Situated on Pansea Bay, The Surin boasts what is surely Phuket’s finest white sand beach, and the island’s most breathtaking sunset. Ideal for wanderlusters craving lazy days and relaxed evenings, it’s veiled from the masses but close enough to surprisingly swanky Surin – the sleepy beachside bars have a definite ‘riviera’ vibe to them.
Designed originally by Paris-based architect and designer Ed Tuttle, he recently returned to spruce up the resort and, despite a name change or two (The Surin was formerly known as The Chedi) along the way, the charisma and tranquility remain firmly in place. From the outside, the upgraded cottages have a colonial appearance, whilst the interiors – muted tones of green, saffron, and gold – give a knowing nod to Thai culture.
We checked in on the final leg of a trip which had taken us through Thailand – from Bangkok (Hansar Hotel‘s urban oasis) to Koh Samui (Silavadee‘s laid back natural charm and W Retreat‘s decadent brand of tropical paradise), onto Krabi and our final destination, here in Phuket. Housing 103 cottages, our one-bedroom Superior Cottage (one of 34) was much more a ‘home from home’, and located at lobby level, the stroll down towards the sandy beach and black tiled swimming pool was a maze of tropical walkways – dominated by sweeping coconut palms – which also connected the cottages and pavilions to the main building.
Our cottage overlooks Pansea Bay and it’s from the veranda that we relished in a spectacular sunset most evenings, the rest spent sitting at the waters edge – dipping our toes into the warm sea. It’s the stuff of Hollywood romance, you half expect a white stallion to come galloping along the beach. Dotted close to the beachfront are further suites and studios, ideal for those wanting to step out of their accommodation, straight onto the sand (just keep an eye out for those horses).
Dining options at The Surin are plentiful; with views out to the Andaman Sea, breakfast is taken at Lomtalay restaurant (which later serves authentic Thai cuisine), the star attraction at the Beach Restaurant is undoubtedly the fresh catch of the day, or maybe you prefer to dine under the stars at The Sunset Café which by day offers refreshing snacks and respite from the sun – whilst, come evening, offers the best in Western and Thai cuisine, along with a healthy wine list and cocktail menu. BBQs are regularly held on the beach lavishing guests with a plentiful selection of meats and fish. As with everywhere in Thailand, you won’t be going hungry.
The tranquility and harmony continue up the hill to where the spa is located (amidst 29 Hillside Cottages) and although it’s a considerable hike – especially in the midday Phuket sun – the smiling staff in the lobby area happily call for a buggy to take you for some much deserved pampering. It was on our final day that we went along for our aptly named ‘couples’ full body massage – The Surin – which coincidentally is their most popular (a combination of Thai and deep tissue techniques using the thumb and palm). Rising 60 minutes later, rejuvenated and smelling sweetly from the fig, neroli, vanilla and mandarin essential oils, we hopped into our waiting buggy and down to the Sunset bar for a refreshing cocktail.
Of all the luxury that we’ve tirelessly worked our way through in Thailand, there’s a perceptible gravitas to this hotel, a weight of quality yet refined and unassuming – it’s like the luxury designer bag that doesn’t need to shout about being a luxury designer bag. Being a member of the prestigious Design Hotels camp, The Surin is an exclusive beach retreat for the discerning traveller, chic and elegant but far, far from pretentious. The amenities and services are second to none, the accommodation alluring, and staff charming. Coupled with its location on the stunning Pansea Bay, I truly understand the draw that keeps its guests returning year on year.