Perched on the verdant western coast of Phuket, Amanpuri gazes down languidly at the turquoise waves of the Andaman Sea. The resort’s 40 Thai-styled pavilions and 32 private villas serenely repose in this tropical paradise, personifying its moniker which means a ‘place of peace’ in Sanskrit.
Renowned architect Ed Tuttle was intrusted with designing Amanpuri, the Aman Group’s first ever property. Initially conceived as a holiday home, the estate was never intended to be a hotel and only later evolved into a small resort – eventually becoming a kind of blueprint for every other Aman development and its luxury hotel family.
Like all Aman properties, Amanpuri is a reflection of the place, people and culture surrounding it. Enveloped within a coconut plantation, Edward Tuttle realised Amanpuri’s natural potential and indigenous abundance, therefore using only local materials like granites and hardwoods. He metamorphosed the space into an ancient temple complex, taking his inspiration from Ayutthaya, the old capital of Thailand.
This native Thai aesthetic was carried into every detail from the rosy maka wood panelling that borders the sliding glass doors, to the ornately pitched tiled roofs. Amanpuri’s roofs cape is but one example that effortlessly illustrates the quintessence of traditional Thai design within its layout.
Elevated leafy paths connect guest pavilions to the resort’s other facilities,while the purposely limited use of walls and doors ensures the open-concept plan is further enhanced, and welcomes the outside in. Surrounded by lush vegetation, each pavilion has its own outdoor sala (gazebo) and sun deck strewn with secluded day beds, while three units also feature private swimming pools.
The spacious bedrooms lead into breezy dressing areas fitted with twin vanities, luxe sunken baths and separate rain showers. The extravagance of space is obvious as bathing areas are as large as the rooms, while minimal furniture and warm woods awashed in soft lighting elevate this sense of airiness.
The private villas that Tuttle describes as “abstracted versions of classical Thai buildings that retain all the proportions of classic Thai architecture,” have all been constructed of wood – maka, hardwood and teak. Blending in with its environs, yet keeping up tradition, maka paneling in vertical fretwork patterns bedeck the structures, while granite in the outdoor areas mirror the rocks on the beach.
Every villa though different in layout (two to six bedroom plans) consists of a number of separate pavilions peppered around a private swimming pool at varying levels. Furnishings are kept to an absolute minimum as the restrained use of Thai textiles, art and antiques preserve the indoor-outdoor flow.
Each villa features a separate dining, sleeping and living pergola, a fully equipped kitchen, a cook and a housekeeping service – perfect for a relaxing family vacation.
As with numerous Aman hotels, Amanpuri’s public spaces are scattered around the main swimming area – this one a shimmering midnight blue pool reflecting the swaying palms that cluster around it. At dusk, as the sun sets into the Andaman Sea, restaurant guests can dine alfresco on moulded bronze tables and rattan backed chairs, under the balmy skies.
Traipsing down to Amanpuri’s powdery crescent beach at the foot of several stone steps, guests can plunge into an oasis pool set in the sand, sip on a cocktail, or just lie by the sea soaking in the sun.
Set against a backdrop of 10,000 rustling coconut trees spread over 94 emerald acres; Amanpuri’s vanguard is its outstanding team or “samashik” (meaning family in Thai), 30% of who are still with the property since its opening way back in 1988. Establishing a reputation for world renowned personal service, gourmet cuisine and understated luxury steeped in natural beauty, Amanpuri is truly a heaven on Earth.
Text By Natalie Pedder-Bajaj
Photographs Courtesy Aman Resorts