“Romantic hotel on a small tropical island south of Phuket: perfect for weddings, honeymoons and upscale R&R”
The contemporary villa-rooms are divided into various categories. Most are Deluxe Villas (laid out in pairs) and slightly larger Grand Deluxe Villas (many with fine sea views) which are smart, minimalist-style cottages, each with a spacious bedroom and bathroom. Airy white bedrooms have pedestal-lit beds, white leather window-seats and a corner desk area. They lead out onto a breakfast terrace with a shaded daybed (their use is limited, though, as they're open to the gaze of passers-by). Six of the Grand Deluxe villas have a private plunge pool in their courtyard (Grand Deluxe Pool).
Junior Pool Suites, our favourite design, follow the crisp, cubist style of the villas, but are rather more plush with an indoor plunge pool (with underwater music!), Jacuzzi bath and a private outdoor seating area. The Spa Pool Suites are similar but have the added decadence of an indoor/outdoor Jacuzzi pool with fibre optic lighting, and an outdoor rain shower.
Grand Pool Suites are larger still and have an entrance hall, a large sitting room, an outdoor infinity pool overlooking the sea, sala, and posh tea and coffee machines. Gadget geeks will love the emphasis on modernity in the 2-Bedroom Grand Pool Suite: LED TVs, multimedia theatre systems, electric blinds and high-end lighting controllers will make even technophobes feel like they’re staying at Bond’s beach house.
For families, there's a gorgeous 2-bedroom Lighthouse, which sleeps up to 7 with 2 double bedrooms, space for additional beds, a sitting room, sundecks, an observation lounge, a 2nd-floor living room and a private pool in its own walled grounds. Book early as it's one of a kind.
Big white bathrooms have indoor and outdoor rain showers as well as a soaking tub, hairdryers and bathrobes. Toiletries feel like trophies: lemongrass scented handmade soaps are wrapped in gauze and dried flowers - it's hard to resist bringing one home.
All rooms have kingsized double or twin beds, aroma incense burners, tea and coffee-making facilities, DVD players, safes, satellite TV, telephones, aircon, free broadband connections, iPod docks (you can borrow a pre-loaded iPod from the lobby) and minibars.
Breakfast (included), served on the terrace of the main restaurant (Earth Café), is made even lovelier by the singing of the ugliest (but sweetest-voiced) birds, called nok iang. It’s a buffet that pays homage to the many different nationalities of guest staying here - bowls of congee and spicy noodles sit happily next to the Bircher muesli (made with fresh coconut and papaya); tiny blueberry muffins and finger-sized croissants cosy up to fruits you need a guide book to identify. You’ll also find all the usual suspects - eggs cooked to order, pancakes, French toast and cold cuts.
The Earth Café also serves a Thai and Western menu for both lunch and dinner, and there’s a delicious weekly seafood barbecue. Meat eaters are well catered for at The Fire Grill, the Sunset Beach Restaurant - a more casual environment - offers Thai food or fresh fish and steaks you choose from the chiller, and super chilled Club del Mar serves Mediterranean cuisine and cocktails all day. Day trippers from Phuket (of which there are quite a few in high season) can only dine at Sunset Beach Restaurant. Our favourite dish was the shrimp and papaya salad with the somewhat eccentric crispy pumpkin ravioli, which was so spicy we went around with a trout-pout for hours afterwards.
The Ice Bar and Lobby Bar both serve up excellent cocktails - try their lemongrass martinis at sunset. The Ice Bar has live music every night, too.
The hotel runs events if you feel like socialising (cocktail parties, beach barbecues and buffets), and there’s a full room service menu, including an in-room barbecue, if you don’t.
There are a few beach bars to lunch at - Gerardo's Beach Club on the other side of the island comes recommended as does Gerardo's Gelato - but the hotel’s own restaurants are the only places to dine at night.
Although this is primarily a couples' retreat, children will enjoy the sea and sand and older kids can be happily entertained by the various creative classes and excursions run by the hotel. Children under 4 years old stay for free in a cot (must be requested) or daybed in parents' room. Children between 4-12 years of age are entitled to 50% discount on all accommodation, meal and boat transfer rates.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
The Lighthouse and the 2-Bedroom Grand Pool Suite both have their own pool and sleep up to 6, so are good options for large families. For a cheaper option, book 2 of the connecting Deluxe Villas (request on enquiry). All rooms can fit 1 extra bed and/or 1 baby cot.
Babysitting available by arrangement.
Cots, highchairs and babysitting can be arranged, but it's not a place for baby buggies as there are too many steps to negotiate between the larger villas, the beach and the restaurants.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking