x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Phuket's latest resort is a private, luxurious escape that is to Thai for.

The Sala Pool Villa at Anantara Phuket Villas. Courtesy Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas
The Sala Pool Villa at Anantara Phuket Villas. Courtesy Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas

The welcome

My arrival is signalled by three chimes of the house gong. I’m sipping roselle juice within moments and warmly escorted through lush pathways by golf cart to my villa. We pass over a wooden bridge lit with burning torches. And it feels magical.

The neighbourhood

The resort sits on Mai Khao, Phuket’s longest beach – a national reserve kept free of vendors, beach chairs and motorised watercraft – and only 15 minutes from the airport. Other than a couple of neighbouring holiday properties and a small shopping village, the resort is quite isolated.

The room

The Sala Pool Villa is spacious (180 square metres) and decorated warmly with cream walls, dark woods and wicker accents. But the best bits are outside under a canopy of frangipani trees and behind the tall, wooden fence that affords complete privacy: the turquoise-tiled pool that lights up at night; the rain showers (one inside, one outside); the plunge bathtub situated inside the pool and entered via a sliding door in the bathroom; and the outdoor living room. Through a private door in the fence, a short, wooden staircase extends to a tented pavilion overlooking a lily-covered lagoon – the cushions make it the perfect place for an afternoon siesta.

The scene

As with most Anantara properties, the resort has taken great care to incorporate the natural surroundings. The clientele is mostly made up of couples, some with young children. But you don’t see a lot of the guests, owing to the comfort of the villas – it seems that I’m not alone in making the most of it. But there are activities that draw guests out: sunrise yoga, a table tennis tournament and a sunset bike ride complement the experience.

The service

The service seems effortless. The staff are aware of your needs, sometimes before you are. They are friendly, funny and switched on.

The food

The fish restaurant, Sea. Fire. Salt., boasts a salt sommelier, with 16 salt pairings on offer. The La Sala restaurant serves both a Thai and Italian menu. The classic Pad Thai with prawns (520 Thai baht [Dh61]) is a flavourful dish. For lighter fair, The Tree House (a lounge raised in the air and accessed by a spiral staircase wrapped around an old Banyan tree) serves Thai fusion tapas in the comfort of oversized, comfy white chairs. The spicy crab cakes with chilli and lime dressing (150 Thai baht [Dh18]) are especially noteworthy.

Loved

The Signature Massage at the Anantara Spa was exceptional.

Hated

With all the greenery comes insects, but the hotel takes care to provide repellent in the room. And a server even plied me with a few extra squirts of spray when I sat outside for dinner. But bugs will be bugs.

The verdict

For a quiet, luxurious escape, Anantara Phuket Villas doesn’t disappoint.

The bottom line

The Sala Pool Villa, including breakfast, excluding taxes, is 12,375 Thai baht (Dh1,449) per night. Phuket, Thailand, phuket.anantara.com; 0066 76 336 100.

lkoot@thenational.ae