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Timeless and tasteful are the keys to high end quality at Andara

Andara, Smooth as Silk and a Cut Above the Rest

Tuesday, December 1, 2009
PHUKET'S well-regarded Silk Restaurant and Bar is moving from the top floor of the Plaza Surin, as smoothly as only silk can move, to a new home.

Sometime before Christmas, it will become the centrepiece of the Andara Resort, in the hills high above Kamala. We use the word ''high'' with good reason.

Silk will not only be the place to be seen, it will also be a place to see. From this ever so smooth Silk site, diners will have an unequalled view out over Kamala and the Andaman Sea.

As a resort, Andara sets a new standard for upmarket accommodation.

''High'' is certainly the word, both in terms of the quality and the perspective. The outlook from the Silk site, across a 40-metre infinity pool, is exceptional.

Way, way down below to the right is Kamala beach, at one side of a vast stretch of blue sea melting into a blue sky.

Higher up the hillside, the vistas from the villas and residences become even more remarkable. Nothing we've seen on the island matches Andara.

Just when you think the winding road up the hill must come to a stop soon, it continues, up and up. It has to be said that while the incline is steep but manageable, the Andara rates are not . . . at least, not for an impoverished journalist.

The most expansive of the residential pool villas, running to 5000 square metres, is also the most expensive at $3000 a night. What you get for that money is plenty of space, all the service you need, and a view straight from Heaven.

Rates, of course, begin much lower, and down the hillside a little. If the day ever comes when Andara has a rate by the hour, then Phuketwan will sign on for one, or perhaps two.

For now, all we can do is report that the 26 pool villas and 37 residential suites represent timeless and tasteful accommodation of an extremely high standard. This is style with substance.

There are even, we noted, entire feature walls decorated in Jim Thompson silk. These places are smooth.

ANDARA and Silk, as any real estate or restaurant person on the island will tell you, are the creations of Allan Zeman, who made his name by founding the Lan Kwai Fong entertainment district in Hong Kong and has since developed a passion for Phuket.

Day to day management at the Andara is in the hands of sales and marketing manager Isara Pangchan, who gave Phuketwan a tour, and general manager Andrew Whitaker.

The Andara picked up four gongs at the Property Report Awards, which is a pretty good start for any upward-moving establishment.

People on Phuket have been looking at Andara, and learning, for four years now as it moved through several phases. The best may be yet to come, with the grand opening of the entire resort scheduled for Chinese New Year, which happily coincides neatly with Valentine's Day in 2010.

Mr Whitaker, a longtime Asia resident with a background in clubs, joined the team three months ago, responsible for what he says is ''a great project.''

About two years ago, some adjoining land was acquired, initially with the intention of constructing a separate resort. But the financial outlook changed and the concept of a complete top-tier resort emerged.

''It was a short step from managed properties to a managed resort,'' Mr Whitaker said.

What makes Andara stand out?

''We are all-suite, which differentiates us from other high-end resorts, we have 100 percent sea views, and then there's the quality of the product.''

High, you could say. ''I think Phuket will become a place where people who are affluent come to enjoy what's on offer,'' Mr Whitaker said.

Now here's an idle, mischievous thought: What would Allan Zeman do with Soi Bangla? Maybe someone should ask him.
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