On the quiet side

You don't have to buy in to the nightlife of Phuket. Sunday Travel editor Angie Kelly found a peaceful and party-free part of the island.

There are no sleazy bars at Mai Khao Beach. There are no neon lights, touts, scooter shops, boozy crowds or backpackers.

While the island's most popular resort strip of Patong heaves with about 25,000 holidaying Aussies at any given time of year, just 16 kilometres north of the airport an alternate universe awaits.

While the party crowd turns right out of the airport, those seeking spa time, fine food, an art scene, historic architecture and an 11-kilometre strip of undeveloped, business-free beach, turn left.

Tucked inside the Sirinat National Park, on the north-west coast, is a handful of low-rise, boutique resorts where silence and the sand are golden and abundant.

The resorts are totally hidden from the main highway and the dirt-road drive through untouched national park underlines the isolation.

But there's nothing rustic about the Renaissance Resort and Spa, despite its location. We drive through a set of fairly serious security gates and pull up to find an ultra-modern, minimalist foyer warmed by staff who are genuinely smiling and friendly.

In minutes I'm on the back of a golf buggy riding to my private villa set in a thick tropical garden. Style and function marry well here - a soothing blue and neutral palette in up-to-the-minute furnishings meets mod cons, space and lots of glass. Chilling out here will occupy much of my stay once I lay eyes on the dinghy-size bath, outdoor rainshower and my very own plunge pool. Bliss!

Indulgence here is the soul-restoring kind - staying here is about eating well, exercising, chilling in the spa and immersing yourself in calm surroundings (though a couple of monkeys scuttling over my roof one night did their best to rattle my Zen). Healthy menus abound - I ate really memorable local Thai dishes at the hotel's casual fine dining Takieng, where ingredients are sourced daily - but the healthy choices are particularly in evidence in the main dining room Loca Vore.


Celery and pear juice, smoothie concoctions from local exotic fruit, organic breakfast menus and fresh baking are the order of the day. Australian chef Nathan Chilcott, who hails from the Gold Coast but was trained in London by Gordon Ramsay, runs the kitchen. While mindful of Aussie tastes, Chilcott's approach is about showcasing local fare with precision, an eye on presentation and a dash of Aussie humour.

And when you add daily yoga, sunrise bike rides and Thai language lessons, it's a far cry from the discos and wee-hour agenda reigning at the other end of the island.

A session at Quan spa is a must. A few hours here is so relaxing that plans to come back to the resort start forming - the modern design aesthetic best viewed by candlelight from a flower-filled tub.

If daytime is blessedly people-free, that changes at sunset when fellow guests appear and head for the sandy-floored ocean-side bar to watch the sunset. Barefoot, of course.

If curiosity or cabin fever nags (unlikely!), a stroll up the luscious grassy strip to the JW Marriott Hotel bar next door may suffice. Further afield, a trip to Phuket town will yield more authentic Thai food, many examples of historic Portuguese-inspired architecture, art galleries and some particularly interesting museums.

Angie Kelly was a guest of the Renaissance Resort & Spa.


Trip notes


Renaissance Resort & Spa. 555, Moo 3, Mai Khao, Talang, Phuket Island.

Getting there

Qantas flies from Sydney to Bangkok daily. 13 13 13. qantas.com.au.
Bangkok Airways flies from Bangkok to Phuket several times daily. bangkokair.com.
Transfers can be arranged by the hotel.

Staying there

Deluxe room rates start at $164 a night plus tax and service charge and includes breakfast for two. Pool garden villa about $410, including breakfast for two; ocean front beach villa $466.

More information


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