Several weeks before departing for our week-long vacation to Phuket, one of my well-travelled mentors at work gasped at horror that I would want to venture anywhere near the well-beaten tourist track that is Phuket. This made me somewhat apprehensive before our departure; but luckily all this melted away (making room for some much needed rest and relaxation) within minutes of arriving at The Pavilions. Perfectly situated somewhat north of the island of Phuket, it is well-clear of the chaotic touristy areas surrounding Patong Beach - but relatively close enough of a commute if you still wanted to go there. Also, this hotel does not cater for families with young children which - and don't get me wrong, I love kids! - makes it an ideal setting for those looking for a spot of tranquility and maturity that only a child-free setting can provide.
Our Villa was wonderfully spacious, very well-appointed and tastefully furnished. We had an infinity pool with breath-taking views of the ocean and the weather was perfect for taking a dip any time of the day or night! The open-air breakfast lounge provided an amazing soul-lifting back-drop to enjoy the very tasty breakfast each morning. Although not as extensive as your average 5-star hotel breakfast buffet; each item had been thoughtfully selected, providing guests with a "best of" range to choose from, with the main items (e.g. eggs, waffles) offered from an la carte menu and thus made fresh to order. The French toast and green mango smoothie made a particular impression on this foodie's tastebuds! We ate at their signature restaurant 360° twice - again, spectacular views of the surrounding hills and ocean provide a wonderful ambience to sample a fusion of traditional and modern Thai food. Other culinary delights of note are the Pavilion Platters that can be ordered to your villa to enjoy as a snack by your pool or on your sun lounge - we tried both the Savoury and Chocolate Fondue Platters and highly recommend both!
I also tried two of the spa treatments: a traditional Thai massage and an Aromatherapy Oil massage - both of which sent me to a completely different, blissful place; I cannot even find the words to portray the experience with justice! Le sigh!
The staff at The Pavilions are extremely professional and discreet; but still manage to genuinely portray the hospitality of Thai culture with their warm smiles, greetings and interactions such that one feels like they are returning home every evening, rather than as a guest.
In conclusion, a word or two on Phuket as a destination. It's easy to see how a well-travelled continental drifter may view Phuket as a predictable destination, not worthy of exploration - particularly if you do go to areas that are jam-packed full of tourists and families that have obviously come on one of those "kids stay, eat, and play for free" budget holidays (nothing wrong with that at all - just company who may not be to everyone's taste). I will be the first to admit - we came to Phuket specifically knowing that we would get more for our dollar than travelling virtually anywhere in Australia - and would be able to stay in luxurious accommodation at a fraction of the cost. Herein lies the challenge for you as a traveller, to create your own unique experience away from the beaten track. I believe that staying in a boutique hotel away from the main tourist areas, like The Pavilions, will serve an ideal setting to help you appreciate this beautiful part of the world. I also highly recommend hiring a car and Navman while you're there to get around - it's so easy to drive here and it means you're not tied down to doing set day-trips with tourist companies. Drive to a fishing village to meet the locals; or have a picnic on a secluded beach - the staff at The Pavilions are more than happy to give you directions. Another activity that I highly recommend is learning how to scuba diving and taking a diving trip out in the Andaman Sea - there are some gorgeous diving sites, the water temperature is warm all year long and the big bonus of course, there will only ever be a handful of other people joining you on these trips!
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