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5 fabulous seaside resorts in Phuket

With sea, sun and Champagne, Thailand’s largest island has evolved into a destination travellers return to again and again, with European trends and local hospitality converging to produce what has been called “Riviera spirit”. The wonderful beaches, friendly people and local attractions such as the Old Town still attract a wide range of visitors, but more guests now return for the seductive combination of tropical warmth, relaxed atmosphere and sophisticated amenities found at Phuket’s premier resorts. Many are clustered on the western side of the island, capitalising on beaches and sunsets, but properties in other areas offer spectacular views. Since 2007 Phuket has experienced a boom in beach bars and clubs, catering for those who want grown-up fun with world-class food, wines and music. With its own airport, Phuket is easy to reach with a selection of daily flights from Bangkok and Singapore. As one hotelier puts it, people come to Phuket now “to enjoy more, to see and be seen”. These resorts offer a tempting mix of beach, luxury places to play. Trisara Overlooking Phuket’s northwestern coast, Trisara’s opulent villas with their infinity pools and sea views are so scenically peaceful guests might be tempted to stay there swimming, playing music on the Bose sound system or nibbling the truffles that appear daily. Trisara villa infinity pool and sea However it is worth emerging for walks in the landscaped grounds, a beautifully presented cocktail at the private beach club or dining on the sea-facing terrace. Trisara’s award-winning SEAFOOD restaurant offers a classically eclectic menu using local organic produce and line-caught fish which can also be served at tables in the sand. At the immaculate spa, the signature massage is a six-handed event that should be experienced at least once. For guests who want to mix in some socialising, Trisara also arranges seamless sea transfers to the upmarket all-day party at the nearby Phuket branch of Nikki Beach. Sri Panwa Occupying a 40-acre chunk of Cape Panwa in south Phuket, Sri Panwa sprawls across its hilly terrain to capitalise on its jungle setting and glorious sea views. Guests stay in contemporary villas of one to five bedrooms with infinity pools overlooking the sea. The ambience is luxurious but not stuffy, designed to embody “sanook”, or what Thais regard as the “essence of fun” (with some influence from the “adult playground” of Miami). Its Baba Poolclub features (naturally) a large pool with tables set into its edges, live music, sushi, cigars and of course sea views. The spa is worth visiting for the nautical panoramas, as well as the highly professional treatments. For many the literal high point of visiting is a sunset drink at the award-winning Baba Nest bar, which serves signature cocktails on a lofty platform surrounded by an infinity pool and miles of ocean in every direction. Sri Panwa Baba Nest Point Yamu by COMO A relatively recent addition to the quieter, less-developed eastern side of Phuket, Point Yamu is perched on a rocky fingertip overlooking the Andaman Sea and the dramatic limestone formations of Phang Nga Bay. Italian interior designer Paola Navone has blended local Thai motifs with airy, contemporary luxury to create a property full of contrasts and quirky detail. Water, whether in sea vistas, reflection pools, the 100m infinity pool, or in one of the private pool suites, is ever-present. Eating options include vibrant southern Thai street food at Nahmyaa or Italian at La Sirena, along with COMO Shambhala-style “spa cuisine”, such as grilled salmon with quinoa salad. Activities include yoga and diving, and the beautifully appointed spa offers very relaxing massage. Point Yamu - main pool overlooking Phang Nga Bay Point Yamu plans to open a beach club on a private island later this year. Boathouse by Montara Located on an enviable sweep of Kata Beach, for 25 years the compact but exquisitely formed Boathouse has delighted guests with its proximity to sand, sea and sunsets. View of Kata Beach from Boathouse Refurbished in 2012, it combines almost everything required for a tropical holiday in one sand-sprayed package. Decor is contemporary Thai, and some of its 38 rooms and suites feature private balconies overlooking the waves. The resort’s restaurant, the Boathouse Wine & Grill, has a terrace from which diners can step onto the beach. Its extensive menu features French and Thai food, with curries, foie gras and lobster being popular choices, along with desserts featuring Valrhona chocolate. Its award-winning cellar is one of the finest in the country with more than 800 labels, enticing discerning palates with wine-pairing dinners and multi-course tasting menus. The resort’s RE KÁ TA Beach Club is just steps away, with alternative light healthy beach fare. Additionally RE KÁ TA has a bar, spa, surf shop, pool, loungers, seaside Champagne selection and DJs. Twinpalms Phuket Sleekly adult, this tranquil resort feels indulgently secluded and offers guests a library, pillow menu and fantastic baristas at breakfast. Elegantly contemporary, Twinpalms is dominated by a huge lagoon pool that ripples through its centre under frangipani trees. Twinpalms and lagoon pool (Duplexes have their own pools, commissioned art and a wine cellar.) In recent years beach clubs have boomed on Phuket and Twimpalms has two on Surin Beach: Catch, the first beach club on the island, and its more relaxed sibling Bimi. Catch is regarded as one of Phuket’s most fashionable venues, entertaining guests such as Kate Moss and Shah Rukh Khan. With its motto of “affordable luxury”, it has enough rosé to satisfy the thirstiest visitor requiring a fix of St Tropez. Relaxed during the day, at night Catch hosts seafood buffets, fire dancers and DJs for a full evening of tropical entertainment.

