Is it a palace? Is it a temple? Is it an art gallery? No, it’s Phuket’s Amanpuri Resort. Voted in the 2008 Gallivanter Awards to be the best resort in southeast Asia, Amanpuri is popular with royalty, both of the national and golfing variety – Tiger Woods stayed here recently.
When reviewing hotels, there is always something that is found to be in need of improvement. Perfection doesn’t exist. In the case of Phuket’s Amanpuri, however, it is impossible to find fault - the only thing that the writer can find wrong with this exquisitely wrought retreat of the über-rich is that he can’t afford to stay there.
All of the Amanpuri’s communal buildings are open-sided pavilions fashioned in the traditional Thai architectural style that features multi-tiered and peaked roofs, and lots of highly polished wood.
The lobby pavilion appears to float in a koi carp lily pond and is backed by the huge pool, which in turn is backed by a screen of mature palms, through which beckons the brilliant blue of the Andaman Sea.
Don’t rush a visit to the Amanpuri, as every corner of this opulent resort will make you want to linger. Even the library is difficult to leave - a huge divan furnished with comfortable cushions proves a perfect place to linger over one’s book choice. Whilst the spa provides world-class treatments and the Japanese/French fusion restaurant serves up the most delectable food imaginable, it is the delicately designed and perfectly fashioned surroundings in which one is pampered and fed which are the truly special thing about this resort, and the fundamental essence of Amanpuri.
Sits on 77 acres of peninsula land, has 6 tennis courts and 3 restaurants. Its workout room sits on a hilltop - the glass walls offer a near 360° ocean view. The spa center is humongous, and gorgeous, like everything else here.
Although bungalow 105 has the best sunset view, all of the resort’s bungalows and villas are well located to enjoy the sight of the sun sinking into the Andaman Sea.
When arriving at Amanpuri, be prepared to discard assumptions on the nature of luxury. Different and costly-looking species of wood are juxtaposed in the bungalows’ wall paneling. In the bathrooms, dozens of small mirrors are framed in polished hardwoods, creating as light and bright a room as can be imagined. Back-lit opaque glass panels are used to soften the lighting.
These cozy yet majestic pavilions, perched at different heights on the hillside and overlooking Pansea beach, are surrounded by mature palm trees soaring skywards.
The 31 villas, each of which has up to 6 bedrooms, set a standard of opulent taste and style which few establishments in Asia can rival, let alone match. Paradise is an over-used cliché, but no other word can suffice to describe the feeling of sitting on one of the lofty verandahs, surrounded by palms, the sea and lovely architecture all around.
Each villa consists of multiple pavilions, each fulfilling a different function – each villa has a living pavilion, a dining pavilion and multiple individual sleeping pavilions, all constructed to Thai traditional designs and to the highest standards.
The living room pavilions are transparent to 360 degrees, with walls consisting almost solely of glazed panels and folding glazed doors. The centre piece of each living pavilion is an octagonal divan big enough to accommodate three generations of the average family. The master sleeping pavilions of these villas are equipped to a stratospherically high standard. All have his and hers bathrooms, WCs and dressing rooms, and a room housing a large home media centre. Behind the master bed the wall is covered in bands of gold and silver fabrics, emphasizing the costly nature of such luxury.
The 100% private villas each have 4 permanent housekeeping staff, which live in their own concierge quarters. Villas range from 2 to 6 bedrooms. They make great locations for wedding parties, nay wedding feasts !