaRitual products.
Yang said she believes in the importance of integrating Western scientific understanding and Eastern philosophy, which fits the Keemala ethos of its celebration and cultivation of Thai culture, saying: “Treatments and holistic programmes are being meticulously designed to utilise long-gone techniques, and organic herbs are being used as medicinal remedies in conjunction with old-fashioned pampering."
Spa treatments are curated to incorporate elements of healing rituals from Thai, Tibetian and American Indian culture, and include raindrop therapy, Tsi Nei Tsang, wellness consultation, energy healing, and cranial sacral therapy.
The spa plans to bring specialised practitioners in sound healing, shiatsu, somato-experiencing and trauma release, traditional Chinese medicine, Mayan traditional massage, and Maori traditional healing, among others.
Yang is also overseeing the resort’s F&B, which will include wholesome cooking in four main dining areas, with organic herbs, fruits, and vegetables grown on-site in the resort’s garden.
The grounds make use of natural rainforest features such as mature trees, streams, and waterfalls. As an added bonus, three water buffalos, rescued from a slaughterhouse, make their home in the garden and educate guests about the animal’s significance in Thai culture.