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Kamala Views: Andara Resort & Villas Phuket

Published 28 March 2012   

Phuket is bouncing back strongly from some lean years, with properties like Andara, the luxurious creation of Hong Kong-based millionaire Allan Zeeman, offering citadels of seclusion above the island’s white-sand beaches.

Text by Nick Walton

The open-air lobby is awash in polished slate and gleaming timbers that speak volumes about the luxuries that await. Buddhist figures oversee new check-ins, who lounge on settees under massive arrangements of dragon lilies, while others venture up the broad central staircase towards the wine boutique and the resort’s day spa. At the end of a discretely lit hallway, a towering Buddhist statue beams down at guests, creating the effect of a timber-clad temple of relaxation and respite. Welcome to Andara.

Andara’s 37 lavish Residence Suites and 26 Luxury Pool Villas blend into the steep hillside, each boasting premium views across Kamala Beach, a white-sand oasis nestled in a valley under siege by thick lush vegetation. The Residence Suites come in one- to four-bedroom configurations, while the Luxury Pool Villas offer three to six bedrooms and feature the attentive service of private villa attendants and superbly trained Thai chefs. Our two-bedroom Penthouse Suite was located at the very front of the expansive property and offered the closest proximity to the beach, where the sand is furnished with oversized white sun loungers under white linen canopies, and white-uniformed staff offer ice-cold towels, drinks and snacks to sun-worshipping guests.

Size is the first thing you notice in the Penthouse Suites. Resembling a lavish home, the main space is divided into a large kitchen with breakfast bench, a dining area with circular timber dining table catering to 10, and a broad living area with DVD player, Bose sound system and 42-inch LCD television. The living space, in turn, opens onto a deep-set balcony with its own spacious lounge set, perfect for escaping the midday sun. A modern kitchen features state-of-the-art equipment, including a double-door refrigerator, and begs to be used by amateurs and professionals alike. Our only regret is that we were not travelling with a group of friends – this place was crying out for a dinner party.

Residences and villas afford guests spacious living areas that are impeccably furnished.

Andara’s signature restaurant and bar, Silk, features polished wooden floors and columns, and soaring ceilings, and although the air-conditioned interiors feature floor-to-ceiling glass windows, most guests choose to dine on the open-air terrace, serenaded by crickets calling to the sunset. The restaurant also features an extensive collection of Thai artefacts and touches, including locally produced silks in vivid hues and oversized bronze lantern chandeliers.

Our only regret is that we were not travelling with a group of friends – this place was crying out for a dinner party.

The lunch and dinner menus have been created by Chef Ooy, who has been with Silk for 18 years, and offer both Thai and Western dishes. Healthy options are always available and meals can follow fine-dining traditions or be simple alfresco affairs of pizza and local beer – whatever Andara’s guests require. We personally found the Thai dishes to be a little over-flavoured, with the phad thai rather salty and the use of curry powder in the pineapple rice detracting from its natural sweetness, but found the Western dishes, including long lingering breakfasts, cooked to perfection and served by attentive, ever-smiling staff.

If you fancy taking some of Chef Ooy’s skills home with you, Silk offers Thai cooking classes on request, and, if you’re looking for something special to accompany your meal, including Old and New World wines and boutique champagnes, the resort’s in-house wine boutique, Andara Fine Wines – located in the lobby – offers tasting sessions and a wide range of labels.

Beside Silk is the resort’s large infinity pool, a popular gathering ground for couples looking to enjoy the sun and a cocktail to boot. Lined by towering palms, this quickly became our second home (the rooftop pool is perfect for those sunset swims) and the pool attendants made sure we wanted for nothing, including bottles of chilled water and fresh towels.

The huge Andara Spa, nestled behind the main building, features Thai-inspired design, including wooden floors and soft Jim Thompson silk panelling, and a spa menu of treatments and rituals designed to calm and revitalise. Each of the eight spacious treatment rooms features private showers, while two are deluxe double suites and come complete with their own black granite jacuzzi. A private steam room is also at hand.

If you should want to leave your villa or suite and head out onto the surrounding seas, Andara owns and operates two magnificent Baglietto, Italian-designed motor yachts named Andara and Celebrity. The vessels measure 85- and 107-feet respectively and are both available for private half- or full-day charters. Vessels can overnight 8 to 12 guests depending on which craft you choose, or you can spend a day cruising Phuket’s neighbouring islands with a complement of 16 to 25 guests. Each yacht offers air-conditioning, sun decks, a dining lounge, plenty of audio-visuals, snorkelling gear, a tender boat and a full crew. Can you really think of a more idyllic way to spend a weekend in Phuket?

Andara Resort & Villas
Kamala Beach, Phuket
Tel: +66 76 338 777
www.andaraphuket.com