This resort is slightly weird, slightly kooky and yet refreshingly unforgettable.
This unique 38-villa resort, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels collection, is on the west coast of Phuket near Kamala Beach, which is close, but fortunately not too close, to Patong, the Thai island’s seedy beachside nightlife area. Set on a jungle-clad hillside with each strikingly designed villa clinging to it, Keemala is under an hour’s drive to and from Phuket’s newly refurbished international airport.
Whatever the case, Keemala is a lot of fun and unquestionably unique. All of the one- and two-bedroom villas feature their own plunge pools of varied dimensions, with the design of the resort itself based on the cultures and traditions of four clans of ancient Phuket settlers (which, on further reading, you learn – a tad disappointingly – are entirely fictitious).
Guests can enjoy all-day dining at the excellent, partly al fresco Mala Restaurant, with a menu consisting of Western, Thai and particularly good Indian dishes. Do be sure to snare a spot at the open-air Mala Bar for cocktails at sunset with the potential for drinks to become dinner under the stars. Food and drinks can also be ordered by the pool with in-villa dining also available.
Keemala is an easy place at which to linger but if you do fancy an outing, take the resort’s own private tour, guided by a member of staff, to the charming Old Phuket Town on the other side of the island. Consisting of some impressive Sino-Portuguese architecture, Phuket Town is the only colonial-style town of its kind in Thailand, a nation that somehow historically escaped the spread of colonialism that overwhelmed south-east Asia.
Keemala Phuket, with its lavishly appointed fantasy villas, is a hoot. It’s a wacky, welcome and cheery change from the much less imaginative and predictable resorts that tend to proliferate on Thai islands such as Phuket.
Doubles for the lowest category Clay Pool one-bedroom cottages start from AU$525. 10/88 Moo 6, Nakasud Road, Kamala, Phuket. Phone 1800 219 010 for bookings. See slh.com
The resort’s imaginative design and fanciful theme, best realised in its villas, distinguish it from other establishments on Phuket, or most other parts of Thailand for that matter.
The ocean views from the resort and its villas and the overall effect is slightly spoilt by some unlovely modern public and private buildings in the near and far distance.
Anthony Dennis was a guest of Small Luxury Hotels.