Way back in 1988, Amanpuri opened in Phuket, the first and original hotel in the Aman portfolio that is now one of most talked about luxury travel brands around, with resorts all over the world. We were big fans of Amanpulo in the Philippines when we stayed a couple of years ago, so we were very excited to stay at Amanpuri recently and see where it all began. While tourism has exploded in Phuket since it first launched, Amanpuri sits apart from the madness on a mini peninsula on the west coast, unimpeded by any creeping development. It’s an absolutely stunning setting, nestled right up against the glimmering blue Andaman Sea with a jaw dropping near-private white sand beach stretching out beneath the hotel’s entrance level. It’s a view that doesn’t get old.
With such a beautiful setting, the hotel thankfully has a very light touch on the surrounding environment – look out across the jungle-clad peninsula and you’ll spot the tall pitched roofs of pavilions just peeking out through the trees. All the buildings here, including the rooms and main public areas are inspired by traditional Thai architecture, sleek wooden pavilions that blend seamlessly into the landscape, so there’s a real sense of seclusion, privacy and space from the minute you arrive.
There are just 40 guest rooms at Amanpuri, plus a further 44 huge multi-bedroom villas that come with a private chef amongst many other bells and whistles, but most guests will choose from one of the Pavilions. We stayed in a Garden Pavillion, and as the name suggests these are set a bit back from the ocean, surrounded by lush tropical gardens. Each comes with a swish outdoor terrace which includes sun loungers and an outdoor dining area set under a wooden sala. The interiors are dominated by dark natural woods, from the flooring and walls to the desk and king size bed’s headboard. A wooden sliding door reveals the bathroom and dressing rooms that includes a rainforest shower, double sinks, and a beautiful sunken bath beneath a slatted window. It’s supremely classy and peaceful and designed to be as effortless as possible; an iPad is set up to control lighting, air con, the TV, and even order room service.
As comfy and relaxing as the rooms are, you’ll really want to spend most of your time out and about – and for most guests, that means heading straight for the beach. It really is one of the most incredible beaches you are likely to come across, an absolute picture postcard of white sand, beautiful shallow clear water, and swaying coconut trees. Rows of comfy sunbeds await, as well as an army of staff who are on hand for your every need, from topping you up with ice cold water to moving sun umbrellas to keep you in the shade. Like everywhere else in the resort, the service is absolutely on point, designed for you to really not have to lift a finger. As such it’s very easy to come down to the beach in the morning and still be in the same spot as the sun is dramatically setting into the sea come 6:30. And that’s no bad thing in our book. For those that do like a spot of adventure there’s all manner of water-based gizmos to hire from jet skis to electric surfboards.
Away from the beach, there are two swimming pools, a gym, world-class spa, tennis courts, gallery, shop, a bar, and four restaurants to keep you entertained too, not to mention all manner of excursions and activities off-site. In our experience, the pools were pretty quiet and a great place to cool off and do some laps in the middle of the day when the sun was beating down. We did actually make it to the gym once too – it has incredible views so even if you’re struggling on the treadmill, you’ll have some stunning scenery to keep you going.
With some swimming and gym minutes behind us, we sat down to dinner at Amanpuri’s Buabok restaurant on our final night; Buabok is the signature restaurant here, serving traditional southern Thai dishes, but there’s also Italian and Japanese restaurants if you fancy something different. We’d highly recommend Buabok, however, as the food was absolutely superb – we’d been travelling and eating nothing but Thai food around the country for three weeks by this point, so we took the opportunity to revisit some of our favourite dishes. Do not miss, for example, the Kor Moo Yang, thin slices of marinated and grilled pork neck with a spicy tamarind sauce, or the grilled beef salad with cucumber, tomato, onion and a zingy chilli lime dressing. Then there’s the stir fried melinjo leaves (a bit like spinach) with egg and crispy garlic, and Nahm Prik Goong Siab, a fermented shrimp chilli dip with crunchy local vegetables. Best of all though, is the crab yellow curry with betel leaves and rice noodles, one of our favourite discoveries of our trip and executed perfectly at Buabok.
Buabok is also where breakfast is served in the morning (although you can also order it to your room). It’s an a la carte offering rather than buffet style so everything is nice and relaxed as you sip your morning coffee by the pool and look out to the ocean. There’s plenty of healthy options, such as granola, fruit, and fresh juices, as well as eggs, pastries with delicious homemade jams, and even Thai breakfast dishes such as the crab omelette and pan fried eggs with minced pork and sweet sausage.
Amanpuri is one of those places that’s very hard to tear yourself away from once you’re there. It’s a truly special spot that’s still yet to be surpassed by any of Phuket’s newcomers. The island around it might have changed over the decades since it first opened but Amanpuri is a peaceful world unto itself – and long may it continue.
Thalang District, Phuket 83110, Thailand