PHUKET – There are no private beaches in Thailand unless, well, you’re at Amanpuri. Geography has blessed this hush-hush haven (the first in Aman's pioneering brand history, circa 1988) with a cove filled with white sand and capped on either side by steep rock formations — rendering it nearly inaccessible to outsiders. Indeed, outsiders is exactly what they call your guests, should they come in for a meal or join you for tennis. “Just to confirm, that’s four of you from rooms 908 and 909, plus two outsiders?” When you’re at an Aman, the outside world tends to fade away.
The original Aman underwent its most extensive renovation in 35 years — closing for three months to add in new restaurants, additional private pools, new hydrotherapies in a new Spa House, and new guest experiences. The beautiful wooden pavilions with traditional Thai elements have been reconfigured to be more open and spacious.
At the end of a month-long stay in Thailand, my husband and I booked into a two bedroom pavilion with another couple. We promptly stopped traveling and started relaxing. Main pool drinks, drinks by the shaded pool, private chef for a large bday dinner in the pavilion? Yes, yes, yes. Although the natural inclination is to overindulge, the ocean-view gym was too well-equipped to avoid and the beach was too perfect to skip out on sunset jogs. We left feeling rejuvenated, pampered, and just a little bit sad.
At a Glance
Location: The resort is nestled on a prime hillside and former coconut plantation near famed Surin Beach, set far back from the main road with no sign (naturally).
Vibe: Understated luxury with an emphasis on privacy and a housekeeping staff of ninjas ensuring 24/7 perfection. Even if we popped out for a five-minute walk, they somehow got into the room to remake the bed and fold all our clothes. While taking a dip in the villa’s pool, our towels were magically replaced and our shoes were lined up. We *almost* expected someone would be there to tuck us in for a nap. The staff did manage to slip on the signature luggage tags while we were sipping our farewell drinks and paying the bill.
This Place Is Perfect For: Couples looking to take a vacation from their vacation somewhere effortlessly romantic but not cheesy.
But Not So Perfect For: Travelers looking to explore the area and culture deeply. Yes, you could, but the price is high and the amenities on property are just too good to leave.
In the Room: Lofty, brand new, all-wooden interiors that match style with tradition and include all the high-tech gadgetry you expect. The fully stocked mini bar, daily snacks, and bedside gifts that have become Aman’s calling card are all wonderful.
Food + Drink: An expansive tea time spread brings everyone from their pavilions out to the main pool area, and then, inevitably, to one of the poolside bars. Restaurants include Thai, Japanese, and a new beach club.
Drawbacks: Thai beaches are plagued with ubiquitous plastics washing ashore, especially in the rainy season. The Aman staff works hard and does a good job to ensure a pristine environment, but the tides provide a worthy opponent.
Phuket has increasingly become one of Asia’s go-to mass market tourism hotspots. This obviously comes with some disadvantages (if you’re not staying at Amanpuri), but what it does mean is that there is plenty to do — especially for families. During our month-long stay, we visited three of the biggest waterparks I’ve ever seen (like Andamanda), hiked, island-hopped in the Gulf of Thailand, visited animal sanctuaries, parasailed, and had many chill beach club days.
Surin Beach, Phuket, Thailand
Real Beach Luxury, $$$