A surprisingly short 20-minute drive from Phuket’s airport, up an abundantly verdant winding road to the northern tip of Bangtao Beach, the picturesque Layan Bay is home to the spectacular Anantara Layan Resort. Perched on a hillside comprised of towering pine, rubber and coconut trees, overlooking a tranquil unspoiled cove with an intimate beach, the lush resort welcomes guests with customary Thai hospitality. From the signature spirit houses and painted smiling elephant statue at the entrance to the welcome gong and jasmine bracelets you are presented with on arrival, the atmosphere is both authentic and relaxed, yet personal.

Stepping up to the outdoor lobby and reception area topped with a white vaulted roof, the view out over the slatted wood decking to an infinity pool connected to the hotel’s private shoreline. Pass through the main reception and dining area to the tiki torch lit walkways, which lead to the property’s 30 rooms and suites and 47 pool villas tucked into lush gardens fragrant with the scent of jasmine and frangipani. From the outset the hotel’s deluxe Thai aesthetic featuring peaked rooftops, traditional wooden salas (Thai-style majlis seating) and creamy soft furnishings paired with local teak wooden accents creates an authentic sense of place.

An idyllic option for couples and families, the resort has multiple configurations to accommodate guests. The Anantara Pool Villas are small complexes that include a spacious bathroom with a private alcove for the bathtub and an equally capacious bedroom with neutral cream walls, local textiled furnishings, wooden floors, delicate oriental motifs and luxury comforts. A separately enclosed living room offers additional private space.

With both structures opening up to a private pool area and offering beach access, one is easily tempted to find a beachside bean bag to sink into and enjoy the shade offered by the tall pine trees, or venture to the infinity pool, with both looking out over Kata Island. In the evening, one can enjoy being steps from the beach to savour sunset at the funky Mojito factory pop-up truck while basking in the glow of tiki torches to a symphonic cacophony of cicadas.

The fabulous award-winning Dee Plee restaurant features indoor and extensive outdoor terraced seating on a rich dark wood deck where sumptuous seafood is served among other fresh and spicy delights. It is also the setting for the Spice Spoons Cooking Classes, where you can learn to create the rich layered flavours of Thai cuisine.

Extra exclusive escape

For those looking for a seriously lavish and private retreat into luxury, Layan Residences by Anantara are set higher up into the hillside. This boutique collection of 15 two- to seven-bedroom residences embrace the most indulgent of offerings.

Created by the late, renowned interior designer Jaya Ibrahim, the residences incorporate authentic luxury in a modern interpretation of classic Asian design, with expansive living spaces enhanced by high-vaulted ceilings, open stairways and floor-to-ceiling windows that provide spectacular views over the bay and beyond. These superb sanctuaries feature sleek lines in the elegantly furnished living and dining rooms, fully-fitted kitchens, deluxe bedrooms with spacious en-suite bathrooms, and entertainment and spa rooms, as well as accommodation for live-in butlers and chefs.

From the antique Burmese teak door that marks the residence’s entryway to the intricately carved wooden claw-foot beds and lattice-decked ceilings to an abundance of local artwork, the residences celebrate local talent across the curated interior design.

Outside, the rooftop and sweeping pool decks, with Thai salas and generously-sized 21-metre infinity pools, offer breathtaking panoramic views across the Andaman Sea.

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