As The Naka Island Resort opens its doors for the first time, its staff members have been preparing to show guests a new vision of luxury travel in Thailand.
The name Phuket has, in recent years, becomes synonymous with a certain kind of holiday experience; relaxed yet breezily elegant, and lacking in pretension but sparing no luxury. Previously dominated by a kind of laid-back, 20-something surf culture and throngs of backpacking young people on their “gap year”, this resort island on Thailand’s Indian Ocean coast has matured into an upscale destination with more to offer than simple thatched-roof bungalows on the beach (although those are still plentiful). The newest resort to make a splash in Phuket is The Naka Island, the newest member of the Starwood collection of hotels.
Built on a the stunningly beautiful island of Naka Yai, a mere 25-minute speedboat ride from Phuket, the 67-villa resort is set amid lush forests and faces out onto the blue-green waters of the Andaman Sea. The 2.5 square kilometre island features numerous private beaches, walking and cycling trails, and plenty of opportunities to enjoy Thailand’s placid tropical beauty. Here and there amid the trees are Naka’s luxurious bungalows, unusually spacious at 450 square metres each and with coming complete with amenities like plunge pools and tranquil private gardens. Health and wellness is a major feature of the resort, which offers one of the region’s largest spas, where staff will create a customized program for each guests.
Personal touches are a theme at the new resort; a unique feature is the “Experience Guide”, who will act as an all-in-one butler, concierge, and tour guide, and help guests get the most out of their stay by planning events, making reservations, and arranging jaunts to local places of interest. And there are plenty of fascinating adventures waiting off the island, with the epic Phi Phi islands, historic Buddhist temples, and amazing shopping found nearby. Li Ann Loo, Director of Marketing Communications for the resort, said that the Guides will both help tailor the experience of guests to their personal preference, and offer inside knowledge about what to see and do in the local area.
The lead up to the opening has been hectic for 20-year hospitality industry veteran Erich Freidl, who recently managed several Westin hotels in Malaysia, and accepted the job of General Manager of The Naka Island about a month ago. When asked about his favorite part of running an island resort, he told PIN that: “Few people can look around at their place of work and see tropical beaches and ocean every day of the week. I love constantly meeting new people that arrive to the island and hearing their stories and where they have been. We are constantly improving and so the most rewarding thing is to see our guests enjoy our services and facilities.”
The type of guests The Naka Island will likely attract, according to Ms. Loo, are experienced travellers looking for a unique and authentic holiday. “We hope to attract guests wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and seeking peace, quiet and tranquility on a private hideaway island, it is ideal for honeymooners and couples,” she said. “Our guests are also seasoned global explorers and when travelling like to go off the beaten path and experience the local culture of their destinations first hand.” On a luxurious isle with their Experience Guides at the ready, it seems guests will see a side to Phuket that few get to enjoy.
The Naka Island will be featuring two special opening packages until March, 2012.
Visit www.thenakaislandpuket.com for more details