Phuket is world-renowned for its lush rainforests, epic beaches, and adorable elephants but be warned, planning the perfect itinerary needs some much-needed attention. With a plethora of adventure and luxury to be discovered at every turn, some valuable research is highly recommended. The island is deep in culture, has some of the world’s best topography and an abundance of diverse culture that will make your head spin.
Millions of people visit this island paradise every year and for very good reason, it easy to navigate, beach access is free and the massage options are abundant. If you are searching for an oasis full of relaxation then look no further than Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas. Located only 15 minutes from Phuket International Airport Anantara lies on the northern tip of the island. As you arrive to the grounds you will notice immediately the plush lagoon-style setting complete a white sandy beach adjacent to the pool area. The property is meticulously manicured and will take your breath away. After check-in walk the grounds to take in all the beauty that the offers then slowly make your way to the comforts of your pool villa. Enter your sanctuary of award-winning Southern Thai design, perfectly ensconced in foliage. The private pool takes center stage and as you enter you will notice you have everything one could need at your fingertips for a luxurious stay. From an alfresco sunken bathtub to an outdoor rain shower this magical abode will make it hard to venture out of the room.
After some real rest and relaxation? The spa options here are limitless with signature experiences ranging from Chakra Crystal Balancing to Traditional Thai Massage. With a serene backdrop, the spa facilities welcome guests with open arms. Walk along a boardwalk over a lagoon to get to your treatment room. Once you’ve had a chance to change into your robe and slippers gently strike a small gong that awaits you which will let your therapist know you are ready to start unwinding. A light foot scrub and massage eases you into a state of bliss and starts the treatment. No matter which treatment you choose, your body will thank you.
If you are looking for a little more action opt for one of the properties Muay Thai Boxing Lessons. Learn from a real teacher in a ring that sits at the back of the property. It is a true authentic experience that not only provides a great workout but lets you leave with a few new skills.
After all that moving and shaking it is easy to build up an appetite fit for a king and the dining options within the property do not disappoint. With such an outstanding gastronomical culinary program at the resort, you may want to spend your days close to home enjoying all the experiences on property with the farm-to-table and sea-to-table menu options. From tree house to seashore to lagoon’s edge, discover the flavors of Thailand at some of the resort’s finest restaurants set against breathtaking views. Sea.Fire.Salt. is the property’s signature grill offering an extensive wine list, light seafood dishes and Himalayan salt brick cooking.
When looking to take your culinary journey to new heights opt for the property’s signature Dining by Design program. A candlelit table overlooking the ocean. A traditional Thai sala set over the lagoon. Imagine the perfect setting for romance, all dressed up for you during one magical evening. Design your ideal meal in collaboration with a personal chef, or choose from a collection of royal Thai, Italian and seafood menus. Pair each dish with a varietal recommended by the Wine Guru, and enjoy discreet butler service.
What would a trip to Thailand be without visiting an elephant sanctuary? But how do you choose a good one? Whether you want to believe it or not, many of the elephants are mistreated and you really need to research where to go in order to make sure you are not contributing to their mishandling. The Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is a final home for retired working elephants, set on 30 acres of lush tropical jungle. Observe how elephants rehabilitate into forest life after decades of abuse and experience how incredible the largest land mammal on earth is during a day at Phuket’s very first ethical sanctuary. It is difficult for me to say which sanctuaries to stay away from. While the majority of sanctuaries in Thailand offer better conditions than riding camps, shows and logging camps the name “sanctuary” can still vary widely and is not regulated. Below are some questions/guidelines to help identify which sanctuary is really committed to the elephants’ wellbeing:
- Does the camp own or rent the elephants? If they own the elephants they are committed to providing a final home. If they are rented this is not guaranteed.
- Does the camp owner own other elephant camps that use less ethical approaches?
- How much interaction is allowed between elephants and visitors? Ideally none.
- How are elephants kept at night? Do they have space to roam freely, are they in an enclosure, or are they chained?
- Does the camp provide professional veterinary care?
While visiting another “sanctuary” which will remain nameless we asked these questions and found the caretakers squirming their way out of answering us truthfully. It is really unfortunate that these practices and the abuse is still taking place today but you can guarantee a visit to Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is contributing to the greater good. During your visit you will see it in the elephants’ eyes, they are happy here. For more information visit www.asianelephantprojects.com where you can find a list of sanctuaries with high animal welfare standards.