The renowned Aman Resorts Group wasn’t kidding when it named this Phuket boutique hotel Amanpuri – Sanskrit for ‘place of peace’. With its secluded coconut plantation setting, private beach and glamorous pavilion homes, it’s hard to imagine a more restful island retreat.
Noon. Check-in, 2pm. Late check-out until midnight can be arranged for 50 per cent of a night’s stay.
Double rooms from £919.45 ($1,128), including tax at 18.7 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast at Buabok, Thai afternoon tea at Kanom Krok, minibar drinks and fresh fruit (replenished once a day), group movement classes, non-motorised water sports and return airport transfers (for stays of three nights or more).
Non-motorised watersports are free. You can also take PADI-accredited scuba courses here, then charter one of the 20 cruisers, yachts and speedboats to test out your new skills. For those less inclined to take the full plunge, snorkelling gear is on hand at the beach.
The hotel closes annually in June.
At the hotel
Spa, tennis courts, private beach, watersports, diving school, charter fleet, library, gym, art gallery, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, high-tech lighting and sound system, fridge with a free minibar, CD player. TVs, iPod docks, a coffee machine and a kettle are available on request.
Our favourite rooms
With their distinctive roofs and polished wood interiors, Amanpuri’s pavilions exude understated Thai elegance. Garden pavilions are wonderfully secluded, with a walled garden, sunken bath and outdoor shower. Jutting out over the Andaman, Pavilions 103 and 105 have the most striking sea views and oodles of space. Pick a villa or the Garden Pool Pavilion for seductively private dips in your own plunge pool.
The 27-metre midnight-blue infinity pool and its surrounding stone walkway form Amanpuri’s stylish centrepiece. Temptingly close to the bar, the beach club has a smaller pool and day-beds shaded by trees in the afternoon. There’s a small pool for children on the beach.
Set in a secluded coconut grove, Amanpuri's Wellness Centre is a light-filled vision in wood and glass. There are twelve Thai-inspired treatment pavilions, steam rooms, saunas, hot and cold plunge pools, showe, bath and outdoor sala for meditative contemplation. Inspired by ancient Thai techniques and Chinese medicine, the roasted coconut scrubs, reflexology-enhanced facials and sandalwood wraps provide head-to-toe indulgence.
Sporty gear – for joining a tennis lesson or Pilates class – and polarised sunglasses for adventures on boats.
Souvenir-hunters should visit the boutique, which sells Aman products, gifts, unusual Asian jewellery, as well as more basic essentials. Partial Ocean Pool Pavilions are accessible to wheelchair users.
Welcome. Under-12s stay free on cots or extra beds. The spa offers treatments for over-6s and babysitting is available (from US$12 an hour and $60 a day for one child).
At sundown, grab one of the brass tables on the terrace between the pool and the beach for spectacular views over the bay.
Shirts, shorts and silk sarongs.
There are five in total. Housed in a dramatic open-air pavilion facing the main pool, Buabok serves à la carte breakfast and authentic Thai cuisine, including delicious fresh seafood, for lunch and dinner. Arva restaurant offers expertly prepared Italian dishes for lunch and dinner. From November to April, Nama's open kitchen sets up just steps from the beach. Sample its delicate Japanese fare, or, if the weather is good, opt for the more hearty pleasures of torch-lit barbecues on the beach. Wood-fired pizzas, grilled seafood and Mediterranean-spiced brochettes are on the menu at the Pool Terrace. If you’re feeling peckish, stop by the Lounge’s counter for fresh mezze, chilled oysters and tempting sliders.
Catch the sunset over cocktails at the Beach Terrace. Down in the Pool Terrace, things take on a sophisticated air, with lounge tunes, day-beds and pitchers of signature cocktails. The walk-in wine room has more than 200 fine wines on its list – just the thing to savour with some antipasti from the Lounge.
The kitchen closes at midnight. You can enjoy the Lounge cocktails until 1am.
Enjoy a selection of the restaurants’ salads, spicy curries and sandwiches on your outdoor sala round the clock.
Supremely private Pansea Beach, on the sunset side of Phuket, is the breath-snatching setting for Amanpuri.
Domestic and international flights frequently land at Phuket International Airport, making it Thailand’s second-busiest airport after Bangkok. Amanpuri offers free airport transfers for guests staying three nights or more at the resort; otherwise, they're US$150 each way. The 17-kilometre drive takes around 30 minutes. Guests staying in villas can only book one car per hideaway; but there is the added bonus of free fast tracked arrival once you arrive at the airport (for two guests per room).
Navigating Phuket by car is manageable, but for a stress-free island exploration, have Amanpuri arrange a private-car tour.
Worth getting out of bed for
On a quiet headland jutting out into the Andaman Sea, Amanpuri’s Pansea Beach is an unspoilt crescent of white sands and emerald waters. In the dry season, from November to April, borrow a free kayak, snorkel or body board from the Beach Club to explore the waters, or book a jet ski for a hit of adrenalin. The calm waters are ideal for PADI training; charter a boat from Amanpuri’s fleet to explore Phuket’s best diving spots. Thai boxing, Pilates and tennis classes are available for those who prefer dry land; the more meditative can have a go at a Thai cooking class or flower-garland-making instead. Staff can happily arrange access to nearby golf clubs, or a visit from a tailor to freshen up your wardrobe. There are also daily group movement classes included in the standard rate.
For tropical sophistication, book a table for two at buzzy Siam Supper Club, known for its live jazz and stellar service. Order spectacular buttery lobster at Baan Suan Layan, a laid-back joint right on the riverside.
