A Phuket Bar With All the View and None of the Crowds

Any higher, and Zeus himself would be sitting at the next table.

PHUKET, Thailand Nov. 23, 2012— -- Any higher, and Zeus himself would be sitting at the next table.

Tucked away on the south-eastern edge of Phuket – Thailand's tropical island getaway known for its jetset crowds, cheap massages, and raucous all night parties – lies a rooftop experience so unique, so serene, it's almost otherworldly.

To call the Baba's Nest rooftop lounge a "room with a view" wouldn't be fair. For one, there's no room – no walls, ceiling, or fancy floor lamps – just a square shaped wooden platform, surrounded on all sides by a reflective infinity pool. You won't even find chairs, just an arrangement of bean bag pillows positioned around small wooden tables (think small coffee tables, but lower to the ground).


You've heard of wrap-around porches? Well, think of this as a wrap-around sky. With no walls, the sky and clouds bend around you, offering stunning 360-degree views of the Andaman Sea, its sandy beaches and remote islands seemingly so close you can touch them. The reflective pool creates another illusion, particularly at sunset: A moment in time where water, earth, air, and sun become one.

It feels like you're floating on water, hundreds of feet in the air.

"It's pretty chill," explains Wan, the uber laid-back managing director of Sri Panwa, the pool-villa resort where Baba's Nest is located.

In his shorts and sandals, Wan embodies the casual, stylish charm of Phuket's quieter coast, far away from the drunken college kids who throng to Patong Beach and Kata.

The casual demeanour makes perfect sense, given his background. As a child, Wan would accompany his father, a Thai developer, to the family's various construction sites. Later, as a student in Europe and the U.S., he bounced around various odd jobs at swanky bars and hotels, schmoozing with rich and even-more-rich clients. He eventually made enough to buy his own car and condo.

"My parents were so surprised when they came to visit me," he says.

"They wondered how I could afford all that with the amount of money they had been sending me. I told them 'Mom, dad, I make a lot more than what you've been giving me."

After graduating from a Swiss university, he landed his first job as a real estate evaluator for a European bank. He lasted just a few months before deciding it was time to come back to Thailand. His father put him in charge of sales at Sri Panwa, which at the time was still a construction site. Nobody expected much. Wan had never sold properties before, and the idea of a mixed-use resort, where villa owners live on the same property with hotel guests as neighbors was a relatively new concept in Thailand.

Within a few weeks, Wan had made his first sale to an expat family who offered an immediate $50,000 deposit.

"I didn't know what to do," Wan says. "I had to go to the resort next door and ask if I could use their credit card machine."

Soon, Wan had successfully positioned Sri Panwa into one of Phuket's premier resorts, attracting everyone from honeymooners looking for postcard views to families looking to experience Phuket without the drunken karaoke bars.

"In Thailand, we welcome every crowd," he explains. "If you're in your twenties and you're looking to party, you go to Patong. If you want peace and quiet, you come here."

It's also the place you come for views. The view from Baba's Nest rivals any other in Thailand. And it's there, floating among the clouds, where you'll find the rarest of travel experiences.

It's a place where time stands still.