Chef du jour: Panacea Retreat

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Breathtaking 360-degree panoramas of Koh Samui’s spectacular coastline are aplenty at Panacea Retreat, one of Southeast Asia’s most luxurious villa complexes. Get ready to have your notions of a luxury villa redefined. Panacea Retreat is the best of the best, and you will be hard-pressed to find anything like it anywhere in the world.

Praana Residence is Panacea’s prized jewel, a six-bedroom villa with an entire floor dedicated to pleasure and entertainment. Unlike anything you may have seen before, this is the quintessential party house. Dance the night away in your very own nightclub, replete with disco balls, a saltwater aquarium and state-of-the-art lighting. Pursue your fitness goals in a gym with the latest and highest-end equipment. Do a movie marathon in the enormous private theatre fitted with plush black leather sofa chairs. Or play a game of pool or poker in the games room. One of the best features, and a delight for sports enthusiasts, is an official competition size Thai boxing ring – where famous athletes have given a left hook and a jab. Two swimming pools, a sauna, spa and steam took round out Praana, which doesn’t forget other members of the group: a well-equipped, air-conditioned nursery will entertain your while you play. And did we mention the court for those who want to enjoy a game or two of tennis? Or the grand piano in the massive peak-roofed living pavillion. Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it?

For smaller groups, the other villas in the compound – Villas Avasara and Atulya, offer five luxurious bedrooms and Villas Kalya and Purana, four bedrooms. However, each villa maintains the level of excellence and luxury, that Praana sets the gold standard for.

We sat down with estate Chef Sommai, who has worked all over the globe, for some insight into what it takes to cook for the distinguished guests at splendid Panacea.

Elite Havens: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Chef Sommai: My name is Sommai Phetsukhum . I’m 52 years old and I’ve been working in the kitchen for 34 years. Over the years, I’ve worked in Phuket, Koh Samui, Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Turkey.

EH: What kind of food do you specialise in?

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Bali, A Home Shopping Paradise

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If you think Bali is a fashion shopping Mecca, imagine your delight on learning that it’s also a hub for home accessories and décor items. That’s right – you’ll find the answer to all your decorating needs in Bali. From island-vibe looks to a more classical style, this is the place to go for some good old-fashioned homeware. Get ready for a shopping spree!


In Lemari lies a superb collection of wildly eclectic antiques and artefacts, amassed from the Indonesian archipelago and other global locations. It’s clearly a labor of love and great taste, one that embraces opulent European pieces as well as the exotic and wonderful world of tribal art.


Like a breath of fresh air, or perhaps a gust of sea breeze blowing through your hair, Paradise showcases hip and new tropically-inspired homeware. The brand does retail and wholesale sourcing, as well as interior designing – perfect for all your decorating needs.

Kevala Home

A Balinese brand that creates superb ceramics and stoneware in collaboration with top designers from around the world. Kevala is the tableware du jour for Bali’s best restaurants, just flip a plate and see. If you are a fan of ceramics, Kevala is a must-visit.

Jungle Trader 

The Jungle Trader is a concept store in Canggu where an open, lush and inviting space awaits. Brass, wood, raffia, textiles, stone, art, gold, silver, woven, woven, printed, embellished, vintage, traditional, old and new – all these find space within its walls. Original commissioned artworks by local artists and clothing are also available.

Kim Soo

The chic lifestyle and retail space Kim Soo showcases black and white statement pieces, complemented by a sassy range of gorgeous homeware made in the remote parts of Indonesia. Chopping boards, rugs, wooden carvings, cushions and feathered accent pieces abound.


Nobody can claim that Bali isn’t a shoppers paradise when entering Sutanama. Located in Seminyak, the concept store brings talented designers and suppliers together under one roof.

Besides retail, they do wholesale orders and accept commissioned works. The founders have worked with companies like Crate and Barrel, Habitat UK,

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Get Ready to Be Wowed at Cape Yamu, Phuket

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If you are seeking tranquillity, seclusion and endless sea views, consider planning your next holiday at Cape Yamu, Phuket. This remote peninsula is located on the eastern side of the island, overlooking the picturesque Phang Nga Bay. Cape Yamu is both topographically and metaphorically a cut above other popular tourist spots in Phuket. While it has evolved from a predominantly fishing and farming community, Cape Yamu remains set against a breathtaking and diverse natural environment peppered with traditional villages enclosed within rubber, coconut and cashew plantations. It is now considered an exclusive holiday destination unashamedly preferred by those seeking a unique and luxurious holiday experience.  

Cape Yamu is home to a variety of elite havens, and each luxurious holiday home boasts sensational sea views, attentive staff and finely appointed amenities. Whichever haven you choose, you are assured of the very highest level of service, and exclusive access to the Elite Concierge, to organise day trips, excursions, transport and everything in between.

