When you visit a place this stunning it is hard to reduce the number of photos.
If you close your eyes and picture Thailand I wonder what you imagine. The first things I imagine are Orchids and Bougainvillea, lush tropical surroundings and that wonderful warm greeting. As we stepped off the transfer vehicle we were handed a stunning bracelet made of jasmine, a cold towel with lemongrass essence and a refreshing fruit drink. We had arrived at the beautiful Anantara Mai Khao resort on Phuket.
It is an authentic luxurious Thai style resort with waterways, floating lilies and lots of rich dark wood. The villas all have their own pools and private garden area with day beds and dining space. This is privacy at its best. The villas themselves come with everything you could need including the Nespresso machine, which I always hugely appreciate in a resort.
I can tell you the restaurants are exceptional, run by Darren with such flair and passion it is infectious and we all took part in an amazing cooking course. I can tell you the facilities are brilliant with gym, kids club and great bike hire to explore the area etc. I can tell you they have a first rate spa but what I cannot convey is the warmth of the staff. I wouldn’t do it justice. Everyone greets you with hands together and a warm smile and there is something about this polite gesture so lacking in our fast paced, impolite world that just makes you stop and appreciate where you are even more.
I love this resort. It is not the absolute peak of luxury but it is calming and gentle and has warmth lacking in other properties.
We then moved onto Anantara Layan Resort again on Phuket. This is a more modern resort set in the National Park area so incredible vegetation and the best orchids I have ever seen in a hotel’s gardens. They too have lovely villas with private pools and great restaurants and spa.
If you continue up the hillside behind the resort you get to the Residences and this was to be our home for the next two nights. You can call it a home, as the three-bed residence was certainly bigger than my actual home! They also come in larger villas all the way up to the owner’s 8-bed villa.
The quality, style and feel of the villas is out of this world. You know when someone has paid attention to the client’s actual experience rather than just putting in the flashiest controls. The light switch pad has “relaxing” as an option and means with one button you achieve the lighting that would have taken 20 minutes and fourteen switches in some places.
The villas each come with a butler and your own chef so all that is left for you to do is relax and fit in some time at the spa of course. When I look at top-level villas for clients my concern is always about service levels. It doesn’t matter how stunning a bedroom is or view from a pool, if you can’t get a diet coke when you want one. With your own butler to take you to the spa, refresh your drinks and generally look after you when you want them they have this covered. I also suggested a client form to ask what level of service you’d like from the butler from “leave me alone” to “check in regularly”.
A final nod to the joy of Etihad’s Business Class on the A380. We flew London -Abu Dhabi – Phuket and this worked incredibly well. They also have the First Class cabins that you can close off completely with showers and the one and only Residence with its’ own shower room. I was incredibly impressed with the service on each flight.