By Gabrielle Lipton
Video by Dimas Anggakara
At the bottom of Phuket, Kata Rocks sits uncontested as one of the island’s top resorts and residences, freshly opened in mid-2014 and already with too many awards and accolades to count. And for good reason: Inspired by the design of super-yachts, Kata Rocks lives up to the name of its ownership—lifestyle design group Infinite Luxury—without a single detail lacking quality or grace, back-dropped by views extending to the horizon.
The Look: From the stand-alone lobby to the sun umbrellas, the villa facades to the mod lights hanging over their kitchen counters, just about everything here is smooth, clean white—one of those styles that never ceases being beautiful. It’s offset by stone outside, browns in the bedrooms, and touches of blue—growlers of crisp blue welcome drinks, blue amenity sandals (which are strappy and attractive), cerulean infinity pools that can be turned into giant jacuzzis with the touch of a button. It’s not just for effect that the 34 one- to four-bedroom pool villas are called Sky Villas; a genius design of stacking them up a hill protruding out from one side of Kata Noi Beach gives them views of the Andaman unobstructed by signs of others, save for the occasional boat passing by. For all you know, you could be on a private island rather than Phuket.
The Rooms: This is one of those resorts that will appreciate with time. It feels conceptually mature— having few but very fine things rather than a lot of designy flashiness—which is why a group of homeowners that includes Bear Grylls has been snatching up the villas as getaways and investments both. The floor plans are entirely open with no walls except to partition off bedrooms, keeping clutter to an absolute minimum, which ideally pervades to guests’ mindsets too. But that doesn’t mean anything is lacking; kitchens are stocked with every type of glassware and cooking utensil, the entertainment system has a fantastic music selection, bathroom amenities smell earthy and fresh. Deep L-shaped Italian leather couches in the living area are all too easy to sink into, and heavy curtained bedrooms with mattresses just firm enough make it hard not to catch up on sleep.
The Appeal: It’s easy to do as much or as little as you want. Yoga, spa, water activities, special dinners—it’s all here, but the quietness, limited number of guests, and entrancing views make it easy to forego everything, stake out in one of the loungers dipped in the main 35-meter infinity pool, and spend a day reading, napping, snacking, and repeating. But, of course, the resort’s offerings are certainly worth participating in as well. Yoga sessions are often led by renowned guest instructors, and the spa blends the best of tech and traditional with Iso-Benessere water massage beds, rest pods, and chromotherapy chambers as well as Thai and Tibetan treatments that use chakra stones, singing bowls, sweet almond oil, and gold foil. For food, the restaurant is primarily Mediterranean—asparagus, portabellas, and shaved parmesan stacked on thick sourdough for breakfast; diver scallops with pork belly and fresh fish over perfectly cooked risotto for dinner—and for more intimacy, the chef is happy to prepare in-villa dinners or set up a candlelit table for two at the edge of the rock jetty for an ocean-side wine-paired feast under the stars.
The Surrounds: Down near the southern tip of Phuket, Kata Noi Beach isn’t as built up as other parts of the island and very much feels like a jovial beach town rather than a party center. Walk down the hill from the resort, and you’ll immediately come upon seafood restaurants where shoes and shirts aren’t required lining the crescent-shaped stretch of white sand full of merry beachgoers and locals offering their services for parasailing, jet skiing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, and the like. It isn’t remote, but it’s great for families and couples who are looking for somewhere more scenic than sceney. Some of Thailand’s best scuba diving is within reach as well; talk to Kata Rocks’ reception staff, and they’ll be happy to arrange trips out to the reefs and shipwreck of Racha Yai, or, between the months of November and May, out to the Similans.
For those in the know…During the resort’s architectural planning process, a rock in the shape of a footprint was found on its land. Wondering more about it, the staff consulted local monks, who said it was a sacred spot thought to be a footprint of the Buddha. The resort could still be built as long as it didn’t alter the rock in any way, which it didn’t—and, in fact, the layout of the resort coincidentally had already been planned shaped in a footprint as well. Special dinners are easily arranged at the site, as are short afternoon walks up just to see it. Perhaps this is why the resort seems drenched in good karma.
186/22 Kok Tanode Road, Kata, Phuket; 66-76/370-777; Kata Rocks; doubles from US$850