Located near the extreme southern tip of Phuket Island on Nai Harn Bay, The Royal Phuket Yacht Club is a cocoon of relaxation. Weighing in at 110 rooms, it's intimate but not crowded; grand but not impersonal.
Everything required during a holiday stay is available onsite - meals, drinks, activities, and a bit of souvenir shopping. But that fact is borne from necessity.
The Royal Phuket Yacht Club isn't located "conveniently in the heart of" anything. In fact, it's a respectable trek from nearly everywhere.
For many, that's the allure. Romantic getaways - to celebrate a wedding or just for fun - are the best excuse to escape to The Royal Phuket Yacht Club. If you're looking to party until the sun rises or be dizzied by choices of places to wine and dine, this isn't your best option.
But if gracious personal attention and serenity in one of the islands most beautiful locations sounds tempting, Le Meridien is sure to please.
A Sight To Behold
Within the walls of The Royal Phuket Yacht Club, there's little reprieve from the hypnotic sea views that serves as the centrepiece for, well, everything. Whether lounging poolside, dining, exercising, enjoying room service on your patio, or indulging in a spa treatment, Nai Harn Bay is front and centre.
It's like being shadowed by a high-definition television looping a dreamy seascape. The astounding views are the result of a thoughtful layout - the resort stairsteps down a hillside to the water below - that inspire 'oohs and ahs' from every vantage point.
From the Oceanfront Superior Room to the two-bedroom Royal Suite, The Royal Phuket Yacht Club has nine styles of accommodation. Seven are suites and three have two bedrooms. For the well-heeled but thrifty, the Oceanfront Deluxe Room offers more space than the Superior - both inside and out - for a modest increase in price. All rooms make a strong argument for spending a large chunk of vacation time hiding from the world.
By far the best feature is the balconies. In fact, the word "balcony" is inadequate. This is an outdoor living room, and nearly renders the indoors area redundant (emphasis on 'nearly'; sleeping is better in an actual bed). Outfitted with dual lounge chairs and a sunshade, with towels at the ready, it was purpose built for sun lovers. Tall walls on either side keep out prying eyes - no pesky tan lines here - without obstructing the sea view.
Five-star ratings bring five-star expectations, and these rooms deliver. The essentials - plush bed, quality grooming products, mini-bar, high-speed Internet access at the desk - all report for duty. Thoughtful touches provide the ability to watch a DVD, listen to music, or brave inclement weather without getting soaked.
For those who would rather not waste time in the bathroom while there are sea views to be enjoyed, fear not. A window opens from the bathroom to the living area and allows you to watch watercraft while washing up.
A Dash Of Action, A Splash Of Fun
When it's time to turn off the television and roll out of bed, the first choice of activities are water-based. The swimming pool isn't huge, but it's shrouded in jungly greenness away from the beach crowds. And yes, Nai Harn Beach gets its fair share of visitors. For many, it's the perfect balance of beach ingredients.
The sand ends where the hotel begins (no swan dives from your room), and this is where you'll find guys manning the water sports centre. They'll set you up with sailing, snorkelling, body boarding, or windsurfing gear.
The onsite exercise room has the basics needed to rationalize the extra helping of dessert. Lost in a sea-induced trance, calories are effortlessly dropped on the treadmill. As tennis is best on a flat surface, and the hotel is on a hill, the private, floodlit courts are offsite, with a shuttle service to get you there.
Fill The Tank
After working up a mean appetite, quell those hunger pangs at one of the resort's three restaurants: the Quarterdeck serves Asian food and international cuisine and functions as the main dining area. The Regatta is dressier, more intimate, and Italian.
And Le Promenade lets you feast on Mediterranean fare while perched just above the bay. All are operated at a very high standard - both in food and service. Western dishes are not mere approximations; they are authentic recreations of your favourites.
Room service is remarkably quick, with great selections robbed from the restaurants. It's one more way to take advantage of that huge terrace.
Winner, And Still Champion
The 2006 World Travel Awards recently added "Thailand's Leading Resort" to the list of accolades The Royal Phuket Yacht Club has garnered. There's no shortage of amazing resorts in this country; it takes something special to stand out. But that just isn't good enough for the owners, who take an extreme view on what it means to be high-class. Plans for the near future include putting the 'yacht club' in 'Phuket Yacht Club' with the addition of a jetty landing and further capitalizing on the sea views and terraces with a private pool for each room. The Royal Phuket Yacht Club isn't just aging well - it's actually getting younger. And I can't wait to return.