Since I was booked onto a flight that was departing Singapore for Phuket (HKT) fairly early in the morning, I decided to check-in to the Aerotel Singapore the night before since I value sleep over anything. At the same time, I decided to check out one of the least-known airport lounges in Singapore - TGM. Located in Terminal 2 of the airport, TGM is a Plaza Premium Lounge (read my review HERE!) that offers a mixture of Japanese and Korean food. The space resembles more of a restaurant than an average airport lounge and even though travellers are able to get some work done here, they are actually better off at the Plaza Premium Lounge in Terminal 1.
TGM (Plaza Premium Lounge)
Changi Airport (Terminal 2)
Upon arriving at the Phuket International Airport (HKT), I noticed that I was in a newer and nicer terminal building (my last visit was two years ago when I checked out the Hyatt Regency Phuket Resort). Since I already knew that the airport taxis are controlled by the mafia here, I have pre-booked my transport with a local company to pick me up from the airport. After getting through immigration, I met with my drive outside of the terminal building and within 15-20 minutes, I found myself at the entrance of the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas (not to be confused with the Anantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket even though they are technically located across from each other). As soon as I stepped out of the vehicle, I was quickly greeted by a sense of calm as well as a hotel staff who proceeded to assist me with my luggage.
As I was escorted to the check-in area of the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas, I noticed how different this was to my previous (and first) experience with the Anantara brand at the Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort. The tropical lagoon that seem to surround the entire property at first glance is truly something to behold - you will notice the lush greenery as well as the abundance of wildlife here as you wait for your villa to be ready. One thing to take note about this property is that there are no regular rooms or suites here - just villas! I actually booked myself into a Pool Villa (lead-in category) and since I held the Black (top-tier) status in the DISCOVERY Loyalty program, I was upgraded one-tier into the Lagoon Pool Villa. While Black-tier members are typically given a two-category upgrade when available, the Sala Pool Villa was not available for the whole duration of my stay.
As I took the phuang malai (a Thai flower garland) off my wrist to enjoy a cup of ice-cold beverage, I came to realise very quickly as to why the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas is such a popular spot amongst honeymooners as well as those who are here to celebrate their babymoons (I did not know this was an actual thing until quite recently). The tranquil surroundings are truly unique and I do not think I know of anywhere immediately that gives off the same vibes - it felt as though I have transcended and entered a new world where there is only peace and joy.
While the weather in Mai Khao was technically not the best kind any traveller would hope for (especially when you are by the beach), the beauty of this property as well as the natural foliage and cover stood out more in this period. The Lagoon Pool Villa that I was assigned to was fairly close to the lobby (which is actually a good thing and I will tell you why later) and therefore, even though buggies are available for hotel guests, one of the resort hosts actually suggested walking instead. Within 5 minutes of walking from the main lobby area, I arrived at the Lagoon Pool Villa which I will be spending the next couple of nights in - it was humble-looking from the outside but I was completely won over right from the moment I stepped in.
All villas here at the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas come with a private plunge pool and the Lagoon Pool Villa that I was upgraded into is apparently fairly similar to the regular Pool Villas with the exception of the tropical lagoon view. Measuring 186 sqm, the Lagoon Pool Villa that I was in comes with 63 sqm of indoor space, leaving a generous 123 sqm outdoors - this is where you will find your private pool, a massive terrazzo tub, a sundeck as well as a living sala which is perfect for idling your afternoons away.
As you can tell from the photo above, the indoor areas of the villa are built around the private pool and there are actually various ways you can get from your villa into the outdoor area. In fact, if you are so inclined to embrace the tropical weather, you can actually leave the sliding doors of the bathroom and your bedroom open to create a seamless transition between the indoors and outdoors area of the villa. There is one thing that I could not figure out for the life of me - how do you turn on the water jet that is hidden away in that turtle fountain?!
I am personally terribly afraid of the heat and therefore when I stepped into the villa to find a perfectly-cool room (the air-conditioning is seriously one of the best that I have ever encountered), I felt incredibly relieved. The bedroom of the Lagoon Pool Villa is massive and it features a king bed (majority of the villas here come with a king bed configuration for obvious reasons but those with twin beds are also available upon request), a daybed by the side which is filled at least seven pillows, a work desk by the side, a TV, Bose sound system as well as an essential oil burner which made all the difference.
