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Phuket's best pool villas and suites
Vichy shower beds and Gordon Ramsay's "second home." A round-up of Phuket's most luxurious sleep experiences
Phuket is considered the Asian birthplace of the modern pool villa. The renowned Amanpuri introduced them to the island back in 1987 and the Banyan Tree followed suit in 1994.
"Luxury is now defined by private pool villas," says Phuket-based Bill Barnett, managing director of consulting firm C9 Hotelworks.
And with no shortage of fine designs and private pleasure to choose from, international visitors with big bank accounts will have few problems finding the perfect spot to sit and swill margaritas as they take in a private seaview sunset.
Hotel and resort pool villa rates on Phuket from this November range from 30,000-210,000 baht (US$1,000-$7,000) per night. Here are the island's top villa and suite options, in no particular order.
1. Banyan Tree Phuket
When is having a private swimming pool not enough? When you can have two, of course. Banyan Tree's Double Pool Villas -- exclusive private residences that are also part of the hotel's inventory -- front a large lagoon and overlook the greens of the nearby Laguna golf course.
Generous gardens at the one- and two-bedroom villas feature a 14.5-meter lap pool crowned by a five-square-meter whirlpool spa. At night, the underwater fiber optics twinkle into life, mimicking the stars above.
The master bedroom pavilion is encased by floor-to-ceiling windows, and the room is surrounded by an additional 110-square-meter wading pool.
Each of Banyan Tree's 24 Double Pool Villas has its own reception pavilion, and upon check-in guests receive a cell phone with the dedicated villa host's number on speed dial.
Daily rates: One-bedroom Double Pool Villa from 50,210 baht. Two-bedroom Double Pool Villa from 88,906 baht.
Double Pool Villas by Banyan Tree, +66 (0) 7632 4374. Reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Indigo Pearl
The industrial chic design at Indigo Pearl was inspired by Phuket's tin mining past, so expect cast iron and bronze furnishings, open concrete slabs, ceiling fans and vaulted ceilings with exposed beams made of old railway sleepers.
The centerpiece of the hotel is "The Nest," a handwoven spa nest suspended 10 meters from the ground in the branches of a massive tree.
For hardcore wellness guests, the one-bedroom Coqoon Spa Suite comes with a private 9.5-meter swimming pool, a steam and sauna room, a spa room with a pair of massage beds and a freestanding whirlpool spa big enough for two and a Vichy shower bed.
Watch out for the hotel's new Pool & Spa Villas, to be launched soon.
Daily rates: Coqoon Spa Suite from 35,000 baht per night.
Indigo Pearl, +66 (0) 7632 7006. Email: email@example.com
Hong Kong business tycoon Allan Zeman provided Hong Kong night prowlers with Lan Kwai Fong, but for precious moments with friends and family, he built Andara.
"I found a beautiful spot across the bay from my holiday home on Phuket," says Zeman.
"I built Andara in the same style with the same breathtaking seaviews, so I can share the experience with others."
Liberal use of locally sourced materials -- makha, teak, mai daeng -- sets the tone for the "mystical Thai history" decor theme that runs throughout the hotel.
The two-bedroom Penthouse Pool Suites have a seven-meter pool on the private access rooftop, while the four-bedroom Pool Villa comes with a 13-meter pool fronted by a massive sun terrace and garden.
Daily rates: Two-bedroom Penthouse Pool Suite from US$1,300 (40,215 baht). Four-bedroom Pool Villa from US$3,800 (117,553 baht).
Andara, +66 (0) 7633 8777. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Though not technically a villa, the Paresa's Cielo Residences extend across the rooftop of a two-story cliffside building, giving the suites a private, stand-alone feel.
The one-bedroom units consist of a master bedroom and a separate living and dining pavilion. The shuttered doors can be flung wide open to take in the sea breeze, or closed for a quick air-conditioned reprieve from the sunny terrace.
The swimming pool measures eight-meters long and has a 270-degree sweeping seaview. Cielo Residences come with a personal butler so guests don't ever have to leave their 660-square-meter pad.
The whole hotel only has 49 rooms, making Paresa a refined but cozy boutique hideaway.
Daily rates: Cielo Residence from 41,580 baht per night.
Paresa, +66 (0) 7630 2000. Email: email@example.com
5. Sri Panwa
When celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay stayed at Sri Panwa with his family over Christmas in 2007, he called it his "second home."
World-renowned hoteliers seem to agree with him.
