What a perfect resort, I can understand how anyone in their right mind could fail to be impressed. While visiting Thailand, we stayed at the Pimalai resort and Spa for 10 days during peak season, so the resort was actually full to capacity, but you would never have known it, the place still seemed empty and quiet the whole time, no queues for anything and enough pool loungers to go around whatever time you show up at the pool (actually there are2 pools, which is great, gives you plenty to choose from).
The sea is not far away, unless you book a pool villa up the hill. These were way over our budget, we could only just afford the entry-level room type, the Deluxe. We got one near the sea after asking to be moved. The one we ended up with was in an upstairs floor, with a great sea view. So its pretty important to get one of the best units, I recommend you request a top floor unit on one of the buildings near the sea, they are way better view-wise than the ones further away.
Pimalai is a kind of luxury eco-resort, with loads of greenery everywhere and a cool atmosphere. The food is just great, multiple restaurants serving all manners of cuisine. For Thai food we felt it was somewhat poor value compared to the Same Same restaurant next door, not owned by Pimalai, which serves almost identical dishes at half the price.
I wished I could have afforded more cocktails and to go on a boat trip, next time I come back to Pimalai Ill make sure Ive saved up enough dough to pay for some extra luxuries. I was told by several people that the snorkeling trip to Koh Haa is really good, and that divers can dive from the same boat, which would suit me, so I could learn my PADI at the same time as spending time with my better half.
One of the best things about Pimalai is the location on Kantian beach, which is maybe the most beautiful beach Ive ever seen, let alone stayed on. The reason its so great is because it hasnt been touched, nobody has built anything at all on the middle section, Pimalai is the only resort at the southern end of the beach and there are only 2 small resorts at the other end of the beach. So the beach always feels empty, even at peak times of the year. You can take a stroll down it at any time of day and not be bothered by crowds, hawkers or litter. The beach is spotlessly clean, due to the fact that the Pimalai staff, led by their manager Franck, an affable Frenchman for whom noting seems to be too much trouble, clean the entire beach once a week the entire beach, not just the bit outside Pimalai.
If you go for a visit to Pimalai, dont neglect to have a drink or two at the Why Not bar down the beach. To get there, all you have to do is hit the beach, turn right and walk for 10 minutes, then there it is, one of the most rustic, coziest beach bars imaginable. The band who play there regularly are top class, but not too loud, making this a spot to socialize as well as drink. We also liked the Aqua bar nearby, which is a very friendly spot, we got into a routine of starting off for a drink at the Aqua bar and finishing up at the Why Not later on.
We combined a stay at Pimalai with staying in Ao Nang for a while. Pimalai is wonderful, but it starts to feel like a bit of a gilded cage after a while, and I was happy to leave after 9 nights. We went on and stayed at the Phu Petra resort in Ao Nang, which was good value and offered easy access to the town and lots of activities.
Other tips the food at the Same Same restaurant is about half the price of the fare at Pimalai, so if you are in the mood for Thai food, you might as well eat next door. The Baan Lanta at the other end of the beach also has a good value restaurant serving Thai far at reasonable prices.