A gentle breeze washes over me. It’s a welcome reprieve from the heat of the midday sun. I sit reclined, peeking across a flower bed overflowing with fuschia bougainvillea, to the bay below. The colourful plants, yachts rocking in the crystalline water and the striking white building behind me spark memories of Greece. But I’m a long haul from the Aegean. Instead, it’s the unique beauty of The Nai Harn Phuket, the pick of the Nai Harn beach hotels, that is making me swoon.
The Nai Harn
When it comes to Nai Harn beach hotels The Nai Harn Phuket is the stand out. The property not only holds one of the most exclusive and sought after locations on the island, but it has a long history of delivering world-class luxury experiences to an enviable client list from royalty to international celebrities, since 1986. It was the only five-star resort on Phuket at the time. More recently, it was home to Royal Phuket Yacht Club. Now, after an extensive 18-month renovation led by General Manager, Frank Grassman (formely of Soneva Kiri and Six Senses), The Nai Harn is once again open for business with a new contemporary edge. Keen to live up to its reputation and the honour of being the only Phuket hotel that is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World collection, The Nai Harn offers bespoke, luxury experiences for their guests.
Deluxe Ocean View Room
There are 130 rooms at suites at The Nai Harn. Each shares the same stunning view. My Deluxe Ocean View Room was apartment-like. Aside from the 40-square-metre terrace with day bed, there was a king bed, seating area, lounge chair and my favourite feature, a bathroom that opens up to give you a direct view outside from the comfort of the bathtub. Pale, washed wood, white walls and a palette of simple grey, accented with splashes of sorbet made the space feel modern, contemporary and sophisticated. This is a room made for a Phuket honeymoon.
As I put a teaspoon of home made coconut butter into my coffee and stir it in with a grin I hear “I’m going to marry this guy!” from behind me at the breakfast buffet. “Home made banana and Nutella spread…”, she continued to gush. My smile widened. I felt exactly the same way about what Culinary Director, Kevin Jean Fawkes had created. Fawkes describes his food philosophy as, “working with the gifts from mother nature, organic, chemical free, to reconnect people with their food and where it comes from”. Tasked with re-establishing The Nai Harn as the culinary destination that it once was, Fawkes brings a list of impressive career accolades and evidently a passion for food that will help him launch the hotel’s two restaurants, Cosmo Restaurant and Rock Salt as must-dine destinations.
Window shopping the breakfast buffet counter was a treat in itself. Home made granola, nut milks, farm-to-table fare from hand made cheese, yoghurt, cultured vegetables, thinly sliced charcuterie to cured local fish from the hotel smoke house and baked goods; it’s clear the line up had been curated with creativity and care by Chef Fawkes. He says, “Firstly, if I have made it myself I know it’s pure and safe, secondly these techniques have been passed down over the generations and I believe it is important for me to pass them on so they do not get lost in time.” Some may say a hotel buffet is a hotel buffet, but there are a rare few like this.
Working my way towards my daily destination; the egg station, I spotted oven baked sweet potato (Paleos rejoice), a whole steamed fish cooked in chilli and lime (the following day it was fresh, roasted pork), stir fried vegetables and some Asian-style favourites too. Where the options for healthy diners can often feel limited, I found myself arriving earlier each morning ready to try something new.
The atmosphere shifted in the evenings at Cosmo. The bright, light space became seemingly more intimate. Countless white lanterns hung from the ceiling casting soft, golden light on to each table. I sat towards the edge of the awning, overlooking the beach as the sun and a light drizzle began to fall across the bay. It was such a peaceful spot. I ordered the Thai style prawns with lemongrass, lime and chilli for a little local flavour but I couldn’t go past the pasture raised rib eye for my main course. It’s still a rare treat to find pasture raised meat on a menu. Something I hope continues to improve. The quality of the food was as expected; spot on. Both dishes were cooked to perfection.
The room service menu at The Nai Harn has to be mentioned too. It is impressive. The menu caters to everyone from those looking for comfort in a burger and fries, to vegan, vegetarian and clean eating travellers, often left with very underwhelming choices for in-room dining. If you order a burger here it will likely be made with organic vegetables and a grass fed burger. The salads are creative, tasty and fresh. I ordered the free-range chicken which came with a delicious side salad and I loved it.
Cosmo Bar & Reflections
Cosmo Bar and Reflections both enjoy the magical view over the water to Cape Promthep, so either one is a great place to unwind with a sunset cocktail. Lounge on the terrace at Cosmo Bar or settle in to the plush rooftop seating areas up at Reflections. Legendary barman Mr Salim Khoury (34-year veteran of The Savoy London), has been brought on to build the cocktail list, creating signature drinks like the Rum-ble and the Lady Nai Harn using local Chalong Bay Rum and organic Thai sugar cane. Internationally renowned wine critic James Suckling has out together the hotel’s wine list, inspired by his personal favourite picks when he goes away on holiday. The bespoke nature of the list means many of his choices are exclusively available at The Nai Harn and aren’t available elsewhere on the island.
Fitness with a View
The fitness centre opens at 7am which is a lovely time to watch the sunrise from the hillside studio-style space. The TechnoGym equipment is all brand new; two cross trainers, a bike, two treadmills. There are also weights machines, mats, swing weights and benches from NOHrD.
Nai Harn beach is just a stroll down the driveway and offers a quiet stretch of sand to get in some soft sand running followed by a morning dip. For those looking for a more energetic run the Nai Harn Lake loop is about 3 kilometres long and popular with locals and tourist alike.
The Nai Harn main pool is a place to relax, recharge and unwind. Each morning I saw a handful of guests wade in for a pre-breakfast dip and return later to grab some sun. I snagged a spot on a corner day bed to catch up on some reading and take in the view. The hotel provides cute beach bags for guests to use during the stay which is a lovely and handy touch.
Nai Harn Beach
The local market is definitely worth a visit and is just a few minutes walk from the hotel. I picked up some cute dresses, bikinis and gifts for family at very reasonable prices. If you have a longer shopping list, Phuket Town is about 30 minutes drive away.
A commitment to personalised service means the hotel will create an experience for you, depending on your tastes. Water sports and sightseeing can be arranged, a beach picnic with your own butler or helicopter or yachting day trips are just some of the options of offer.
While sunset from Promthep Cape is popular with tourists, I loved relaxing on the terrace or one of the bars to watch the bay blush pink and orange each evening.
The Nai Harn
23/3 Moo 1, Vises Road, Rawai
Muang District, Phuket, 83130 Thailand
The Nai Harn is about 1.5 hours drive from Phuket International Airport. The resort can organise transfers from about 2000 THB each way ($AUD80)
Skye is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Fit Traveller. She is a journalist, writer, photographer, intrepid traveller and a former personal trainer with a passion for helping others reach optimal health. As a TV journalist and producer, Skye has worked for household names such as 60 Minutes, Sunrise, TODAY and Nine News. She has also written for Women’s Health, Fodor’s Travel and Yahoo7 Travel, among many others.
Skye created The Fit Traveller as a beautiful online space and community where people feel inspired to escape the desk to move and explore more.
Equally comfortable in a 5-star resort or hiking a far-off mountain, Skye loves the unexpected and enriching life experiences that each trip brings and can often be found in a backstreet chatting to locals with her camera in hand.
Skye is based in Sydney, working to master the balance between motherhood and her insatiable appetite for adventure.