Here are top three reasons you should pick Cape Yamu for your next Thailand holiday:

World-Class Dining

When you stay at an elite haven, you have access to personal chefs who have been trained in some of the best professional kitchens in the country. Your villa chef will be happy to stir up a delicious meal for your entire group. From Thai specialities to International favourites, each dish will have you craving for more. However, if you wish for a change of scene, you are spoilt for choice too. Catering to globe-trotting travellers, the east coast has a classy dining scene.  Nahmyaa Thai Restaurant, at COMO Point Yamu Resort, boasts of localised favourites with a healthy twist. Seafood lovers will love everything on the menu at Laem Hin Seafood, which offers flavourful Thai dishes, to be enjoyed against the backdrop of sea views that extend till Coconut Island. If you want to be adventurous, hop aboard a long-tail boat and dine at one of the floating restaurants just offshore.

Yachting Adventures

Ask the Elite Concierge to organise a yacht or speedboat for your group and head out into the deep blue. Phang Nga Bay, often featured in movies and shows, is famous for little limestone cliff islands, mangrove forests and floating villages.

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Recognised and Awarded, Elite Havens Proves to Be the Best

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The pursuit of excellence in every aspect of our business, is a value embedded deep within the DNA of Elite Havens. Thus, it makes us proud to be bestowed with the renowned Certificate of Excellence 2018 from – not for one, or two, but 19 villas across Asia. The awards, which were distributed earlier this year, recognise businesses across the world that consistently deliver an outstanding customer experience. The achievement is earned over time, where guests judge and review their stay at an elite haven. The villa must maintain an overall TripAdvisor rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least twelve months. Says a representative of, “We love working with such committed partners. Elite Heavens deservedly won our Certificate of Excellence after performing outstandingly throughout 2018.”

Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) have been supporters of speciality lodging for the past few decades. Still, says Elite Havens’ Managing Director and former Chief Technology Officer, Riyaz Moorani, “We don’t get a ton of business from them because our product isn’t the average holiday stay. We work in a niche market, offering luxury villas to the discerning traveller. Most people use OTAs to look for good deals on hotels and so our product doesn’t quite fit in with what they’re selling. But more and more, we are finding that people seem to be willing to make a commitment to book a big villa through OTAs. The market is gradually changing.”

This observation finds credence in recognition from, who recently honoured Elite Havens with The Guest Review Award. These awards are given to partners who have consistently received a review score between eight and ten from guests, with at least five reviews, for a period of two years. It recognizes key partners like Elite Havens, for their commitment to exceptional hospitality and service.

Moorani adds, “Each award that we receive is a great reinforcement of the fact that we are doing something right. We pride ourselves on delivering quality service. So, if we get a reward for fantastic reviews, it is noteworthy, especially when you consider how many properties are offered on those sites. To be in the top 9-10% of their properties in terms of performance shows that we are delivering on our promise to offer an exceptional luxury experience,

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Breaking the Circle in Yaowawit, Phuket

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Situated in the verdant jungles of Thailand’s Phang Nga province, two hours north of Phuket, Yaowawit School is home to as many as 150 underprivileged children from the surrounding areas. Either orphans or children whose families cannot take care of their upbringing, the children of Yaowawit live at the school until they turn 18. Different from other establishments, the school focuses on holistic education and experiential learning to help break the cycle of poverty. It proudly claims that quite a number of its graduates have gone on to university and the older ones have even begun successful careers.

Founded in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Yaowawit is an impressive operation. Dedicated mentors work tirelessly to care for the children and teach them important life skills. While the school generates its own income from several small enterprises and is working towards being self-sustaining through the use of permaculture, it is grateful to receive help from individuals, small groups and corporations that share the school’s vision.

On 15 May 2019, the Elite Havens Phuket team decided to head to Phang Nga for a day of fun with the children of Yaowawit. On the way, Elite Havens Thailand Country Head, Femke Beekers, shared, “As a responsible company, we must also think about the community. So, along with the villa owners, we find out the needs of the community and help out as much as we can. In the past, we have supported the children of local prisoners in Baan Lung Pitak prison and the abused mothers in Good Shepherd by donating food and gifts on Children’s Day and Christmas. And we are always looking for locally-sourced products we can use in our villas. One such product we use is a beautifully scented soap made by abused mothers. We give this soap as gifts to our guests on their birthdays or in special gift baskets and we include a note about the women who make the soap and what they’re doing to make their lives better. We heard Yaowawit has a really good organic farm and that they also make products like detergent, so in addition to giving gifts today, we’d like to look into buying their produce or products for our villas. That way, our assistance is more long term.”

When the Elite Havens team arrived,

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