Trisara resort review, Phuket, Thailand: The essence of true luxury

THE RESORT 

Trisara, Phuket

THE LOCATION

Trisara means third garden in heaven, and this resort, perched in the tropical hills of north-western Phuket overlooking the Andaman Sea, could not have been more aptly named. This mix of forest and sea is well away from the island's pumping heart, yet cannot be more in tune with the Thai soul. The air is perfumed with flowers, there are wood carvings and floating lotus, and in the distance small boats weave their way between deep blue and turquoise waters. Squirrels peer from 100-year-old ficus trees and palms. It's humid, stormy and stunning.

THE SPACE

The recently refurbished Trisara villas are spread out and private, with individual infinity pools. The resort's main restaurant/reception area is a short ride from your villa on one of Trisara's electric tuk tuks, which are just a phone call away. You can hear this hub before you see it, but this warning comes in the form of a gentle splashing of a lotus-dotted waterfall that runs beside the small buildings down to the private beach, communal pool and stunning gardens. Because this is Thailand, there are beautifully arranged fragrant flowers everywhere.

It's low season and that is why, I presume, there are few guests in the restaurants, on the beach or in the gardens. But no. The resort is actually more than half full, but once guests see their own private villas, I'm told, they tend to hibernate there.

 There's a separate day spa area and gym and a gift shop. But, it seems that just like everyone else, I'm keen to head back to my own private retreat.

THE ROOM

Or rooms in this case. It's night time when I arrive and I enter through a wooden door that takes me up a side path with forest on one side, my villa on the other. I reach the rear of the building and stand mesmerised at the sight of a moonlit infinity pool with a view of the sea. It's framed by more forest and I can see the carved top of a Thai-style roof poking through. After a happy dance – did I mention how private this space is? – I enter my sea villa, which has light walls and contrasting dark wood panelling. A larger than king-size bed, flanked by wood carvings from Chiang Mai, sits opposite that view, which is revealed in all its shimmering glory the next morning. There's a large but somehow discreet television, a dining area, a desk with cable ports, a packed bar fridge, complimentary home-made biscuits, a coffee machine and teapot.

The bathroom is massive – and by that I mean it includes a lounge. It also includes a more practical double bath, two robes and vanity areas, a separate toilet, shower rooms (indoor and out) and a make-up area with bright lights and a hair dryer.

By the pool are sunbeds and earthenware pots with more floating lotus, which are changed daily from crimson to white, then back again. 

A fruit platter of sweet Thai bananas, small oranges and nutty longan is also refreshed daily.

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Glass water bottles are refilled, plastic is discouraged and drinking water comes courtesy of a reverse osmosis filtration plant. 

A stone sleeping angel statue, which guests are asked to leave outside their door if they don't want to be disturbed, is a nice touch.  

THE FOOD

The Seafood Restaurant and The Deck offer Thai and Western dishes. The local food is authentic and complex and there is no skimping on the chilli. But the standout and a main drawcard to Trisara is PRU restaurant. Led by acclaimed young chef Jimmy Ophorst​, it offers a fine-dining menu with all local ingredients sourced from Phuket or the waters just off it. Many of the herbs, vegetables and poultry are produced at Trisara's nearby working farm Pru Jampa.  

STEPPING OUT

If you do choose to peek outside your villa, a good off-site option is Old Phuket Town, about a 40-minute drive from the resort. A visit can be arranged with a Trisara guide to take you through this heritage site, with its streets lined with Sino-colonial architecture, Buddhist and Chinese temples and vibrant street art. It's hot and dusty when I am there, and I regret not going in the evening when the streets are lit with fairly lights and lamps for the street markets. But the streetscapes alone are worth a visit: look out for the Spa China Inn Cafe and the Thai Hua Museum.

If you don't want to venture too far there is always the Jara spa for a massage to recharge; or you can record yourself and/or your family in full relaxation mode courtesy of Trisara's Director' Den or DDEN photographic studio. I initially cringe at the thought of this until I see an array of very natural images of family groups and suddenly I get it. Here you can have a family get together, wedding or anniversary recorded in one go – enabling you to leave the phone/cameras behind for the rest of your trip. 

THE VERDICT

Trisara managing director Anthony Lark says the essence of true luxury is not having a Roll Royce picking you up from the airport, or French champagne on arrival. Rather, in this busy complicated world, it's real privacy. Trisara offers that rare experience: a destination where you feel you are away in an exotic environment and yet you cannot feel more at home. 

ESSENTIALS

Trisara Resort, 60/1 Moo 6 Srisoonthorn Road, Cherngtalay, Thalang, Phuket +66 (0) 76 310 100. See trisara.com

Ocean view pool villas start from $US835 per night (low season) 

 Wi-Fi is free and reliable.

BEST BIT

The staff. Nowhere welcomes you more warmly than Thailand.

WORST BIT

A guest overheard complaining loudly about the morning's stormy weather. Seriously?

 Jane Richards travelled as a guest of Trisara.

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