We were spoiling ourselves a bit at the time and booked a Garden Pool Villa at SALA Phuket Resort and Spa. Having your own private pool didn't actually come cheap, but we were glad we did it.
A beachfront section of the resort, with one of two swimming pools in view.
Here's an account of our experience at SALA Phuket and see why it's one of those places I wanna go back to:
Reservation and booking
This was done online, so there was absolutely no hassle. Confirmation was emailed promptly as well. Upon booking you get to choose your toiletries and if I'm not mistaken, the type of pillows you want. At this point you can also arrange your airport transfers for your convenience but with applicable charges, of course.
Reception and check-in
We were greeted with the usual Thai hospitality, promptly handing each of us a garland of fresh flowers to fit our wrist, a gingery welcome drink concoction, and a cold towel. The reception area was an open-air space, so we did feel the humidity a lot while waiting for our room.
The pathway leading to the reception.
The front desk doubles as a bar sans the loud music.
In lieu of birds, glass crystals occupy these birdcages hung from the ceiling. Too bad I wasn't able to see how they looked like at night.
The waiting area. The red couches and lampshades provide a striking accent to the black wall panel.
Looking around as we were led to our room, the resort obviously evoked peace and tranquility. There were lots of green and open spaces while each villa is afforded privacy with high walls.
Beautiful, isn't it?
This was our own little housing complex, and it was still so serene.
This was what greeted us as we entered:
A long narrow desk doubling as headboard kept the bed from direct full view without compromising the view of your private pool outside. The room's ultra-high ceiling coupled with the all-white finishings gave the room a really airy feel to it. Unfortunately, it took a while for the room to cool. Good thing there was a ceiling fan to speed things up.
The room was filled with more than the usual amenities. Apart from the minibar that was fully-stacked with more than enough glasses, supplies and whatnot, there was also an ironing set, emergency flashlight, a lady's hat, a bag and a mat (presumably for going out to the beach or general pool area), and a slew of other comforts.
I love that little couch there tucked in the corner; very cozy.
To the left is a huge sliding door that opens up the bath area.
I say bath area instead of bathroom because it's an open space. And I like it! Ironically, however, the toilet was too small. I mean, they've dedicated this 158-square meter space to several different things but it seemed as if they've scrimped on both toilet space and the actual toilet bowl. Nevertheless, it was just fine with me. Now I wouldn't really be spending my vacation sitting on a toilet, would I?
When I say open space, I mean open.
The pool in view while the shower area is reflected in the mirror.
Because it had its own private pool, we lightheartedly likened our accommodation to an upscale Pansol, a place in Laguna, Philippines where private resorts for rent abound. The pool was decent enough and surprisingly, it was about five feet at its deepest. This definitely was not meant for just wading. The area also had two sun beds for your sunbathing convenience and a day bed for cuddling with your significant other after a dip in the pool.
Our own slice of "Pansol."
Unfortunately there wasn't much sun when we were here, so the sunbeds were never used. The monsoon season had already started and the cushions were tucked away in the bath area.
It was just nice to stay inside and do nothing. Their turn-down service was also quite lovely, where they brought us a sampling of their pandan drink concoction and lit up a candle to warm the scented oil for an instant aromatherapy session.
Scented oil, pandan drink and their ingenious Do-not-disturb sign (a cutesy charm bracelet with a turtle pendant), resting along with our welcome leis. I loved how inconspicuous the DND sign was.
A view of our slightly messy bed at night.
Dominated by black and lavender, the restaurant was another open-air area. Service was quick and the food was fine. My main complaint, though, was the pesky flies. I didn't know where they were coming from!
Tables for two facing the sea.
The plastic blinds shielded guests from the monsoon winds and the occasional rain it brought along.
Complimentary appetizer consisting of two types of rice crackers and an assortment of dips.
Black was indeed very prominent in this restaurant, down to the plates, which actually allowed the food to stand out.
The evening rain kept us from going out to the restaurant for dinner and seeing how the resort looked like at night. So we opted for in-room dining. If I remember correctly, our food didn't take very long to arrive. And it was cute how they brought our food -- in a nifty little basket instead of a tray or cart.
Dinner is served.
We went to Mai Khao at the wrong time of year. The "red flags" were up and swimming in the sea was definitely out. Apart from the huge waves, the beach descends drastically, rendering swimming literally dangerous.
Meh. I thought, the pools were much nicer anyway.
The beachfront pool area
Yes, all villas -- except for the deluxe balcony rooms -- had their own private pools, but this didn't stop SALA from building two huge rectangular pools along the beachfront. And what I love about them is how the pools were designed to blend with the landscape. The gray perimeters made them look like they were just placed on top of the grass. What's more, the abundance of trees added to the relaxing feel of the place.
Don't you agree that the pool blended perfectly with the surroundings?
The 30-meter lap pool fronting the restaurant.
SALA's other pool, which was bordered by sunbeds and cabanas in brown and white.
Integrated into the fun pool, I didn't know what to make of this, but it was quite relaxing anyway. Or was this the kiddie pool?
Unfortunately we weren't able to try their spa because it was fully-booked, and of course we wished we could have stayed much longer. Probably next time.
I know some have criticized SALA Phuket for being so bland. I understand that architecture-wise, it is quite the departure from all the ornate intricacies associated with Thai design, but I thought not every resort in Thailand has to be that way. Maybe to each his own. And for me, I'd still go back.
We flew from Bangkok to Phuket via AirAsia, which operates several flights a day. Other airlines like Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, Nok Air, and a host of other operators collectively fly dozens of times to Phuket from Bangkok and from just about every other major destination in Thailand. Some airlines like AirAsia fly to Phuket directly from other Asian countries like Malaysia. There's just so many ways.
From Phuket International Airport, it's only a 20-minute taxi ride to SALA Phuket (in Mai Khao). You can also arrange transfers directly with the resort for convenience.
For reservations and more information, go to salaresorts.com/phuket.