“I had been to Thailand many times, Ko Samui, Krabi, Chiang Mai and of course Bangkok. But I only discovered Phuket and Khao Lak for myself in 2021 during the pandemic, and now again this year – this in two exciting but completely different hotels.” Kai Böcking
It’s only a short two-hour flight to Phuket from Singapore. So it’s ideal for all bleisure travellers who want to take a break from their job and have a few days off. I mix the two this time and make preparations for a shoot in Singapore on Phuket.
As soon as I land, a snow-white car is waiting for me. The destination is Como Point Yamu in the east of the island, at the highest point of a headland overlooking Phang Nga Bay. That sounds familiar? Sure, it’s the view of a rock formation that every James Bond fan knows: Roger Moore and Christopher Lee dueled here in the classic: “The Man with the Golden Gun”.
While the good 007 didn’t miss out on any Thai cliché in the 1970s, I’m soon standing in front of a hotel that doesn’t look Asian at first. A large, clearly structured building on the highest point of a headland with an unbeatable 360-degree panoramic view. Lots of greenery, palm trees and grass. No Thai pagoda style with kneeling elephants (only as parasol bases), but a design hotel.
The open entrance hall impresses with white and orange, comfortable designer furniture, a water basin and a Buddhist altar, but every detail seems to have been taken from the encyclopaedia of the prettiest design objects.
This design supremacy is no accident. Years ago, the owners of the Como Hotel Group from Singapore commissioned the Italian star designer Paola Navone to design the hotel down to the last detail.
Everything in the Como Point Yamu is colour-coordinated: Turquoise, orange, grey, blue and white. In the main building there are 79 rooms and suites, all with great views of one side of the bay. Add to that an all-day dining restaurant (La Sirena), an outstanding Thai restaurant (Nahmyaa), a bar and a spa, of course.
But my heart leaps when I see the pool: 100 metres long in total, 40 metres of which is a deep pool for lane swimmers like me. You’re allowed in here from 6am. I was there every morning, even if I had to hike a little to get there.
There are 27 private villas on the grounds with one to three bedrooms, kitchen, private pool and panoramic views of the Andaman Sea as the rim sea of the eastern Indian Ocean. My villa is the smallest at around 170 square metres. Paola Navone has done a great job here too: turquoise glass tiles in the bathroom, white stone on the floor, sofas in the same colours, floor-to-ceiling windows and a sky-blue private pool.
So this is where I’m supposed to work …?
… I don’t really want to and have the brief hope that the WLAN will go down. But nothing. There are really the best online connections everywhere in Como. So I set up a workstation by the pool and use the room service.
Each villa guest has his own butler, who takes care of luggage, transport and physical well-being around the clock. Andy Kunz, the energetic Swiss hotel director, tells of guests who don’t leave their villas for months – because you have everything there, or you can order it, from BBQ to massage to incredibly hot and crispy pizza from the Italian restaurant.
To cut a long story short, I did a lot of work during my days at Como Point Yamu, treated myself to an excellent massage at Como Shambhala (named after a Buddhist kingdom), ate a lot of Thai and Italian food and enjoyed sunrises and sunsets overlooking the bay.
From the white design hotel to the traditional beach hotel …
… from the more rugged east coast in Phuket to Khao Lak. The hotel’s own transfer in the early morning already shows a bit of the experience potential of my next stop. The limousine with very friendly staff offers cold drinks including Chang beer. Well then.
The Sarojin – Khao Lak Resort is a classic in the region. One hour north of the airport, directly on the finest sandy beach, all the dreams of a Thai holiday come true here.
I am welcomed in the airy, pagoda-like lobby with cream-coloured sofas, lots of wood and a view of a lily pond. Behind it is a huge garden and, in turn, a kilometre-long sandy beach.
The way to my room leads past the main restaurant and a huge pool area, which looks quite inviting with white day beds. And: The swimmer’s heart rejoices here too with a lane length of 35 metres, open from 6 am. Whoo-hoo!
My suite is on the first floor in one of the resort’s many two-storey buildings and boasts 150 square metres of Best of Thailand: Fine wood, Asian art, a free-standing bathtub next to the four-poster bed, outdoor shower and terrace with Jacuzzi and view of the greenery. Even the sofa could have been taken 1:1 from a Thai palace. Some suites also have their own pool or several bedrooms. And the spa is high-end with Thai treatments.
Working beach …
The Wi-Fi works perfectly and everywhere here – as well as on the snow-white, clean beach with Caribbean blue sea. Since I also have to work in this paradise, I could push one of the comfortable deck chairs with large towels to the ideal spot where the laptop screen and horizon form one unit. But that might be a bit too much of a distraction. So I decide to move my workplace to the slightly set-back, chic Beach Club Edge over the next few days. When I visited in 2020, it was the only restaurant open, and here the bar and restaurant are covered or outdoors. All overlooking the sea, but a bit cooler. Breakfast à la carte is available here for hotel guests until 6 pm (!), so sometimes I have breakfast here after my morning swim or in the afternoon just before happy hour. There are also delicious Thai specialities on the menu all day.
After the beach, it’s then in front of the Jacuzzi on my terrace with a glass of wine in my hand. Life as a Bleisure Traveller can work out so well.
Kai Böcking …
thinks that Phuket and Khao Lak are always worth a trip, even if it’s only for a few days and you want/need to work. The Como Point Yamu and the Saronjin are very different and cannot be compared. In both, you can combine business and leisure excellently, with the best service and enough opportunities to retreat.
At a glance – Como Point Yamu & The Sarojin
Getting there: From Singapore, for example, fly just under two hours to Phuket. Drive about 25 minutes to Como Point Yamu. The resort is located on Cape Yamu, a tropical peninsula on the east coast of Phuket overlooking Phang Nga Bay. To Sarojin from Phuket about an hour’s drive over the bridge to the Thai mainland in the Khao Lak region.
Hotels: The Como Point Yamu comprises 106 rooms, suites and private villas. There is also a Thai and an Italian restaurant, as well as in-room dining services, a bar, a kids club, a pool and a spa. The Sarojin is set in 10 hectares of gardens with private access to around 11 kilometres of beach. The boutique hotel comprises 56 units ranging from 95 to 215 square metres as Garden or Pool Residences, Jacuzzi Pool Suites or Two Bedroom Pool Residences. There are two restaurants, breakfast is offered a la carte until 6pm. There is also a spa, a 25 x 25 metre pool and a fitness centre with a multi-station, free weights area, treadmill and bicycle. Children are only welcome from the age of ten.
Working places in the hotel: at Como Point Yamu mainly in the villas themselves by the pool with in-room dining service, at Sarojin in the Beach Club, on the beach, on the courts in the garden and in the Residences.
Como Point Yamu, 225, Pa Klok, Thalang District, Phuket 83110 – Thailand, Tel. +66 76 360 100
The Sarojin, 60 Tambon Kukkak Takua Pa District, Phang-Nga 82190 – Thailand, Tel. +66 76 427 900
Photos: © Como Point Yamu, The Sarojin