Before going into anything else, I have to say that the bedsheets here at the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas are the softest that I have ever been on in my entire life. Seriously, I am still dreaming about it up to this day and I am measuring ever single luxury hotel that I have been to in recent months to these standards - none of them matches up! Getting up each morning from this bed is incredibly difficult and you will not believe that I am not exaggerating but the bed itself warrants a revisit to this amazing property.
One of those things that I actually look forward to finding in the rooms and suites when I stay in Thailand are these towel-creations that hotels are known for. I got myself a little towel elephant which is probably one of the best-looking ones that I have ever received throughout my stay in Thailand. Fresh flowers (though mostly orchids) can be found throughout the villa to give the space a burst of life.
You will also find a Nespresso coffee machine (one that you actually know how to operate unlike the rather strange looking one that I have encountered in Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort) alongside complimentary Nespresso coffee pods and TWG teabags here in the villa for your personal enjoyment - these are replenished in the evening as well as in the morning. The bed overlooks the 24 sqm private swimming pool and the sliding glass doors can be opened up for you to gain access to that inviting pool. The bedroom and the bathroom are both connected via a sizeable walk-in wardrobe area where you will also find a dressing table, wardrobe space (obviously), a safe as well as various things that you may require (e.g. mosquito repellant, umbrella, slippers and a bag just to name a few.
I also received a bowl of fresh tropical fruits and it was placed on the table by the side of the day bed. Similar to my experience at the Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort, there is a piece of paper by the side which explains the fruits that are in the basket - these can also be replenished upon request (only!) since I would imagine some international guests may find some of the fruits (e.g. salak) a little intimidating.
This is the actual view that the bedroom looks out to - that inviting private pool, the sala, the outdoor tub and that tropical lagoon. As you can already tell, this villa is built for couples or friends that you have absolutely no reservations with. I mean, the bedroom essentially looks out to an outdoor tub and I'm not sure if I am alone on this matter but I generally take my baths without any clothes on (reasonable, right?!). The wooden doors that look out to the tropical lagoon can be shut but honestly, you are getting maximum privacy here and even if you wish to leave the doors open, you should not be getting any weird stares from other guests at all (especially since the villas opposite are relatively far away).
The bathroom of the Lagoon Pool Villa is also really beautiful as it enjoys a 270-degree view of the villa's outdoor area. As you would imagine, there is plenty of natural lighting here and guests staying in the villas here at the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket VIllas can expect to find a double-sink, a toilet as well as a massive indoor rain-shower here. There is also another essential oil burner here to get you in the mood and the sliding doors can once again be opened for you access the bathtub outside.
The blinds can be adjusted fairly easily even though you have to do them one by one - I left them open throughout the stay and felt no sense of intrusion at all. Honestly, this is one of the most private properties that I have ever stayed in and despite having so much 'open areas' in the villa, I did not feel like my privacy was being infringed at any time. The bathroom also looks out to an outdoor rain-shower which I will be sharing more on later.
Here's something which I thought was fairly interesting - you know that piece of bar soap that is commonly placed next to the sink? Well here at the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas, you are going to find four pieces and each one of them have a different scent so you can pick the one that best suits your mood whenever you need to use it. Is it completely necessary? Most certainly not but that being said, it is something that is quite unique and something that I have not experienced at other luxury resorts in the region.
The outdoor terrazo tub is an extremely nice touch and while this is not my first experience with an outdoor tub per se (I can think of the Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort and Lloyd's Inn just off the top of my head), this was the first time I felt completely at peace with it simply because of how private the villa feels (I know I have mentioned this countless times in this review but it is extremely important for me to drive this message across because I have had my doubts prior to staying here). The terrazzo tub is also extremely large and you can easily fit two adults (or more) inside with plenty of room to spare - there is also a transparent wall that separates the tub and the plunge pool so you can go crazy with underwater shots (assuming you do not have waterproof gear). Three different kinds of bath salts can also be found in the room and they are replenished regularly or as and when you require it - just dial '0' on the phone!
