Indigo Pearl, Nai Yang Beach, Phuket $$$$
Concierge.com's insider take:
If the choice between Phuket's teakwood traditional and muted modern hotels leaves you cold, Indigo Pearl on Nai Yang Beach may be the place for you. This is a postindustrial playground of found art with a circus of activities (including trapeze lessons and art workshops) to match. Architect Bill Bensley (of Four Seasons Chiang Mai and Rajasthan's Udaivilas fame) drew inspiration from Phuket's tin-mining past and used materials salvaged from the wreckage of the 2004 tsunami. Old wrenches find new life as knives and forks, rice buckets become rain showers, and abaci make wall art. In some cases, form trumps function—the polished cement floors of the bathroom can be slick when wet—but there's an overall sense of lightness and whimsy. The look of the 277 rooms varies wildly, from the Arco lamps and midcentury furniture of the Tuxedo Suite to the nautical feel of the Kelly Quarters. Our favorites are the Plantation Villas—set in a quiet spot near the adults-only pool—or any of the second-floor rooms, which overlook the painterly landscaping. There are three pools (one tiled to resemble snakeskin), a cooking school, a spa, a kids' club, a Thai boxing studio, and an outdoor theater built into a grassy hill. You'll be similarly spoiled for choice in terms of eating, from the Black Ginger Thai restaurant built on stilts over a lake to the open-air tapas lounge. Phuket's best-looking expats gravitate to the Tin Mine restaurant on Sunday mornings for a brunch of Japanese sushi, Chinese Peking roast duck, New Zealand mussels, Indian tandoor, French oysters, and Phuket rock lobster. The riot of activity could be overwhelming, but the organization of the resort into discrete areas makes it feel more like a series of neighborhoods than a metropolis.—Updated by Cynthia Rosenfeld
From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:
American Bill Bensley has recast this formerly ho-hum three-star resort into something modern and unexpectedly funky, with witty industrial touches like a nut-and-bolt toilet paper holder and old-fashioned outdoor metal showers that use bamboo water tanks. The lush landscaping with encircling lagoons creates a sense of exclusivity that makes it almost unnecessary to cross the busy street to the broad public beach. The 277 rooms sport pillowtop beds and fabrics from Bangkok's trendsetting Beyond Living brand. Dinner at the restaurant, Black Ginger, is an elegant affair, with local favorites like poh piah sod, a spring roll overflowing with sweet sausage and roast pork. The Stockroom, an in-house antiques shop, sells well-chosen items ranging from Chiang Mai silk wraps to hand-carved wood furnishings from Kerala. The spa will be expanded in 2008.2007 Hot List
When to go: Beach days are best during the driest months of January and February.
Which room to book: The two-story Bensley Suite has a private pool and a sauna.
Amenities: 24-hour Room Service, Bar/lounge, Beach, Gym, Pool, SpaSubscribe now to Condé Nast Traveler for just $1 an issue! ›