Today (July 6, 2016): Review of Amanpuri, Phuket (Thailand).
- Location: Google Maps
- Address: 118 Moo 3 Srissunthorn, 83110, Thailand
- Hotel website: Amanpuri
- Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso
Since its opening in 1988, the ultraluxurious beach resort of Amanpuri has established a wordwide reputation for personal service, fine cuisine and cruising, all of which complement the exceptional beauty of its tropical island surroundings. Amanpuri, a Sanskrit word meaning ‘place of peace’, reflects its name in more ways than one. Ancient Ayutthayan architecture determines the design of the resort’s pavilions and villas, which overlook lush vegetation, a gorgeous white beach and the pristine Andaman Sea. The resort is the flagship hotel of Aman, the world’s most exclusive hotel brand.
Amanpuri features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury hotels in Thailand, the world’s most stunningly beautiful hotel beaches, the best Aman hotels in the world, and Phuket’s best ultra luxury resorts.
In this review (more info below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- Situated on a hilly headland on the west coast of Thailand’s largest island (Phuket), Amanpuri is in harmony with its idyllic setting. The world-class retreat is tucked away in a secluded, 24 hectares (60 acres) coconut plantation along Phuket’s most spectacular stretch of beach, looking out over the turquoise expanse of the Andaman Sea.
- The resort is an easy 25-minute drive from Phuket International Airport, appealing to both Asia-based couples and families seeking a short break to rejuvenate as well as long-haul guests looking for a comprehensive escape. Most Amanpuri packages include complimentary limousine airport transfers.
- Amanpuri comprises a collection of airy pavilions and villas that were designed by Edward Tuttle, the famous American-born architect and interior designer. He took his inspiration from the historic temple of Ayutthaya (the old Thai capital), and consequently, the resort architecture features several traditional touches such as polished wood interiors, sliding screen doors, and multi-tiered Thai-style roofs.
- The resort’s impressive layout is both simple and convenient. A magnificent, dark-tiled, rectangular swimming pool sits at Amanpuri’s center, and is surrounded by a cluster of open-sided pavilions that house the lobby, restaurants and bar. From here, elevated walkways take guests to the accommodations, and a monolithic stone staircase leads to the beach, another bar and restaurant, more pools, and the leisure facilities.
- Located in a towering Thai pavilion that is fringed by lush jungle, the open-sided lobby makes a great first impression upon arrival at the resort, and offers gasp-inducing views over the pool and the Amandan Sea at the horizon. As is the case with most Aman resorts, the General Manager was there to personally greet me (and other guests), and I was offered a refreshing cold towel and welcome drink.
- One of Amanpuri’s biggest draws is the fabulous, crescent-shaped, white beach by the brilliant turquoise sea. This truly is one of the most phenomenal hotel beaches I have ever seen during all my years of traveling. Amanpuri shares the beach with another luxury hotel, with both resorts occupying one end of the long beach. The beach is public (all in Thailand are), but it is very hard to get to, as it can only be reached via the hotel or by boat, effectively keeping it completely private, with no other tourist or vendors wandering around.
- Matching the exceptional beauty of its surrounding, Amanpuri features a superb beach club, which has three separate areas. An intimate seating area with a few pairs of loungers – perfect for couples – lies at the foot of a cascading sweep of stone steps in a secluded cove. Families will feel more at ease in the beach club’s main area, which is party shaded by the overhanging jungle canopy and comes with a children pool. And finally, there’s a pavilion somewhat set back from the beach on the hill, that features a 20m (66 ft) lap pool and a Thai sala with cocktail bar and lounge seating. Drinks and light snacks are served beach- and pool-side throughout the day.
- Amanpuri’s beach is oriented towards the west, allowing great sunset views while making romantic strolls with your feet in the water.
- The resort’s 40 Thai-styled pavilions and 32 private villas are interspersed throughout a mature coconut plantation, and connected through elevated walkways with the resort’s facilities. During my visit, I stayed in a garden pavilion. The elegant and spacious pavilion bedroom lead to a large dressing area with twin vanities and a table with an impressive vase of beautiful fresh flowers, then on to a sunken bath and separate shower. It also featured and outdoor lounge area with day beds under a soaring bargeboard roof, ideal for al fresco dining or quiet contemplation.
- Amanpuri is the flagship resort of Aman, the world’s most exclusive hotel brand, which manages a small collection of glamorous properties stretching from Asia to Europe to North Africa and the U.S. Among its habitués is a group of passionate repeat customers who call themselves ‘Aman junkies’ (count me in) and whose travel plans are determined by Aman locations. The brand is known for understated elegance of its resorts, exquisite attention to detail, minimalist design, heartfelt service, and otherworldly locations. Frankly, an Aman resort makes a St Regis or Ritz-Carlton look downright pedestrian.
- When it opened in 1988, Amanpuri was the first Aman resort to grace the planet and as such the resort has built a phenomenal and legendary reputation, attracting the rich and famous, including A- list celebrities and royalty. Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Leonardo Di Caprio, and Mick Jagger have all stayed here.
