From the minute you pull up to the Andara’s vast open lobby you get a sense of calm. The staff are softly spoken, nothing is rushed – even the gardeners seem to sweep the palm leaves and frangipani blossoms with hushed, velvet brooms. A light breeze floats through the space as you sip your welcome drink and you know instantly that you’ve made rather a good hotel choice.
The calm continues throughout the property. The Andara has a collection of private villas gracing the hillside behind the resort. The smallest have three bedrooms, the largest seven, and each has its own pool, gardens and stellar views over the glistening waters of Kamala Bay. All villas also have a dedicated room attendant and a private chef, and some also have spa rooms and fitness rooms.
The resort also has a great selection of suites, from one to four bedrooms, and each with ensuite bathrooms. The Pool and Penthouse suites have swimming pools. Each suite also has a fully equipped kitchen so a private chef can be hired to cook for suite guests too. This allows guests to indulge in a romantic supper for two indoors or out by the pool in the balmy night air.
All this space means the Andara is one of the most private resorts in Phuket. You and your loved one can take all meals and spa treatments in your villa or suite and not emerge until check-out if you want. But it’s worth strolling through the immaculately kept grounds, with their wafting palms, fragrant frangipani trees and radiant hibiscus bushes. And don’t miss the superb spa, where we spent a blissful afternoon indulging in a couples treatment. The frangipani scrub and Swedish massage were particularly good.
Best room for two
If it’s just you and your loved one on a romantic holiday but you still fancy a villa, then maybe choose one of the smaller, more intimate ones. You’ll have more space than you know what to do with (the smallest ones measure 1,160 sqm) along with your own gardens and the ultimate luxury of a private pool, outdoor dining sala and sunken lounge.
Or opt for a two-bedroom Penthouse Pool Suite, as we did. We adored it from the moment we walked in. At 300sqm, it was bigger than any apartment we have lived in. We could have comfortably played badminton in the main lounge area. On the roof was our stunning pool, the perfect spot to sip nightcaps and gaze over the lights of Kamala Bay.
We love to eat local food whenever we can, so at the Andara’s charming Silk restaurant we chose the Phuket fish cakes to start and local prawn stir-fry for the main. The fish cakes were light and full of flavour and came with two sauces – one spicy and one sweet, the latter working perfectly to soften the heat and balance the dish. The stir-fry was equally good but the star of the show was a dessert that proves that simple often works best: wild bananas in warm, sweet, aromatic coconut milk. Incredible.
In keeping with the rest of the resort, the restaurant is large, so you can dine in some privacy indoors or outdoors with views over the main pool.
Few resort pools can match the Andara’s. It’s up there with the Datai in Langkawi, the Club at The Legian in Bali and the palatial pools of the famous Aman resorts. The loungers are well spaced and separated by soaring palm trees. The 40m pool is ideal for morning laps, cooling afternoon dips and romantic, hand-in-hand floats with your partner after dark.
On our first day we arrived an hour or two before sunset, as parents were towelling off their kids and packing up to leave. We soon had the place to ourselves. As the sun sank to the horizon we ordered Tub Tim Siam cocktails and bowls of warm cashews and watched the ghostly peppermint neon of the fishing boats a few kilometres out to sea.
A quarter moon was hanging high and hazy above us. We floated together, living in the moment and storing up the memories.
Couples will love
The space and privacy, the private pools, the seductive spa, the main pool for sunset cocktails, and candlelit dinners in the warm night air. Also, catch the buggy to the resort’s very own small beach club at Kamala Beach.
Images courtesy of Andara Resort & Villas Phuket