Where is it? Phuket's west coast is sprinkled with Photoshopped sandy coves and beaches; much of the east coast is muddy and boggy. So situating the Anantara Layan roughly halfway down the west side of the island was a no-brainer. Mind you, the cultured "Pearl of the Orient" tallies a vast number of seaside resorts, boutique hideaways and five-star hotels, so how to set it apart from the pack? Crash, bang, wallop - step forward the Layan Stadium, the property's own muay Thai boxing ring. Guests older than four are welcome.
What's the accommodation like? As anyone who's travelled in Thailand would know, rooms and suites are all very well, but sleeping in a villa is like stepping up to business class from an inside seat in economy. There are 47 pool villas of varying shapes and sizes - some by the beach, others aimed at families and a handful with two bedrooms - all decorated with more than a nod to Thai style. The great thing about the more secluded ones is there's no hassle if you happen to have forgotten to pack your swimming costume. All mod cons - such as free Wi-fi and a Nespresso machine - are included wherever you're staying. Large families or groups of friends might want to try one of the 15 new Residences, which have up to seven bedrooms.
And the food? With a little advance notice, Anantara's staff can set up a table by the pool, on the beach or just about anywhere on the property, leaving you free to eat surrounded by nature. Otherwise, both Sala Layan (Mediterranean) and Dee Plee (Thai) are excellent; the latter's steamed whole sea bass with herbs and soy sauce is especially good.
Alcohol in whatever guise rarely tastes better than when ingested alfresco, particularly if you're reclining on one of the daybeds that are actually in the pool. The resort's sommelier conducts both a straightforward tasting of four whites and four reds, and a rather more wide-ranging appreciation session covering aromas, grape varieties, bouquets and flavours.
OK, we're ready to rumble now. Jabs, hooks, swings, knee strikes, kicks - and those are just some of the gentler muay Thai moves. Seasoned instructors provide expert tips on converting arms, legs, knees and shins into weapons, as well as an insight into Thai culture. A basic one-hour class costs 2,500 baht (HK$550); a five-day couple's package costs 22,400 baht, which should make for an unforgettable honeymoon. All wannabe boxers are presented with a certificate, a souvenir pair of muay Thai shorts and a new set of teeth. Just kidding. Less full-on diversions include watersports, a spa, a fitness centre and cooking classes.
What's the bottom line? Room rates start at 14,000 baht per night. For more details, browse phuket-layan.anantara.com