Take a trip, get a villa in paradis-a.
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
I may be Little Ms. Metropolis through and through, but I’ve found that sometimes, when the going gets tough, the tough should get going…on a trip down South, where they can relax, refresh, and recharge. Ideally with a coconut in hand. When I was invited to Avani+ Khao Lak Resort, the brand’s newest beachfront property, it could not have come at a more opportune time, as I was in sore need of the tropical holiday trifecta: sun, sea, and sand (and maybe a spritz, of the Aperol variety).
Having visited Khao Lak only once before, I found it truly special, a lesser-known destination that gives you the golden sands of the islands without the glut of tourists; and one that is close to most of the renowned destinations for snorkelling and diving down South. This is, I’m told by Leandro Cavaco Silva, the hotel’s GM who I later had the chance to interview, one of the main selling points of the Phang Nga province: “It’s known for its beautiful, soft-sand beaches, delicious seafood, surfing during the rainy season, and of course scuba diving in the Similan Islands,” he explains.
“Here, holidaymakers can find great value for money and fantastic accommodation. Khao Lak especially offers an escape and rejuvenation from the hustle and bustle of Phuket mostly due to its natural beauty, mangrove kayaking, bamboo rafting, trekking in the surrounding forest, and more.”
True to the Avani+ brand’s philosophy of style, value, and comfort, the hotel had already sent a van to pick me up by the time my plane touched down in Phuket, so that I could enjoy the 90-minute drive north to Khao Lak in style. Upon arrival at the hotel, I was ushered into a bright and airy lobby, with comfortable yet funky seating in the resort’s colours; an indication of the brand’s contemporary and playful outlook, while still maintaining its aura of sophistication. After friendly staff checked me in and gave me a welcome drink to sip on, I was whisked away in a buggy to my room, allowing me to take stock of the sprawling property – which, I’m told is the brand’s largest by number of keys, and encompasses an ample 100,000sqm.
As we pass by riots of verdure, cultivated but mostly allowed to grow free to ensconce guests in nature, I felt any lingering tension I held melt away. This is where you can truly feel like you’re separate from the cares of the city, nestled in nature’s bower and able to spend quality time with your significant other, family, friends, or even yourself.
When I arrived at my home for the weekend, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had been given a Two Bedroom Family Pool Suite, a generously-sized series of rooms that included a master bedroom with a king-size bed; a second bedroom with twin beds; two bathrooms including a capacious ensuite with a tub fit for two; three televisions – including a 65-inch flat-screen in the living room – and; the pièce de résistance, a semi-private pool and deck. The entire suite was done up in a soothing palette of greys, creams, and blues, and was clearly designed around rest and relaxation, with an outsized couch in the living room that could seat a whole family, and enough space for little ones to run around while their parents indulgently watch them from the deck chairs.
I was told that one of the resort’s USPs was its array of rooms for all kinds of travellers, from its Deluxe Suite for couples and solo travellers, with its own private balcony to look out into the gardens below, to their one-of- a-kind Royal Beachfront Pool Villa, encompassing a kingly 765sqm, with not only a private pool and deck, but a Jacuzzi to boot.
More than just the comfort and dreamy design of the rooms however, what I was most impressed by was the integration of technology into every aspect; an advantage of such a new property. The a/c system was linked to the balcony doors and automatically turned off when they were open, a nod towards their ethos of sustainability; the TVs all had Chrome Cast options so I could seamlessly watch shows from my devices on the beautiful, high-definition screens; and the Avani App links to your room and gives you everything you need at your fingertips.
I could open the room door, or order a buggy, turndown service, and in-room dining, or book myself a spa appointment, all at the touch of a button – magic in the modern age.
Although I could easily have spent all three days enjoying the amenities offered in my suite, I decided to explore the 327-key property on foot – easy enough with plenty of signage to suit even someone as directionally challenged as me – and around every corner was a pleasant surprise. Aside from their winding nature trails, they also had four pools, including a mini-water- park that can provide hours of entertainment to any child (even I was tempted); fitness machines in strategic locations in case you want to work out along the way (I was not tempted); a tennis court; the requisite Instagrammable spots for those who need to show the ‘gram how luscious their holiday destination is; and even small lots for produce grown in-house, as well as huts with small animals for kids to visit.
“A highlight of our resort is our 24-acres of tropical gardens,” Leandro says with no small amount of pride, and rightfully so. “Here families can leave the modern world behind – kids can feed the resident ducks, terrapins, and chickens, and pick vegetables and herbs from the resort’s produce gardens.”
DRINKING AND DINING
Of course, no holiday is complete without tucking into all the delicious food and drink available, and when I ask Leandro about the hotel’s restaurants, he’s clearly enthusiastic about the options they have on offer: “The Beach Bar is the preferred spot for sundowner cocktails, while The Beach House offers two different views of paradise and a tantalising lunch and dinner menu. Expect tasty appetisers, fresh salads, grilled seafood, spicy Thai favourites, burgers and Wagyu sliders, pasta dishes and chef-prepared Indian dishes,” he expounds. “Elements, our lobby restaurant, serves hearty breakfasts, and tasty Thai and Indian cuisine at night.”
Indeed, when I head over to The Beach House for the first meal of my stay, I’m blown away by the kind hospitality of the staff and the Salmon larb that they recommended; fiery in the best way and packed with flavour. Perusing their menu, the array of options was astonishing, including Indian favourites such as Butter chicken (THB 470) and Dal Bukhara (THB 390). Don’t miss out on their Mango panna cotta (THB 250), a sweet and textural delight.
In the mornings, I headed over to Elements, which will soon be an all-day-dining spot, and their range of options was similarly impressive, with live stations so you can get your food piping hot even if you’re not a morning person. Pro tip, however: arrive early so you can sit outdoors and enjoy the morning breeze while looking out at the verdant property.
