“Thailand is one of my favourite destinations. So I didn’t hesitate for long when Phuket allowed travel again in July. A Thailand-Bleisure experience of a special kind, also because top chef Tim Raue was with us for a shoot.” Kai Böcking
Only Phuket (and later Ko Samui) opened this summer under the Phuket Sandbox pilot project with strict security measures. No easy arrival: Vaccination, PCR test before flight, PCR test immediately after arrival and before departure home. Besides the costs, quite a stress, but also with some advantages – because no one is there, except for the hopeful Thais who finally want to welcome foreigners again.
All beginnings on arrival are white …
The friendly but determined medical staff in Phuket receive the few arrivals in bright white full-body suits and lead them directly to the testing station. They take their chopsticks and are then quarantined in the hotel until they get the results. It’s a hassle to get to Phuket. But from the time I wait for the result and afterwards, I only experience beautiful pictures and luxury.
It starts with the snow-white SUV marked Trisara plus a nice driver who takes me in less than 20 minutes to the resort, which is considered the best in Phuket. We are almost the first guests of the five-star villa hotel directly on the coast in the north. Far away from the sinful mile of Patong, where everything is closed, so that even the Pope could take a walk here without blushing.
Infinite pool by the sea
Trisara Resort is a non-plus-ultra for ambitious bleisure after a business trip or for remote work as a luxury working holiday. Situated above a narrow, palm-fringed beach on a secluded bay, the 56 villas and residences are spread over the green hills. Each villa has its own pool and a record-breaking view over the private bay. There is also a 50-metre pool directly on the beach and a spa in its own building. Everything here screams RECOVERY.
There is no other way to put it: I am staying in a temple of well-being. My Ocean Front Pool Villa is an incredible 240 square metres, set in a tropical garden with an infinity pool that seems to melt into the Andaman Sea. Dark woods, marble, light-coloured furniture, an outdoor shower, an extra-large double bed with a view of a small island off the coast – it’s easy to get over the fact that I’m “trapped” here until the results of my test.
The room service also provides the first impression of how Thai food is celebrated here: Laab Gai as a minced, spicy chicken salad and Pad Thai as noodles with chicken – they are cooked to perfection despite the long distances in Trisara and give an idea of what the chef can conjure up in his restaurant. Afterwards, I lie in the secluded pool with a cold Chang beer (the best beer in Thailand) in my hand and realise what I’ve been missing: Thailand.
Swimming without a fried egg
The next morning (the test was negative), we walk from my villa down to The Deck restaurant not far from the beach. Past a pond with water lilies on a huge terrace. There you will also find the star restaurant Pru, the bar and the 50-metre-long pool in blue-black granite. For a swimming fan like me, the ultimate sporting event.
The breakfast buffet inside The Deck is corona-conditionally small, but fine. À la carte is better anyway, because there are Thai, freshly prepared dishes already for breakfast: spicy soups, Morning Glory (vegetables), noodles and fish. I don’t need a fried egg here!
Eat everything with Tim Raue
I’m interested to see what Phuket Oldtown looks like, and I’m quickly amazed. Where tourists from all over the world usually throng – yawning emptiness. Traders waiting in vain for customers, empty streets and quiet restaurants. One of them is visited by our film crew: the Raya. In a 150-year-old house, it is considered one of the best local restaurants on the island.
When you’re travelling around the world with a top chef and food lover like Tim Raue for a travel-kitchen story, a lunch like this has a whole other dimension. To make a long story short: He simply orders up and down (almost) the entire menu. If the tables at Raya could bend, they would do so now. The restaurant cleverly plays with everything that the local markets have to offer. Accompanied by a Thai white wine – much better than expected.
On the way back to the hotel, a short stop at Phuket’s hotspot – Patong. Here, not far from the beach, millions of holiday and party-mad people pile up and crowd in other times to spend their holidays.
Today: nothing, everything is closed. The beach is ours. Patong Beach as a Robinson illusion – it’s not all bad at this time.
Later, a visit to the great Pru at Trisara. Dutch chef Jimmy Ophorst runs the only starred restaurant on Phuket. Much here is not what you might expect from a starred Thai restaurant. The Pru runs its own farm not far from the resort. Here, Jimmy grows herbs and vegetables for his creations. Meat, chicken and fish come from friendly fishermen and farmers. What the chef conjures up from this can be tasted in several menu variations – also vegetarian. The from-farm-to-table philosophy is perfectly implemented. Be sure to make a reservation, because the Pru is almost always fully booked despite the crisis.
What more can I say …
The Trisara brings back the feeling of carefree travelling. At the same time, the very relaxed solitude in my villa makes me sensationally lethargic. True, I’m in the pool every day or floating in a kayak on the sea or on the beach. But the real hit is the almost spiritual tranquillity of my villa – including the floating breakfast in the morning: not only am I floating in the pool, but also the floating tray with fruit, cappuccino, croissant and fried fish. Plus the view of the steel-blue sea. More is not possible.
Kai Böcking …
has been longing for this Thailand trip after the country’s closure. Missing Thailand, mission completed – including a sweet wait for the test result. The Trisari blew him away with regard to the service and the feel-good gene of the hotel. And an empty Phuket – some things don’t even need to change.
At a glance
Arrival: Flight to Phuket currently mainly with Thai Airways, from there use the hotel shuttle. The car journey takes about 20 minutes.
Trisara: The luxury hotel is a pool resort set in a terraced 14-hectare nature reserve on a pristine private beach on the Andaman Sea. It has various restaurants, including Pru as the only starred restaurant on Phuket. In addition, there are spa pavilions, a gym, tennis courts, a Muay Thai boxing ring, a 50-metre pool and a Kid’s Club.
Address: Trisara, Choeng Thale, Thalang District, Phuket 83110, Thailand, +66 76 310 100, email@example.com
Photos: © Böcking, Trisara