Welcome from Amanpuri, Phuket, Thailand. The oasis playground to the wealthy and the well known. I've been here for 3 nights at $5,800 per night and just like Paris Hilton, someone else is picking up the tab. The incredibly generous folks at Amanpuri have provided the villa for me to review.
This place has more of a boutique feel to it. The first thing that strikes you is the grand black pool positioned in the centre of the lobby, most indulgent. I'm greeted by my host who provides me with a brief tour of the grounds, I'm then escorted by buggy to Villa 20, which is a fair distance from the lobby itself. At the entrance I'm greeted by 4 people - 3 Thais who I later find out are my servants and Antonio, an Italian manager who's been based here for 6 months.
My initial thoughts are that perhaps Mick Jagger is standing behind me and none of this is for me . A quick scan of the room and no massive lips in sight means this really is all for me. Antonio leads me down the pathway which resembles a Beverly Hills home, I hum the tune to 90210 in my head and feel a little Luke Perry but I snap out of it quickly. At the end of the entrance lie 8 Buddha's. I'm getting the sense this place is going to be special - around the corner is a well manicured garden, we walk further, and I'm shown the most amazing black pool setting which has a wonderful Tuscan feel to it. Belissimo!. In front of the pool is an enormous relaxation area, the shear size of this place is beginning to set in.
I'm shown 2 mini Thai huts ì2 stories each, accommodating 8 in totalì. Antonio is pleased to point out my villa. A terrible feeling as though Antonio has made a mistake sweeps over me. However double checking with him, he assures me that this Villa which could accommodate both the Brady Bunch and Partridge Family with room to spare is all mine. Antonio introduces me to my three staff members who are here to accommodate my every need. I find this a little embarrassing, but I get over it in about six seconds and allow myself to enjoy the idea of being pampered.
I don't know what to do first, explore my villa, go for a swim, eat caviar or sunbake, so I do all four and get stomach cramps in the pool. The cramps immediately vanish when I see my hosts approach me - one offering me a cold towel with infused Lavender, the other pours me a glass of iced water and the other a bowl of fruit. To think I didn't even have to ask . After my relaxing swim in a temperature controlled dream pool, I notice the book from my bag has been subtly removed and placed on my deck chair should I care to read. When I retire to my room, I notice my bags have been unpacked and my clothes neatly hung. This is like rubbing a magic lamp with endless wishes.
Back at my lounge chair, I take a moment to realize how easy it is for celebrities to get fat. Still that's no reason to be photographed in track pants eating Taco Bell. After my brief moment of sympathy for fatty celebrities I decide to partake in another swim, this place is overwhelming, while floating on water, I look back at this scene that surrounds me and feel blessed for the experience , a 25 meter pool, 3 servants, a Zen garden, 2 relaxation areas, amazing weather and me.ì I'm S.I.T ( So Into This ). The hosts are back ( I'm thanking Buddha my first name isn't Ed ! ) anything we can get you?', 'No, No, I'm fine thank you', 'Are you sure Mr Bill?', 'Um, yes I'm fine thank you.' I'm feeling totally embarrassed that they have to look after me for three days. I'll seek therapy for it later, right now just enjoy! While I relax by the pool lounge, one of my kind hosts brings me a copy of the Bangkok Post newspaper and a selection of magazines from around the world. He offers me lunch, I order a seafood salad which, which is sensationally fresh. Even though the resort has 2 restaurants, for dinner, I decide to eat in (wonton Soup and Chicken Pad Thai). My personal hosts have set my table, one knocks on my villa and tells me dinner is ready, she walks me to the dining area, they've set up candles, I think ' how romantic', then I remember I'm on my own. None the less, I sit, one pours me a glass of wine, the other places my napkin on my lap, this is certainly the lifestyle of the rich & famous, I am yet to qualify for either category. Two days later, I head down to the beach. Whilst there I make the decision to return to my villa, sitting at the beach just wasn't the same, I felt ordinary there, where as in the villa I felt like a VIP, naturally I called the buggy and go back to my temporary life as a celebrity.
My generous hosts are back, this is slightly awkward as I don't need anything as they have given so much, however they naturally await any requests. At the risk of sounding indulgent the thought crosses my mind questioning the limitations of what they can bring for their guests. Are there any limits? Hard to find cuisine? A selection of hand made Belgian chocolates? A ride on a elephant? It seems nothing is impossible here. Later I call Antonio, the assistant manager and ask him to show me the best villa around. He takes me to Villa 23/24 & 17 (Bono's favorite), just as good as my palacial suite I'm in but larger in size. The villas here are as big as the homes in Beverly Hills, huge acres, some up to 9000 square metres. Like all Italians, Antonio is very animated, charming and passionate about what he does. I asked him are there any limits to their incredible service - "We don't like to say no"ù he replies. Just the answer I expect the guests at Amanpuri appreciate. A recent guest who had his mega yacht moored in Asia wanted to experience Amanpuri with his yacht at his disposal but did not want to sail it here himself, no problem, Amanpuri organized to have someone sail it to the hotel for him and back again. And I wanted an elephant ride? Doh! You want Caviar from the best restaurant in France, no problem, we'll fly it inì It's that kind of environment. In terms of social interaction with other guests, I had none as I didn't leave my villa, but come peak period, Dec - Mar (one needs to book months in advance) this place hosts the 'creme de la creme' If your a networker, influential business contacts are a plenty. What a great environment to do business whilst indulging in the utmost of pleasures.
It is probably not very often that Belinda Carlisle gets quoted, however it is entirely appropriate at this point. "Ohhhh , Heaven is a place on earth", and Amanpuri is just that, Heaven On earth. by Bill T