Phuket’s jagged southern coast, an unvarnished panorama of lush hillsides and rainforests, is a welcome respite from the hedonistic havens of nearby Patong. In many ways, it’s this serene backdrop that distinguishes The Nai Harn, a 30-year-old sanctuary that once held the distinction of being the only five-star hotel in the area, from its tropical contemporaries. Sprawled on the fringes of what is arguably Asia’s finest beach (it’s what the property is named after), it’s also within walking distance to a more clandestine crescent of sand: Ao Sane, a little-known snorkeler and diver’s paradise. In its previous avatar, the isle’s pioneering grand dame was known as The Royal Phuket Yacht Club, playing host to local monarchs and bold-faced names like Henry Kissinger, Roger Moore, and former French president, Jacques Chirac. So when it was refurbished in 2015, undergoing a comprehensive 18-month refit, it was crucial that the overhaul still contained vestiges of the resort’s illustrious past. Even the bespoke pampering options, like hotel-arranged helicopter transfers from Phuket International Airport, and quick-fix wellness treatments courtesy of the property’s poolside Spa Cabana, contain specks of glamor from yesteryear. The 130 sorbet-colored rooms—cheery splashes of lemon, lime, and raspberry—decked with rattan furniture and hemp wallpaper, are still the locale’s most capacious. At times, the modernist public spaces can seem like snippets of the Mediterranean. But a heady bouquet of frangipani, coconut, and bougainvillea swiftly shuttles you back to your Andaman Sea surroundings.
For the ultimate in privacy, enlist the services of one of the property’s barbecue butlers to chargrill just-caught seafood in the comfort of your own sprawling 400-square-foot terrace.
The Nai Harn’s edible offerings are decidedly some of Phuket’s most refined:with homemade charcuterie, cheeses, and yogurts along with freshly baked bread, croissants and pastries at the breakfast spread, followed by Thai-style tapas as you bliss out by the pool. Lunch can be enjoyed ocean-side at Rock Salt, a breezy beach bistro featuring Eastern Mediterranean, North African, and local flavors, from vegan dishes to local seafood and extravagant Tomahawk steaks, while dinner might be a tonier affair at Han-Sha, the resort’s dramatic infinity-edged rooftop sushi and sashimi bar. For the ultimate in privacy, enlist the services of one of the property’s “barbecue butlers,” a cluster of chefs who can chargrill just-caught seafood, steak, or lamb in the comfort of your own sprawling 400-square-foot terrace, facing the retreat’s eponymous bay.
But it’s delightfully over-the-top flourishes, like a press-for-champagne button, and a pitch-perfect wine selection curated by acclaimed American critic, James Suckling, that up the ante at this tranquil escape. The former is a nifty, round-the-clock feature guests will find installed near the four-poster daybeds on the balconies at each of the resort’s 32 Ocean View Suites, where one push will almost telepathically summon a bottle of Delamotte. The latter is a noteworthy and one-of-a-kind collaboration with a former Wine Spectator editor, who brings his sommelier-like sensibilities to a country that is typically void of decent wine options (thanks to Thailand’s tee-totaling Buddhist roots), ensuring the rosé that accompanies your pad thai—he recommends the 2016 Routas from Côtes de Provence—is always impeccably paired.