The Secret Cliff Resort and Restaurant has one major advantage over its competitors – its seascape views are out of this world. This must be the only spot with a vista that embraces the west coast of Phuket all the way from Relax Bay to Kata Noi, taking in Karon, Kata and the recently constructed hilltop Big Buddha above Kata.
Such panorama is priceless and with its hillside location all the resort had to do was to fit into the grand scheme of Mother Nature's set up and has done so very well.
From the moment guests arrive in the spacious and landscaped car park they are caressed by cooling sea breezes and the airy reception and lobby area hardly needs its four large overhead fans as it is naturally cool, in both temperature and style. Furniture is made of teak wood, Phuket's daily weather forecast is prominent on the reception desk and to the side of the desk is a computer to access the internet.
Cliffside, there are 23 Deluxe Sea View rooms as well as two Family Deluxe Sea View rooms, both 32sqm and all gorgeously appointed. There is also a spacious (62sqm) Romantic Sunset Jacuzzi Suite. All of these rooms share a scintillating view out over the Andaman. Rooms feature 29" TV's, separate bathrooms with step-in showers, a complete set of bathroom accessories, king-sized beds a mini-bar, generous balconies and state-of-the-art fittings.
A sunset cocktail on the balcony here is the closest to heaven that one can get without actually sprouting wings and playing a harp. The prospect of sleeping with the balcony doors open and hearing the surf breaking on the rocks 200 feet below is a strongly seductive one. It's not unlike having a giant infinity pool just outside your window.
There are also four Superior Garden View villas featuring a generous shared wooden terrace with a table and chairs set. It's a pleasure to sit here and take in the verdant and leafy gardens.
All the sights, sounds and scents of the tropics are here and a lingering bittersweet odour of cashew fruit wafts through the foliage.
Palms wave overhead in the breeze and tiny tropical birds chirp away to the background buzz of cicadas. This, without any doubt, is the real McCoy.
The Secret Cliff Restaurant is located to the left of reception and boasts three floors – each one with a gorgeous westerly-facing view out over the Andaman. The top floor is covered and, in keeping with the resort's natural ethic, the designers have built it around nature rather than over it so don't be surprised to see palm tree trunks coming up through the floor and through the ceiling!
The bottom terrace is perfect for al fresco meetings and has a chilled walk-in wine cellar and lots of space. Service is convivial and the evening we dined there the diners from the uncovered middle terrace had to be relocated upstairs due to an unexpected rain shower. The staff handled the changes admirably.
The wine selection is ample and reasonably priced and the cuisine western-Thai. This is an ideal place to have lunch on a sunny day because of the sparkling and gleaming views out to sea and along the neighbouring as well as distant beaches. Room service available until 11pm.
You'd have to consult an encyclopedia of tropical plants to fully describe the grounds at Secret Cliff. The natural beauty of the hillside flora has been left alone and bamboo grass, orchids and trimmed privet bushes added to create a pleasing harmony of nature and horticulture.
The grounds are strewn with giant granite boulders and these enhance the 'back to nature' effect, nowhere more so than around the infinity swimming pool and pool bar. It's a short walk from the cliff-side rooms to reception and the restaurant but the gradient is steep and you'll no doubt take some time along the way to admire the birds of paradise, elephant ears, orchids, palm trees and traditional Thai statues…
For the more adventurous, there is a path leading down to the sea and the granite boulders on which the waves crash. It is possible to fish from here.
Located almost exactly halfway between the resort towns of Patong and Karon, you're only minutes away from both towns' famous nightlife and shopping yet Secret Cliff is in a perfectly calm location.
There is a free shuttle service to Karon Beach leaving at 10:00, returning at 16:00 and to Patong Beach at 11:00, returning at 17:00.