The international jet-set comes to Thai boutique hotel Trisara because there’s nowhere else quite like it. Set over a private bay along Phuket's less developed north-west coast, each suite or villa has a jaw-dropping ocean view, its own pool and is a sanctuary of good taste. Its Sanskrit name means 'Third Garden in Heaven', and the exclusivity and top-notch service more than live up to it.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of champagne and 10 per cent off food and soft drinks (not valid in Pru); GoldSmiths also get 30 per cent off spa treatments
Thirty-nine pool rooms, suites and villas, plus 15 two- to six-bedroom units.
Noon, but flexible subject to availability. Check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £582.43 (THB23,912), including tax at 18.7 per cent.
Rates usually include airport transfers but exclude breakfast (US$35 a person a day).
Trisara’s spa is drop-dead gorgeous, offering private treatment suites with sea views that open out to breezy pavilions and gardens. Indulge in a signature, six-handed ‘Royal Trisara’ massage, which involves pampering by three therapists. Active types can also enjoy tennis coaching on two floodlit championship courts, hire a jet ski, kayak or dive gear, or charter one of Trisara’s yachts for a romantic cruise around Phuket and the local islands.
At the hotel
Free broadband internet in rooms and some public areas, library of books, CDs, DVDs and board games, spa, gym, tennis courts, gift shops, gardens. In rooms: flatscreen TV, CD/DVD players, minibar, own-label natural toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
Each super-tasteful suite or villa has a jaw-dropping ocean view and its own pool. If pushed to choose one, Ocean Front Pool Villa 407 sits right on the seafront, so you have undisturbed vistas and utter privacy. Bathrooms throughout are divine: surrounded by leafy gardens with huge baths, sofas and sexy outdoor showers.
A fabulous 45m saltwater lap pool stretches along the resort’s beachfront, surrounded by inviting day-beds and sunloungers.
A versatile camera to capture both the dazzling sunsets and lively underwater world.
From 21 December to 10 January, a 10-night minimum stay applies.
Trisara is one of the few high-end resorts with a kids club. Baby cots and beds for under-12s are free (breakfast is US$18); extra beds and breakfast for over-12s are US$125, and babysitting is $20 an hour.
Trisara supports the Keep Phuket Clean campaign, including regular beach clean-ups; catches rainwater for use in gardens and rooms; uses air-con energy to heat water in villas, and avoids chemical treatments for its saltwater pools and mosquitos.
The middle table of the front row has a picture-postcard view, but arrive early as you can’t book ahead.
Tory Birch kaftan, Zimmerman swimwear and Havaianas by day; Missoni at night.
The people at Trisara are reluctant to brag, but the restaurant really is one of the best on Phuket. An elegant space, it’s set to one side of a cascading waterfall, with the bar on the other, but sit on the palm-shaded deck to lap up the beachfront ambience. The first-rate menu spans ultra-fresh Thai and international food, and arguably the best pad thai you’ll ever taste. There are also beach barbecues in the cool season. In 2012, Trisara Seafood opened on the beachfront. Relax under the palms or in the cool, Mediterranean-inspired interior while enjoying simply prepared, incredibly fresh fruits de mer.
Overlooking the pool and beach, Trisara’s bar exudes masculine chic and a laid-back, clubby atmosphere. Its charcoal and aubergine palette is funked up with dusky pink hanging lanterns and a chill-out soundtrack.
Dinner is served from 5.30pm–11pm; the bar is open till midnight, but will keep pouring until the last guest leaves.
Available 24 hours, of course, mirroring the full range of menus, wines and drinks on offer at Trisara's bars and restaurants.
Beachfront Trisara is set in a private, forested cove on Phuket island's north-west coastline.
Fly into Phuket International Airport (www.phuketairportonline.com), which services domestic flights from Bangkok and international flights to Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, the UK and Germany.
Trisara is a scenic 15-minute drive south of the airport; return transfers by private limousine are included in rates. There's free parking at the hotel if you've hired a car, which can come in handy to explore Phuket’s buzzy southern coast.
Private-hire boats and local ferries from Krabi and nearby islands dock at Phuket Marina, from where it's a 30-minute drive to Trisara.
Worth getting out of bed for
Once you’ve made the most of Trisara’s pools, spa and beach, there are more active pursuits on the menu. Treat yourself to a spot of tennis coaching at the resort's two floodlit championship courts. Hire a jetski, kayak or dive gear, then charter one of Trisara's yachts for a romantic cruise around Phuket and the local islands. Nearby Banana Rock Beach is a peaceful, private spot for swimming and snorkelling. Koh Wae is another uninhabited island beach close to Trisara. Alternatively, take a private helicopter flight to the famous Phang Nga Bay (aka James Bond Island); a sensational experience. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a Tiger Woods, golf can be arranged close by at Blue Canyon Country Club. No need to pack your clubs as Trisara has a set of Wilsons for you to use. If you’re more gourmet minded, budding chefs can enjoy private Thai cooking classes for one or two people to hone those spice-wielding skills.
