MAPPING BLISS

Written by admin. Posted in FEATURES

Tagged:

Published on August 02, 2014 with No Comments

<b></b>
Picture 1 of 13

At Phuket’s Villa Tassana, like moths to a flame.

Words ANIS RAMLI
Images VILLA TASSANA

No one can say for sure when celebrities migrated en masse to Phuket, its famed beaches, and its growing cafe and restaurant scene. Since recovering from its tsunami turmoil of a decade ago, a distinctly calm character has pervaded Phuket. Much of it is from the tenacious rebuilding of the island by both locals and government officials. Phuket aimed to remain hospitable and welcoming, and the offshoot of that appears to be pockets of sanctuaries on the island that have redefined Phuket vacationing.

Perhaps this is the pull that has persuaded the rich and famous to this famed island: The promise of splendid isolation, and a lifestyle calm and unruffled. And it is amidst this change in Phuket’s character that I discovered Villa Tassana, a luxurious hideaway perched on a hillside overlooking the Andaman Sea.

Villa Tassana is a two-level charming hideaway on a prestigious gated estate tucked somewhere in between Surin and Bang Tao beaches. Uniquely modern in its interior design and generous in its space, it nonetheless retains some indigenous Thai influences, with Jim Thompson throw pillows scattered across the lounge and homegrown Harnn home spa toiletries dressing up the bathrooms.

Villa Tassana’s advantage is its remoteness and exclusivity. A stay in this four-bedroom villa accords you with your own personal chef, two polished butlers/housekeepers and a villa manager to attend to all your needs. Here, you can be anything you want. Play pretend celebrity and go island-hopping on a private yacht, be a bride-to-be having her last hurrah with her girls for a pampering getaway, toast the family – with kids in tow – for major bonding. Dream the part and the staff are willing to oblige. We were the latter.

There are no neighbours (or at least, you don’t see them), and the staff are amazingly discreet. It’s a place that is perfect to do absolutely nothing.

But when you do feel the urge to explore the island, the staff stands ready to accommodate your requests, delighting in arranging anything you want, and at times, exceeding your expectations. There were late afternoon hunger pangs feted at the outdoor sala that the staff accommodated with fried bananas; and the next day, a sublime spread of homemade sticky rice with fragrant mangoes at the outdoor deck. Everything was laid out prettily in the common area downstairs, where lounge chairs and a swing with Thai triangle pillows overlook the ocean view.

When Phuket weather took a turn for the worse – it was after all, May, the monsoon month – the staff continued to ensure our holiday remains unaffected. There’s plenty of warmth and graceful hospitality here. As the rain plummeted its way across the island, I lolled about on the daybed, book in hand, enjoying the hauntingly beautiful grey skies awarded me from the wide windows of the living room. Seeing the waves crash ominously on the rocks below was surprisingly comforting. Then again, it could be the tea and sweet cakes the staff had sent over to accompany my daydreaming.

Meanwhile, the folks got their chance to being pampered. The staff graciously arranged for two masseuses to come over to the villa to provide them personalised downtime – in the comforts of their room, no doubt. Downstairs, the kids were given plenty of snacks to keep them happy. And then, with huge umbrellas in hand, we explored the lily pond outside the villa with their resident tadpoles, delighting in their wriggling form as they danced on their tiny palms. We could really feel Villa Tassana subtly working its way into our bones.

On those days when we could finally tear ourselves away, albeit reluctantly, from the indulgent lifestyle, the villa manager helped craft our sightseeing itinerary. Sitting at the dining table, with the floor-to-ceiling doors open to let the sea breeze in, we would pour over the day’s programme. Gaining from her wealth of local knowledge, we escaped with our personal driver to places that were less traversed by the usual tourists, and ended up having a wonderful time. Least of which was the Bang Mud Floating restaurant, a seafood place on the water near Coconut Island, where it’s a pleasant 5-minute ride on a local longtail boat. And there were only locals around!

The next day, the villa manager accompanied us to the local wet market. Acting as translator, she helped us get the best bargains for homemade curry pastes, sambal (chilli paste) and hor mok talay (Thai fish souffle). After that, it was hopping from one streetside stall to another in search of the best local delicacies, such as fried bananas, banana rotis, coconut rice dumplings and pumpkin custards. We would not have found the best of them all had we not had insider knowledge and help!

Even on our outings, the staff remained dedicated to our wellbeing. We’d be sent off with bagfuls of snacks for the kids, flip-flops for our beach outings, plenty of water to hydrate and even a thermos of home-brewed ginger tea when they found out some of us were feeling a bit under the weather.

Most evenings we were happy to enjoy them cocooned in the comfort of our rooms. The two master bedrooms were simply luxurious. One has a cut stone terrace facing the sea, the other opens up to the 15-metre, chlorine-free, infinity pool. Both had huge bathrooms with his and hers vanity area and a marble bath tub for indulgent soaks. The two remaining guest rooms were equally well-appointed; each with a sliding façade that reveals the ocean view while one sits next to a quaint pocket of lush tropical valley. And when the lull of the waves didn’t put us to sleep, it was the chirping of the frogs and crickets that created a relaxing cacophony.

Staying at Villa Tassana could be described as a collection of unique and unforgettable experiences. One of its most defining moments, however, has to be the willingness of the staff in obliging us with our halal dietary requirements. Care and thought were extended to us even before we left for Phuket, with the team communicating with us daily, ironing out issues that could be potential hurdles to our stay.

If you ever tire out of the colourful sunset views or lazing by the pool, the staff can arrange for a trip to its sister property, The Surin. This sophisticated resort has a quiet beach, an amazing spa, a pool, a fitness centre, a library and other amenities that can be shared with guests of Villa Tassana.

There are few places in Phuket that could present you with a more unforgettable stay. Or that which is more remote. As I took one last midnight dip in the pool, beneath the expansive skies and an almost star-less night, I finally understood why we seek out the exquisite. Because at Villa Tassana, the notorious Phuket gets reimagined for an unrivalled island with possibilities.

Royal Brunei Airlines flies Bangkok 8x weekly for connections to Phuket.

No Comments

There are currently no comments on MAPPING BLISS. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

Leave a Comment