Sanctuary by the sea

Thailand May 18, 2016 01:00

By PHOOWADON DUANGMEE
THE NATION

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Quiet, calm and fronting on to a pristine bay, |The Nai Harn redefines luxury



Perched on a hill right at the southern tip of Phuket Island, the former Royal Phuket Yacht Club is enjoying a renaissance as The Nai Harn resort. Following 18 months of renovation, the white-washed buildings overlooking the azure waters of the bay are reminiscent of the Greek islands of Santorini and Mykonos but Phromthep Cape and lighthouse quickly bring the mind back to Thailand’s best beach holiday destination.
“We’ve kept the structure and façade and focused mostly on redesigning the interior,” says sales and marketing director Daria Obukhova as we take the lift to the sixth floor.
The contemporary classic architecture of the former Royal Phuket Yacht Club, along with its 130 newly renovated rooms, make The Nai Harn a haven of chic simplicity. 
All rooms feature an oversized terrace with four-poster daybeds beneath swaying shades and canopies. Design, space, view, a sense of holiday – all these come together at The Nai Harn.
I’m in an Ocean View Suite on the seventh floor. The suite is spacious of course, but it’s the outdoor terrace that says the most about the space. It’s enormous. Equipped with one of those comfy four-poster daybeds (made for two to cuddle) and a couch, you still have enough space to host a private party.
“Between November and December the small bay is dotted with yachts,” says the attendant, who shows me around the suite.
I can already picture the beautiful bay with the yachts bobbing on the turquoise water. Luxury indeed. However, the bay without yachts is also beautiful with Phromthep Cape as the backdrop and ocean as far as the eye can see.
The suite is luxurious and stylish with a contemporary decor. The white walls, washed wood and simple furnishing give it a low-key yet sophisticated feel. The oversized bathtub with a stunning ocean view and the king-sized bed with its fluffy white linens and a large flat-screen television promise lazy nights and restful sleep. 
And best of all, it’s all a few minutes from the beach. I set out early one morning in pursuit of the beachcomber life. Sunlight warms the back of my neck as I walk slowly along the beach line, passing a young couple gazing across the crystal-blue water to the distant horizon. 
As the day is about to become night, the general manager Frank Grassmann together with head chef Kevin Jean Fawkes show us they know Phuket better than most when it comes to the sunset. While the crowds are heading to the Phromthep Cape for the “postcard” sunset, we pack bottles of sparkling wine and canapes and head to Yanui, a modest, low-profile beach opposite The Nai Harn.
“This is my secret place for the sunset,” says Grassmann. “Up the hill at Laem Phromthep Cape is touristy but down here is much nicer and private too.”
I cannot agree more, as does the young European couple, as we all sip our glasses of white wine waiting for the sensational sunset. 
Fawkes worked with Gordon Ramsey, Jason Atherton, Rene Redzepi and several other well-known chefs before being appointed Culinary Director of The Nai Harn. His culinary journey across North Africa, Middle East and Europe ensures guests will be treated well at table. 
One evening I opt for the grilled Maine lobster at rooftop bar The Reflections. It’s perfectly cooked and the flesh is firm and flavourful, Breakfast at Cosmo, the all-day dining restaurant, is also good with a broad selection of Asian and European food.
But my favourite is Rock Salt, a small beachside restaurant next to the Andaman Sea. Breezy and picturesque, the silence broken only the gentle lapping of the waves and the occasional laugh, Rock Salt is an ideal place to linger over a long lunch and a bottle or glass of rose or white wine. I have the sea bass in garlic butter sauce with 2014 Chateau d'Esclans Garrus Rose. Beautiful!
Quiet, luxurious and with second-to-none service, The Nai Harn is a wonderful place for a holiday, no matter how short. 
 
AT A GLANCE
High point: A luxury resort with a great view and a beach of its own,
Low point: None
Pay for it: Bt6,320 to Bt24,000 per night, depending on room type. For the best deals, visit www.thenaiharn.com
Find it: Naiharn Beach, Phuket 
Call it: (+66 76) 380 200
Browse it: www.TheNaiharn.com