- Amanpuri’s exquisite food easily ranks among the best I ever had at a resort. There are four restaurants: an Italian, a Thai, a Japanese and a beach terrace for lunch.Facing the swimming pool, the Terrace specializes in Thai cuisine and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Next door is the Restaurant, which serves Italian cuisine and is open every evening. Just steps from the beach, Naoki serves Kaiseki fare which combines the best of French techniques with a Japanese sense of artistry; the dining bar surrounds a sunken central kitchen where food is prepared in front of diners.
- Breakfast is served a la carte at the Terrace restaurant and is of exceptional quality.
- Set in a secluded coconut grove, Amanpuri’s spa was Aman’ first full-service spa and it still delivers. The supremely good spa is a holistic sanctuary that nurtures both body and mind. It offers an extensive selection of treatments. Complimentary yoga and meditation sessions are also offered in the open-sided salas set high on the hillside. I highly recommend it!
- Private yoga, Pilates and guided meditation sessions can also be arranged, and there are personal trainers available at the glass-walled state-of-the-art gym, which is perched on the highest point in the resort.
- Each afternoon, complimentary Thai tea and cakes are served at the swimming pool pavilion. It’s a perfect moment to break up the sunny and lazy days spent at the beach.
- Amanpuri provides a wide range of sport & leisure facilities, including Hobie Cats and equipment for windsurfing, snorkelling and kayaking on Pansea Beach. PADI-accredited dive programmes are available year-round. Six tennis courts are lit for night play and five international-standard golf courses are located within a 40-minute drive of Amanpuri.
- Amanpuri’s owns more than 20 cruisers and sailing craft, one of the largest resort-owned fleets in Southeast Asia. Sailing, deep-sea fishing, diving and overnight charters, with full crew, are all available. Ideal for cruising the islands and bays of Phang Nga and Krabi, Maha Bhetra, is a 90ft luxury cruiser with three airconditioned cabins and a huge Thai-style living sala on the top deck.
- Service is impeccable, as you would expect from an Aman resort. I did not have any issues with the English standards of the staff. Most speak excellent English, and miraculously, there is always someone popping up to address you in English when confronted with one of the few staff members that are not so fluent in English.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
Amanpuri has been at the top of their game for nearly three decades. With its secluded coconut plantation setting, phenomenal beach, exquisite food and glamorous spa, it represents the epitome of a luxurious, tropical retreat. Finding a con of Ampanpuri is mission impossible, but you may want to know the following nonetheless when considering a stay here:
- Amanpuri has opened in 1988 and is not the newest nor most fancy resort around. However, the architecture by Ed Tuttle has not really aged since he chose for timeless elegance and traditional architecture. And despite it being almost 30 years old, Amanpuri is extremely well maintained, still living up to its iconic myth.
- The one area where Amanpuri does show its age are the pavilion accommodations. They are still great and elegant, but – contrary to other more recent hotels in the area – only a handful of the rooms have sea views and/or outdoor plunge pools (the resort was built at a time when private plunge pools were still unheard of). The good news though is that the lush tropical vegetation surrounding the rooms provides shade and privacy, and the magnificent communal pools (3 in total) make up for the lack of a private pool (in case you would need one).
- The hotel is located on a hilly headland, and while visually stunning, the stairs from the swimming pool and lobby area to the beach are very steep. Although this may sound problematic for guests that have difficulties with walking, it’s not much of an issue since the helpful staff can take you anywhere in the resort by buggy.
- Breakfast – included in my package – was an outstanding but also confusing experience. One morning, I could choose whatever I wanted from the menu, while the next morning, I could only choose one hot item. On the day of departure, I could choose 3 items. I am sure it was only a small service error, and that improved communication (perhaps a note in the breakfast menu?) can prevent this kind of confusion for other guests.
- Yes, the hotel is very expensive but this is an Aman hotel after all, the world’s most exclusive hotel brand. You should know that going into it. The most important thing is that if you can afford it, you will not be disappointed at all with the unique experience that awaits you. It’s a place you will never forget.
- Be prepared to become an Aman junkie as this will raise the bar for your future trips.
- Location: 9/10
- Design: 9/10
- Rooms: 8/10
- Food: 10/10
- Service: 10/10
- Overall experience: exceptional: 9,2/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Amanpuri (and/or receive many free perks).
- Save money: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and one lunch or dinner for 2).
- Pavilion rates are determined according to view and location, with Ocean Pavilions 105 and 103 enjoying the most spectacular views of the Andaman Sea.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT PHUKET
The weather in Phuket is dominated by a tropical monsoon climate which means there are three main seasons: a cool, dry season between November and February (which is the best period to visit Phuket); a hot, dry season from March to June, and a rainy season from July to October. Expect daytime temperatures to be in excess of 30 degrees centigrade throughout the year (with the possible exception of late December and early January). The two periods April to May and September to October are characterised by very high humidity. The southwest monsoons arrive between May and October bringing unsettled, cloudy conditions, as well as lower room rates.
HOW TO GET THERE
Amanpuri is located on the west coast of Phuket island, a 25 min drive from Phuket Airport. Check the Wikipedia page of Phuket Airport for an updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Phuket.