It’s official, Phuket is the comeback kid. When I mentioned to friends we’d be spending a week on a beach in Phuket, the unmistakable raise of the eyebrows quickly followed suit. While I can appreciate the island hasn’t had the greatest reputation in the last decade – often being referred to as Patpong-by-the-sea, my friends should know better than to assume I’d waste my precious personal time off on anything but the highlife. As I discovered, Phuket has some seriously outstanding luxury resorts. While we were spoilt for choice over a number of cool, contemporary and ridiculously luxurious accommodation options, we instinctively went for The Surin – a YTL property, based on the strength of its postcard-pretty private beach.
We loved The Surin Resort, an undisputed gem of luxury that’s tucked away on glorious Pansea Beach, far away from crowds and the hectic tourist hotspots of Phuket. The grounds are airy and expansive, and from the moment you’re escorted to the open-air lobby for check-in proceedings, you know you’re in for a special sort of holiday. The luxury accommodation is perfectly laid out across sloping hills, in a maze of tastefully adorned cottages, hidden amongst the dense tropical foliage. Those with mobility issues will find getting around a little challenging, as the cottages are connected to the public areas via a series of interconnected stairwells. There are lots of them, so you’ll need stamina to get around.
Guestrooms reflect typical Thai architectural features, designed to be spacious, well appointed and full of little details to add form and function to rooms. Each has it’s own private outdoor space with loungers and a parasol, and the interiors consist of a dedicated sitting area, sleeping quarters and a very spacious bathroom/dressing room with lots of storage and hanging space. The organic toiletries are a local brand called Lemongrass, and so amazing was the frangipani based shower gel that we ignored our Molton Brown stash through-out the stay. We later found out the brand’s store is only half a mile away from the hotel and specialises in the most decadent aromatherapy, personal cosmetic and essential oil products. Needless to stay, we promptly stocked up.
During our week’s stay, we only left the resort a handful of times. A few times to visit the pharmacy, to poke around the 7/11 for interesting local treats (a personal hobby), and only once to eat next door at the Amanpuri, which wasn’t a patch on the dining options available at The Surin Resort. The outdoor Beach Restaurant deservedly got most of our custom, while Lomtalay was perhaps our least favourite venue-wise, as it shares the same dining hall as where breakfast is served, and lacks a bit of atmosphere. Other times, we shut ourselves away in the Spa where the massages we experienced were probably the best of our Southeast Asia trip, and worth a special mention.
The star attraction however is undoubtedly Pansea beach. The private, palm fringed sandy bay has plenty of sun loungers spread out, so even at high occupancy you can find a quiet spot of seclusion for yourself. The water was clear and refreshing – by far one of the best beaches we’ve ever experienced, and a joy to hear the crashing waves come night time. There’s some OK snorkelling to the right of the beach, mainly hindered by an active colony of jellyfish, but nevertheless a nice way to spend a few hours. Alongside the beach experience, the other highlight was undoubtedly the polished and smiling staff, who go out of their way to make your stay memorable and breezy.
It’s hard not to be impressed by The Surin Resort, and I would return again in a heartbeat. This is a sophisticated luxury resort guaranteed to make even the most discerning traveller beam from ear to ear.
Resort – 9/10
Experience – 10/10