There isn’t a shortage of luxury resorts in Phuket. With everything from Amanpuri to Trisara, visitors to Thailand’s biggest island are spoiled for choice. Anantara Layan, however, has something a little extra for those traveling in a group. The rooms at Anantara Layan include an expansive five-bedroom residence, complete with every possible amenity, a journey that begins with the Benz at the airport and ends with a wave from your private butler.
The Phuket of modern day is a traveler’s playground but getting around is sometimes not very easy; many who don’t go the luxury route will find their trans-Pacific flight followed by hours in a car to get to beaches or islands that aren’t swarmed with tourists. Anantara Layan, however, finds itself conveniently tucked into the lush and convenient surrounds of Layan, an area that boasts similar five-star heavyweights such as Trisara.
The Mercedes at the airport, stocked with tom yum peanuts and dried fruit, continues for 20 to 30 minutes through the surprisingly green surrounds of western Phuket. Through winding mountain roads, travelers are treated to a view of fishing boats and ocean views before reaching the residences.
The climb, though, is not finished at the Anantara Layan gates for guests of the residences; the Benz weaves through the narrow road to the five-room residence, a 2,148-square-meter cliffside sanctuary. From plane, to car, to room, the first real view of Phuket visitors get is over the pool and onto the beach below.
The view, put simply, is extraordinary: blue water, green jungle, and if it’s not away on an adventure, the Anantara Layan yacht, the Major Affair. Besides the million-dollar view, the pool is likely the first thing that will catch the traveler’s eye: 21-meters of a private infinity swimming pool looking out onto the Andaman Sea. For a group of travelers – a bachelor party, wedding, or just a birthday bash – this is party central.
There are two master bedrooms at either side of the property, with other bedrooms had throughout the downstairs area. For my stay, it was just two to wander the rooms of this massive residence, but the rooms can hold a maximum of 15. However, as our butler Shawn describes, 10 is just about the perfect size.
“It [doesn’t] feel crowded with 10 people,” Shawn says. “In that case, I have lots of support staff, and everything will go smoothly.” Originally hailing from Bangkok, Shawn had been a veteran of the Anantara Layan for three years.
Shawn had the relatively simple job of looking after two people in a five-bedroom residence during our stay. When the rooms are packed with at least five people, the support staff includes around five people if necessary, and more for events such as weddings; whatever the needs, visitors to Anantara Layan will never be short of competent staff.
The service is ever-present, and travelers will have a butler at their beck and call at all hours. Whether one needs to be driven to breakfast in the morning via golf cart or just for a ride down to the beach for a bite by the ocean, the butler is there and ready to serve.
Also found in the upstairs area are the living and dining rooms overlooking the infinity pool and the unbeatable Andaman Sea view. Below visitors will find the private spa and gym as well as three more bedrooms and extra space for larger groups. The area boasts a fully equipped kitchen an adjoining staff quarters.
Indeed, this isn’t even the largest residence at Anantara Layan, which also boasts a six and seven bedroom residence, both 2,600 square meters. The outdoor amenities at the five-bedroom residence are well suited to a large group, with enough chairs, decks, and verandas to accomodate a healthy gathering of more than 10. One of the more interesting facets of the residence is that, when the sun goes down, a fire is lit on the edge of the infinity pool for an intimate poolside swim.
The barbecue experience, the guests love that.
The Sala Layan boasts an enviable breakfast – complete with all the modern dishes to which luxury travelers have become accustomed: honeycomb, eggs benedict, and a wide selection of cheeses. The seating is both in and outdoor, and in a boast that not many Phuket hotels can live up to, it is a quiet, peaceful breakfast buffet setting.
For a group, however, one might be wondering how best one might remain in their five-star, five-bedroom villa and still get the best of Anantara Layan’s food. For that, there is the In-Villa BBQ by Design. “The barbecue experience, the guests love to have that,” Shawn says. “For at least one day during [their stay], they like it; we set up a dining area outside and they can have fresh seafood at the pool.”
For the fine diner, Anantara Layan, of course, has a menu ready; the dee plee is well-known for its delicate cuisine. Those wanting to sink their teeth into Thai fare would be best to visit dee plee first for a look at their celebrated curries and wine pairings. Things are a little more laid back with the Breeze dining by the pool, where travelers are encouraged to cockail away the day staring at the unique Layan beach.
The beach itself at Anantara Layan is quite unique. While from above in the villa it looks like the picture postcard one might expect of Phuket and the Andaman Sea, on the ground things are a little more distinctive. The first thing travelers might be surprised to find are pine needles in much of the off-the-sea sand; this is not a pristine, long beach like visitors will find around the corner at Bangtao beach. No, this stretch of sand is unique in Phuket.
At low tide, guests can walk across the land bridge to the uninhabited Koh Kala for a human-free commune with nature or simply walk several hundred meters out into the water for a think. It’s romantic, empty, and gives travelers plenty of space to move around, a rarity on Phuket beaches these days.
For the group looking for activities, there is the famous Spice Spoons from Anantara, a cooking class heralded from Thailand to the Maldives, chill out in the library, or hop on the 90-foot Sunseeker Major Affair or the 36-foot Siam Seas speedboat for an adventure in the Andaman. Anantara’s brand is famous the world over for its service and unique accommodations, and the Anantara Layan is a chance to visit Phuket with the family in luxury, with nature, and away from the crowds.