Seeing The NAKA Phuket for the first time takes your breath away. A collection of cantilevered villas hang from the mountainside. Each has a wrap around glass front facade framing the 180 degree panorama at every angle. From the reception area on the hilltop, the valley floor begins to fall away, creating a sweeping slope from the top of the property to its pretty private beach. Award-winning architect, Duangrit Bunnag’s daring and dramatic design is a striking vision, spread across the 17-acre luxury hideaway in Kamala, on the island’s west coast. It’s obvious why The NAKA Phuket was handpicked for the enviable Design Hotels portfolio.
The NAKA Phuket Review
94 luxury villas cling to the hillside. Each is numbered according to the height it sits from sea level and the direction it faces; one of the many clever ways the design is integrated with the resort’s natural surroundings. My One-Bedroom Pool Villa was located close to the top of the hill.
Each master suite hangs 6 metres out from the edge, seemingly floating mid-air. This meant the bedroom had an expansive sea view, ideal for watching the sunrise and sunset from the room’s balcony or the comfort of the covers of my king sized bed. The living area featured a generous modular lounge, work desk, flat screen TV, coffee-making machine and a mini-bar, restocked daily and included in the rate.
A full length sliding door led to the outdoor patio and a huge 28-square metre private pool. Both the pool and twin sun beds shared the same enviable sea view. The other half of the villa was home to the bathroom with his and hers sinks, WC, rain shower complete with divine Molton Brown products and a private outdoor courtyard, home to bathtub big enough for two.
The pool caught the mid-morning sun; ideal for a little lounging before lunch. By afternoon, the water had been gradually warmed which made for a comfortable sundown swimming spot with a clear view to Kamala Bay. Sheltered by the villa to one side and a privacy wall at the other, it felt intimate and protected; a wonderful option for honeymooners and couples who are looking for some time out just for two.
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The WIWA Restaurant at The Naka Phuket
The resort’s restaurant, The WIWA holds prime position on the beachfront. The gorgeous, grand wooden structure can’t be missed. With a lofty ceiling and grand wooden doors that swing open to reveal the view, the place feels, open, warm and relaxed. The WIWA serves breakfast each morning. A found myself wandering down the hill as the sun was still coming up, the “snap” of my camera one of the few sounds to be heard.
The buffet is a balanced mix of Asian and Western. I loved the freshness of the food. A whole snapper smothered in herbs sat at one end, thick slices of cooked ham and steamed chicken with slivers of fresh grated ginger proved irresistible. A soup station, eggs, plates of tropical fruits, juices and cereals were all waiting each morning.
Sitting at the edge of the restaurant, I spent my mornings, slouched back in the seat, cradling a coffee mug and taking in the sound of guests gently slapping the pool below during their daily laps. Gardeners quietly worked in the green areas, couples wandered the sand sinking in their toes and stopping to pose for pictures in the soft morning light. It was a very peaceful start to the day.
For lunch and dinner, every appetite and taste is covered in the menu. They have everything from Asian seafood appetizers to Western picks like their delicious Chef’s Salad, bursting with colour and fresh ingredients and bigger meals like the Steamed Snapper; something I tried for lunch one late afternoon and loved.
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The Nana Bar
“Nana” means diversity or variety in Thai, so The Nana is a fitting name for the beach bar at The NAKA Phuket. The bar is open for coffee in the morning to drinks in the evening and it has a relaxed vibe, allowing guests to comfortably stroll in after a day of diving or snorkelling for a drink, or pull up a seat in the early evening to settle in to catch the sunset.
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The MEKA: Sky Lounge
Sitting at the highest point at the resort’s Sky Lounge, The MEKA, has the best panoramic view across the entire hotel, to the beach and straight out to the Andaman Sea. That makes it a great place for an afternoon snack and sunset drinks.
State-of-the-Art Fitness Facilities
The NAKA Phuket leaves no excuses for missing a training session. The gym is fully fitted out with a cardio area, machine and free weights and the only Connexus functional training set up in Thailand. There is also a comprehensive schedule of classes including Pilates, core and circuit, among others. The class numbers are kept tight so guests experience more one-on-one attention.
I had a private yoga session with instructor Toh on the grassed area by the beach. It was a gentle session and a lovely way to get moving for the day. Toh was a knowledgable instructor with a great teaching style. He has been practicing for seven years, so I asked him to show me a few poses at the close of the session. He flowed through them almost without a single adjustment. I loved the session and would highly recommend it.
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For those who want a change of scenery from their own private pool, there is an olympic 50-metre swimming pool footsteps from the beach, just outside the restaurant. This is the ideal for those who start the day by swimming laps, parents with children who want to be excused from the dining table early (and remain in view while you are catching up) and guests who want to spend a little down time in a sun chair on the decking within easy reach of the restaurant.
The NAPA Spa
The NAPA spa is located at the very top of the resort in The Spa Tower; an ultra modern, five storey structure where guests can book in for a day of pampering whilst enjoying the sea view. The spa has six treatment rooms, each caters for couples.
The NAPA’s treatment menu is shaped by the Thai elements; earth, water, wind and fire. They offer massages, scrubs, wraps, Biodroga facials, haircuts and styling, nail treatments and spa packages. There is even a complimentary steam room and sauna for guests to use and a jacuzzi on the balcony of one of their treatment rooms for an al fresco experience.
Total Relaxation at The Naka Phuket
While there is a lot to see elsewhere around the island, I found The NAKA was the perfect place to stay put and unwind. A sleep in as soft light hit the valley beyond the balcony, a quiet stroll down the hill to breakfast, an exploratory dip from the wharf or just time spent thumbing through a good book by the pool. I savoured a slower pace of life that The NAKA Phuket promotes.
If you are looking for a little active adventure though, the resort has their own dive and snorkelling school. Guests can also simply hire snorkels and flippers, wander to the end of the floating blue wharf and simply wade in to explore the marine life around the bay.
There are several areas with swings and seating or a spot of sand along the 200-metre private beach front to find a peaceful spot for a morning walk, meditation or refreshing dip in the sea.
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The NAKA offers a complimentary shuttle to and from Patong for guests who want to check out the famous nightlife or do some shopping. They also have a list of their own recommended restaurants in Patong should guests get hungry while they’re out and about. It is only a ten minute drive away.
Phuket Airport to Kamala
The Naka Phuket is a 40-minute drive from Phuket International Airport and the hotel can organised limousine or mini van transfers (at cost).
The NAKA Phuket
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.