We just had so much fun staying at Villa Amanzi. We were blown away by how beautifully its unusual modern design fits with the tropical setting. On seeing the villa for the first time, we could just imagine this scenario: A man meets his architect at a bar to discuss plans for a new villa. The man orders a drink: "I'd like it on the rocks, please!" The architect dutifully executes this request, et voila! Amanzi is born. But this was no accident, of course. Amanzi's design takes full advantage of the property's unusual natural features and does not impose – less imaginative people might have simply blasted the rock out to make way for the villa. We enjoyed trying out all the high-tech bells and whistles such as the touch-screen control panel and were constantly surprised by all the fun little design details such as the two ‘windows’ on the swimming pool's bottom that formed funky blue 'skylights' to the floor below – one in the family room, the other above the balcony. Another plus was that all the electronic controls and buttons were clearly labelled and easy to use even for techno-phobes such as ourselves. In the end, however, nature won out as we delighted in listening to the crashing waves and birdsong, and watching in awe as the sunset skies turned the infinity pool into a luminous blaze of gold, pink and red.
Settling quickly into the relaxed and cosseted ambiance of Villa Amanzi, we soon found our own favourite places to relax and enjoy the private facilities of this well-laid-out villa (of which there are many). Amanzi is an extremely comfortable and easy base from which to make the most of Phuket's tropical charms.
We spent much of our time just chilling, chatting and feasting at the dining sala overlooking the pool; interspersed with a peaceful read on the private balcony outside our plush master suite. We never lost touch with the dreamy beach views, which are definitely one of the highlights at this villa – blemished only slightly at night by a brightly lit sign for the Katathani Hotel.
With ten years’ experience in her role, Villa Amanzi’s manager is ultra-efficient. The food was fresh and delicious, always served in generous quantities, and with a barbecue ready and waiting we are already planning a pool party for our next visit!
For us, the only slight disappointment was needing to wear flip-flops rather than pad around barefoot on the rough sand-washed pool terrace: it certainly wasn't a deal breaker though. There are a lot of steps at the villa, but the extra indulgence of a sauna and massage room more than made up for any strenuous climbs, and there’s always the lift for when a day by the pool leaves you just too exhausted to walk up to bed!
Those who dream of lording over their own little kingdom will relish staying at Andaman View, a lofty villa that feels completely remote and comes with such a wealth of services and facilities that you need never venture beyond its boundaries. Even being within a villa estate does not detract from the sense of seclusion, with a massive stone wall and a long driveway completely cutting off any view of neighbouring villas. The view is a huge attraction at this villa; so much so that we became eager early risers to make sure we caught the spectacular sunrise every morning during our visit.
We felt that the villa is better suited for families with older children or groups of adults since its entertainment and games are geared towards a more ‘mature’ crowd (drinking, dining, pool table), and the open swimming pool could be a bit of a hazard for active toddlers. Staying at Andaman View we really did feel like royalty, not only because it was like having our own private mini-castle to romp around in, but also because of all the inclusive services that kept us in pampered comfort throughout our stay. Having two meals a day prepared for us was a real treat, though we were sad we didn’t have enough time to indulge in a soothing treatment (available for a modest extra charge) on the villa’s own massage bed.
Happily, one thing that is not so princely about Andaman View is the price. This is one of the best-value villas we’ve visited in Phuket. Though the villa is officially located in Nai Harn, with the beach less than 10 minutes away by car, its position at the north end of the village makes it nearly as close to Kata beach (reached via a wonderful coastal drive around jungle-clad hills, and another favourite swimming spot for families) and Rawai beach – a must for Thai seafood with its row of casual restaurants lining the waterfront (pick any one, they’re all good!).
One would be hard-pressed to come up with a better all-around villa than Chan Grajang, which is generous on a multitude of fronts – size, staffing, views, privacy, entertainment pleasures, charm. Its hilltop position is truly inspiring; we enjoyed wide views over the sea and watched the sun fade into the lush headland beyond. Inside we revelled in the villa's unusual rustic luxury, where nature's clever designs – a large twisted driftwood log, for example – meshed perfectly with the sumptuous, finely crafted finishings. And as for the terrace, we've never seen an outdoor space furnished so lavishly, where slumber, sunbathing and sunset cocktails could all be enjoyed to the hilt. During our short stay we simply ran out of time to make the most of all the fun stuff; from the games room snooker table to the impressive sound system to the gym, though we did manage to whack a few balls around the pitch-and-putt green, set in lush tropical surrounds – if it weren't for the rather distracting sea view we're sure our golf skills would have improved here. We were also impressed with the generous size and facilities that each bedroom offered, ideal for groups or extended families, with the guest villa providing an even more secluded retreat. While many villas are aimed at being either a romantic hideaway or a fabulous party pad, Villa Chan Grajang manages to be both, in spades.
