This little figure, 12 inches high, stands for all that is great about Trisara, on Phuket. This is one of the best resorts ever, not just in Thailand, or even Asia, but in the world. Put your little statue outside your villa. You do not want to be disturbed – for ever. You want your stay here to go on for ever. The gal was in villa 103. Look over the end of the 32-foot infinity pool (yes, all the 39 villas have them, all the same size), look over the end and all you can see is lush greenery. The difference is that 103 is one of the closest to the sea: it is only 47 steps down from the entrance to your private area of sandy beach.
And what an entrance it is! See that double gate, with the oh-so-quiet resort road, for buggies only, the other side. The gate has a double-lock. Swing it around outside, or inside, and it swings inside, or outside, too. It is a Lark Lock, invented by an ultra-clever Aussie, Anthony Lark, who worked with Regent and then Amanresorts for years before deciding to do his own thing. He brought in some canny investors, including former Foreign Legionnaire Simon Murray (whose latest hat is chairing Gulf Keystone) and he personally designed the entire 40-acre resort. So you come in through your double-door, and down eight steps. In front of you is your pool, and infinity. You have a big teak deck, with loungers and dining for two. You have that view, and the greenery around is so high and so dense that you cannot see anyone and no-one can see you.
Anthony Lark designed the villas as if his own private home. From the pool, you look back at your 1,500 sq ft villa, single floor rising, atop its red tiled roof, to a ten-foot wood sculpture. Go through a French window into the bedroom, its bedhead open to the bathroom, and thence looking through to a small garden behind. You have teak floors, masses of seating, an enormous desk bearing a gold sculpture (and excellent free WiFi, everywhere). Walk around either side of the bed to the villa-wide bathing area, with closet, two basins with a 10-foot daybed between, a hair-do area, an indoor shower. Go out one end of the bathing area and you find the outside shower area, big enough for a party of 50 of your favourite friends – you will be looked after by the resident deity attached to the wall out there.
Some people never leave their villas, and you can see why. I had a perfect pool-side lunch, a Trisara LIFE salad, with oodles of lettuce and sprouts and julienne of beetroot and carrot, and nuts, and bits of avocado and four delicious mounds of hommus as good as any in the Middle East: pair this with spaghetti, and you get, without asking, a big bottle of Trisara water – admirably, it has its own reverse osmosis plant, as they are eliminating plastic throughout the entire 39-villa resort, which is more than can be said for some of the other so-called ‘top’ resorts on the island. But you can eat beautifully elsewhere, of course. We had a riotous, conversationally-speaking, dinner in Trisara Seafood, reckoned to be the best on the island and that says a lot. Dine in or out, and choose, say, local burrata followed by seafood of the day, such as tiger prawns served sizzling on a big block of red-hot pink salt, from the Himalayas.
From villa 103 it is, coincidentally, 103 steps up through all that lush undergrowth to the gym, and the spa – look at the view out of the spa room’s window. I went for my face, found I was having feet and entire legs attended to simultaneously. Since I had my eyes closed I had no idea how many people were working on me at once as they tiptoe around so quietly you cannot hear them. It was bliss. They use Sodashi products, by the way. At the end I was presented with an exquisite wicker tray bearing green tea with jasmine, a two glasses holding betel leaves, to chew. Ah ha, I see it is renowned as a mild stimulant. Perhaps I will have even more energy?
Talking of leaves, I went for a walk round past the reception area (a glass-sided villa, actually) to look at the boutique, which has a collection of beach and resort wear that rivals that of One&Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives. Behind that is the kids’ club, with a full day’s programme posted outside. Keep’em busy. As I walked back I looked down, into an area that is normally decorative pool filled with water lily and lotus. See how carefully they are pruning and nurturing those leaves. It’s that kind of place. They have 50 full-time gardeners (they also have 300 staff to look after those 39 villas but they never get in the way and, bliss, there are no dedicated butlers).
There are also another 200 lovely people to look after the 30 privately-owned residences dotted around the estate and you can see why they are needed. I was taken on a tour of Villa 29, or Villa Isa, owned by a Parisian who comes here for about two months every year. Oh boy. Go in to what is in total a six-room villa and you find yourself in the open lobby looking across an Olympic-sized decorative pool at a dining sala cantilevered out, some six floors above a small private beach. Up here he has a billiards room, and a six-seat screening room theatre (electronic lie-back seats). The design is his but looks Thierry Despont or Pierre-Yves Rochon rather than those crazier Frenchmen, Jacques Garcia or Philippe Starck. One floor down is the main swimming pool, and behind are four ensuite bedrooms.
Go down one floor below and Mr Paris has hollowed out to form a separate Boathouse area, with a yacht-like deck and two more master bedrooms that are all lacquered wood and rounded windows, and deck-like flooring, and decorations include model boats and antique sextants. You can rent this two-roomer, with its own outdoor Boathouse dining, separately, one night up. Or, perfect for a big family or any special occasion, take the whole six-room villa (via the hotel, which provides all services – and you get a full-size boulles/pétanque court too). Anthony Lark, as young as when he opened Trisara back in 2004, now has a fascinating GM in place, Antoine Melon, and life for them both, based at this luxury hotel, is, well, just one-long—working-paradise.