It seemed only yesterday when Phuket was an undiscovered paradise, a slice of eden in the Andaman Sea. Today, Phuket has blossomed into one of Asia Pacific’s premier beach destinations, with some amazing resorts.
And although it would seem that finding a hidden escape on Phuket is a challenge, you won’t need to venture far to get that feeling back, though. Half an hour south from Phuket by speedboat is Racha Yai island, home to The Racha, a complex of 70 gleaming white modernist villas on a hillside above a soft sandy beach on a secluded cove.
There’s little in the way of jungle island kitsch here — the interiors are as urbane as any city hotel, polished white surfaces positively sparkling, with crisp contemporary furnishings and dark wood accents. Each comes with a private terrace to enjoy the view of the bay (best seen at sunset) and an indoor-outdoor bathroom complete with open-air shower. The low-lying villas are a stone’s throw from the pristine white sand beach, while those higher up the hill boast superior views and private plunge pools.
A palatial spa complex offers a bewildering array of treatments, and the dive center outfits and instructs guests in preparation for exploring the island’s coral-reef fringe. Out here on Racha Yai there’s no town center to explore — surely a selling point rather than a limitation — but the hotel’s bar and two restaurants are more than up to the task, serving Thai and Italian cuisine in a stylish setting against the backdrop of the waters of Batok Bay.