Sala Phuket, Thailand
Alex Frew McMillan
Another Thai resort; what's so special about this one? Sala Phuket throws tradition out of the window and goes for a hip design that favours exposed concrete, straight lines and a grey, brown and white colour scheme. It's refreshing to find a place that skips the Thai-resort clich?s.
Where is it? The resort is on Mai Khao Beach, in the relatively unspoiled (and flat) northwest corner of Phuket island. It has large lawns that gently slope down past two black-lined infinity pools to the beach and the Andaman Sea, so there's plenty of space for children to run free in. The resort is nestled in a forest of Casuarina pines, which lightly whistle in the breeze.
What's the style of the place? The most is made of the resort's wide- open spaces, with unobtrusive build- ings that have long, low lines and flat roofs. Quirky touches have been added to the grounds, such as white wicker swing chairs that hang from the trees. The wooden restaurant and two-storey bar face west, out over the sea, offering stunning views of the sunset. All the rooms are set back from the beach, increasing the sense of space.
Are there any extras in the rooms? Eighty per cent of the rooms have their own swimming pool (only the upstairs balcony units miss out). The ground-level units have floor-to-ceiling screen doors that blur the boundary between inside and out. The private outdoor bathrooms and lounge areas feature painted cement tiles with a motif that the architects say draws on Phuket's Sino-Portuguese history - but it wouldn't look out of place in a nightclub. There's free high-speed internet connections in every room.
What's the food like? Conventional modern Thai is served at the pleasant restaurant and beach cafe. If you're looking for something a little more authentic, and cheaper, take a stroll through the pines to the north of the resort, where there's a cluster of beach-stall shacks serving great- value and great-tasting Thai staples such as chilli squid, pomelo salad and pad Thai. The stalls are next to a sepak takraw court, where you can watch the locals kick or head a wicker ball back and forth across a badminton-height net.
What's the bottom line? Rates start at 8,900 baht (HK$2,100) per night for a deluxe balcony room and run to 14,175 baht for a pool villa (below), plus 18.7 per cent for government and local taxes. The resort also has three-night and seven-night 'beach-break' packages.
Sala Phuket Resort and Spa is at 333 Moo 3, Mai Khao, Thalang, Phuket, Thailand, tel: 66 7633 8888; www.salaphuket.com.