As far as I know, Anantara resort properties around the world do not give out bath amenities that you can actually take home. Instead, what they do provide is high-quality spa-grade bath amenities that you can enjoy during your stay - these are often available for purchase in the gift shops that are located on-property. While I generally do not enjoy in-house branded bath amenities, the ones provided here at the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas were amazing - I mean, I even considered buying them in the gift shop!
While I was initially skeptical about having the terrazzo tub located outside (and also slightly disappointed that there wasn't an indoor one for the more conservative travellers), I was quickly a convert - the tub is truly incredible in the day where you get to work on your tan while enjoying a soak. In fact, I was shuffling between the tub and the pool just because I could do so. The pool is large and deep enough to actually swim in (unlike most plunge pools in villas) and having the luxury to enjoy this all to yourself is really an unbelievable experience. With all that being said, because of how big the tub actually is, it actually takes a while for you to fill it up - I would say anywhere between 15-20 minutes is a good estimation so make sure you plan in advance if you wish to surprise a loved one.
As if that was not enough, the outdoor rain-shower really takes the cake for me - being able to enjoy a warm shower in the sun while enjoying the sound of distant waves and the natural breeze is an experience that is truly unforgettable. Outdoor showers are not uncommon in luxury resorts and I have first encountered it in Capella Singapore but being able to shower above ground and watch the water trickle down to lush vegetation underneath your villa is a completely different experience - it also helps that the knob to turn on and off the shower head is in an adorable turtle shape! Seriously the amount of time that one can lounge about outdoors in the privacy of his or her own villa is ridiculous here - I do not typically spend much time outside (even in that massive Gardenia Villa at the St. Regis Bali Resort) but the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas is probably the first property where I spend 50% of my time awake outdoors.
The minibar as well as a wine cellar (!) can be found outside in the private sala - the drink prices are fairly reasonable (e.g. THB 200++ for a craft beer). If you smoke, this is also where you can enjoy a cigarette or two while looking out to that beautiful tropical lagoon or the pool. Complimentary ice is also provided here and without fail, they have been replenished during the day and in the evening without me even requesting for it. There is also an incense burner as well as a ceiling fan so you stay cool while enjoying the tropical breeze.
There is plenty of lounging areas in your own private sala and pool towels are provided here so you do not have to mix up your bath towels while enjoying the sun. For some reason, the sala in my villa seems to be fairly popular amongst birds so I always had company (not great if you are snacking outside) and they seem to enjoy leaving traces of their presence as they went along (if you know what I mean).
If you wish to work on your tan, there is no better place than the pool lounges that you can find in your very own villa (or maybe that tub comes in as a close second). As you can see in the photo above, the wooden doors on the right create the main entrance to the Lagoon Pool Villa but there is another door which can only be accessible via a key fob (cleverly integrated into a rubber wristband that you can wear around) that is given to you as you check-in to this property.
Since it was raining rather heavily on the day that I arrived, I decided to order some room service instead. I contemplated about going to La Sala for lunch but I did not wish to walk in the rain (even though umbrellas were provided and a buggy could be requested). The food was delivered within 30-40 minutes (which is reasonable especially since it was pouring outside) and I was simply impressed by how efficient the delivery was - everything you see above was delivered by one man at one go. The food was decent but definitely on the higher side as you would image - I believe I paid over THB 2,500++ for the dishes above.
I took the opportunity to redeem one of my Local Experiences (Black) earned with the DISCOVERY Loyalty program to check out the famous Sunday Walking Street Market (Lard Yai) in the Old Phuket Town. Even though the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas is located just a short ride from the Phuket International Airport, it is actually quite far away from the action in Patong Beach. In fact, to get from the property to the famous Sunday Night Market takes approximately an hour under good traffic conditions. Once you look past the journey to get to Lard Yai (and besides you can't complain if a private driver picks you up from the hotel), it is actually an amazing place to be in - you just have to remember that the walking street is only busy on Sunday (and this is the only day you should visit).
