Amanpuri in Phuket is where luxury meets the ultimate private getaway

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It’s no exaggeration to say that few resorts in the world can match Amanpuri’s location in Phuket, Thailand. Located on its own peninsula, the former coconut plantation boasts a private beach and stunning views of the property for both sunrise and sunset.

A flagship resort of Swiss luxury hotel group Aman Resorts, Amanpuri, which first welcomed guests in 1988, became the model for the brand, which today operates more than 20 properties around the world.

Spread over 26.8 hectares, the vast complex is a world apart, with everything you need within its well-guarded walls, with winding roads, lush vegetation and perfectly spaced accommodation. It’s ideal for those looking for the ultimate private luxury getaway and it’s no surprise it’s a celebrity favourite: Beyonce and Jay-Z are regulars with their children, as are Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Moss, Bill Gates and, when they were together, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Home

After a short 30-minute drive from Phuket International Airport, where we were picked up by a uniformed driver in a BMW, we were heading up the steep, winding private road that leads to the hillside entrance to Phuket. ‘Amanpuri.

One of the most famous works of the late American architect and interior designer Ed Tuttle, who was inspired by the palaces of Thailand’s historic Ayutthaya, Amanpuri’s design served as a model for luxury resorts around the world, and it’s easy to see why.

Striking but blending into the landscape, the exaggerated height of the resort’s many rooftops stands out from the hundreds of palm trees that dot the property.

We pass the main reception and are taken directly to our accommodation, a four bedroom Ocean Villa, where we are greeted by our smiling private staff, Suau and Joy, who will be our caretakers for the next three days.

Greeted with a refreshing drink and cold towels in the living room, which feels like an entire villa in itself, our paperwork was taken care of, including bookings for our Covid-19 tests before we returned to the UAE. Fifteen minutes and some chatter later, we are guided to our rooms.

Bedroom

A five bedroom villa in Amanpuri.  Photo: Aman Resorts

“Four bedroom villa” is a vague description, as our huge open-plan living space is more like a resort with multiple villas. All rooms are self-contained, each at a different elevation, taking advantage of the resort’s cascading terrain, and dotted around a central private pool. The living room and dining room — with traditional sunken seating — are also self-contained, while there’s a gazebo next to the pool, right on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Andaman Sea.

The rooms are enormous, with huge sliding glass doors all around to take in the beautiful surroundings. Mine was closest to the cliff which meant that if I left the door open facing the sea I could hear the water below and watch the sunset from my bed. Or enjoy it on one of the many sun loungers set up outside especially for this purpose.

Although managed by Amanpuri, some villas in the resort are owned by third parties, meaning that inside each villa will have its owner’s unique touch.

Villa sizes range from one-bedroom options all the way up to nine bedrooms. There are also pavilions, which are smaller raised houses, all connected by floating walkways. In total, Amanpuri has 40 pavilions and 40 villas.

Security measures

Amanpuri is so big that social distancing happens by default. The only place you actually see other customers is in the restaurants and bars, which all have well-spaced tables. Branded sanitizers are left throughout the property, including each bedroom, ensuring you never run out, while staff are masked at all times.

The service

Swimming pool in Amanpuri, Thailand.  Courtesy of Aman

Thailand is known for its service. At Amanpuri, you can multiply that by a hundred. Due to the size of the resort, visits to the gym, spa, or any of the restaurants require some walking. But if you’re not up to it, you can always hire one of the property’s many buggies. By the time you walk towards the entrance of the villa, there is usually already one waiting.

Our villa staff, Suau and Joy, were on hand with a solution to everything. Our special request for a visit to the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary was accommodated within minutes, including transportation to and from the resort.

Each villa comes with its own Thai chef, who prepares all the dishes you want from a set menu. My requests for mango sticky rice at odd hours of the day were met within minutes.

The scene

A private swimming pool at one of the villas.  Photo: Aman Resorts

If staying at Amanpuri wasn’t soothing enough, its holistic wellness center offers an even deeper immersion. While the spa offers all kinds of treatments, guests can also come for long-term wellness retreats and for intensive treatments, including one using traditional Chinese medicine.

The state-of-the-art, glass-walled gym offers yoga, pilates, and Thai kickboxing classes, which we tried. If the stunning sea views won’t allow you to recharge your batteries and get ready to go, nothing will.

For those who enjoy water sports, there is everything from wakeboarding to waterskiing and paddleboarding. The thrill of high-speed water is offered by the master star and a Flyboard, while divers can opt for trips to some of Phuket’s best scuba diving spots, with boats departing daily from the resort. Clients can also hire their own yachts for a private charter.

A guest trying Flyboard in Amanpuri.  Photo: Aman Resorts

Those with kids will find the Eco-Beach Discovery Center heavenly, with daily activities for kids ages 5-12. There are cooking and dance classes, as well as batik workshops. For those with older kids, there’s a digital room where teens can rent a GoPro, go on an adventure – whether it’s watersports or halfpipe skateboarding – and come back to edit their footage. .

The food

Amanpuri's restaurants serve a variety of cuisines.  Photo: Aman Resorts

Since its reopening in November, all of Amanpuri’s restaurants except the award-winning Nama, which serves Japanese cuisine, are operational. There’s Buabok, its main restaurant, located next to a swimming pool and serving Southern Thai cuisine. Arva specializes in Italian, while The Sunset Terrace is the perfect setting for social gatherings. The Beach Terrace is the most scenic of them all, set amongst huge boulders on Pansea Beach, and serves a mix of cuisines.

The resort also organizes private barbecue dinners on the beach for special occasions. We attended a marriage proposal the night we dined at the Beach Terrace, with candles and flowers strewn across the beach.

The neighborhood

Tourists at Patong Beach in Phuket.  AFP

You don’t really need to venture anywhere in Amanpuri, but if you feel like exploring, the village of Cherngtalay, where the resort is located, has a bustling night market with plenty of street food. If it’s nightlife you’re looking for, then Patong is about a 27-minute drive from the resort. Phuket Town, the capital of Phuket Province, is 35 minutes away.

Highs and lows

Because Amanpuri’s attention to detail is flawless, no real lows here. But due to its lush setting, croaking frogs at night might be a slight deterrent to a quiet evening. It rained the night we arrived and the singing amphibians were very exciting. But it’s a small price to pay to be in such a luxurious setting.

The insider tip

The Lounge Bar in Amanpuri, Thailand.  Photo: Aman Resorts

If you’re traveling with a large group, you should definitely plan a stay in the villas, which will give you all the space and privacy you need to feel right at home. Also, who says no to a private chef?

The verdict

Amanpuri is exactly as advertised. Luxurious, tranquil, and the perfect escape, this resort has been welcoming guests since the 1980s and has lost none of its charm or top-notch service.

The bottom line

Casual dining at Beach Terrace, Amanpuri.  Photo: Aman resorts

A one-night stay at a lodge in Amanpuri costs $890 in low season and can reach $25,520 for a nine-bedroom villa in high season.

Amanpuri, Pansea Beach, Phuket, Thailand; aman.com/resorts/amanpuri

— This review was conducted at the invitation of the hotel during the global coronavirus pandemic. It reflects the hotel standards of the time, services may change in the future.

Updated: March 25, 2022, 6:02 p.m.

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