"It's the best family time we've ever had together," says Robert H. Burns, co-founder of Regent International Hotels.
Meanwhile, the president of the Oberoi Group, P.R.S. Oberoi, called it the "best personalized service hotel." Not bad, coming from a guy whose own hotels constantly feature in the world's "'best-of" lists.
Members of Bloc Party and Massive Attack also enjoyed the digs at this Phuket resort's F1 after-party bash this September and it's easy to see why.
The pools in the one- and two-bedroom Luxury Pool Villas measure 12 meters, while the X29 four-bedroom Residence Villa has two swimming pools -- a 15-meter long plunger on the upper floor, and a 19.5-meter counterpart below.
Daily rates: One-bedroom Luxury Pool Villa from 37,440 baht. Four-bedroom Residence Villa from 150,400 baht.
Sri Panwa, +66 (0) 7637 1000. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Perched above a private bay, Trisara's 39 villas represent no nonsense, non-gimmicky tropical cool.
Marble-tiled bathrooms and plenty of white paint make the one- and two-bedroom pool villas refreshingly bright and airy.
The 10-meter long infinity pools in the 240-square-meter, one-bedroom oceanfront pool villa seemingly pour onto treetops with the wide Andaman ocean tantalizingly within reach.
For larger parties, some of the 18 residential villas, ranging from two to five bedrooms, are put back into the rental pool, with the huge, four-bedroom ocean front residence holding bragging rights thanks to a 30-meter long private pool.
Daily rates: One-bedroom Ocean Front Pool Villa from US$1,790 (55,373 baht). Four-bedroom Ocean Front Residence from US$6,600 (204,171 baht).
Trisara, +66 (0) 7631 0100. Email: email@example.com
7. Anantara Phuket
Anantara's 83 stand-alone pool villas are reminiscent of a traditional southern Thai village, with the gardens landscaped by Bill Bensley, who has curated grounds for Four Seasons, One & Only Resorts and Mandarin Oriental properties.
The garden features a free-form lagoon complete with a resident flock of ducks. The Sala Villas that look over it have al fresco pavilion extensions connected to the villa via a private wooden walkway across the lagoon waters, perfect for in-villa massages or as an intimate dining venue.
A large terrazzo bathtub sits right by the geometrically shaped 33-square-meter private swimming pool for an outdoor soak, and can be accessed through sliding doors from the bathroom.
Daily rates: One-bedroom Pool Villa from 19,500 baht. Two-bedroom Sala Pool Villa from 45,000 baht.
Anantara, +66 (0) 7633 6100. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
8. Sala Phuket
Manicured lawns dotted with white buildings give Sala Phuket a classy, Wimbledon-esque feeling. Subtle Sino-Portuguese motifs offer a nod to the island's past, adding splashes of color to the otherwise light palette of the entire property.
In the two-bedroom villa suites, separate bedroom pavilions with mirrored layouts flank the 10-meter long swimming pool, while the villa's gate slides open to reveal the beachside scenery.
The "bathroom" stretches along the side of the building, with wardrobes and toilets built into recesses in the exterior wall, and an outdoor shower that makes you feel like you're in a garden.
The two-bedroom Presidential Pool Villa comes with sunken whirlpool spas in each bedroom, while the one-bedroom Pool Villas come with a freestanding, egg-shaped tub at the edge of the eight-meter pool.
Daily rates: One-bedroom Pool Villa Suite from 15,600 baht. Two-bedroom Presidential Pool Villa Suite from 27,300 baht.
Sala, +66 (0) 7633 8888. Email: email@example.com
Amanresorts is famed for its global cult following of Aman-junkies, and this flagship is where it all started.
Exclusivity is the name of the game (follow road signs to The Surin hotel as there aren't any pointing you to Amanpuri), and mum's the word when it comes to high profile guests.
In an article in GQ, CNN's Piers Morgan name drops Prince William, Tiger Woods, and Kate Moss as fellow past guests. But the staff will never tell.
The private pools in the pavilion suites average nine meters in length, while the pools in the villas range from 15 to more than 24 meters long.
During high season, televisions are provided on request only, encouraging guests to live up to the name "Amanpuri" -- Sanskrit for "place of peace."
Anyone who tires of plush villas can always charter a yacht from the resort's impressive fleet of vessels.
Daily rates: Two-bedroom Pool Pavilion starts at US$2,600 (80,275 baht). Four-bedroom Ocean Villa from US$7,000 (216,545 baht).
Amanpuri, +66 (0) 7632 4333. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org