Is it really a dream? If you consider your cramped Hong Kong apartment the stuff of nightmares then, yes, this place is a dream. The standard accommodation - a two-bedroom villa - offers 5,000 square feet of livable space. A large part of that comprises a private terrace replete with a Thai sala for shade, a jacuzzi, a plunge pool and a personal entrance to the beach.
Sounds like a secluded heaven … The tourist masses in Phuket usually settle down south. This resort, just 15 minutes from the airport, sits off a largely undeveloped nine-kilometre stretch of Mai Khao Beach. And although all beaches in Thailand are public by law, the property's isolation means resort guests tend to outnumber locals and fishermen on this one.
How might we relax? As the name suggests, the resort markets itself as a spa destination and on the menu are a "synchronised" massage and one described as a "chromo-energetic". For something different, though, try "sand therapy" (right). Unique to Mai Khao Beach, the practice involves guests being buried neck-deep in the warm sand. The weight of the sand is supposed to massage all parts of the body equally and simultaneously while its warmth is said to be beneficial. Six to eight sessions are recommended for the best results.
I'm paying to be buried in sand? Local legend claims the sand at Mai Khao has a unique mix of minerals that treats joint problems and alleviates the pain associated with such ailments. Of the few Phuket residents who do visit the beach many come for the "pop-up sand therapy clinics" run by the people of Mai Khao. As the sand has yet to be scientifically evaluated, the verdict is still out as to its effectiveness, but it does feel pleasant - at least for a while. The warmth settles you - and the iPod playlist compiled by the resort helps - but it does start to feel itchy and claustrophobic as the realisation dawns that you're buried up to the neck.
Enough relaxation! I want activity. Calm down! With the beach just a stone's throw away, water sports, including kayaking, are popular. For more privacy, ask your personal butler to arrange a jaunt on the resort's Sunseeker Manhattan 60-foot private yacht, which docks at a local marina. The resort can provide access to two of Phuket's premium golf courses, including the Jack Nicklaus-designed 18-hole course at Mission Hills Phuket Golf Resort & Spa.
What's on the menu? With literally nothing else resembling a restaurant in the vicinity, the resort's Dokbua has a captive clientele. Thankfully, the restaurant is superb, serving sophisticated Mediterranean and Thai cuisine. The Thai selection is especially good. Alternatively, meals can be served in the privacy of your villa, in Dokbua's private dining room-cum-wine cellar or on the beach.
What's the bottom line? Two-bedroom villas (pictured) start at 25,000 baht (HK$6,100) per night, plus 17 per cent tax. Rates for the yacht start at about 163,000 baht for a day trip (9am to 5pm) and 203,000 baht overnight (it sleeps six guests). There is a 45,000-baht fuel surcharge if you want to head to the crystal-clear waters of the Similan Islands. For more information, visit www.maikhaodream.com.