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  1. This place looks beautiful no matter which resort you stay at. It would be hard to choose just one place. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Thanks for your comment Drew. Phuket is lovely but it has rundown areas and traffic jams too. I first went there 20 years ago (which makes me feel 100 years old). The island has changed enormously since then. Good news is lots of choice depending on what kind of experience you want. And where you stay will play a part in that.

  3. A very interesting post, thank you! My husband and I recently moved to Bangkok from the US and hope to take a trip to Phuket soon. Your photos are beautiful, I can’t wait to visit!

  4. Thanks so much Kimberly. If you are living in Bangkok then Phuket is one of the places you should visit, and the quality of the hotel will definitely contribute to your enjoyment. The Western side is the most developed as you get wonderful sunsets. Kata beach is quite busy, the further north you go (closer to the airport) the more tranquil it gets. And you have Nikki Beach up there if you feel like some party atmosphere. Angsana Laguna Phuket on Bang Tao beach is another good choice for comfort combined with a family friendly atmosphere with lots of activities for children, along with Xana Beach Club. (One of their hamburgers just won an award too.) Enjoy your stay in Thailand

  5. Carolyn – thank you so much for the tips in your reply to my comment. I’m looking for tranquil, so I will check out the areas that are further north. Very helpful!!

  6. My pleasure Kimberly. Trisara is gorgeously tranquil if you want to spoil yourself. The villas are all separate and even the aircon is installed so that’s it’s really quiet as well. I loved the quiet there. Point Yamu on the other side is quite tranquil and about 30 mins from the airport from memory. It has really interesting interior design and terrific food but not a beach you can just wander on to. However a room with a private pool and a sea view can make me forget about sand.

  7. Hi Carolyn

    I’ve read your article with great interest as I’m in the process of booking Phuket for Nov this year. I’m completely overwhelmed by the choice of hotels but have been sticking to the required criteria of boutique, spa and uncrowded beach. The price of some of the hotels has been quite a surprise – much higher than expected but in the mid range I’ve been considering Twinpalms and Indigo Pearl. With regard to the former, my biggest concern is the beach. Whilst I’m open to a bit of buzzing nightlife, during the day, many of the reviews and articles I’ve read, imply the beach can often be crowded and 4/5 rows of sun beds deep, which is not ideal. I’d be interested in your thoughts and perspective on this and Indigo Pearl. Many thanks. Dawn

  8. Hi Dawn, I have not been to Indigo Pearl so cannot comment on that. Twin Palms is set just behind the beach (2mins away). The beach is public, so anyone can use it. I think it does get busy in peak season, but most of the beaches are public on Phuket. Trisara has a private beach, but it is more expensive. I am not sure that sunbeds are allowed on the beach anymore. Surin beach is long but not that wide. If you want a tranquil beach with no one on it, then you may not get that. Bang Tao beach (next one north) is more spacious and possibly quieter.

  9. If someone is looking for a luxury retreat, then Phuket is the best bet to experience superb tropical island getaway. A lot of astonishing villa rentals will definitely exceed one’s imagination of true luxury and service deluxe.

  10. I’ve never been to Thailand but I think I could have a window of about 10 days towards the end of March next year. I’m looking around a lot to see where I should base myself, well and the husband too. Reading this has been really helpful and pushed Phuket ahead in my thinking. There’s obviously plenty of choice of first class accommodation and restaurants.

    1. Thailand has a great range of hotels and offers everything from tranquil luxe retreats to the hippyish budget hedonism of Khao San Rd in Bangkok. Phuket has lovely places, especially in the northwest, where it tends to be less crowded. It depends what you want of course. I’m glad you found this helpful. Another area to look at is Hua Hin, also Koh Samui and Chiang Mai. I would avoid Pattaya, which is probably the least attractive beach resort area I’ve ever seen (and a bit sleazy). Towards the end of March is heading into the hot season, so a beach holiday might be a good choice then.

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