There are many gorgeous destinations on our beautiful planet from the lakes of Italy, to the coast of Albania and the swimming ponds of Mexico. But, I recently stayed in a hotel resort that blew my idea of luxury out of the water – and there’s little wonder when a single night in one of its villas can cost more than £1,000. But, what does your money really get you in an ultra-luxury spot?
Driving through Phuket, Thailand, there’s plenty of natural beauty from the tropical greenery to Banana Beach and animals like monkeys scampering around. But, my recent stop was at the Trisara Resort on the Northwest of the island surrounded by the Andaman Sea.
Upon arrival I was instantly impressed by the beautiful buildings – a modern set up based on Thai architecture with temple-like roofs, huge vases, ponds and water features and marble absolutely everywhere. There’s no denying that the resort is stunning, and huge, with multiple terraces, restaurants, a large swimming pool and beach.
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There’s also a gym, library with desks for working, spots for yoga and meditation on the coast and tennis courts. You also get free round trip airport transfers which is super handy and hassle free.
Having rarely stayed in hotels which cost as much, I was somewhat critical that a resort could improve so vastly as to make a week’s stay worth the hefty cost. Well, walking into my one-bedroom villa (the resort offers several sized accomnodations including up to six bedrooms for 12 guests) I got it.
The pristine villa was firstly, spotless. Not a speck of dust has ever lived in that space as far as I could tell. All to myself, I had a veranda with a huge saltwater pool that was completely private with nobody able to overlook me and an ocean view. There was an outdoor dining table where I could eat breakfast (it can be ordered to your room) and several sun loungers.
I spend quite a few hours in the pool floating and looking up at the clouds. It definitely made me feel like a Queen and I could see it being a cheeky haven for honeymoon couples to enjoy.
Inside the villa, a large King Sized bed sits in the centre of the room so you have a fabulous sea view. There’s also a sitting area with sofas and fresh fruit and a desk space for working (the desk is also very stylish and I had to sit down and write for a while in my temporary office).
But, it doesn’t stop there – the villa boasts tonnes of wardrobe space, two sinks with mirrors, a large bath with a sofa opposite it (in case you need to relax before relaxing I suppose) and a dressing area with another mirror for doing your hair. Oh, and there’s both an indoor shower and an outdoor shower so you can wash in all the ways humanly possible.
Rooms also come with the most delicious smelling soap – jasmine or lemongrass – that I absolutely stole to take home so I could smell Thailand in my own tiny London flat. Frankly, sitting on my bath sofa after bathing in the supplied bath salts and sipping on a cold Coca Cola I did not want to leave the villa – but there’s much more to the resort than just that.
On top of the gorgeous villa, at Trisara I think what stood out to me was the service of the people who work there. I’ve stayed in private overwater bungalows in the Maldives before – that’s about as luxury as I thought things got – but being catered to like royalty over in Thailand made the Maldives drop down on my list of top beach destinations.
Thailand is well known for its attentive hospitality workers – it’s even sometimes called the land of smiles – and this was very much the case. As a guest, I was taken on a golf buggy through the resort to my very own private villa.
Whenever I needed to go somewhere I never had to use my legs if I didn’t want to. I’d just call the desk and they’d send the lovely drivers down to speed me away to my destination. If I wanted extra soap, a box of matches, laundry services or even an extra beer I just had to dial ‘0’ and a polite staff member would head to my villa and knock on the service door (yes there are multiple doors for different people) and present me with my requested item on a tray with a bow.
Down at the beach, there are assistants who will bring you whatever you like to your sun lounger from food to drinks to bug spray and towels. I’d never quite experienced never having to get off my bum to get what I wanted in the same way – it was both totally relaxing and also felt very strange.
There's also a spa with six rooms where you'll have every lump and sore spot worked out of you by a Thai masseuse for £138+. Afterwards you'll get delicious sweet snacks and tea to revive you – much needed after I almost fell fast asleep while being massaged.
Service staff at the restaurants are always ready to guide you through the dishes on offer, top up your wine glass or recommend what to eat. Even the chefs came out to chat to us a few times and offer their recommendations.
Now, the food. We all know that Thai food is fabulous from green curry to pad Thai, but have you ever had lobster in a yellow curry marinade? Or mussels in a sweet and spicy red curry sauce? You should try it; it’ll blow your socks off with spice, sweetness and flavour.
Trisara has several restaurants – an Italian and a Thai spot in the centre and a Michelin star restaurant at the top of the resort named PRU. I’m possibly not high end enough for the resort as I preferred the rich, hearty portions of the former to the exquisite, caviar covered, Durian fruit smoked, blue-cheese filled or ink marinated dishes of the award-winning option.
There's also a farm attached to close-by Jampa restaurant which provides lots of the fruit, vegetables, herbs, teas and eggs to Trisara so it's super local and extra fresh. Jampa serves incredible food that's surprises you with unusual ingredients but is well worth a visit. I tried fried flower that was honestly one of the nicest canapes I've ever had.
Now, there were a few downsides to Trisara Resort that I noticed while I was there. Firstly, the resort's private beach wasn't ideal for swimming because there are lots of very sharp rocks that slice at you if you enter the water.
However, it is an excellent beach for windsurfing, paddle boarding and kayaking. You can even spend the morning kayaking out to the nearby uninhabited island and enjoy the incredible surrounding views. if you've got the cash, you can also charter sailboats and yachts through the hotel – oo-er!
Contrary to the rocks, the beach is also the most alive one I’ve ever seen. Yes, that sounds strange, but as evening closed in the sand burst into life with dozens of hermit crabs, bubbler crabs and other little creatures scurrying away past your feet. Birds soared towards the water fishing and the tropical plants rustled as other creatures awoke. It was a wonder – like being in Blue Planet.
Of course, the immense natural beauty of Phuket does also mean that there are lots of mosquitos and you’ll likely get bitten alive like I did. But, wear enough insect repellant and you might be OK – the resort even gives you their own product to use (I just forgot to reapply after swimming).
The cheapest stay I could find at the Trisara resort was £664 a night on its own website in May 2024. That’s one of the country’s hottest months of the year with an average highs of 33C and it’s also the start of the rainy season. Rates are generally from £730+ a night.
To go in the high season of 2024 (November to March) you’re looking at between £1162 and £1929 a night for one villa. That’s a hefty price. They also charge about £5 a beer on site which is pretty expensive compared to Thailand’s average price of around £2.12. Although if you’ve spent a grand on your hotel for the night maybe that won’t matter so much.
I know it’s a big statement to make that this resort beat the Maldives for me. I stayed on the Indian Ocean islands at the You & Me by Cocoon resort five years ago and while it was also beautiful there are a number of reasons I preferred Trisara. The service was simply better, and the food was more delicious and fresh. This may be because it’s harder to get fresh fruit, fish and meat to the Maldivian atolls.I also preferred that my private pool in Thailand was salt water – way better for the skin.
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The ocean in the Maldives was better but the island boasted less animals, plants and wildlife than Phuket offered. It felt a lot more contrived than the Trisara resort which is embedded in the life of Phuket. Plus when you’re stuck on an atoll you can only really do anything organised by the hotel or available on that small pocket of land. In Trisara you can venture out for nightlife at Phuket Town, walk down to other beaches and hit up the super cheap street food stands.
All in all, Trisara was the most impressive and relaxing resort I’ve ever been to, beating those I’ve visited of a similar price range in the Maldives and Iceland. I’ll just have to cross my fingers that I’ll ever be able to stay in an ultra-luxury resort again – and keep looking for the bargain option that will come close.
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