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#phuket - page 8

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Phuket has long attracted travellers seeking a tropical beach escape, but as Thailand’s largest island with a rich history, dining and marine scene, there’s much more to see and do beyond lazing on the sands. From vibrant nightlife to spectacular seascapes to beautifully restored Old Town streets, an island holiday on Phuket can unwind in some delightfully surprising ways.

But first, the beaches.

Kamala Beach, on the central west coast, is one of Phuket’s quintessential postcard-picture beaches, its soft sands and shallow waters are among the island’s best places for all ages to swim, surf and sunbathe. Hints of its fishing village past remain with traditional long-tail boats gliding across the calm bay, while a string of casual restaurants lining the sands offer seafood barbecues and breezy spots for watching the sun go down.

The smaller Surin Beach is another fine sunset spot, with its beach clubs and seafront restaurants serving up creative cocktails along with the sea views. Hemmed in by two lush headlands, Surin’s fine sands and swaying palm trees add a tropical idyll that invites you to linger, whether indulging in the beach club scene or not. Nearby Laem Singh is a small cove found between Kamala and Surin reached via a steep path, where silken sands and colourful snorkelling sites await.

With its position along an ancient Andaman Sea trading route, Phuket has attracted seafarers for centuries, though these days superyachts and cruise vessels are more likely to be spotted on the horizon than merchant ships. Whether you get there by private yacht charter, or by kayak for venturing deeper into its hidden caves and lagoons, no visit to Phuket is complete without exploring the magnificent Phang Nga Bay with its tall limestone karst islands.

The Similan Island archipelago west of Phuket is a protected marine wonderland for divers and snorkellers, while Racha and Coral Islands are an easy day-trip from Phuket, brimming with sea life for snorkelling and white-sand beaches for relaxing.

Phuket’s interior is looking more urban these days, but discovering its traditional rural side and jungly bits is simply a matter of straying off the island’s main roads. Walk a path through towering bamboo and giant leafy tropical plants of the protected Khao Phra Thaew National Park up to Bang Pae waterfall, or cool down in the stream.

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Elite Havens Group Acquires A Strategic Interest in Awesome Villas – Phuket Marketing Business

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Elite Havens Group, Bali’s leading luxury real estate, villa marketing and management distribution company, has acquired a strategic interest in the marketing business of Awesome Villas (Thailand). The two organisations will be combining to leverage their respective strengths and bring the best practices of both Awesome and Elite Havens to create a world-class villa marketing group.

Elite Havens offer management and marketing services to 200 luxury, private villas in Asia, principally in Bali and Lombok whilst Awesome Villas provide marketing services to 12 of Phuket’s most exclusive villas. Both companies share the same focus of excellence: to deliver a quality villa product with a secure, user-friendly booking service for guests, whilst at the same time building long-term relationships with villa owners.

Jon Stonham, CEO of the Elite Havens Group, said: “I have long admired the way Awesome Villas market their properties to their clients – the private luxury experience they provide guests is some of the best in the region and we are proud to combine their portfolio with ours to create the most prestigious high end villa marketing and management company in the two most sought after islands in Asia; Bali and Phuket. This merger will benefit our guests with a diversity of product and our owners with shared insights into both markets.”

Jon Hawryluk, Managing Director of Awesome Villas, added: “Elite Havens expertise in technology and marketing really opens up significant new doors for all of our owners in a positive and secure way. Elite Havens maintain a strong business relationship across all channels and they really understand how to capitalise their villas, returning higher occupancies and income to owners in a very competitive market.”

Since 2013 Awesome Villas (www.awesomevillas.com) has offered luxury villa marketing services to 12 properties in Phuket including renowned villas such as, Chan Grajang, Torcello and Sawarin. Each villa comes with, a manager, maids and a highly trained chef, and a consistency of product and services synonymous with any luxury 5-star brand.

The Elite Havens Group (www.elitehavens.com) offers a full range of property services from sales (through Elite Havens Property Sales in association with Knight Frank), villa management (through Elite Havens Villa Management) and luxury villa rental marketing services (through Elite Havens Luxury Villa Management). Since its inception in 1998 the group has grown to provide management and marketing services to 200 villas including the award-winning Istana and iconic properties such as Atas Ombak,

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The Big Phuket Beach Cleanup

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With a string of white-sand beaches lining its west coast, Phuket is one of Asia’s top island destinations. Phuket also boasts some great dining, a historic ‘Old Town’ and a world-class yachting scene, but the beaches remain its main attraction.

But Thailand’s largest island has not been without its share of challenges, with unchecked development threatening to harm its natural beauty and environment. Following the Thai coup of May 2014, Phuket became subject to some surprising – yet mostly welcome – initiatives by the military government to clean up its beaches.

In late June 2014, several stretches of sand including Patong Beach, Kamala Beach, Bang Tao Beach and Surin Beach were cleared of rental sunbeds and umbrellas, and all structures built on the sands were removed.

The clear-out was launched to rid the sands of encroachment and illegal profiteering, and the effect was dramatic. The white sands of Patong Beach came back into view, having been covered by several rows of sunbeds across its entire length for many years. The popular beach clubs and dining spots of Surin were forced off the sands, but most remain in business just a few metres back from the beach. The sunset views here, now unobstructed, are better than ever.

Heeding the call of beach-loving visitors wanting a more comfortable day out on the beach, Phuket officials in early 2015 allowed a limited number of rental umbrellas and mats to return. These umbrellas are set up in designated zones and those bringing their own umbrellas are welcome to pitch them in the sands in the same areas. Beach masseuses, snack and drink stands and roving vendors are also given space to operate, ensuring that most beach-goers’ needs and comforts are still catered to without having to leave the sand.

Though it was knocked off the sands, the Phuket beach club scene still thrives, with Catch Beach and Bimi beach clubs serving up fresh cocktails and seafood with a splash of DJ tunes at Surin Beach. Patong and Bang Tao beaches also boast several good seaside dining spots, perfect for enjoying sundowners with those fabulous Andaman sea views.

Xana Beach Club and Bliss Beach Club on Bang Tao hold regular DJ party nights and dining events, and Bliss is also host to a surf and stand-up paddle shop where you can rent boards or sign up for lessons.

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