Baan Suan, five minutes drive from the hotel, whips up tasty Thai in a pretty garden setting (ask staff for directions). Raise the romance quotient several notches at chichi Weaves Restaurant (+66 (0)76 271 050), at Surin Beach, where you can opt to dine poolside or in the air-conditioned comfort of a private room.
Paula’s Retro Café (106/41 Moo 3, Cherngtalay; +66 (0)76 270 283) is a great spot to enjoy home-made bagels and fresh sandwiches, lunches and snacks.
Soak up panoramic horizons as you sip cocktails and sample East-West tapas at fashionable 360°, The Lookout (+66 (0)76 317 600) at the Pavilions, Phuket.
Driving along the highway, my mind is trying to reconfigure memories like a jigsaw puzzle. It has been eight long years since my last visit to Phuket. The things I remember? A narrow road, a long deserted coastline with dark rubber-tree forests set back from the beach. A sea the colour of emeralds. The hot and sour flavours of kang som, a local version of bouillabaisse. I have to confess that I was afraid all this may have changed in the intervening time.
Already, as Mrs Smith and I cruise towards our destination – it has been almost a decade since I was last in this part of Thailand, but it’s also five years since we married, so this is like a second honeymoon – there is cause for concern. The highway has grown more lanes with more cars travelling along them and far fewer trees at its edge. Sadly, it seems, the enemies of nature and solitude have already taken their toll.
Off the main road though, there are hopeful signs. Beautiful Nai Thorn beach is quiet and gentle waves roll in from the ultra-green sea to the sand. Past the beach, I direct the car up a steep, narrow road where we find the gates of Trisara. At reception, we’re welcomed by a sea breeze and a 180-degree view of the ocean. Really, it wouldn’t take much more than this to make me happy. However, Elle, one of the managers, has prepared chilled jasmine-scented towels and two glasses of cold honey-ginger tea – she explains it’s good for settling stomachs after the long, winding drive. Then she places a gorgeous garland of flowers around a delighted Mrs Smith’s wrist. I get the feeling that at Trisara there will be impressive attention to detail and warm hospitality.
For the next two nights, our home will be a spacious Ocean View Pool Villa. It’s very contemporary Thai, with teak floors and an enormous king-size bed dominating the bedroom. The bathroom makes my jaw drop – his ‘n’ hers vanities, a bath big enough for the both of us and a rain shower (there’s another sexy one outside, as well). But my favourite feature is the private infinity pool overlooking the ocean. During our stay here, I can see myself and Mrs Smith languidly floating between long stretches of reclining on the poolside sunloungers.
While Mrs Smith makes herself a cup of tea and satisfies her sweet tooth with some crunchy cookies and home-made dark chocolate truffles, Elle shows me all the villa’s facilities. I flick through the channels on the flatscreen TV and pop my iPod in the dock. This is some place.
Keen to start exploring, we call the concierge to send a buggy and take us to Trisara’s private beach. As if by magic, two beach boys are already arranging sunloungers and covering them with white beach towels when we arrive. By this time, it’s approaching 6pm and the sun is about to set. It couldn’t be more romantic. We walk hand in hand along the sand to the jetty, and it’s as if we’ve turned back the clock to when we first met.
The following afternoon, after a lazy morning in the villa – French toast with red berries and eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes and hash browns served promptly at 8am, followed by plenty of lolling by the pool – we decide to go snorkelling in the resort’s private bay (no jet skis, thank goodness). By the floating jetty we feed what seems like thousands of friendly fish in a technicolor underwater world.
Have I mentioned that I’m a chef? So far, both Mrs Smith and I have been greatly impressed with Trisara’s cuisine. There’s been nothing too elaborate – although Phuket lobster club sandwiches by the beach did feel quite posh – but flavours and presentation have proved sensational.
It all adds up to high hopes for what will be our anniversary dinner. We’ve arranged to dine on a deck by the beach under the moon, with just the lapping waves and chirruping crickets as a soundtrack. That alone would have been special enough, but dinner was perfect. I chose to go native – fresh spring rolls and sweet pork with rice and Thai-style salsa – while Mrs Smith decided on a trio of fish tartare and duck egg carbonara. For me, the combination of spice, acid and sweetness was spot-on, and the selections from the Western menu were creative, elegantly displayed and well balanced.
All too soon, our visit was at an end. Much to our disappointment we hadn’t managed to fit in a proper trip to the spa, although Elle did walk us up there on our arrival and the ocean views are absolutely sublime. Throughout the resort, nothing was overlooked – the decor is subtle and well executed, and the service was incredibly thoughtful right until our last minute. Surprisingly, I found out what ‘trisara’ means without having to ask anyone – the word is Thai for ‘three heavens’. Mrs Smith and I definitely found ours in the surroundings, the people and the cuisine. We were truly in three heavens, right here on earth.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Trisara’s Guestbook below.
Everything it was incredible. Still dreaming of this place.