This was supposed to be a travel story about Phuket’s Surin Beach, but the minute I checked into the exquisite Amanpuri I knew that I wasn’t going to leave until the last call from the limo to return to the airport. Having won just about every single award and accolade in the industry over its nearly thirty years, the Amanpuri is the grand dame of Thailand’s resorts and the first and flagship hotel in the Amanresorts brand.
A resort buggy transferred me from the resort’s limo to my pavillion where I was swiftly checked in. My sizable pavillion, one of forty dotted across the steep hill that once was a coconut plantation, was scrumptiously luxurious with a spacious bathroom area and his-and-hers vanities. It opened up to a lovely sala on a private deck where I spent many hours reading under the cooling fan and sipping wine after dark. The pavillions descend steeply towards the reception, the exquisite communal pools, restaurants, bars and down to the resort’s very own and very private beach. There are no tvs or iPod docks in the rooms; you can instead go to borrow CDs and books from their extensive library. There are no DJ curated tunes piping through the lobby, the cocktails do not contain foam or liquid nitrogen and the swimming pools are not red. The gimmick-free Amanpuri is classical in the best sense. Unobtrusive but predictive service assured every need was anticipated and met throughout my stay, from the request of a mini bar in the limousine to go to welcome my friend with a filthy martini at the airport, to the prompt arrival of buggies whenever I was too lazy to climb the resort’s many, and very steep, steps – which was pretty much every time I moved between beach, bar, spa, pavillion and restaurant.
The private beach must be the resort’s highlight, with powder white sand, charmingly Instagram-friendly rocks and water so clear I could look down to admire my pretty new pedicure. Flanking the beach are breezy bars, casual dining huts and soothingly cool swimming pools, all attended by white-clad staff with beaming smiles. The spa, with panoramic views of the ocean, was one of the best spa experiences I have ever had, my simple oil massage elevating my body to higher plains of bliss. In spite of the clientele, which has included Prince William, Tiger Woods and Kate Moss, the ambiance is super casual and pretention-free, with most guests opting to remain in shorts and bikinis for most of their time at the resort. There are catamarans, snorkels, surfboards and all manner of water sports for hire, there’s even a tennis court if you are feeling energetic and all the necessities you come to expect of a five star resort. But at the end of the day, staying at the Amanpuri is about leaving the world behind and indulging yourself to the fullest in a resort designed to make you feel so very special. As much as I would like the join the legions of Amanjunkies, this is a luxury that will not come often. Prices are not shy, but as a once – oh alright then, twice perhaps – in a lifetime experience, I cannot recommend this exquisite resort more.