Those who crave a room with a water view will not be disappointed when checking in to Point Yamu by Como, a resort that mixes luxury with wellness on the secluded eastern side of the Thai holiday island of Phuket.
This five-star hotel is situated at the tip of Cape Yamu, a gated community of low-rise villas on a gently rising promontory.
Thus, it is able to make the rarest of offers to its guests: every room with a water view. And what a view. Phang Nga Bay and its multitude of islands stretch out into the cobalt warm waters of the Andaman Sea, visible from any of the 79 rooms or suites and 27 private villas with pools.
This is James Bond territory; more precisely, a holiday haven part of our touristic consciousness since 1974, when one the 42 distinctive karst limestone islands (visible in the distance from Point Yamu’s commanding pool deck) starred as the villain’s lair alongside Roger Moore and Christopher Lee in The Man with the Golden Gun.
The hotel is new and luxe, so new my taxi driver from Phuket airport midway through the 40-minute drive pulls over to seek directions. I arrive in desperate need of a profound recharge. Behind me, a busy family trip to Europe. Ahead, a 50th birthday extravaganza in Phuket’s helter-skelter tourist trap Patong Beach.
Right now I need time. I need splendid isolation. I need the replenishing powers of water, which this hotel supplies in abundant quantities.
Outside each room is a bowl of water, filled with bright local flowers; many of the suites look out on to a private infinity pool and the bay; and on arrival the vast lobby, up a wide flight of stairs and open to the elements under a temple roof, seems to float on a pool of the stuff.
This doesn’t feel like Thailand, thanks to the efforts of Italian designer Paola Navone, fresh from her latest commission, Metropolitan by Como, Miami Beach.
Here she fuses traditional Thai elements (look out for the room tiles) with a palette of white, turquoise and hot orange to impressive effect. The lobby is dominated by a centrepiece of stacked wooden coffee tables, laden with red and orange glazed ceramic bowls brimming with bright flowers, amid little ceramic dolls holding golden welcoming signs in Thai.
Yamu’s elevated aspect provides the bad news: this resort doesn’t have its own beach. The good news: as a substitute, it has a private island.
At 10am the next day, we are driven down to a local jetty to board a long boat for a 15-minute voyage across the bay to private Rang Yai Island. This beach excursion involves nothing beyond swimming in the clear waters and sunbaking in a deck chair under a palm tree. The only pressure comes in deciding what time to return for lunch.
Point Yamu takes its food very seriously, but it has a serious reputation to uphold. Its sister hotel in Bangkok is home to Australian David Thompson’s Nahm, recently judged Asia’s best restaurant. At Yamu Australian chef Liam O’Brien, who moved to Thailand aged 14, is in charge of the Italian and Thai food offerings.
Italian restaurant La Sirena is long and narrow but commands views of the bay and the main deck’s mega infinity pool. The highlight of lunch turns out to be O’Brien’s playful spaghetti salad, where what appears at first glance to be the pasta is revealed on closer inspection to be strips of zucchini coated in lemon.
Sister restaurant Nahm Yaa, inspired by traditional Thai street food, prefers an under-the-sea theme. Here giant goldfish frescoes adorn the walls, accompanied by lights that look like little bubbles. The menu includes complex dishes such as smoked duck in spiced wafer, hot and sour prawns with young coconut, and steamed whole sea bass in coriander and lime sauce.
Como Shambala is this resort group’s award-winning wellness concept, which influences its restaurant menu and spa, the Como Shambala Retreat. The latter offers massage and yoga rooms, and overturns any decree that spas must be gloomy and closed off from nature.
Instead Como Shambala offers Asian massage, in light and bright suites open to the bay with painted white bamboo and floors studded with river stones. Light from the bay invades every corner of the room as my feet are washed. Face down on the massage table, I concentrate on the white flowers floating in a bowl beneath me. We begin with a gentle shaking of my hips as I lie on my stomach and with unerring instinct slide into my problem areas as the long flight from Europe is massaged out of me.
Across the other side of the island, friends entreat me to journey over for preparty sundowners, but I prefer to sink into my room’s kingsize traditional wooden bed and its Egyptian cotton sheets. Why party when I can relax?
Point Yamu by Como, 225 Moo 7 Paklok, Talan, Phuket, Thailand. Phone
+ 66 (2) 625 3322
It’s a new hotel in an isolated area, so ensure your driver knows where they are going. Allow about 40 minutes for the drive from Phuket airport.
Moneyed jet set, possibly with a copy of Monocle tucked under their arm.
The Man with the Golden Gun, obviously.
Take the James Bond islands tour or dine at local outdoor fusion restaurant Breeze, which has a pool. (We spotted the Como executive chef there on his day off with his family.)
Those desiring shopping, eating out and night-life have a lengthy taxi ride.
World-class standards of food and hospitality. The staff could not be more attentive.
Stephen Brook was a guest of Como resorts.
This article originally appeared as 'Heaven has water views at Point Yamu by Como in Phuket, Thailand' on www.theaustralian.com.au and is re-published here under license. Stephen Brook is a writer at The Australian and is not affiliated with Qantas.