What differentiates this place from Phuket's myriad other luxury resorts? Indigo Pearl is pleasingly offbeat in that its design draws upon Phuket's century-old heritage as a tin-mining centre. As well as the obvious gardens of frangipani blossoms and purple orchids, the hardwood salas and the iridescent Thai-silk details, be ready for rusting iron doors and exposed beams, polished cement floors and bizarre sculptures constructed from old engine parts, assorted scrap metal and rivets. The result is contemporary paradise-island chic with a Jules Verne twist. Think high society meets steampunk; Kelly Hoppen grappling with Captain Nemo.
Agreeable rooms? While the olde worlde industrial theme never overwhelms Indigo Pearl's tropical ambience, it also extends subtly to the "all villa and suite" property's 177 accommodation choices. Hanging lamps forged from beaten iron and leather, exposed plumbing and heavy-duty taps like those of a workshop's communal washroom add kooky interest to all rooming options, from the affordable Premium Pearl Bed Suites (72 square metres) to the spacious Pool Villas (up to 2,500 square metres).
How does one fill the days? Easily. With three swimming pools and a full fitness centre, as well as in-house instructors offering one-on-one training in disciplines ranging from yoga and Pilates to kickboxing and tennis, Indigo Pearl is pretty much self-contained for the health conscious. A Padi-certified dive centre caters for those wishing to explore the blue waters of the Andaman Sea. Thai cooking classes at Moo's Kitchen are extremely popular and rewarding.
And if I just want to eat, not cook? You're spoiled for choice, with eight award-winning wining and dining outlets. Appearing to float magically on a torch-lit lagoon and reached by raft, Black Ginger restaurant is arguably the most impressive, offering authentic Thai flavours in a romantic and sophisticated setting. Indigo Pearl's Sunday brunch is raved about across the island as one of Phuket's prime dining experiences. The Tongkah Tin Syndicate snooker hall and bar is a must-see for its eclectic, Wild-East interior.
The posh-pampering thing is a must, no? Everything about Indigo Pearl has an eccentric edge, and its Coqoon Spa is no exception. Of course, the spa has the usual pools, rain showers, steam rooms, sauna and the full array of mind, body and spirit treatments, but most startling are its two "nests" (pictured) - large, bulbous and decidedly peculiar treatment rooms, handcrafted from wicker, that hang from the banyan trees.
Did you come home with a "borrowed" souvenir or two? No need. Alongside standard fare such as silk throws, silver jewellery and other trinkets, the resort's Stock Room shop flogs off-the-wall gifts befitting of Indigo Pearl's tin-mine thrust. These include cutlery sets, the handle of each knife, fork and spoon shaped like a spanner or wrench, and resin ashtrays embedded with dozens of brass screws. The chunky nut-and-bolt toilet-roll holder forged from rough-hewn aluminium is a relative steal at 2,900 baht (HK$767).
What's the bottom line? Indigo Pearl is one of Phuket's premium getaways. Rates fluctuate with the season. With the Special Summer Break deals (two-person occupancy) currently available, expect to shell out 5,400 baht for a Premium Pearl Bed Suite or 42,000 baht for a 1,600 square metre two-bedroom Pool Villa, inclusive of local taxes.
For more details, go to www.indigo-pearl.com