Laid-back and sociable, Paula’s Retro Café (+66 (0)76 270 283) at Surin beach is a great spot to enjoy home-made bagels and fresh sandwiches, lunches and snacks. Grab one of the 16 seats around the oval counter at Pasta on Surin Beach Road. Watch the chef rustle up fresh seafood in deliciously carby concoction. Its relaxed sister hangoutBake is perfect for pastries.
Look for Diamond Beach Club’s sleek canopied terrace and purple sunloungers at the northern end of Surin beach. Dress to impress for sundowner cocktails and gastronomic beach bites, and stay for the resident DJs’ chill-out tunes.
It's already late when we emerge from the silver Mercedes into boutique resort Amanpuri in Thailand’s Phuket. And, yet, despite the hour, a flock of gracious staff are waiting to greet us with warm, welcoming smiles. Mrs Smith lets out a few appreciative oohs and aahs as we're guided along the floating bamboo-banistered paths that snake up the jungled hillside to our suite. I, meanwhile, can't shake the niggling notion that this is what the Ewok Village would have looked like, had Tyler Brulé got his design-savvy hands on it.
Like a private island in an ocean of verdant greenery, our enormous bungalow – a tall, peaked-roof building with its own outdoor lounge – is closed off from its neighbours by an encircling wall of bamboo. Once inside, my better half – an eternal aesthete to the core – waxes lyrical about the detailing of our room: the explosion of white orchids on the pedestal at the end of our bed; the subtle yet dramatic lighting; the elegantly silhouetted geometric patterns on the sliding doors. I, however, have eyes only for the enormous crisp, cotton sheeted bed, and I’m out like a light.
Chirping morning birdsong draws me from a deep sleep softly back towards consciousness. But it is Mrs Smith's inimitable squeal emanating from our bathroom that makes me finally sit up. Expecting a close call with a local lizard, I reach for a plump red grape from the bedside as my beloved comes dancing back into the room, skipping around the orchids and leaping onto the bed beside me as she draws the whisper of a bathrobe around her shoulders.
‘That is the single most amazing bathroom experience I have ever had,’ she declares with more than a hint of excitement. ‘On my own,’ she adds conspiratorially.
Led by the hand, my first discovery of the morning is a revelation of lavatorial engineering. Thankfully, my masculinity is sufficiently solid to avoid any jealousy towards most machines. Yet, with remote-control front and rear oscillating jet sprays and a temperature-adjustable seat, Samson himself would falter before Mrs Smith's new toy. But, after a lengthy shower à deux, she is sweet enough to assure me that I have nothing to worry about. She also mentions that we shall certainly be getting ‘one of those babies’ as soon as we get home.
A gentle two-minute saunter back through the designer jungle, our second discovery of the day is the slick, Miami-esque pool, which I somehow missed last night. Yet this is brushed away once more, as the hotel falls away behind it into a wide, steep staircase, pierced with towering palm trees, that flows into the most beautiful, private stretch of white sand and clear-blue water that either of us have ever seen.
Our eyes suitably feasted, we decide it's only fair to spread the epicurean love to our bellies. And, so, erring on the side of caution, Mrs Smith and I settle into an hour-long Healthy Option breakfast of egg-white omelettes, revitalising smoothies, jasmine tea and a lavish plate of fruit. While such healthy menus and the serene pace of life clearly attract a repeat following of tanned, toned Yoga types, the hotel, with its huge acreage and unfathomably helpful staff, offers plenty of other choices if you fancy a little more holiday excess.
Down on the private beach – a hawker-free haven, peppered with perhaps a dozen daybeds and a small restaurant tucked away beneath a covering of palms – Mrs Smith toys with joining a cruise on one of the hotel's yachts while I head over to the new gym, replete with qualified personal trainers and a full torture chamber of top-of-the-range Pilates contraptions. Overpowered by the concept of actual effort and the haunting image of Mrs Smith in her new slip of a bikini, I turn on my heels and saunter right back to the waiting beach.
To break up the monotony of such paradise, however, we're eventually wooed from our diligent sun and sea worship to the poolside pavilion for a spot of complimentary Thai tea and cake. There, feet curled beneath us on huge cushions, we get to know a few of Amanpuri's other guests and staff, including our dessert chef, who is overjoyed to have just celebrated her 21st year at the resort –always a good sign in the hotel industry.
Our mini Thai pancakes digesting nicely, and the sun starting to meander towards the horizon, my better half proves her worth once more and hatches a plan. Borrowing some snorkelling gear from the hotel, we swim out to the decked, circular jetty bobbing 150 metres out from shore. There, as a shoal of brightly coloured coral fish swarm beneath us, nibbling at Mrs Smith's dangling toes, we watch the sun descend, setting the sea alight with brazen hues of burnished gold before we swim back, feeling every inch the closing scene of a Bond flick.
All cleaned up, we opt for dinner at the hotel's Thai restaurant rather than its neighbouring Italian counterpart, where we're looked after by our ever-lovely waitress Porn (no, truly), while a trio of local musicians soundtrack the gourmet offerings from the poolside pavilion. Perhaps one might eventually tire of the gorgeous, subtly modern Thai cuisine and curiously inventive desserts that they whip up (how often do you get your ‘vintage balsamic marinated strawberries with raspberry crème brulée’ served with a garnish of ‘air’?), but not yet.
The crickets return to their night song, a thick blanket of stars gleams overhead and Mrs Smith decrees that we more than deserve a little reward. And, so, back at our bungalow, she slips into something that might knowingly be described as ‘a little more comfortable’, and, with a pair of large gin and tonics in hand, we sink into the cushions that surround the sunken wooden table of our gazeboed lounge, the whispered crash of the tide in the distance, and toast our private paradise.