The cocktails at The Beach Bar are delicious and can be modified to your liking – the bartender even made me a concoction of his own devising that was piquant and sweet in perfect proportions – and the Happy Hour every day at 5pm is worth a visit if you’re like me and enjoy a tipple with your sunsets.
But this isn’t all. “We’re also adding two new additions to our F&B offerings,” Leandro tells me. “Scoop it is an ice-cream and soft serve parlour offering 16 different ice-cream flavours, and guests can build their own cones, while a bicycle vendor will do pool rounds offering special, flavour-of-the-day tasters. Meanwhile, Mi Scusi is our new poolside Italian eatery offering pizza, pasta, specialty salads and fun and creative desserts.”
More than just Avani+’s newest oceanfront property, the resort is also the launchpad for their AvaniFit brand, which includes a 24- hour facility crafted to promote a wellness- centred lifestyle. Not only does it have cutting- edge machines for cardio and strength training, but it also has its own in-house climbing wall, something that’s not often seen outside of state-of-the-art gyms.
“There’s also an opportunity for guests to learn Thai boxing from a Muay Thai master in a full-scale boxing ring, and hone their skills on our outdoor climbing wall, then scale new heights climbing and rappelling the region’s limestone cliffs,” Leandro says. “The skate park is ideal for both intermediate and new skaters and offers plenty of smooth concrete, half pipes, rails, ramps and funboxes. We also offer yoga, Pilates, circuit training, bike tours and tennis. There is a water sports centre on the beach which provides stand-up paddle boards, sea kayaks, and kite-boarding equipment. Moreover, teens have their own zone where they can play video games, and enjoy fun karaoke nights” – the latter of which cinched the deal for me, as someone whose blood sings at sing-alongs.
For those, like me, who prefer a more serene wellness-based experience, the AvaniSpa is an oasis in the middle of an already-tranquil escape. As I walked in, the herb garden immediately surrounded me in an aromatic cloud, lifting me into a zen-like trance until the end of my treatment. Guests can choose treatments based on whatever results they want: Boost, Balance, Calm, and Purify. I chose the ‘calm’ option and opted for the Muscle Melt Massage treatment which, true to its name, got rid of my lingering knots and made my muscles feel like putty.
My feeling of serenity lasted well beyond just the treatment however – the whole property is truly an ode to intimacy, with your loved ones and with nature; and is a not-to-be-missed experience if you wish to refresh your spirit.
LOOKING TO TIE THE KNOT?
The Avani+ brand has a long and competent history of catering towards Indian weddings, and despite having recently opened its doors to the public, Avani+ Khao Lak Resort has already had opulent Indian weddings on its property, and Leandro gives his take on why this is. Moreover, Vidur Sarin, the hotel’s Sales Manager who was formerly based in Bangkok, is happy to assure Indian visitors that when it comes to weddings, the hotel is happy to give you the biggest, fattest, Indian wedding of your dreams.
Sales Manager, Avani+ Khao Lak Resort
I am privileged and honoured to have worked with great names like the Armani Group of Hotels, JW Marriott, etc. After years of working in the F&B industry, I have finally found my true calling! From producing exclusive restaurant parties, to private gatherings, I knew converting and handling weddings was what I was born to do.
Being a part of the sales team here gives me immense pleasure to be able to mirror our clients’ vision. Here at Avani+ Khao Lak, my team strives to provide such a stellar experience that our clients have no desire to go elsewhere.
LEANDRO CAVACO SILVA
General Manager, Avani+ Khao Lak Resort
Because of our extensive room inventory, event space and expansive grounds, we can handle multi-day Indian weddings packed full of traditional rituals and ceremonies. Guests can have a pooja in our private Royal Beachfront Pool Villa, a garden mehendi, and a lavish sangeet in our ballroom. The main ceremony can be held under a beautiful mandap on the beach, and we are able to create unique baraat processions.
We take care of every detail from setting up personalised websites for couples, to sourcing flowers, décor, entertainment and special lighting. We have in-house Indian team members who are committed to delivering the very best service and we have a highly-experienced Indian chef. Depending on lead times, we can offer guests buyout opportunities.
We offer over 1,000sqm of meeting and gala space, including a ballroom that can accommodate up to 500 attendees, a dedicated wedding pavilion, flexible breakout rooms, a breezy outdoor garden and a stunning beachside venue.
THE INSIDE SCOOP
Leandro also sat down with Masala to tell us more about what sets Avani+ Khao Lak Resort from others in the area.
“Aside from our rooms, F&B options, AvaniFit and AvaniSpa, our AvaniKids club is simply amazing – offering a complimentary daily supervised programme in separate zones for kids depending on their ages, with indoor and outdoor games, aerobic classes, indoor climbing, face-painting, treasure hunts, bike rides, and arts and crafts. We also teach children about recycling, and we play games that help kids practice which items can be recycled, and which are waste and should be thrown away.
“I would also highly recommend our beach. I think Bangsak Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand, great for morning walks or sunrise yoga. Our AvaniSpa is another highlight, where guest can refuel and revive themselves with healthy menus or multi-day nutrition and wellness packages.
“We offer different facilities appealing to both families and couples, which means that because there are separate public areas, food offerings, and pools for couples to relax and enjoy, everyone can co-exist happily at Avani+ Khao Lak, and at the end of the day, that is our aim here.”
Avani+ Khao Lak Resort
99 Moo 8, Tumbon Bang Muang, Amphur Takua Pa, Phang Nga 82190 Thailand
Tel: 02 365 9110
Facebook and Instagram: @avanikhaolak