Phuket has always been on my list to visit whenever I am in the southeast Asia due to the inordinate amount of enticing beach photos that are published on social media. On my recent trip to the region, I was able to fit a few days in Phuket. The biggest question while researching the popular destination was where to stay because Phuket is renowned for its amazing luxury resorts and party towns. After receiving advice from my Thai friends, I opted to stay in the northwest region of Phuket as the weather is better there in November and my main objective was to relax. I selected a 5-day stay in a pool villa at the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas located near the Sirinath National Park. Did the 5-star resort meet my expectations?
This 91 villa-only resort is catered to honeymooners and high-end clientele. The location is approximately a 20-minute cab ride from Phuket International Airport. Each villa has an infinity pool making it a perfect spot to hide away for days. Alternatively, there is a large scenic infinity-edge beachside communal swimming pool and direct beach access from the property; one of the few resorts with direct access to a semi-private beach in the region. Due to conservation regulations, there are no amenities on the beach itself so most guests will either be at the pool area or in their own villa. The busiest time at the beach is during sunrise and sunset (obviously).
Because the villas are spread out and bicycles, which are complimentary for guests to get around are scarce and usually broken, it can be a trek to reach the main facilities on the property. There are a lot of mosquitos in the area, even after daily spraying from the hotel. We had to use 4 coils around us every time we sat outside and would still get bitten. Lastly, the management’s response to my issues are not at the level of a 5-star hotel.
Final Hotel Assessment: 1 (terrible) to 5 (excellent)
Reviews of hotels from various sources (i.e. Trip Advisor) are accurately reflecting the current condition of the accommodation
I generally agreed with the overall positive reviews on TripAdvisor. The resort is highly ranked on TripAdvisor and Booking.com.
Hotel room description is the same as the booking information website: (5)
Pictures do not do the villa justice. The layout is wonderfully designed so there is a view and access to the pool from each room in the villa. The size of the smallest pool villa was large by any standard. The villas are cleaned twice a day, which keep the rooms spotless and fully stocked with every bathroom amenities imaginable. The interiors are decorated in tropic chic with the comfiest King size bed that I had slept in a while. A Bose wireless speaker is available for guests to use so we could play our own music anywhere in the villa. Overall, the room felt like an oasis for a weary traveler and exactly what I was looking for with this escape.
Check in Process: (5)
Guests are greeted at the main pavilion and are quickly given a cold towel and juice to temper the heat and humidity, even in November. Check-in was quick and then we were driven in a golf cart to our villa. A quick tour of the amenities followed once we arrived.
Food/Beverage Services: (5)
The breakfast buffet was a highlight of this resort. Even though there are fewer guests than a traditional hotel, the selection and variety were made for triple the occupancy. The selection of juices available each day was astounding and a healthy start to a lazing session later. The quality of the ingredients and flavors of each dish made it one of my favorite buffets among many excellent ones that I have tried in Asia. My friend and I ate so much at breakfast that our only other meal was dinner each day.
Lunch was available at the restaurants on site or via room service. We used room service to order fruit plates and snacks and they arrived very quickly. For dinner, we ate at seafood shacks around the hotel as we wanted a change of scenery, thus I can’t comment on the dinner options in the resort. If the breakfast buffet was any indication, dinner should be at international standards.
Issue resolution from management: (2)
I had an accident while staying at the resort where I fell in the pool and landed on the stairs. This resulted in a badly scraped and bloody arm and a very bruised back. We could not find the first aid kit in the room and later found out it was in a pretty box with no first aid signage. I limped to the lobby and asked for bandages. The concierge asked if I should see a nurse, which I had assumed it would be the resort’s nurse. The hotel actually called the hospital nurse to come and bandage me and then gave me a $50 bill for the visit. When I disputed the charge because I was not told of this fee prior to the treatment, the answer was that it was my responsibility. I was charged $50 for bandages and saline solution.
After a few irate calls later and requesting to speak with the manager, the hotel waived the fee. It was a frustrating experience as I was injured on the property and would have bandaged myself if I could have found the hidden first aid kit. Management could have facilitated this experience much better and not nickel and dime their guests, especially for a resort demanding an average of $500 a night per villa.
Customer Service: (5)
The staff are the nicest people around; although, I generally find that to be the case with most of Thailand’s best hotels. English is spoken by the main lobby staff, however other hotel workers sometimes struggled beyond basic English requests. I had brought along a swan floaty from New York and the staff kindly blew it up for us and also packaged it for my friend to take it on the plane with her at the end of the trip. The meticulous and friendly staff elevated the experience at the Anantara.
There is a renowned spa at the resort with luxury level pricing. Thailand is known for spas so if this is something that you want to experience, I would recommend it. I had my fair share in Bangkok so I opted to skip this service.
Beyond the amenities in the villa, the hotel offered bicycles for guests to get around the resort. The problem is finding the bike and half of the time, mine was broken. The hotel really needs to invest in more bicycles and ensure that all of them work properly. There is also a small gift shop next to the restaurant. A tiny gym is available near the beach along with the restaurants. Overall, the resort had enough amenities to keep guests occupied for the ultimate getaway; however, I would not recommend this resort for families. It is just not that type of clientele.
Overall Rating: (4.5)
The experience at the Anantara Mai Khao Villas was what I had hoped for. It was the ultimate private and relaxing getaway from a busy lifestyle. I took off half a star for the mishandling of the pricing dispute as this is something that management should have dealt with better. I highly recommend staying at this resort for your next visit to Phuket.