One girl from Flight Centre’s amazing Thailand tranquillity
Excitement, anticipation and awe struck me all at once when I realised I was going for a visit to The Village. This place is like no other I have ever been privileged enough to encounter. The privately owned island is set off the east coast of Phuket, you are met at Laem Hin pier to be taken on a 5 minute private boat transfer to this beautiful location.
Pulling up to the jetty, I was welcomed to the island by a member of staff who took my bags and me in a wee golf buggy up to the reception desk. Reception is located high up in the complex giving you a bird’s eye view of the restaurant, swimming pool with a flume and the beach leading into the fair ocean.
I was then taken, in the tuktuk (wayhay) to my humble abode. My home for the following few night was a beach front 4 bedroom villa with private pool and garden, quite something for this lone girl! Once my luggage had been brought into the house and the door was shut, I instantly started running around the villa in sheer excitement! I was checking out all of the rooms, opening all of the patio doors, playing with the dimmer switches on the strategically placed lighting units, whilst frantically trying to call everyone I knew to tell them all about it. I almost booked my dad on the next flight from Chiang Mai just so he could come and have a look!
I was astounded by the quality of the finish, the fully equip open plan kitchen with dining area and L-shaped sofa made for the perfect relaxing/entertaining space. The floors are a deep stained wood finish and the décor very tasteful. There is a marble bath in the centre of the master bedroom (mine) and a balcony with comfy seats for your sea view. The other two upstairs rooms, a double and single both have a balcony connecting the two and all rooms are en-suite. Downstairs there is a delightful twin room with patio doors leading straight into the pool, fabulous! This villa is huge, bigger than any house I have ever lived in. It would be great to bring the whole family or a group of friends. In this villa you have a private garden facing the sea, with the pool area that lights up in the evening, I could picture a great dinner party going on out there.
I was met by Mark the sales manager of the resort, but not before I had ordered an AMAZING pizza from the wood oven and fresh juice to be brought to the house! Not very Thai I know, but you have to try everything and I know many people coming from Europe love to get a good pizza in Asia. Mark then showed me around The Village.
Although this is essentially a complex, the layout of the buildings and the volume of foliage was so great that you did not feel like you were intruded on by others, although you also knew you were not alone. The Village has spent a great deal of time growing all of the trees and plants in its own nursery. Naturally in time these trees will become more established and create a further depth to the privacy in the resort.
I was shown the different room categories that are available, with the lead in room type being a Jacuzzi studio. These are a really good size for a couple to share and also have a small fully functioning kitchen area. You may think, why would anyone want to cook here, and where do they get the food. Well, there is a small shop located near to the spa area providing guests with the option of being more self sufficient if they decided they did not want to eat in a restaurant or order room service every night.
Also on offer in The Village are 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom apartments, which then lead onto 2, 3, 4 and 5 bedroom villas. The apartments have nice lap pools on the front veranda and are positioned slightly higher on a raised level of the complex offering a good sea and sunset view.
So now I am in paradise, lovely place to stay, but what can I do?? In each guest room there is a menu of activities that take place every day or by demand. Unfortunately the heavens opened for me, coupled with the fact that the wine in the restaurant was so great, I did not take advantage of having a personal yoga lesson on my front lawn in the morning. I did however take the opportunity to sample the spa facilities. The spa area is massive, there are at least 6 separate treatment huts circled around an oxygenation pool with an ice room and a sauna to boot. I had an aromatherapy massage one day with lovely blended lemongrass oil, then a traditional Thai massage the following day. Each session lasts for 1 hour and you are given a charming cup of herbal tea to maintain the relaxed vibe once you come out of your sanctuary bubble. The therapists at The Village are very highly skilled. They all speak an excellent level of English and make you feel relaxed and reassured throughout the experience.
For those of you who prefer to be a little more energetic there are heaps of activities. Mark is a bit of an exercise fanatic and cannot get enough activities incorporated at the resort quick enough. There is a fully equipped gym with personal trainers available for Thai boxing, yoga or fitness instruction. There are two flood lit tennis courts available throughout the day with balls and rackets provided. They have a selection of mountain bikes so you can either take a tour with one of the guides up through the forest or just go off by yourself with a picnic to the other side of the island for the day. In October the team were in the process of constructing a 9-hole golf course running around the back of the complex. I hope that this will not take too long to finalise the design and this will provide further opportunity for enjoyment on the island.
Water lovers will not be disappointed in the selection of activities here, as there are dive instructors on the island who will take you out to the best spots on the West coast of Thailand. There are kayaks, windsurfs and snorkelling equipment all made available for guests use. Many of the options include a boat trip to the sister island Koh Rang which you can see from the shore has beautiful white sandy beaches. The kitchen will prepare you a lunch and you can set off over there for a day of eating, drinking and snorkelling in the sun.
The Village has a selection of options for dining, The Tamarind Restaurant and the Village Deli, with a new fine dining restaurant being created near the reception area. The Tamarind is where I had my breakfast each day. There is such a great array of fresh fruits, salads, hot and cold meats and freshly baked bread you inevitably get carried away! Each morning they have a different made to order option by the head chef himself. The banana bread is a MUST!!!
The Village Deli is a clever concept. They have a nice size area for seating with a bar and wood oven. You can order many western dishes in this restaurant or Thai cuisine from the Tamarind menu. I like this structure of the restaurants, as if you are in a large group you do not need to fight over which restaurant to go to for dinner as you can eat from either menu in both areas. The Deli part of this restaurant is fantastically stocked with cheeses, cold meats, salads and most things that you would find in an upmarket deli in Europe. This again adds to the freedom of the guests dining experience as they can purchase goods here to stock their in-room fridges.
I later found out that guest who have their own garden can request to have the chefs come to the villas and prepare barbeques for them al fresco. This is a fabulous idea for families or large parties who would like a private dining experience.
On Friday night all guests are invited to a welcome drink with Bernie, the general manager. Bernie is a really pleasant host. He welcomes all guests to The Village with canapés and complementary wine and introduces many of the staff so that there is a more relaxed atmosphere. The members of staff then mingle with the guests, who can ask question and generally get to know each other. This helps to break down barriers between “us and them”, which you can find in other establishments.
As I was travelling on my own, I did meet some lovely people that evening and had a chance to find out, first hand about their own experiences at The Village. The general vibe from everyone was friendly, each person I spoke to said that they would recommend The Village to friends as it offers something different than being on a mainland resort. I was given excellent feedback around the standard of the accommodation. At that point there was still a lot to do to get the resort to its final stages, this did not put off guests. They all seemed to understand the process to shaping the island and we were never disturbed by any on-going construction. Some of the guests said they would look forward to returning in the future to see the progression that had been made on the island.The clientele at this resort are very varied, there were some families renting 4 bedroom villas, groups of friends each renting 1 bedroom apartments and couples who were in the Jacuzzi studio rooms. Then there was me on my own in the manor house! The guests all reigned from different parts of the world, with the majority at that time being European. I wondered how a resort like this would work as it is the only resort on the island. However, after my time-spent there I can see why people love it so much, you can make of it what you like. If you want to relax by your pool alone you can, if you want to go out snorkelling or diving you can, if you are there to make friends and socialise around the central pool you will. There is also a free shuttle service over to Phuket, so if you feel like popping over to the mainland for a day shopping this is possible. This is a destination where you are truly catered for. I would recommend it to anyone and can’t wait to go back in the future.
Friday, 29 June 2012
The Village, Coconut Island. Phuket, Thailand October 2011
Source = Tourism Authority of Thailand