The Pavilions, Phuket
What is it? A luxurious and secluded Thai resort on a shaded hillside in Phuket's Cherngtalay district, comprising 48 pool villas, completely and utterly given over to encouraging its patrons to make like bunnies.
Ooh, tell us more. I must confess, the odd flicker of doubt crossed my mind as we pulled into the resort's understated bamboo-fringed entrance. A Phuket resort that isn't even on the beach? But all scepticism was blown away as we rounded a final shaded curve and drew up to the lobby, where a glittering vista unfolded over the treetops. Within minutes, I was being whisked to my room, and what a room! The Pavilions is aptly named, for these are rooms expressly designed to live - and do other things - in.
Pavilions? An exaggeration surely? Not a bit. You could happily cocoon yourself here for days without setting foot outside; the villas are obscenely large, with a sexy minimal black slate, glass and chrome vibe, a sofa you could get lost in, a gauze-draped four-poster bed, a bathroom that goes for miles and a generous and private walled patio where clothing is most definitely optional, with a plunge pool, veiled sala and dining table. I plugged my iPhone into the smart docking system and seconds later, smooth chilled sounds filled the pavilion through the Bose speakers discreetly placed in every room. I popped the top off a crisp ale, slid into the pool and pondered the cruel trick fate had played on me: here I was in Phuket's - if not Asia's - sexiest resort, and I was flying solo.
Sexy you say? Everything about the place is designed to encourage intimacy. Children are verboten. Privacy is paramount. Service is efficient but unobtrusive. The menus and drinks list contain little knowing nods and winks. And the resort is in the midst of unveiling an extensive and carefully planned programme based on 'passions'.
Ah! So what else excites? You name it, they've thought of it. Passionate about chocolate, cuisine, dance, art, music, perfume, adventure or body painting? Then knock yourself out. In three days, I was slathered in chocolate, massaged to within an inch of rapture, wined and dined like some louche lord, treated to Cantonese opera and fiery flamenco, painted up like some pinkie-deficient yakuza, zip-lined over lush rainforests, whisked to a beach club and encouraged to help craft a perfume that would make Coco Chanel want a whiff.
So who's in charge then? The Pavilions, which has a sister resort in Bali, Indonesia, is the brainchild of Gordon Oldham, a long-time Hong Kong lawyer, sometime ultra-marathoner and tireless globetrotter who has defended Stanley Ho Hung-sun, among others. The resort is based on his vision of a truly romantic and sexy adults-only resort. You could call it his 'passion project'.
What's the bottom line? Until December 20, a Spa & Pool Pavilion costs 12,950 baht (HK$3,200) a night and a penthouse, 15,750 baht.
The Pavilions is at 31/1 Moo 6, Cherngtalay, Thalang, Phuket, Thailand, tel: 66 076 317 600; www.thepavilionsresorts.com.