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Budget-brand Tune Hotels has been aiming to spread like wildfire from its origins in Kuala Lumpur, bringing core values of 5-star beds, power showers, and cleanliness for wallet-friendly prices to 100 hotels around the world by next year. We’ve checked it out in London, and have our eye on their plans in the United States, but what is Tune like outside a major capital? Does it still deliver for a non-city stay?
We tested just that by staying the night at Tune in Patong, Phuket – one of the more recent additions to the brand. On the western coast of the island, Patong is one of the major tourist centers of Phuket (more on that later) and the Tune is about ten minutes’ walk from the main beach. A taxi from Phuket airport takes about 45 minutes.
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We really hate to be the ones to have to tell you this, but it’s mid-August. This means that summer is, sadly, drawing to a close and soon our pool days will be in short supply.
Not, however, in Phuket, and the good news is that Paresa Resort is opening up what they think will be the hottest beach club on the island.
ZAZADA will open in September, which will give you enough time to wean yourself off of your local pool habit and go dip your toes into ZAZADA's infinity pool at one of Thailand’s most beautiful beaches, Surin Beach.
Designed locally, the beach club will not only have its full-service infinity pool and beach space, but a dance floor, DJ booth and room for a band. You can literally show up in the morning, have a fresh-squeezed juice or smoothie at the juice bar, hang by the pool until it’s time to move on to other liquid refreshments from the full bar or wine room, bake on the beach, and then have dinner at ZAZADA’s restaurant – with a menu put together by Ryan Arboleda of Paresa’s Talung Thai and Diavolo restaurants. Have a shower and change into your dancing duds (or not--bathing suits are, after all, allowed) and then dance the night away.
ZAZADA is open to the public so you can mingle with the locals too, but Paresa guests have priority access with free admittance and transportation from the resort (less than 10 minutes away).
When ZAZADA opens, the Hot Deal Rate (advance purchase) at Paresa Resort is 8992 THB ($288) and includes breaky and free WiFi.
[Rendering: Paresa Resort & Spa]
The sun-soaked beaches of Phuket attract millions of tourists per year looking to blow off a little steam or search for the perfect Pad Thai. By the end of the year, the luxury digs of a Hyatt Regency will be welcoming guests in the heart of Thai paradise.
Situated on the west coast of the Thai island, Hyatt Regency will have 202 guest rooms as well as feature restaurants for local and international grub, a tropical pool for sipping fruity drinks and soaking up the rays, and lush spa for some mid-paradise rejuvenation. The hotel will be the third Hyatt for the area, joining the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok (whose spa suites we recently lusted over) and Hyatt Regency Hua Hin.
Situated in the area known as Millionaire's Mile, where the majority of Phuket's private villas are located, the Hyatt Regency Phuket will also have enough space to host the ultimate in destination weddings with banquet space and plenty of room for the wedding guests.
But if you are too busy exploring everything the island has to offer, the best time to chill at the resort will be the end of the day, where you can catch a stunning sunset over the Adaman Sea.
Pullman Hotels , fresh off some big new openings in London and Brisbane, has now opened the Pullman Phuket Arcadia Naithon Beach Hotel on the west coast of Thailand, featuring 277 bedrooms, seven suites, spa, and a tropical location in the hills overlooking the Andaman Sea.
As you can see from the photos, some of the rooms are villa style and overlook cascading pools as well as the ocean. It looks beautiful, and this is definitely the type of resort where you will go to do nothing. Naithon Beach is known for its pretty face, but not for its nightlife, entertainment or shopping. The area has just five independent restaurants (Up Beach Club might be your best bet) and a mini-mart is the only local store (seriously). While most are probably not locally run, you could find other dining options at nearby hotels if you want to eat outside of the Pullman, which houses two restaurants and a deli.
We’ve shown that you get whisked around Amanpuri in open-air comfort, but what is it like to spend the night here, the original Aman Resort on the western coast of Phuket? This is a case of letting the pictures doing most of the talking, but there are definitely a few things that stood for us.
You’ll find Amanpuri on Pansea Beach, a thirty-minute drive from Phuket airport, which in turn is just under two hours flight from Bangkok, the Thai capital. Architecturally, this has to be one of the most impressive resorts we’ve stayed at recently. Forty individual pavilions are scattered across a hillside, tumbling down to the Andaman Sea. The driveway swoops down to the open air lobby, just beyond is a long midnight-blue tiled swimming pool, and wide steps take you down to the white powdery beach. The timelessness of it all (Amanpuri was constructed in 1988), is really refreshing in an age where we see lots of hotel design that wears out within a matter of years.
Check out that balcony. Would a soak in that tub not immediately make you feel so much better about your day? Such is your option at the spa at the Regent Phuket Cape Panwa, specifically in one of the signature couple’s treatment rooms. Being the first new Regent hotel to open in a number of years, we swung by recently when we were in the area to check out how the renaissance of the group (now continued with a second opening in Bali) is coming along.
