Overview: A well-executed, high-end resort on the west coast of Phuket
Strengths: Rooms, in-room pools, service
Drawbacks: Beach (seasonal drawback)
My airport private escort brought me directly to Trisara’s Volvo XC90, which was waiting just outside the doors to the airport. The car was a comfortable cool temperature; water and a pleasantly scented cold towel were waiting for me in the car.
As we departed the airport, my driver informed me we had about a 20 minute ride ahead of us. He told me a little about the island then offered me an iPod from which I could control the music in the vehicle.
This was my first visit to Thailand. The intermingling and disparity of wealthy and impoverished living was quarters that we saw along the way was startling.
My arrival at the hotel was well coordinated. Antoine, the Resort Manager, was standing by the open-air front office and greeted me by name as the door to the vehicle opened. We chatted for a few minutes while my bags were transferred to a golf cart. Antoine came to the property late last year from a Six Senses property in the Maldives.
Coming from the US, and visiting for only one night, Antoine inquired (politely) about what brought me so far for just one night. I explained I had a weekend layover during two weeks of business, which clarified things for him. Antoine asked how I learned of the property. I told him I read of it in the FlyerTalk Luxury Hotels Forum. That answer was greeted with a knowing smile.
I had booked the stay via Virtuoso agent David Ourisman (also who I met via FlyerTalk). Antoine explained the Virtuoso benefits, and said my room had been upgraded to an Ocean View Pool Villa (a single category upgrade from the Ocean View Pool Suite that I booked). He told me that the property was less than 50% occupied (this was July), and it should be nice and quiet – ideal for relaxing mid-way through the trip. With every room having an private pool, indeed, this proved to be an understatement.
The check-in formalities, Antoine said, could be completed in my room. With that, I was escorted to the golf buggy which now held my bags and taken the short distance to my room, Room 201.
After a brief review of my credit card and passport details (the gentlemen who escorted me was a bit baffled by the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which has no numbers on the front), I was given a tour of the room.
Similarly sized to the suite I booked, the upgraded villa is set up as one large room (versus the suite which is divided into two). For me, as a single traveler, the villa was ideal. As a traveler with my wife, I’m not sure which setup would be better, frankly.
To one side, there was a comfortable sitting area. Some fruit and chocolates were waiting for me.
In the center, the bed enjoyed a commanding view.
And on the other side, a spacious desk, with outlets galore!
Behind the bed was a large bathroom, which ran the entire length of the room.
Perhaps the biggest negative I can say about the property is that the showerhead (in the indoor shower) was noticeably dirty. (The rest of the room was immaculate.)
There was a large, private outdoor shower area, too.
The centerpiece of the room, however, was just outside the western-facing doors – a private, infinity-edge pool overlooking the Andaman Sea.
The pool was set up in just a perfect way that you were completely private – none of the rooms further up, down below, or to either side, could see you – meaning clothing or swimwear was at your option. The water was set at just the right temperature; refreshingly cool, but not cold.
In one corner, the pool had a large step (perhaps 6 feet by 3 feet) which was about 1 foot deep; the balance of the pool was roughly 5 feet deep.
I literally spent hours in here, resting my arms and chin on the ocean-facing side of the pool, just looking off into the distance. I had some significant business decisions to make while I was there; this proved an ideal spot to ponder them.
A short walk down the hill leads back to the reception area, as well as the dining, library, beach and main pool areas.
A waterfall set in the middle of most of these structures helped provide pleasant ambient noise.
The Library was located directly below the open-air reception area. This would be an inviting room to relax in if you felt the need to leave your room on a rainy day.
Both indoor and alfresco dining options were available. I think the menu was the same in or out. Each of the meals I had at the property was very good (though perhaps not quite excellent). While I wouldn’t return solely on account of the food and beverage, it is definitely a strength. I found the table service to be very good. During my breakfast, Antoine, who had greeted me upon arrival, stopped by to inquire as to how my stay was. I appreciated his attention.
Breakfast was very good, and was seemingly unlimited. I ordered some items from the menu. After I was finished with them, I asked to have more of the avocado toast – and very quickly more was brought out. There was no charge on my bill.
Only at dinner did I get a sense that there were more than a handful of other guests at the property. Perhaps 25 people or so had dinner outdoors. All were tables of two, except for me!
Wifi was available at the restaurant and in the outdoors dining area.
An indoor bar was available (in the indoor dining room). Drinks could also be taken outdoors, of course, in a comfortable lounging area.
The main resort pool was lovely – and unused almost the entire time. There was one family with two children in the pool for a short while, but otherwise the pool was unused.
The beach was also a very comfortable spot to relax. The beach is rocky under the water near the shore, but becomes less rocky further out. During the winter, when the local sea is calmer, I understand they have some sort of floating jetty that allows guests to walk beyond the rocks without issue. During the summer months, however, the sea is rougher and the jetty is taken in.
I didn’t go in, but did dip my toe in the sea. The water was the right temperature. Perhaps had I had water shoes, I would have ventured out.
There were also hundreds of small crabs in what were more like snail shells living on the beach. They moved very fast, but stopped immediately if a person came near. They were fascinating little critters to look at.
Though I didn’t take any pictures, I was very pleased with the spa and pleased with the gym.
I booked my stay via David Ourisman (DavidO on FlyerTalk). David is a Virtuoso agent (as well as a FSPP and Ritz Stars agent), which provided me with free breakfast, a room upgrade, a $100 spa credit and a late check-out.
David was very helpful in comparing/contrasting different properties in Southeast Asia. While I don’t think he’s been to Trisara, he was able to talk from first-hand experience about many of the properties that I considered.
For me, it is very convenient to work with David as he is readily accessible on email and blackberry. There are no call centers to queue in – frankly, I’ve never even spoken to him – I’ve tackled everything with him entirely via email across a number of bookings.
Note that the property is also in the Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts program, which offers the same benefits. When properties overlap Virtuoso and FHR, I generally now book via David due to the superior service experience.
One Odd Thing Happened Before I Arrived…
One unusual thing happened that surprised me. Prior to my arrival, the Resort Manager looked me up on Linked-In. (I have a paid subscription which allows me to see who viewed my profile.) At first, I thought this was a little odd. After the passage of some time, however, I now feel it was a pro-active step of the management to understand the background of their guests. If I post information on a website such as Linked In, I certainly have no expectation of privacy. While I don’t think anything in my background would help them better serve me, I guess perhaps there could be!
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If traveling solo, or with my spouse, I’d have no hesitation whatsoever to return to Trisara.