My first experience flying with Etihad, out to Abu Dhabi and Phuket in business class and I must say I was really impressed. The check-in process was seamless and we were fast tracked through security. The Etihad Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 4 is very spacious and offers a wide range of F&B. There is a spa also available (for a fee).
Arriving at Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi for a one night stay. First impressions: this property has quite a business feel to it. Rooms are modern and spacious and the public areas, pool, etc. are stylish and with a great chill out beach bar vibe.
The next morning we had an early start to check in for our flight to Phuket. Again the check-in at Etihad was seamless and we headed to the lounge for breakfast. They offer a full breakfast buffet service, so after some scrambled eggs and hash browns we were ready for the next leg of our trip, Phuket!
We arrived into Phuket and were met by Anantara Layan residence reps. We were fast tracked through immigration. Phuket airport is now lovely and modern due to a complete overall. Business class passengers have a separate luggage retrieval area which was a nice touch.
Anantara Layan is located around 40 minutes from the airport. We were whisked straight to our residence for check-in. We were staying in a 5 bedroom residence. The views from our residence were absolutely breathtaking. Compared to other villas I have seen, the residences are huge. Design wise they are modern with a Thai twist, contemporary whilst maintaining character. Every aspect has been really well thought out and there is plenty of space for a large gathering. Guests certainly wouldn’t feel as though they are on top of each other.
The 4 master bedrooms are similar in style and offer total luxury and epic views. I was staying in one of the downstairs suites and I wasn’t disappointed. They also have a twin room which has 2 double beds and ideal for children.
Each residence comes with their own butlers. Our butlers were Susie and Shawn who are both Thai and absolutely adorable, they honestly couldn’t do enough for us. They were super helpful without being over bearing.
The chef cooked us some delicious cuisine during our stay and was very personable. He will speak to guests upon arrival to find out their favourite dishes, likes, dislikes, etc. to make sure every single guest is catered for. There is space for both indoor and outdoor dining depending on weather. And what’s great about Layan is that it is located within close proximity (around 20 minutes) to both the Trisara and Amanpuri, so guests can venture out for food too.
We had slightly rainy weather but still managed to make it down to the beach for a spot of kayaking. As the residences are so high up guests would probably opt to call a buggy rather than walk anywhere. The resort offers a nice stretch of sand and a lovely calm ocean (perfect for kids). The beach is part of the national park and views are stunning with plenty of flora and fauna and it is very picturesque. For kids there is plenty of shade and the kids club set up football and games under the trees.
Anantara Layan are just about to launch the first pop up Zuma on the beach which will attract a high end crowd and hopefully give the property exposure. They have some great two bed family suite options with pools that offer direct access to the beach at great prices.
On our final morning we were up early for yoga at the wedding pavilion. Once again we were treated to spectacular views and set right up in the trees, feeling very at one with nature! We were really sad to leave the beautiful Anantara Layan residences.
After just a 30 minute drive we reached Anantara Maikhao. This property is traditionally Thai in style. The GM Giles is fantastic and a huge supporter of keeping the property fresh and moving with the times. Each villa has a decent sized swimming pool and they are all very private.
The two bedroom villas are excellent for families as they are all under one roof but separated by a bathroom offering privacy to the parents. It’s a really sweet resort and there are plenty of bikes for guests use and as it is all on one level easy to get around either by bike or on foot.
The beach is really the highlight as it is huge and expansive. The resort are unable to have beds on the beach due to being part of the national forest, so this is a bit of a shame. The resort pool is very stylish with beds on the water and a great shallow paddling area for kids. They have a fantastic beach restaurant called Sea.Fire.Salt offering a whole host of interesting dishes including food served on a salt block. We spent time with the head chef having drinks at the tree house bar which is a really fun space.
It was Father’s Day during our visit and a really difficult time for the locals after the kings recent passing. The resort staff held a special ceremony on the beach and asked the guests to join in. We sang and lit candles and observed a 2 minute silence. It was all done very tastefully and didn’t feel morbid at all, more like a celebration of his life.
There’s lots on offer at Maikhao and we were invited to sample the Thai boxing. Our instructor Khun lek was very charismatic and showed us the ropes! We got to keep our Thai shorts afterwards which was a nice touch.