Andara Resort & Villas epitomises the best of upscale Kamala and Phuket, with a series of suites and privately owned villas sprawling over a steep hillside and overlooking the Andaman Sea. When we stayed at a nearby resort in Phuket last year, we walked past the gated car entrance to Andaras resort lobby several times. Intrigued by a je ne sais quoi ambiance that the lobby radiated upon my prior visit, we were desperate to stay at this acclaimed resort on our next trip to the island. When the opportunity presented itself with our annual trip to this idyllic Thai island paradise, we could not resist taking a deeper look into one of Phukets most luxurious resorts. Entry to the resort via the vast lobby provides a teaser of the rest of the resort, with the suites mimicking the entrance: modern and comfortable yet with clearly classical inspirations. The lobby, utilsing heavy, dark, wooden tones, exudes the air of a very private and extremely distinguished and exclusive gentlemans club, but emits a far more welcoming atmosphere, by always maintaining an open structure that allows air and light to fill the vacant spaces. After being welcomed with a refreshing drink and towels to freshen up after an arduous overnight flight, my party and I were led to our 4-bedroom penthouse pool suite, from where we were checked-in. Our suite is one of 37 that forms the main component of the resort in a series of low-storied structures near the lobby, ranging from 1-bedroom to 4-bedroom, and categorised by terrace (sans pool), pool and penthouse pool suites. The suites are extremely spacious, ranging from the 153 sqm 1-bedroom terrace suite, to the 836 sqm 4-bedroom penthouse pool suite. Further, 26 privately-owned freestanding villas ranging from 3- to 6-bedrooms (available for rent and sale) situated further up the hill with their own private entrances from the rest of the resort, provide alternative accommodation for larger parties or for private events, each with a large private infinity pool. The villas are a particularly popular affair for weddings and special occasions, with sweeping sea views from the pool and expansive common areas. With an entrance at an upper floor accessible by lift and granted only to the residents of the suite, the entrance hall to our accommodation is spacious, containing a fountain that continuously trickles around a vase, potted plants, along with separate access for housekeeping. The door opens into a corridor-foyer, with the large round wooden dining table in sight. A fully equipped kitchen and the generously sized living space, with multiple large sofas (that can comfortably be transformed into daybeds or even overnight beds!), a 52-inch built-in wall TV and balcony-cum-terrace that extends from the living room and two of the bedrooms, complete the common spaces within the apartment. The master bedroom is larger than most large hotel suites with a king-sized bed and embedded wall-TV, a walk-in closet (with settee) and an ensuite bathroom with twin vanities, separate shower and toilet, an indoor sunken tub and an outdoor overhead shower (and another settee!). Other bedrooms, all ensuite with full but more space-conscious bathrooms and lacking a walk-in closet, are considerably smaller in comparison but arguably cozier. Upstairs, the highlight of our suite, the penthouse terrace, contains an infinity pool large enough to swim short laps in, several sun loungers, a barbecue and sitting space around a table, all with a view of the Kamala coast, occasionally shrouded by the colourfully verdant foliage that surrounds the resort. The thoughtfulness and care taken to ensure privacy and functionality is evident when enjoying a swim upstairs: a half-bathroom by the stairs and an outdoor shower at the terrace ensure that guests need not retreat inside should the need to use the bathroom or take a quick rinse arise. The main pool at the resort is equally as impressive, measuring nearly 40 metres in length. The black-tiled pool has an infinity edge, and is beautifully framed by towering palms and sun loungers, a bar at the base, and a black granite Jacuzzi to the side. The bar, offering 50% off drinks from 4-7 PM for happy hour, presents the perfect opportunity to work on the tan by the pool. For dinner, SILK, the resorts only restaurant, serves fine Thai cuisine with favourites such as a rich massaman curry, fried noodles, and the spiciest and best Tom Yum Goong weve ever had. A famous Thai institution previously set in luxurious Surin Plaza a few kilometres away, the restaurant, sharing a common owner with Andara Resort, was relocated to the resort soon after the opening of the resort in 2010. The sophisticated space is ideal for elegant Thai fare, but also maintains a carefree vibe that results in it attracting tourists around Phuket that arent guests of the resorts, and is a popular fine dining venue. The spa is ideal for engaging in a relaxing massage complemented by refreshing local teas, including the Andara Signature massage that combines the therapies of Thai, Oriental and Indian influences, or the Javanese massage, inspired by Balinese techniques, that helps restore balance and harmony with heavier strokes. The rooms at the spa are in line with the resort of the resort utilising woods and offering a serene, calming atmosphere through the use of trickling water. Other facilities at the resort include a gym, which also offers regular daily activities such as morning muay thai, yoga or table tennis tournaments. For the less actively-inclined, there is also a library and a shopping boutique. The resort also owns two yachts available for private hire to visit the nearby islands for private diving, snorkeling, or to spend all day out at sea with a romantic cruise and lunch or dinner. With pleasant staff and warm, considerate service, a stay at Andara Resort & Villas never feels like a stay at a typical resort, but rather like a holiday at a close friends extremely luxurious holiday home.Commonly referred to as Millionaires Mile in Phuket, Thailand, the Kamala headland that juts out westward comprising the areas of Surin and Kamala is justifiably nicknamed such for the slew of luxurious resorts and private villas that dot the coast.
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