About 30 years ago, a retreat was built on Phuket’s west coast, looking out over the Andaman Sea: Amanpuri, the ‘place of peace’. The Aman family’s first root was laid down. Now it spans the world across 33 resorts, hotels and private residences in 21 countries, transforming the way we travel and see the world, and how we feel about life.
Phuket is famous for being one of the hottest spots in Thailand. You need only look at the new airport terminal that caters for the numerous flights arriving from over 40 worldwide destinations. It’s fair to say that Phuket entertains every sort of traveller. You might worry that you won’t be able to find that slice of tranquility you’ve flown half way round the world to find. We also had those fears, but then we needn’t have, because we were staying at the Amanpuri.
Your own backbeach
Apart from it’s annual, celebrity-studded New Year’s Eve party where rockstars and models rub elbows with residents and guests and rock to the rhythms of elite DJs until dawn, the beach front at the Amanpuri is a paragon of heaven. Pansea Beach stretches about a kilometre and is conveniently blocked off at each end by rocky peninsulas. In between is a white sandy beach, largely quiet and empty save for a few joggers in the morning or children paddling in the shallows. In the evenings, boatmen and the guests of the resort come together for a competitive game of frisbee. There is no sense of overcrowding and there’s a complete and total sense of privacy on these two secluded and protected beaches.
Here is a how a day at the Amanpuri could be spent:
Wake up in your villa, get ready in your incredibly spacious bathroom, beautifully carved out of wood akin to the architecture of Ayutthaya, and then make your way down the steps through the trees towards breakfast. Enjoy a range a Thai or Western dishes and a read of your favourite newspaper. After this thoroughly peaceful way to start the day, turn left and head down the stone steps to the beach itself. Sunbeds to the left and right, ice water, fresh white towels. Sink yourself into one of the chairs and finish the newspaper, slip into your swimwear and soak up some sun.
But it doesn’t have to be so calm and tranquil. You could also take out one of the Aman’s many watersports gear, such as the Seabob. Now this “underwater scooter” is seriously cool. It’s James Bond all over again. Remember Thunderball, when they were all fighting underwater? Put on your mask and fire up the ‘Bob’—this thing can really move and take you up and down, spinning through the water. I tried the 360-degree spin underwater but failed somewhat, although I did end up with a thorough cleansing of my sinuses.
Back on the beach, there is just enough time to nap before lunch.
The best thing about the Amapuri food, other than it being supremely delicious and varied, are the number of different places you can have it at the resort. There is the Thai Restaurant, the Italian restaurant Arva, the Latin American Lounge, the Nama—showcasing Japanese washoku—and The Beach Terrace and Beach Club. In two days we managed to try about four of them. For lunch we enjoyed most the Beach Terrace, a stone’s throw from the beach, nestled behind a shady rocky outcrop.
Of course, if the thought of spending the afternoon on a pristine beach, swimming with tropical fish and drinking fresh coconuts is not your idea of a holiday, then you can always play a round of golf at one of the five golf courses. Didn’t bring your clubs? Not to worry. Amanpuri can provide.
One of our favourite moments of the day was the daily afternoon tea by the main pool. This could be the Englishman in me, but I particularly enjoyed sitting by the water, drinking a cup of lemon grass tea, eating a slice of pomelo and freshly baked banana cake, chatting with the other guests about their adventures.
Some had been doing as I had, others had been learning Muay Thai, the ancient form of Thai kickboxing in the Amanpuri’s gym, at the highest point on the peninsular with sweeping views, and then others had been sailing around the Andaman sea on one of the resort’s 20 sea cruisers and sailing boats. I reflected on my day on the beach, but then it’s not a competition, is it? I quietly slipped off to reception to book a spa session.
The best time of the day of all and without a doubt has to be the sunset. The beach and the bar are all west facing producing a stunning spectacle in the sky and a perfect way to mark the end of the day. Sipping on one of their signature cocktails, similar to a Pisco Sour, an enormous wave of satisfaction flowed over us. It was a remarkably wholesome and rich experience, deeply embedded in Thai values and underpinned by strong hospitality.
Dinner was memorable. We enjoyed exquisite Thai food along with the company of our host, Amanpuri General Manager Paul Linder. Paul has years of worldwide hospitality experience and he’s brimming with energy and passion for his work; for resort guests, whose lives are enriched by this passion; and for his employees, who number around 750.
As travellers we are constantly looking for new challenges and experiences, pushing boundaries and seeing what we like and, more often than not, what we dislike. With Amanpuri, I think it’s safe to say there is a benchmark that, once enjoyed, cannot be easily forgotten. If you have one chance in your life to stay there, take it. And if you have many, don’t think twice.
Exclusive resort and spa packages and promotions for Aman properties around the world can be found on the Aman website.
Amanpuri Resort, Phuket Island
Pansea Beach, Cherngtalay, Thalang District,
Tel: +66 76 324 333
Reservations: +66 76 324 334
Written by: Max Johnson