Baan Kata Keeree is the owner's holiday home and it’s obvious that a lot of care and hard work go into keeping the property ship-shape. The owner’s wife is a regular visitor and it shows: staff are casual but very much on their toes and standards kept high. We liked the homely feel of the property and its proximity to the beach and town but were particularly impressed with how private and peaceful it is.
The décor is great, albeit eclectic, and adds a lot of character to the property (the owner’s wife is an avid collector of Asian art pieces and quite the artist herself). This is a place that gets a lot of repeat visitors and children will love it: the playroom has a good choice of games and activities and, as it’s at the back of the villa, it leaves mum and dad free to have a quiet read by the pool.
The food prepared by the villa’s chef was outstanding. Sitting at the long terrace table, with children coming and going and a pleasant bottle of wine, created a very casual (even Mediterranean style) mealtime and of course the view is stunning.
We revisited the villa in late 2012 and are pleased to note that it has been impeccably maintained and new additions including a heated jacuzzi in the master suite, an extension on the terrace offering wider sea views, and a massage room have only increased Baan Kata Keeree’s appeal.
With the rich life and vivid tropical colours of Kamala Bay stretched out broadly before it, Baan Lom Talay’s location is about as good as it gets. When we could tear ourselves away from watching herons and Brahminy kites swooping over the sea from the ample terraces, the bedrooms certainly provided a fantastic retreat. Each of the five suites is a mini-villa in itself and a group of friends or an extended family will really enjoy the privacy and comfort they offer. The beautiful vaulted ceilings in three of the bedrooms give them extra grandeur and there are few better ways to toast the setting sun than while sitting in a big, bubbling outdoor jacuzzi. We enjoyed the villa’s lush, green surrounds as much as its sea views: the grounds are abloom with native trees and exotic plants, and the pink and white bougainvilleas set in boxes on all the terraces offer a striking colour contrast to the sea.
One does not appreciate Baan Lom Talay’s full size and glory until stepping inside. The stairs alone – and there are many! – are quite a wonder in the way they zigzag between the villa's four levels. The pool’s shallow section is a great feature for families, though parents will need to be watchful since there are no barriers to the deep end .
We found the villa staff to be excellent, offering us a warm welcome and being quick to assist whenever needed. We appreciated the personal touches, such as bringing fresh coffee to our bedroom terrace first thing in the morning, saving us a trip down to the kitchen. The villa manageress is especially helpful and speaks good English. Truly, the only difficulty we faced at Baan Lom Talay was leaving it!
We thought Baan Paradise would be a great villa for groups and couples looking to stay close to lively Patong. Families, especially those with older children keen to indulge in the action of Patong, will also appreciate its private location and its facilities (pool table, massive TV with DVD player, Playstation II etc). However, since there is no garden, the villa might be a constraint for younger children with plenty of energy and, whilst the shallow end of the pool is fine for a paddle, the infinity edge might call for some parental supervision. The entertainment room downstairs is ideally placed beside the twin/triple room. Since the second (more Asian-style) kitchen and staff quarters open onto the entertainment room the villa staff tend to congregate here; whilst an advantage of this is that they can keep an eye on the kids, the downside is that we often felt like we were intruding on the staff if we wanted to come down and watch the TV. The ground floor bedrooms could do with a low table or luggage rack for suitcases but, in compensation, all come with a delicious selection of toiletries! The larger bedrooms on the top floor were the most private, but the ground floor bedrooms open right onto the swimming pool and might suit some people better. Groups of adults might want to consider using only the four ground and first floor bedrooms since the twin in the basement is better suited for children, and not so private. The cook prepares simple meals according to a menu (predominantly Thai food except for a couple of sandwich options) and can also prepare international meals and BBQs on request. We thought that the complimentary case of Heineken (and soft drinks) given to us on arrival was a nice touch. While the villa staff only speak basic English, the manager is happy to assist with everything from travel arrangements (complimentary airport transfers) to restaurant reservations.
With an obvious flair for interior décor, the owners of Baan Saleah have created a gorgeous villa whose furnishings and fittings are modern and luxurious. Not only a treat on the eye however, they have been carefully chosen with tropical relaxation in mind; and it’s these soothing comforts that struck us. We enjoyed sipping cocktails while gazing out to the ocean at sunset from the step seating in the infinity pool, and the cushioned sun loungers and swing chair in the sala were gorgeous places to relax at any time of the day; we spent much of our time here. We thought the décor of each bedroom was truly unique, complemented by the soothing bathrooms with gorgeous marble washbasins and powerful rain showers as well as a delicious collection of toiletries. The ‘drinks’ kitchen with its fully-stocked fridge, and the guest bathroom and outside shower near the pool were very convenient. From the moment we arrived at the villa to the time we left, the uniformed staff of three really looked after us with thought and discretion. The villa was also immaculately clean and tidy. Laundry is included and collected from your room each day. Guests can choose their meals from a large menu of Thai and western cuisine, and only pay for the cost of the ingredients. The Thai food is excellent, making the villa even more appealing. We’d definitely recommend this villa for decadent honeymooners, couples, families and groups of friends (with its extra beds it will comfortably sleep 10); it’s perfect for a celebration. We don’t recommend Baan Saleah for those who would have difficulty with lots of steps.
With a warm yet elegant style, caring staff and a peaceful location on a lush hillside, Baan Surin Sawan is an all-round superb tropical holiday villa. Though the Surin hills area is becoming more built up, this villa remains well out of the fray and we were delighted to see many birds and butterflies flitting over the pool, even a squirrel scampering around in the palm trees. The trickle of flowing water and the light tinkling of brass temple bells in the breeze, made a soothing soundtrack to our stay.
The friendly, efficient service by the villa manager and chef (overseen by a professional management company) is complemented by the care of the owner’s long-term live-in maid. Thoughtful touches included being welcomed with a cold coconut drink, refreshing towels and a garland on arrival and being offered the owner’s own homemade muesli mix at breakfast (quite tasty by the way). The full-time chef specialises in Thai cuisine and we were given the chance to try some of her Southern Thai specialties including the delicious poh-pia pak (spring rolls with spicy dipping sauce). We selected our dishes individually but there’s a fixed-price set meal menu, too, which we’d recommend as a good sampler to try for guests unfamiliar with Thai cuisine. The dining room is rather grand in design and perfect for evening meals. For outdoor dining there’s a table in the back garden barbecue area and the poolside sala could be used for an informal meal. If we’d stayed longer we would have probably arranged to have the garden table brought out to the pool terrace so we could enjoy the sea views while dining alfresco.
The overall layout of the villa offers a good set-up for two families or an extended family. The entertainment room and pantry plus two ensuite bedrooms on the bottom floor give the feel of being in a separate apartment with plenty of privacy, though we expect couples might battle for the upstairs master suite, which sits majestically in its own poolside pavilion with the best sea views!
Baan Suk Sabai is an ideal spot to relax, take in the spectacular views, entertain with panache, and enjoy a peaceful and private holiday. Our spirits were elevated, literally, being high up Surin Hill with wide views of the tropical island panorama stretched out below. There is definite appeal for families (particularly those with older children), but this villa would probably better suit travelling couples or a group of adult friends, with a great range of features for holiday revelry: a bar and underwater barstools in the pool, a recreation room with pool table, elaborate kitchen and a full-time cook and hostess. For those who lose the coin toss for the spectacular top-floor master bedroom, the two other bedrooms are certainly easy to settle for, being nearly as large and with nice sea views, private balconies and spacious, luxurious ensuite bathrooms. We enjoyed spending time in the roomy and comfortable common areas with our travelling companions, while grand pockets of privacy provided plenty of opportunity for intimate, quiet moments. Being part of the Baan Thai Surin Hill villa development, you never quite have a feeling of total seclusion, yet private roads and the secured main entry point ensure that the area is populated with only other villa guests and staff. The full-time villa manager/cook and her assistant are unobtrusive yet extremely helpful when called upon for meal preparation, cleaning, transport/tour assistance or other services.
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Phuket, Thailand villas - bedrooms
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