Sign Up for Our Monthly Asia Newsletter
American travelers are sure to encounter some truly bizarre foods in Thailand. Oddly enough, the strangest dish I discovered was not crispy scorpions on the streets of Bangkok, but something far more decadent at the recently opened Anantara Phuket Layan Resort & Spa on the island of Phuket.
The resort’s Sala Layan restaurant serves guests Australian Angus sirloin rubbed in Black Ivory Coffee, which is cited as the most expensive coffee in the world. It’s made with the Anantara brand’s 100 percent Arabica coffee beans, which are fermented in the stomachs of rescued Thai elephants in northern Thailand. The coffee beans are — you guessed it —excreted by the elephants and then handpicked, sun-dried, roasted and, finally, sold for around $45 per espresso shot.
From asparagus risotto topped with foie gras to gnocchi with Phuket lobster, dinner at Sala Layan was an event in itself. The chef even treated us to an amuse-bouche of fried feta-stuffed olives that were hung from the branches of a tiny tree.
Opulence was a common theme throughout the 77-room resort, perhaps most notably in my Deluxe Pool Villa. One of nine accommodation styles, the Deluxe Pool Villa features an Apple TV and a Bose sound system that pairs with any smartphone or tablet with Bluetooth capabilities. Wireless speakers allow guests to take their favorite tunes into the courtyard. Ultra-high walls provide added privacy to the villa’s courtyard, which is complete with a plunge pool, lounge chairs and an oversize outdoor tub.
I was surprised to find an in-villa wine cellar and a selection of complimentary espresso to be brewed on demand. The resort certainly doesn’t hold back on its luxury line of bath products, either. Bathrooms are stocked with three different types of bath salts (lemongrass, lavender and ylang ylang flower), making a soak beneath the stars all the more enjoyable.
For those having trouble adjusting to jet lag, the Anantara Spa offers an in-villa spa ritual that accentuates some of the villa’s most inviting features. With the Slumber Guru Experience, guests kick back with a candlelit bath infused with essential oils. They are then treated to a back, neck and shoulder massage, as well as an Italian Eraclea hot chocolate served with homemade cookies. Afterward, the guest selects a silk or cool gel-filled eye mask and a pillow of his or her choice for a night of deep sleep on 1,000-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets.
The Anantara Spa stays open until 10 p.m., and it’s worthwhile to make the uphill climb after dinner for a quick look. The spa’s hallways and stairs are illuminated by candlelight, and the ambiance is tranquil and romantic.
The resort, which has been fully operational since September, overlooks the white sands of Layan Beach on the island’s west coast and is a 20-minute drive from Phuket International Airport. Guests should take advantage of the secluded location and explore the shores at low tide for its bounty of shells, quartz and hermit crabs.