We arrived in the midst of a pretty impressive (and seasonal) thunderstorm, with sheets of rain cascading down like nobody’s business – when it rains in Thailand, it RAINS. Luckily those thunderstorms also tend to clear out in no time, chased away by the strength of the sun. Set in the far less developed south eastern part of Phuket, the hotel consists of 105 rooms – a combination of Pavilions, Suites, and Pool Villas – scattered on a hillside tumbling down to the Andaman Sea.
The hotel bike might be the ubiquitous amenity these days for tooling around town or the resort grounds, but in certain climates – and hilly terrains – a less strenuous alternative might be preferable.
We came across the perfect solution recently at Amanpuri – the original Aman Resort – in blisteringly hot Phuket, where getting around is both a breeze and breezy, courtesy of a fleet of semi-open buggies fashioned out of ripped up Nissans. Available any time at the main entrance or just a call away, you can be whisked to your room, back to the lobby and the main pool, down to the beach club, up to the spa, or to the top-of-the-hill gym with endless views over the surrounding area.
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We've started a series of what’s trending in hotels these days: What’s Out, What’s In. Do we like what we see? Think it's a dud? You be the judge!
What’s Out: Seaweed facials
What's In: Facials with gold, diamonds and other sparkly things
Diamonds and other precious metals and gems are sparkly and luminous; why shouldn’t your skin be the same? See what the hotel spas below are doing to make your skin radiate with good health.
The Dorchester Hotel in London offers the Carol Joy London Diamond Facial. Following ten years of research and three years of development, Carol Joy London products are created with some of the most precious beauty ingredients around (who knew that Golden Millet Oil was like pure gold?).
This intensive facial includes exfoliation with a diamond-head contraption that is said to be gentler than the traditional crystal ablater (we just like that word –- it sounds kind of bad-ass). While that’s going on, you’re being blasted with an Oxyjet machine that produces 95% pure oxygen to cool and soothe your skin and stimulate collagen production. The result? A firmer, clearer and more glowing you. The price for beauty, in this case, is £205 ($279).
How about that? We mentioned it over the summer when we looked at new Asia hotels, but Regent Hotels will finally open its first new property in a long time early December: the Regent Phuket Cape Panwa, Thailand.
Set in its own private bay, 15 minutes away from Phuket town, the hotel features 105 rooms, suites, and villas. Entry-level pavilions start at 60m2, suites are a little larger and have an open plan lay-out with a view of either the bay or the ocean. Pool villas will give you 150m2 to roam around in, an outdoor deck with a private pool, butler service, and complimentary access to the Regent Club for breakfast and drinks throughout the day. All rooms come with an iPad and happily, complimentary WiFi.
Following the opening of its first Asian property in Beijing in 2013, Rosewood Hotels has announced it will add a Phuket resort in 2014.
The beachfront retreat, which is near a 40-acre banyan-tree filled forest bordering Western Phuket's Emerald Bay, will be a modest haven of 87 one-and-two bedroom villas, 20 two-to-nine-bedrooms residences set on a half-acre each, and six exclusive forest “hideaway” hillside homes comprised of two-to-three-bedrooms each with a private gymnasium and lap pool. There will also be six restaurants and lounges for dining and entertainment.
Naturally, a highlight will be the brand's Sense Spa, with its five treatment rooms and seven private spa villas complete with a swimming and Watsu pool for therapies. Yoga will continue to be a staple and a dedicated pavilion will be on site. To take advantage of the Andaman Sea, a sea sports pavilion will offer a variety of water sports options, and a rooftop tennis court will provide what can only be mean game-distracting views of the region.
Rosewood plans to add 10 more properties to its Asia profile within the next five years.
[Image: Rosewood Hotels]
Swissôtels are elusive properties. It's hard to believe that though the chain has a slew of hotels around Europe, they have only one in the US (the Swissôtel Chicago) and, now, only one resort in Asia: the newly debuted Swissôtel Resort Phuket, Thailand.
Although it's not a new buildit used to be the Courtyard by Marriott at Kamala Beachthis Swissôtel is sticking to the business formula, positioning itself as a resort for businesspeople who need a getaway. Of course it helps that the resort is only 30 minutes south of Phuket International Airport and has a conference center for 150.
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Sometimes you just don't want to share a hotel pool with other guests. Perhaps you want to skinnydip, or meditate, or have family time, or just float in the middle of the pool and completely, utterly zone out. Whatever your reasons, we get it. So does the Anantara Phuket Villas, because each of their 83 villas comes complete with its own private pool, plus deck with loungers, a traditional Thai Sala, outdoor shower and giant sunken bathtub.
Guests can easily spend the majority of a weeklong vacation here lost in the luxuries of their private abodeheck, there are even rose petals and salts provided for the fancy bathtubbut for the rest of the time, there's always the three main pools.
Here's the cool thing. There's only one suite at the Anantara Phuket; it's the two-bedroom Similan Suite and it boasts a larger pool than all the rest, obviously, but the 82 other villas are mostly the same save for a choice of blue or green pool tiling. It makes it kinda difficult to get jealous of your villas neighbors.