Villa on View.
Your weekly up-close view of those wow factor extras that make our villas outstanding. After all, attention to detail always makes a difference.
Picture this: you’re hidden away in a breathtaking haven away from the rest of the world, sitting atop a plush cushion beside a monumental door opening onto a lush garden. A flute of champagne in hand and a gastronomic spread before you, you hear only birds and your four-year old singing a soft rhythm. Your husband is floating in the pool in this hushed oasis, on his torso an outlined shade of a large leaf fluttering with the breeze.
Welcome to Thailand’s quintessential experience of relaxation and rest, where you can stay holed up in an enormous villa replete with sumptuous lines of coconut wood and padauk, or nara wood, a hardwood that’s sturdy and pleasing to the eye. The furniture is simple and sleek amidst the high ceilings and glass walls. The master bath contains a stone bathtub, the perfect complement to your call to respite. You’re surrounded by space, space everywhere, and there’s nothing to keep you from running through the rooms in excitement.
You came to relax and enjoy a long weekend break, but also for discovery and local culture. Nestled in an idyllic retreat between ivory sands and jungled gardens, this villa feels like the home you’ve imagined in musings of grandeur. Yet, there’s a calm, tranquil atmosphere.
What To Do
Rest is abated when you venture outside on 13th April, the first day of the Songkran Festival. Songkran, one of Thailand’s most famous festivals, is an important event on the Buddhist calendar. It is the beginning of the traditional Thai new year – and what’s known as the day of the biggest water fight. Large water guns and hoses leave you drenched because every road you pass has a splash station.
But there are many things you can do besides get wet, including asking your private villa chef to indulge your taste buds. Savor the sweet, spicy and sour all at once. The villa managers and staff cater to your every whim and even take care of your children for the day. A private yoga teacher can help you unwind and a massage therapist will slowly knead city-stress away. Home spa services are just a call away.
Sun and Games
The sand stretches for miles and miles in Phuket.
One of the highlights of staying at a private villa on your vacation is that you get to sample superb food prepared exclusively for you by skilled in-house chefs – many of whom have trained at internationally renowned restaurants. Elite Havens’ villa menus showcase an extensive range of Asian delights to cater to every guest’s tastes, but of course each chef has his or her own particular specialties that shouldn’t be missed.
With much coaxing and cajoling, we’ve persuaded some of our chefs to spill the beans and share their favourite recipes. In the Baan Bon Khao kitchen, Chef Poo cooks up a classic and much-loved Thai dish, Pad Thai with Prawns in an Egg Parcel.
With spectacular sea and sunset views, Baan Bon Khao is an ideal getaway for families or groups. Luxuriating on a hillside estate near Surin Beach, this four-bedroom villa features an infinity pool and stately living and dining pavilions. Guests are well cared for by the villa manager, chef and personal driver.
Here’s an exclusive from the Baan Bon Khao kitchen.
Egg wrapped Pad Thai with Prawns Recipe
(Serves 2 – 4)
- 35 grams palm sugar, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup tamarind concentrate
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 3 tbsp water
- 4 ounces dry rice noodles (choose one that is about 2mm wide)
- 6 – 8 prawns, or as many as you’d like, peeled and deveined.
- 1 small head shallot, thinly sliced, about 3 tbsp
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp dried shrimp, chopped
- 1-piece of pressed tofu, cut into small pieces
- ½ tsp of chili flakes, or to taste
- 4 eggs – 2 for Pad Thai, 2 beaten for egg parcel
- 5 cups bean sprouts
- 1 cup garlic chives, cut into 2-inch pieces
- ¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts
- 1 lime
The Sauce: Mix all together and set aside.
Step 1: Soak the rice noodles in room temperature water for 1 hour, until the noodles turn from translucent to completely white and are very pliable.
The number one place for a romantic getaway? The dream honeymoon destination? The primo anniversary escape?
It’s got to be the Bali, Indonesia. Beach lovers can’t resist the lure of this spiritual island, where tropical luxury is at its best (and lovers can’t resist each other).
More specifically, it’s got to be Seminyak, where wining and dining is effortless and hideaways like The Layar are kitted out for high-end leisure.
THE LAYAR DESIGNER VILLAS & SPA
Feel The Romance
First, get comfortable with cool spacious interiors, zillion thread count sheets and an open living area. Next, a private swimming pool and manicured tropical garden await nearby. A dramatic slanted ceiling overhead also makes your very private villa a personal theatre. Finally, display your affection. O Romeo!
