In Singapore, we’re lucky in many ways. For one, there are plenty of beach holiday options in the region, whether you’re looking to see more of nature, indulge in local food, or to just bum under the sun. Personally, Phuket has become one of those places for the latter, and SALA Phuket Resort & Spa has just become my go-to resort on the island.
Situated on the relatively untouched and unsullied Mai Khao Beach in the north, the luxury boutique resort is just 25 minutes away from Phuket International Airport. The entrance itself is already quite a stunner. Passing through a lovely hand-carved grey gate, the tranquility you’ll feel is quite instant. A large pond accompanies the walkway to the reception desk, where you’re welcomed with an ice-cold lemongrass cooler.
By Phuket standards, SALA is small, with only 79 suites and villas across seven room categories that all come equipped with outdoor living space and with a terrazzo tub. Regardless of which one you pick, you’re in for a spacious treat. The entry Deluxe Balcony suite is a good 63 square metres (678 square feet) but if you really want to do it right by yourself, go for one of the SALA Pool Villas. At 157 square metres (1689 square feet), it’s bigger than a five-room HDB flat in Singapore.
The gate to our stand-alone villa opened to opened up to a green lawn equipped with twin sun loungers by the side of a 22.5 square metre private pool. Cornering one end of the pool is the sunbed and the bathroom, an open-air affair with a deep egg-shaped tub. It might seem odd to shower in the open, but the layout intended for privacy and the comforting grey and white-tiled furnishings lull you into a sense of security.
The interior design could use a bit of an update (everything inspiring is outside) but it’s comfortable enough that we had breakfast in bed one morning (more about that later). Another touch that goes into making you feel right at home at SALA is having a pillow menu for guests, who also have a choice in the scent of the bath amenities.
The large double vanity in the bathroom was enjoyable – I miss doing my make-up in a space flooded with natural light – and the rattan holder (ostensibly for bath salts) was a stroke of genius. Ours held phones playing cat videos and Mojitos.
For wining and dining, there might be only the SALA Restaurant, but the award-winning beachside restaurant kept us very happy over the three days we were there. We recommend ordering mostly the Thai dishes, some of the Western plates might have been tweaked to suit certain palates. The lunch menu was our favourite, sporting gems like the Kanom Jin (B550), a platter consisting of fish in a spicy red coconut curry, rice noodles, as well as condiments of fresh vegetables, cashews and pineapple.
The curry has been simmered to the point where the snapper or sea bass has fallen into smaller pieces. Have all the components together for a flavourful spoonful. For something lighter but no less lacking in flavour, the Yam Neua Yang (B370) features thinly sliced grilled Australian beef sirloin tossed with a chili lime dressing, onions, tomatoes, and celery.
Dinner was our favourite meal, because the bread came with an amazing chicken peanut relish that’s not dissimilar to our satay sauce, albeit more savoury. We were mostly in the mood for seafood (and greedy), so we tried the Whole Sea Bass (B1050) grilled with local aromatic herbs in banana leaf.
There’s nothing in the world like the taste of fresh, perfectly grilled fish perfumed with herbs – delicious paired with their spicy seafood sauce – and the thick Poo Phad Pong Karee (yellow crab curry, B890) was more like a rich, spiced stew peppered with large chunks of crab. For something junkier, go for the Basil Chili Chicken Pizza (B390).
Breakfast can be had at the restaurant in the morning, a semi-buffet with Thai staples like Jouk Gai, a tasty chicken congee or breakfast classics with a twist like the Spicy Chiang Mai Sausage Omelette. For a small fee, I also had breakfast delivered to your room another morning, which is set up on the table by the pool at your requested hour. The spread came with orange juice, coffee or tea, croissants, and your choice of main. Though the whipped cream on my French Toast melted by the time we started eating, the Spanish Eggs Benedict was still warm and boy, did that egg yolk ooze.
SALA Phuket also has a great SALA Spa complemented by a fully-equipped gym. They usually run deals on spa treatments during the weekdays and in the mornings so keep an eye out. Alternatively, there are also beachside massages available, off the right side of the property if you just want something no frills and fuss free.
We won’t deny that there are plenty of luxury resorts in Phuket to choose from, but not many with culinary standards like I’ve experienced at SALA. Having stayed here twice in two years, I have a feeling it won’t be long before I return.
SALA Phuket Resort and Spa is located at 333 Moo 3, Mai Khao Beach, Thalang District, Phuket, 83110 Thailand.