Phuket was one of the first areas of Thailand taken over by holiday makers when the country became a popular travel destination, and the island’s azure waters and white sandy beaches have drawn travellers back ever since. While Phuket’s popularity has been something of a double-edged sword, with overcrowding in some areas and popular backpacking spot Patong attracting the worst aspects of Thai tourism, the north of the island, however, is a different story and boasts a wealth of untouched natural beauty and tranquil escapes. It offers an ideal haven for eco-conscious tourists and nature lovers, as well as those who want to keep a little part of Phuket for themselves. For those interested in investing in a Phuket home, a residence attached to a resort is probably the best option. It allows owners to take advantage of the resort’s activities, staff and amenities, and gives them an easy and efficient way to rent out the property when they are not around.
The north of Phuket is home to two beautiful national parks. The first, Khao Phra Thaeo, famed for its waterfalls, lush greenery and hiking trails, is home to the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project and Phuket Elephant Sanctuary – Thai charities dedicated to rescuing animals from the tourist trade and giving them a new life in the tranquillity of the jungle. The second, Sirinath Marine National Park is a great spot for animal and bird watching as it encompasses land, sea, coral reefs and mangroves as well as four beautiful secluded beaches. Hat Mai Khao and Hat Nai Yang are the only beaches left in Phuket where sea turtles still lay eggs.
Sirinath is also home to Anantara Layan Phuket Resort, one of the island’s finest places to stay and, as of recently, to purchase a residence. Built into the hillside surrounded by the national park, the boutique resort, has been built in a traditional Thai style – regulations prohibit buildings to be larger than 90m2 or built too high above sea level.
The Anantara group is dedicated to operating in a way that is sensitive to local cultures and the environment. Nowhere is this more apparent than at the resort’s recently opened collection of 15 villas at Layan Residences by Anantara. Nestled on top of the hillside and benefiting from the facilities of the Anantara Layan Phuket Resort, the villas are at the highest elevation allowed in Phuket with breathtaking views across the bay. Each villa was designed by late Indonesian design guru Jaya Ibrahim to effortlessly combine the inside and outside and work with the natural surroundings. The villas sleep from six to 21 guests and each comes with an outdoor sala for dining, an infinity pool and live-in butlers who are on-hand for drinks and snacks, to prepare and serve breakfast, book activities or treatments and to take you around the resort in a golf buggy.
While relaxing at the Anantara Layan, you can walk across the shady beach, which at low tide can skirt the forested island across the bay, or take a boat trip out on the Andaman Sea to visit James Bond Island, one of the locations used in The Man With The Golden Gun (real name Khao Phing Kan) – the golden gun itself currently resides in the resort’s Villa Similan (unfortunately this villa and the gun are not for sale). Guests or residents can also try Muay Thai classes, and excellent authentic cooking classes with Spice Spoons that include a trip to the local market with a chef. The spa offers indulgent treatments in luxurious surrounds. If not dining in your villa, the resort’s Thai restaurant, Dee Plee teams traditional Thai dishes with sweeping views of the Andaman, and beachfront eatery Sala Layan serves gourmet Mediterranean dishes at live cooking stations. For the past two winters, renowned sushi restaurant Zuma has also operated an irresistible pop-up at the resort.
Just across the bay lies Amanpuri, Phuket’s original super-luxury resort, which 30 years on, still earns its reputation as one of Thailand’s finest places to stay. The resort’s guest pavilions are beautiful wooden constructions hidden in the lush forest and coconut palms on a peninsula between Surin and Bang Tao beaches.
Amanpuri also boasts a collection of residences. On the hill behind the resort generous and attentive staff will drive you up winding paths in cute ‘buggies’ (converted from Nissan Micras). Once there, you’ll find beautifully designed villas in the traditional Thai style, each with a large pool and a dedicated chef and housekeeper. As with the residences at the Anantara Layan, all residences can be rented out to visitors so you can dip your toe before you buy and get a return on your investment if you choose to take the plunge and purchase one for yourself.
The Amanpuri has one of the best private beaches on the island as well as some of the finest restaurants. The Thai restaurant offers traditional and superlative interpretations of dishes, while Arva serves first-rate Italian cuisine and Nama brings exquisite sushi to the table, made from local seafood and organic produce. Amanpuri’s spa is internationally known for its wellness immersion programmes and the resort’s on-hand experts will design a specialised plan for the duration of your stay, including tailored menus. The resort also recently hired two vegan chefs to ensure its animal-free offering is up to scratch.
As a stepping off point to explore one of Thailand’s most beautiful corners, the Amanpuri and Anantara Layan are hard to beat. Especially if you choose to invest in a little slice of paradise to keep for yourself.
Prices at Anantara Layan Phuket Resort Residences start from £1,458 per night in a two-bedroom sea view villa with breakfast. Find out more about purchasing a residence at Anantara Layan Phuket Resort here
Rooms at Amanpuri start from £533 per night, excluding tax but including round trip airport transfers if staying three nights or more. A three-bedroom Garden Villa at Amanpuri starts at £3,193 per night. Find out more about Amanpuri Residences here