My advice to you? Come to the Phuket Walking Street hungry and curious - there is plenty of street food to eat and everything is so delicious (not to mention cheap when you compare them to the prices in Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas)! I could not figure out what some dishes are but check out the braised pork knuckle rice, fried chicken wings and steamed buns if you do not know where to start. There are also a lot of street performers in this busy market and the bustling energy is addictive! A good time to leave the property would be around 4:00PM since you would want to get there slightly ahead of sunset so you can see this place both in the day and in the night. After stuffing myself silly, I contacted my driver on the phone to send me back (yes this is why I chose to redeem my Local Experience for the Sunday Walking Street Market (Lard Yai) in the Old Phuket Town) and I was back in my villa for what I think is the best sleep that I have ever gotten this year.
I had to drag myself out of bed the next morning - the sheets were amazing seriously - as I made my way to La Sala which is located next to the check-in area of the property. It overlooks the same tropical lagoon where you will find plenty of fishes, ducks and wildlife. These gardens are designed by the famous Bill Bensley (yes the same guy that did the Park Hyatt Siem Reap as well as the St. Regis Bali Resort) and it is as beautiful as it sounds.
I naturally chose to sit outside (indoor seating with air-conditioning is also available) by the lagoon where I got to watch the ducks swim by as I enjoyed a cup of solid espresso. Nothing starts the breakfast mood right like a good cup of coffee and I am happy to say that the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas has done it right. There is also a smoking-area within the outdoor area so make sure you pick the zones carefully if you do not smoke.
While I do think that the food served in the Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort for breakfast is significantly better (especially since they actually have an a la carte breakfast menu), breakfast at La Sala is not shabby as well. In fact, it is so extensive that you can enjoy a different meal over a three-night stay. If you are feeling up for it, there is even a Bloody Mary station here during breakfast.
There is a good selection of Western and Asian dishes here during breakfast at La Sala (which is the all-day dining restaurant of the property). The eggs benedict were quite good but the Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort wins hands-down in this aspect. Breakfast runs from 7:00AM and I would recommend for you to go down early for the most optimal experience - nothing beats having peace and quiet in the morning. With all that being said, the restaurant never seem to get too busy during my stay - I guess it helps that the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas only has 83 villas on property despite having such a massive land space.
Feeding the ducks and fishes also seem to be a fairly popular thing to do amongst hotel guests - there is even a tray by the lagoon where you can get bread from! If you are traveling with children, they will definitely enjoy this experience!
I checked out The Library (located next to the Gift Shop) after breakfast and was surprised to find that many books and magazines inside. This air-conditioned room is perfect for travellers who have arrived too early or departing late from the property. It was rarely occupied during my stay and I enjoyed my short visit here but there are better places to be around the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas.
Getting around the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas is easy on foot and there is also an area that offers direct access to Mai Khao Beach. Alternatively, you can always call for a buggy to take you around the property but I highly recommend walking instead - there is no need to wait and the hotel grounds are beautiful. The tropical lagoon extends around the entire property and it is quite humbling to enjoy the calmness around (this is what you came here for anyway!).
If you make your way to the end of the property, you will find yourself at Mai Khao Beach. As I have mentioned earlier, the weather was pretty terrible during my visit but the beach looks fairly normal - nothing like what I have seen online unfortunately. With that being said, it is still a good place for aviation geeks to enjoy a little plane-spotting. There are also a number of stores here if you are looking for cheaper food.
The Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas is one of the best resort properties that I have ever been to and I dare say that I have been to a lot. Staying in Mai Khao may not be the best idea if you intend to get around (unless you have pre-arranged for a private driver) since it is fairly far away from the popular haunts but if you are looking for a private escape, I simply cannot think of anywhere better. The villas in the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas are infinitely beautiful and staying-in is truly the way to go.
Turndown each night is perfect and everything gets replaced (which is super impressive) in the evening and in the morning. After staying here for a couple of nights, it is obvious as to why the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas remain a top choice for honeymooners and why travellers from around the world come all the way down to Phuket for this amazing property. While a night here at the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas may be quite expensive, it is most certainly worth every dollar that you are paying (especially if you are celebrating a milestone like a babymoon or honeymoon!). If you are looking for a place to remember and a destination to dream about even after you have long-departed from Phuket, the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas is the most impressive villa-property that I have stayed up to date. Now the only thing left to do is to figure out how to turn that turtle fountain on so I guess I will have to return soon.