The one place I have been to almost every couple of months last year is Phuket. (I am sure, you've noticed). Has this put me off the island? No. Simply because each visit has been a different experience. Though this isn't my first stay at The Nai Harn Phuket, nothing about it gets old — not the sun, not the sand, not the sea and definitely not the views.
Built on the sea-facing side of a tropical hillside rainforest, The Nai Harn Phuket overlooks the crescent-shaped Nai Harn beach and is across Promthep Cape. At first glance upon approaching the all-white hotel, you feel as though you are in Santorini, complete with slopes and stairs, which one cannot avoid.
There are a few choices of accommodation but do indulge in any of the ocean views, as the sea is quite spectacular this side of Phuket. The rooms are spacious and everything is sort of open plan. The Nai Harn Phuket offers the largest non-villa rooms on the island. Each Ocean View Room has a huge balcony, which has a canopy day bed for two. Perfect for those lazy afternoons, when the sun gets too hot for the beach or the pool.
Once you are shown to your room, the most wonderful surprise awaits, one which is sure to get you straight into vacay mode. The "Make your own mojito" tool kit comes with a complimentary bottle of Chalong Bay rum, plenty of mixers, limes, lemons and a muddler. However, the best is yet to come.
Recline into sunken seating at Reflections Rooftop Bar.
All ocean-facing rooms have a terrace with a daybed.
Deluxe Ocean View Rooms feature an oversized king bed.
The luxurious bathrooms offer space to relax and refresh.
Reflections caters for weddings and parties.
Rock Salt is good for a light lunch, sundowners, char-grilled meats and wood-fired oven pizzas.
A luxury resort with unrivaled ocean and island views.
The best thing about staying at The Nai Harn Phuket, is out on the terrace and "on" the four-posted day bed. A glamorous addition to any terrace, the "Press For Champagne" button is in all suites, and I encourage you press it… all day, every day.
One is spoilt for choice as the hotel has five dining outlets, apart from in-room dining. The best views of the turquoise waters are from Cosmo, whose open-air and outdoor seating area runs the length of the hotel. The all-day dining restaurant and bar is the breakfast restaurant and what a spread it is! Executive chef Mark Jones makes everything in-house, even the charcuterie, which is housed in a temperature-controlled room and if you can peel your eyes away from the buffet and look at the ceiling, you'll see all the different cuts of meat staring back at you. The yoghurt and cheese, and granola parfaits are all made in-house, too. There are at least five to six different types of breads, rolls, croissants and pastries on offer.
Do leave space for lunch, as chef Chatchanan "Ann" Punjasuphachok's southern Thai cuisine will leave you salivating. Though chef Ann isn't from the South, her food is as authentic (read spicy) as it gets. And yes, you're gonna need the coconut water (a quintessential beach drink) to cool down your mouth, only so you can go back for seconds. A must-order is the fresh turmeric chicken broth. Pro tip: Chef Ann also conducts a Thai cooking class, which requires a day's notice.
Another restaurant, popular with the locals and beach people is the award-winning Rock Salt. Located right off the beach, at the mouth of The Nai Harn Phuket, Rock Salt's kitchen is managed by chef Carsten Ritter. A good spot for lunch if you've been making good use of the hotel's loungers on the beach, Rock Salt offers fare from all over the world. Begin with a glass of the "best rose in Thailand", as awarded by wine critic James Suckling, while munching on the restaurant's signature breads that come with babaganoush, fava bean dip and delicious aged Modena balsamic and olive oil. Be careful not to fill up on bread as you await Australian mussels mariniére with aioli and French fries, to accompany the glass of cold white wine, you've ordered. It perhaps, should be noted that hotel general manager Frank Grassmann is an avid wine connoisseur of sorts and the hotel has a good amount of fine wines, minus the usual hefty price tags. Pro tip: Rock Salt is known for their pizzas and kebabs, all to be washed down with sunset cocktails.
Breakfast at Cosmo is the best place to start the day.
Reflections caters for weddings and parties.Rock Salt is good for a light lunch, sundowners, chargrilled meats and wood-fired oven pizzas.
[email protected] Salt is the alfresco exclusive eatery with just 14 seats, offering a collection of roasted, smoked and char-grilled creations. Though it is open subject to weather conditions. Reflections is the rooftop deck with reflective ponds and sunken seating, good for evening dining. It is the spot for the hotel's BBQ Butler to make an appearance. Hansha is Phuket's first rooftop sea view sushi and sashimi bar, which is served omakase style and is only open in the evenings.
If you fancy an extra indulgent seafood lunch, look no further than chef Jones' seafood platter, served only at Cosmo. The platter comes with the fresh oysters, Alaskan king crab, Australian mussels, tiger prawns and all the condiments you'll ever need. There is no better way to spend a lazy afternoon, taking in the sights and sea breeze, glass of Champers in hand. "This is the life", as the saying goes.
Though if you are not into all this eating, there is a 50m rooftop pool to laze around and for that occasional swim and cocktail, the list of which has been created by The Savoy London's legendary barman Salim Khoury.
For another kind of indulgence, try the spa where a mix of traditional and modern treatments are available using the purest of natural ingredients. I enjoyed a blissful oil massage.
The hotel offers non-motorised water sports down at the beach, which is free from all jet skis. Since the waters around are shallow enough to snorkel, the hotel will lend you equipment or you can snorkel at Racha Island. There is also scuba diving for the underwater enthusiasts with the Sea Bees.
Visit the Chalong Bay Rum Distillery for a rum-tasting session or explore the whiskey compendium at Cosmo Bar. Though if visiting the vast beyond is your thing, then you can explore the Rawai sea gypsy village and market. Hire a boat and tour around Phang Nga Bay or dine off the beaten track at Mor Mu Dong, which was awarded a Bib Gourmand by the Michelin Guide.
I have always loved staying at The Nai Harn. The staff are friendly and resort manager Vanuthaset "Roong" Thongwichien is always at hand, though often accompanied by a camera ready to capture the latest views and sunsets.
From the four-poster daybeds, "Press for Champagne" button, fine cuisine to exclusive beach-side butler service, The Nai Harn Phuket is the definition of seaside luxury.