Above: The infinity pool and villa.
Property name: Double Pool Villas, Banyan Tree Phuket
Where: The northwest coast of Thailand’s Phuket Island
Street address: 33, 33/27 Moo 4, Srisoonthorn Rd., Cherngtalay Amphur Talang, Phuket 83110
Units: 14 one-bedroom, 9 two-bedroom, and 1 three-bedroom villas at 1,300, 1,500, and 2,500 square meters, respectively.
Rates: The “best available rate” quoted by the resort for the one-bedroom villa is THB52,500 (about US$1,655) per night.
The Banyan Tree Phuket resort is where it all began for the high-end Banyan Tree brand, which is well-established in the Asia-Pacific region and now expanding more globally. This all-villa resort started in the mid-1990s on the ravaged site of a former tin mine and grew into a lush, sprawling property. Today it’s part of a multi-resort “complex” called Laguna Phuket that contains a handful of large resorts. Notably a hotel from Angsana, a sister brand of Banyan Tree with more affordable rates, opened in December 2011.
In the mid-2000s the original Banyan Tree Phuket added two exclusive, premium-priced sections: “Spa Pool Villas” and “Double Pool Villas.” More recently those sections have been repackaged as distinct resorts, though they still feel as if they’re part of the same property, with guests sharing the same spas, restaurants, and other facilities.
We took the repackaging as an excuse to review the “new” resorts. Here’s our take on the Double Pool Villas, specifically the one-bedroom units.
There are actually a few arrivals, with each entry feeling a bit more exclusive than the last. First you enter the general area of Laguna Phuket, then the Banyan Tree resort, and then, via golf cart, your Double Pool villa. You are likely to be picked up at the airport by a new BMW, complete with cold towels and water bottles (it’s about 20 minutes from the airport to the resort).
These villas are made for romance. Don’t bother coming here alone. Do come on a honeymoon, however. The glass-walled bedroom “floats” upon a blue wading pool that includes two submerged chairs. A stone wall around the pool and bedroom ensures privacy, so you can leave the curtains open at all times, enjoying the stars, the daylight, and the towering trees overhead. At night, soft lighting upon the pool and stone wall, contrasted with gold hues in the room’s interiors, creates a wonderfully sensual atmosphere.
The bedroom is only part of the story. Behind the villa is another pool facing the tranquil lagoon. (Hence the name Double Pool Villa.) At 15 meters this private infinity pool is long enough for swimming short laps and also includes a crystal jet pool. Each villa has its own yard and garden, as well, with an outdoor shower and areas for lounging or dining outdoors. Birdsong fills the air, and the Thai sala by the pool can be used for in-villa spa therapy.
The villas, with Thai-inspired architecture and interiors, are larger than many homes. A glass-walled middle section sits between the living room on one side and the bedroom and bathroom on the other. The living room includes a writing desk, the minibar, a big daybed, a coffee machine, a wine bar, and an LCD TV with a DVD player. (Note: there is no TV in the bedroom, and if you wish there were one, you’re not getting the point of these villas.)
On the other side, the bathroom features separate wash basins, a combined steam and shower room, and a tub with views of the lagoon and garden. Adjoining it is a large walk-in closet. Each villa comes with an on-call butler who will pack and unpack your suitcase, carefully hanging and folding your clothes when you’re away.
Food and Drink
The restaurants here include Tre (French Vietnamese by the lagoon), Saffron (contemporary Thai cuisine in a modern setting), and Watercourt (international breakfast buffet and Mediterranean cuisine at night), among others. Tre is a particularly romantic spot for a candle-lit dinner. Other options include in-villa meals (including barbecues) and dinner on a traditional long-tail boat. The quality of the cuisine and service is generally excellent throughout.
An Internet cable is provided at the desk in the living room, and there’s also wi-fi. The Internet speed is sufficient for most needs.
Health and Fitness
The resort features bicycles, yoga, a fitness center, a golf course, tennis courts, and more. Activities like canoeing and wind-surfing can also be arranged.
Smooth narrow roads connect various parts of the complex, and on-call golf carts are the preferred mode of transport. You can also walk or bicycle. Either way you’ll enjoy fresh air and lots of greenery while getting around.
Exploring the Area
The lagoon dominates the scene here. The sea is nearby, but you feel it more than see it. If you’re craving sweeping coastal views, look elsewhere. That said, the tranquil lagoon has a certain romance to it. Your butler can arrange for you and your sweetheart to release traditional Thai krathongs (lanterns) over the lagoon and into the evening sky. Of course Phuket is easily explored from the resort, but you’ll probably feel little or no desire to leave your luxurious surroundings—which, considering the rates, is a good thing.
It’s hard to imagine a better place to celebrate a romantic occasion—or rekindle the fires—with the love of your life than these elegant, luxurious villas.