Forget Europe's hot spots, if you're aching for a moment of pure, indulgent,
unashamedly hedonistic bliss you MUST put a stay at Phuket's exclusive Banyan Tree resort
on the top of your to-do-before-i-die-list. The gods were smiling upon
me this week when I got to sample this slice of super-luxe-heaven
myself. My real-life fantasy began like this: The Banyan Limo awaits at
the airport, a gentle smiling chauffeur greets me. Within 30 minutes I
arrive, greeted by a barrage of staff bowing to me as if I am some kind
of Buddha, one of whom hands me a bracelet made out of Jasmine flowers (very Fantasy Island).
They form a phalanx around me like protective body guards, escorting me
through the grand foyer. So this is how Mick Jagger feels, I think to
myself. But the star treatment is no act, it's sincere and endearingly
polite - so humbling to be on the receiving end.
A golf buggy awaits, the resort is so big that they require the
buggies to ferry guests to their villas. I arrive at Villa 205. The
Pool Villa (pic above). Sonthaya, my private host welcomes me. I'm
completely blown away. The bed, ever so inviting, faces out to the
pool. I've stayed in numerous 5 star resorts in my time but this one is
exceptional. Sonthaya explains where everything is, a beach bag with a
towel and sunscreen is prepared for me, a fruit bowl with some
exceptional fruit sits on the table, my own toiletry bag with
everything in it. They have thought of everything, even an outdoor bath
to soak in later.
After Sonthaya leaves I decide, like a scene out of Porky's, I strip
naked and jump right into the pool. It's extremely private and not
only can nobody else see in, it feels as if I have the resort to
myself. But then I've barely left the villa, it's that kind of place.
On the second day, I head out to the beach just a two minute walk away.
I spot a French couple enjoying an $8 per/1 hr foot massage on their
lounge chairs. By the end of the day I have a golden tan. Later I spot
the Presidential suite, or what I've dubbed The rockstars VILLA. It has
its own private drive-away entrance so paparazzi shy-celebs can glide
straight in from the airport. I'm told Liz Hurley, Olivia Newton John
and Pierce Brosnon have stayed there recently.
The following morning as I head out for breakfast walking pass numerous
staff who, bow after bow, greet me in Thai 'Sawatdi Kha'. Their smiles
contagious and its then I realize what makes this place so
special. It's the exceptional service. The Banyan Tree more than
deserves its perpetual place on Conde Nast Traveller's HOT LIST.
the service, those gently sincere smiling faces, are like nothing I've
ever experienced before.
At the extraordinary breakfast buffet I mouth the words OH MY GOD over
and over as I swallow bite after bite of the perfectly made omelette,
poppy seed pancakes, the fruit, the yoghurt, washed down with pineapple
and mint juice. The waitress asks if I would like a copy of the paper,
another one passes asking if I would like champagne, "coffee or tea Mr
Bill". I order peppermint, I pour a cup, spilling a drop on the plate
and it's replaced a second later. The attention to detail by the staff
I'm not surprised The Banyan Tree Phuket
one of the most traveled destinations in Asia. The privacy of one of
the 127 private walled villas creates the feeling of utter seclusion.
I'm told it's a favorite amongst celebrities, royalty, and other VIPs
because it's so paparazzi-proof.
It's difficult to avoid hyperbole when talking about the Banyan Tree.
It has earned its reputation through its indulgent service,
radiant beauty and spectacular setting. We have hunted cool before and
will again, however my stay at the Bayan exceeds the word cool
and encompasses something brighter, deeper and stronger which
within you long after you have parted ways. by Bill T