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Trendsetting Hotels in Phuket

February 21, 2014

T+L checks out the island’s newest design-centric hotels. Story by Simon Ostheimer. Photos by Brent Madison.

Published on Feb 20, 2014

Three new resorts are giving the island’s shoreline a run for its money when it comes to jaw-dropping beauty. Travelers looking for their own private patch of Phuket will appreciate the intimacy afforded by these stylish retreats. Here we get the backstory and inspiration behind the bold and spectacular designs.

Iniala Beach House
Looking for a boutique stay? You’d be hard pressed to find a more superlative example than this 10-room property crafted by 10 different designers to create 10 very different bedrooms and living spaces. Located just north of Phuket, on sunny stretch Natai beach in Phang Nga, Iniala brings together design, art and gastronomy. According to the founder and owner, Mark Weingard, the vision was to build something completely unique, to “reflect some of the best design in the world, from some of the most inspirational architects and craftsman of our age.” He raves about how the different contemporary designs from all over the globe including Spain, Ireland, Russia, Brazil, the U.K. and the U.S. (Weingard is especially pleased with the work of Irish wood craftsman Joseph Walsh, and the Brazilian Campana Brothers)—work together in harmony. Speaking of mellifluous blending, Aziamendi, the signature restaurant from Basque-born, three- Michelin star chef Eneko Atxa, mixes traditional Spanish techniques with Thai ingredients. In another Thai touch of hospitality, every villa comes with a built-in spa room and therapist. Says Weingard, “It is a truly bespoke holiday experience.”

A curved wooden bed at Iniala, inspired by seashells.

Spaceship or luxury villa? Iniala will keep you guessing.

40/14 Moo 6 Baan Natai, Khokkloi, Takuathung, Phang Nga;; villas from US$3,250.

Point Yamu by COMO
Perched high on a peninsula in the northeast corner of Phuket with 360-degree panoramic views of Cape Yamu bay and the unesco World Heritage Site of Phang Nga Bay, the much-anticipated Point Yamu by COMO features a COMO Shambhala Retreat spa, as well as the Italian restaurant La Sirena and its Thai counterpart, Nahmyaa. The interiors are the work of renowned Italian designer, Paola Navone, who brings contemporary aesthetic to the distinctive elements of Thai culture, heritage and design, while simultaneously reflecting the immediate rustic locale, still home to traditional villages. Ascribing the resort “a different, fresh aesthetic,” James Low, general manager of Point Yamu, explains that “throughout the whole design project, Paola’s approach has been very thoughtful and sensitive to the destination, whilst retaining the signature style she is known for.” Taking inspiration from the dramatic setting among the bay’s famed limestone karsts, Navone has peppered many Thai aspects throughout the property, using shades of orange taken from a monk’s robes and repurposing elements of lobster traps to fashion light fixtures in the lobby.

Lobster traps become lights at Point Yamu

Private dining, Point Yamu.

225 Moo 7, Paklok Thalang;; doubles from Bt9,000.

The Naka Phuket
Want to prop up your pillow in the clouds? Cantilevered out over the hillside, every room in The Naka Phuket has a “matchbox-style structure [that] offers our guests the ultimate experience of sleeping in the air,” says general manager Sawai Sombat. The entire resort revolves around a philosophy of equilibrium, where two natural settings, beach and hill, are in complete balance with one another. The property was designed inside and out by award-winning Thai architect Duangrit Bunnag, resulting in modern and stylish spaces with character: the open-air lobby and restaurant make use of the natural ventilation of the mountainous location. Aside from the 94 pool villas, there are four public buildings that house the lobby, restaurants, wedding chapel and spa. “They share one crucial character in their architecture,” Sawai says, “that is to bring exclusivity and privacy to guests and have the resort be the destination itself.” That said, if you do need a taste of nightlife, Patong is just 10 minutes drive on the other side of the bay.

"Matchboxes" at The Naka Phuket.

Blending with the scenery at The Naka Phuket.

1/18, 1/20 Moo 6 Kamala, Kathu; +66 76 337 999; thenakaphuket. com; villas from Bt28,000.


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