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Sala Phuket Resort and Spa, Mai Khao Beach, Phuket 

See the Phuket Guide ›
333 Moo 3
Mai Khao Beach , Phuket
Thailand 83110
Tel: 66 76 338 888
view web site ›'s insider take:

At Phuket's most high-end resorts, private pools have gone from being an over-the-top perk to seeming as standard as turndown service. SALA Phuket on the northern Mai Khao Beach clearly got the memo, orienting 63 of its 79 rooms around a self-contained outdoor area that makes your space feel like a resort within a resort. Neutral hues put the focus on the aqua water of your pool and on Thai crafts from Doi Tung (a charity founded by Thailand's royal family) as well as on statement pieces like modern crystal chandeliers. That luxe simplicity carries over into the common areas: rooftop dining tables appear to float above a placid reflecting pool, white-on-white daybeds are topped with plush pillows, and sprays of mist take the equatorial edge off the spa's treatment suites (additional kneading is available on shaded daybeds by the beach). Unlike many other resorts in this price range, SALA accommodates families, designating one pool for their use and another for the hotel's more mature tan-seeking set. An extensive menu of delectable Western and Thai dishes will satisfy even long-stay guests at the alfresco, beach-facing dining room. One caveat: While we appreciate the way in which the hotel's design focuses on outdoor spaces, we'd prefer to have the entire bathroom located inside. Bathing outside in the deep-soak bathtubs may be sexy, but midnight trips to the plein air toilets (and the accompanying mosquito bites) are anything but.

From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:

At one of Phuket's most stylish small hotels, all of the 79 airy rooms housed in 1960s-inspired one- and two-story buildings offer easy access to the long, soft-sand Mai Khao Beach at the island's northwest edge. The Sino-Portuguese-inspired decor, including black lacquered sliding doors as well as ornate chandeliers above the bath, harks back to the area's earlier inhabitants, while neutral hues keep the look stylishly modern. When the rubber trees grow to maturity, shade will spread across this spacious property, but for now, guests can escape the sun under canvas-covered daybeds scattered on the beachfront lawn with its three large pools, one of which is kid-friendly. A convivial ambience pervades here, and the resort's all-day dining is overseen by a talented young American chef who grills the local catch on request and proves equally capable with Thai fare. All rooms offer flat-screen TVs, DVD players, powerful air-conditioning, high ceilings, and surprisingly good work desks with Wi-Fi. While standard-room bathrooms are partially open-air, the canvas curtains tend to sway in the wind, so they are not entirely private; a better choice is any of the ground-floor accommodations with plunge pool or one of the higher room categories.

—2008 Hot List

When to go: Days are sunny December through February.

Which room to book: The SALA Pool Villas are private havens worth the additional dollars.

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