THE LAYAR – PRIVATE LUXURY VILLA
If Shakespeare’s famed duo had dashed off to Bali, theirs would be a very different play with all the passion and none of the tragedy because this place is a romantic’s Heaven on Earth. Thus, thanks to the natural beauty and wealth of things to do, it’s the couple’s getaway of a lifetime. So forget R+J and take your cues for romance from this script instead.
THE LAYAR – ROOM SERVICE
Act I. Scene I. Luxury one-bedroom villa. A warm welcome note and chilled champagne on the table.
To borrow a page from The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene, surprise is an easy road to romance. Being in a new place for the first time also serves up a bit of wonder, but a love of travel doesn’t necessarily bring people together. It’s the thoughtful surprises (and bold moves, says Greene) planned by one person for the other that bring back flutters of new love.
A simple request when booking is all it takes. Hence, set the scene for arrival however you’d like. Arrange special occasions and activities in advance. Also, leave the legwork to your hosts while you go barefoot. Enjoy your holiday worry free.
Seek Adventures in Sync
Act II. Scene II. The beach. Golden sand surrounds. Palm trees sway in the pleasant sea breeze.
Roses, chocolates and sweet surprises are strong symbols in the book of love.
Songkran is Thailand’s most famous Festival and possibly the largest water fight in the world.
WHEN IS SONGKRAN?
Songkran Festival starts 13 April. In some areas of Thailand it only lasts for three days, the 13th, 14th and 15th, and in other areas it lasts for seven days.
Songkran is not only Thailand’s most famous festival but it’s also one of the most important events on the Buddhist calendar. The event marks the beginning of the traditional Thai new year.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF SONGRKRAN?
The festival originated centuries ago as a purification rite, in both a physical and spiritual sense. Temples, Buddha images, and houses where tidied and cleaned as a way to clear away negative influences. Traditional celebrations involved a gentle sprinkling of scented water.
HOW IS SONGKRAN CELEBRATED?
Over the years, Songkran like many other centuries-old festivals has become commercial. Water guns and bright-coloured Hawaiian shirts (more on these later) are on sale in shops weeks before the event and every marketing department scrambles to get their Songkran message heard through a downpour of advertising.
Songkran has become arguably the biggest water fight in the world. The throwing of water (er, mass water fights) have become a huge part of the celebration over the past two decades everywhere in Thailand, so don’t be surprised if you get splashed with icy cold water, well when we say splashed, we mean drenched in water, shot at you from every angle form a variety of colored water pistols, buckets and anything else that can hold water. You will also become covered in powder, which is… Well, even to this day after being in Thailand for eleven years, I have no idea what it is.
WHAT IS SONGKRAN LIKE IN PHUKET?
The whole of Phuket island stops on the 13th of April when families, friends and communities set up make-shift water splash stations on the side of every road. Think of a fun road stop checkpoint, with blaring music coming out of a 1980 speaker which has been blown out ten years ago, and everybody drenched in water and covered powder, dancing around in these bright Hawaiian shirts.
Tropical Phuket, with its miles of golden beaches, has obvious appeal as a family holiday escape. But Thailand’s largest island also holds plenty of charm beyond its sands, with many outdoor attractions and a rich cultural heritage that travellers of all ages will love to explore.
First, those beaches. With more than 30 beaches around the island, you could spend weeks in Phuket simply relaxing on the sands, but those with kids in tow may want a beach with some fun activities and a bit of shaded comfort. Kamala Beach is one of the most family friendly with its shallow bay for swimming, beachfront eateries, shops, cafés and sea-view foot massages.
And with several luxury villas in Kamala along its lush headland, discerning families looking for a private holiday hideaway are well catered to.
Kata Beach is also a fine spot for families, its powder-soft sands ideal for idling away a day and excellent surfing conditions from May through October. If the sea is too smooth for surfing, then hire some standup paddle boards, or stop at Surf House on the Kata beachfront with its continuous man-made wave offering fun flowboarding action.
Villa Amanzi in Kata Noi is a perfect holiday haven for friends and families looking to explore Kata Beach.
On the quieter northwest coast is Nai Thon Beach, an idyllic one-kilometre length of soft sand that never gets crowded. Simply relax on the sand or do some snorkelling, standup paddle or boogie boarding, with a number of low-key restaurants offering a cosy place for families and friends to dine at an unhurried pace with sea and sunset views.
Nai Thon is also home to the award-winning Malaiwana villas and residences, luxurious sea-view havens with private pools and friendly service that offer the perfect family retreat after a day at the beach.
Nai Yang Beach just to the north is another decent surfing spot and a favourite place for kite boarders and windsurfers. Not far away near the airport is Splash Jungle Water Park, offering some wet and wild fun away from the beach with waterslides, a wave pool and a lazy river.
Home to the idyllic Villa Saanti with its beachfront pool and lawn,