Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

Amanpuri

Thailand

The flagship Aman resort, Amanpuri sets an impeccable standard

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Amanpuri
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Amanpuri

Location

Phuket, Andaman Sea, Pansea Beach

Travel Information

Phuket airport - 25km (1.5 hour flight from Bangkok)

Top Tips

Head to the province of Krabi to discover pristine beaches, scenic fishing villages and first class diving and snorkelling

5-Star X-Factors

The extensive Aman Spa therapy list, to be enjoyed in the most tranquil surroundings

The amazing Amanpuri

As you arrive at Amanpuri, the astonishing Aman flagship, a fragrant heart-shaped frangipani bracelet is placed around your wrist. The striking midnight-blue tiled pool instantly stands out, glistening amongst statuesque coconut palms and back-dropped by the turquoise Andaman Sea.

It is very tranquil. Amanpuri does not feel like many overstated five-star resorts; it is refreshingly 'lobbyless' and comfortingly unpretentious. The peace and order is the combined result of over 450 staff (who provide faultless service) as well as the resort's distinctive Thai architectural style: pavilions with swooping multi-tiered rooflines and understated decor, designed to accommodate and respect nature. Sympathetically linked to its natural surroundings, Amanpuri's accommodation areas are interspersed throughout the coconut grove and connected to the resort's facilities by elevated walkways.

If unwinding usually takes you a day or two, then at Amanpuri it will take only seconds. A Sanskrit word meaning 'place of peace', Amanpuri lives up to its name with ease. Located on the west coast of Phuket, Thailand's largest island, the resort is nestled in a mature coconut plantation at the end of a perfect, private, soft cream beach.

The sun sets dramatically over the ocean and most evenings you can admire nature's dusk delight with an ornate cocktail and some delicate Thai nibbles, enjoyed from either your private terrace, the bar, or sun-kissed on a lounger at the beach.

Stone steps beyond the pool lead down to the beach with its umbrella-shaded loungers and a sea to dream to. Light refreshments are served all day on the beach and water sports can be arranged. During the high season you can enjoy a flame-grilled lobster with your toes in the cooling sand!

We went 'off season' on this trip which has many advantages: fewer 'farangs' (tourists), a very private beach, cocktails within seconds, extramural activities available on demand and plenty of time to indulge in the heavenly Aman Spa.

Deep sleep

The pavilion we stayed in was luxurious by any measure, one of 40, with a large bedroom, capacious dressing area, separate bath and shower and a wonderful outdoor 'sala' with sun deck. The interiors are wooden and authentic with enormous beds and sublime bedding. The room temperature was a relief from the humidity outside and induced peaceful, uninterrupted sleep, even through some dramatic night storms.

Breakfast is brought up by buggy and laid out exquisitely on the private dining terrace. What is so surprising about the pavilions is the fact that, although they are interspersed within the coconut plantation, you are not aware of anyone else's presence. It is a very private place, and most conducive to romancing...

The villa homes are remarkable. Most are sea facing and range from two to six bedrooms with flexible rental periods. They have pools, outdoor sunken dining pavilions and are fully staffed with a butler and chefs! It really is luxury all the way, but not at all ostentatious.

We met a fabulous couple who actually completed a prolonged proposal in one of these villa homes. Sitting by their private pool, with a meal prepared by the chefs and champagne flowing, he actually placed the ring on her finger. The honeymoon is going to be a tough act to follow.

Attention to detail

Amanpuri is not only a deeply desirable honeymoon destination, but is also perfect for romancing. Another memorably romantic event involved a great couple from Atlanta, Georgia, who were staying with their two daughters. The affable gentleman mentioned in passing, to Amanpuri's executive assistant manager, that it was his 35th wedding anniversary. When they returned to their room they were moved and amazed by what they saw.

The staff had 'honeymooned' their pavilion with lotus flowers and frangipani organised in a heart shape on their king-size bed, with chilled champagne placed alongside a personalised anniversary cake. Even the bath was laced with petals. They were well and truly 'Amanpuried' and will think twice before staying anywhere but an Aman resort on their next holiday.

Dining at the resort is excellent. You can choose from either of two airy poolside restaurants: The Terrace where a variety of Thai dishes, varying in spicy intensity, is served for lunch and dinner, and The Restaurant, offering fine Italian cuisine, which is only open for dinner. A new addition is Naoki, a Japanese-French fusion restaurant.

Alternatively, you can opt for a lighter snack in The Bar gazing out to sea. The cocktail list is impressive (Amanjunkie with fresh kiwi served in a pineapple was our favourite) and they really are made with passion.

Life of leisure

You don't really need to leave the blissful zone that is Amanpuri once you get there, but we wanted a little adventure too, so we crammed in several outings. Amancruises comprises a charter fleet of cruisers and sailing craft for sailing, deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, overnight stays and, as we selected, swimming and sightseeing.

We went on the slick Aman 1 with two other couples to explore the extraordinarily beautiful islands and inlets including Phang-Nga Bay, a setting in the James Bond movie, Man with a Golden Gun. We saw caves with impressive stalactites, stalagmites and bats hanging from the ceilings, and hidden verdant lagoons.

The vegetation is tropically overgrown and sea eagles glide and circle overhead. Egrets burst out of overhangs and lizards watch languidly from cool chalky ledges. The sea breeze disguises the rising air-temperature and the captain is always happy to drop anchor for some spontaneous swimming. For lunch, the cruiser moors at a picturesque spot and a meal of salads, meats and fish is laid out in the cool dining area of the cabin. Drinks and nuts are offered throughout the trip.

We also went elephant trekking, which was just good fun. The elephants are nearby and are kept in good conditions, seeming comfortable, well-fed and fairly free-spirited. We laughed uncontrollably while the riders teased us with some rather daring tricks. It is not so easy sitting on the back of a mammoth while it leans forward over a death drop of at least 30 metres.

There is a centre where gibbons, abused for decades to attract a transient tourist trade, and hunted to near extinction, are rehabilitated back into jungle life. An incredible waterfall, Bang Pea, thunders down a cliff edge of at least 50 metres, plunging onto rocks and boulders below with curtains of jungle foliage on either side. All this takes place in Khao Phra Thaew National Park, about 15 minutes from the resort.

We stopped off in Phuket town on the way back from here for some lunch in a locally patronised café. It was pleasantly uncluttered by tourists and, although basic, it was immaculately clean with delicious food and ridiculously inexpensive. It's an interesting town with vestiges of Sino-Portuguese ancestry; the architecture is characterised by ornate two-story Chinese shop-houses fronted by Romanesque arched porticoes from the 19th century.

Prime pampering

Listen to the advice of the concierge and eat at the restaurants recommended by the hotel, namely: Watermarks, Lotus, Silk, Ban Rim Pa and the rather groovy Twin Palms. As for the Aman Spa at Amanpuri, this is where I was converted.

The spa is magnificently set in a secluded coconut grove with water features and outside 'salas' made of sweet smelling varnished teak, for yoga, meditation and pilates. The vegetation and bird-life clings and sings in complementary style alongside the attractive features and therapy rooms. This is a hillside retreat which has achieved a spa status beyond most others. It uses its own exclusively prepared, pure natural products and is dedicated to nourishing both body and soul. It is well worth spending several hours here.

Amanpuri is tranquil, peaceful, romantic and one-of-a-kind in Phuket. It is, in our opinion, the most appealing and appropriate slice of paradise on any Thai island. A genuine breath of fresh air.

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant


Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer