Imagine a quiet, secluded bay, hidden from the hustle and bustle of a major tourist destination, set back amidst cliffs, crystal clear seas and green foliage, yet close enough to (personally) one of the best beach bars in the region and options for equestrian sports. Imagine this spot as the perfect luxury getaway, where things will be prepared before you even want it prepared but welcome it all together. Imagine this palace of peace, within easy reach.
That basically spells out the Amanpuri for you: decadent luxe without being over the top, where you have to know where you’re going if you’re looking for this spot. This hidden appeal is pretty much the standard modus operandi for all Amans I’ve been to.
Palace of Peace
Located on Pansea Beach, a small, hidden cove between Surin and Bangtao Beaches, this hidden spot is, well, hidden: you need to enter through the boom of The Surin Hotel to get to the Amanpuri. The low-rise setting, amidst tall trees, soaring high roofs and clustered pavilions greet you suddenly, as you make a left turn down the hill, to be greeted by a great main pool terrace and the dramatic steps to the beach and sea below.
The hidden setting and its location tucked well away from prying eyes will guarantee you utter privacy in this palace of peace. Staff in crisp uniforms shuffle about discreetly, as well-dressed guests in elegant Resort Wear glide around the grounds, enjoying this oasis of tranquillity.
Pavilions on pavilions
The rooms in the Amanpuri are well appointed, with well-appointed wooden features, well positioned mirrors and doors that open dramatically to the view of the sea outside. In the pool villas, you can enjoy a nice, quiet private dip away from the environs of the main pool, not that its crowded, and in the larger private villas, there are villa staff ready to assist you.
At times, you feel as if your privacy is intruded with the thought of staff on-call, but they have a way of appearing and disappearing just as you need them and when you want privacy. On one morning swim, I decided on a private swim in the private pool, not expecting any staff to be up, but just as I was finishing my laps as dawn broke, the deck chair was prepared, my towel laid out properly and a glass of water on the ready, and I did not even notice it being done.
One of the welcomed features at the Amanpuri is the daily afternoon tea in the tea pavilion, by the main hotel area, fronting the pool. At around 4pm, small Thai snacks are prepared by the staff, who helpfully explain what the items are, and prepare you a variety of local tea infusions.
Bottles of water are always prepared by your deck chair, be it by the beach, or in one of the three pools around the main hotel area. Fruits or ice cream might make their rounds depending on the time and day, and staff regularly spruce up your spot if you decide to go for a swim in the pool or the sea.
Sea Sports Suggested
Among the many things I like about the Amanpuri are the options of sea sports available: from water bicycles to kayaks. The cove is well protected from large waves and the sea is crystal clear, enabling you to see the fish just under the surface.
The staff are always ready on hand to assist, and I am proud to say that I learned how to stand-up paddle at the Amanpuri after a quick lesson from the sea sports personnel and his 2 suggested YouTube videos.
If you feel like lazing around, there are 2 sides of the beach to choose from: the beach by the grand sea stairs or the restaurant beach, tucked away under lush, tall trees (and neighbouring the Surin Hotel).
Lounge and Dine
Now, I did not take the opportunity to dine in the Amanpuri’s three restaurants, but I did, naturally, try out the bars. There are 3 lounge bars to choose from, all against the sea terrace, leading down to the beach. The drinks are well made, the lounges have great views out to the Andaman Sea, all in all, the perfect spot to relax and do almost nothing.
While the bustling beach bar area at Surin Beach is now, sadly, gone, they have moved to the next beach up along Bangtao Beach. One of my all-time favourite bars, Catch Beach Club, has relocated from its Surin perch to lounge along the wide expanse of Bangtao. Drinks are good, lounge area super comfortable, beach frontage unrivalled and it has a good spot to watch the sunset, as the DJ spins beach house chill.
The Phuket International Horse Riding Club is further along Bangtao Beach, in the Laguna district, and has good horse riding facilities and options if you feel like going on a trot. One of my regular haunts in Phuket, the horses are well tended, and the handlers very skilled. Be prepared to be part of a wedding photoshoot as you trot along the beach, and wear white, just to fit with the resort setting.
Now, Phuket is a fairly large island, and you will eventually have to make a decision between lounging in the resort and its immediate vicinity or exploring the island. If you have to go somewhere, Promthep Cape, at the southern tip of Phuket is an option, as the drive down along the western coast is one of the most dramatic seaside drives.
There are options, from rowdy nightlife in Patong to family-friendly settings in Kata-Karon to jet-set luxe in Bangtao. Personally, I would stick with Bangtao and anything within a 30 minute drive away: the Amanpuri just makes you want to stay in one spot, and only occasionally head out if the need arises.
Jason is a world traveller and avid seeker of high perches, on a mission to capture the unique experiences that makes destinations iconic.