Our resident villa expert Max Vee visits Natai Beach, one of the most beautiful stretches of unspoilt coast in Thailand, to give his views on the exceptional private villas on offer and the visitor highlights in this picturesque location right next to the Andaman Sea.
About the location A short drive over Phuket's Sarisin Bridge leads to an area of the Thai mainland that's known both locally and internationally for its multifarious natural wonders, untouched beaches and cultural gems. Phang Nga (pronounced "pang naa") is a breathtaking coastal province is just 25 minutes from Phuket International airport, but a light years away from the hustle and crowds on Phuket's most developed beaches, like Patong.
For those in search of peace and natural beauty, Phang Nga is one of the most appealing destinations in the KIngdom and definitely the perfect choice for a luxury version of the Robinson Crusoe story.
Why choose this area? Phang Nga is known for its dramatic limestone cliffs and caves, and also boasts mountainous rainforested national parks, all but deserted beaches, and a stunning, islet filled bay that serves as a gateway to the Similan Islands, one of the to dive destinations in the world. The busiest tourist area is Khao Lak (around 30 mins drive from Natai Beach) where a number of large resorts are located, but Natai Beach is much closer to Phuket and also less developed, so it appeals to those in search of an exclusive oceanside holiday in their own comfortable beach retreat.
What stands out as special? The beach at Natai is wide and long, with soft sand stretching almost as far as the eye can see. And when dusk arrive, get ready for some of the most jaw dropping sunsets you've ever seen. Natai also provides an ideal base from which to explore some of the natural attractions in the area, both on land and by boat. The Khao Sok National Park (around 1 hour by car) is an area of incredible natural beauty. You can also book a day trip or charter boat to enjoy some fabulous snorkelling or diving around the nearby reefs or join a longer voyage to experience the incredible marine life around the Similan Islands. The Andaman Sea in this part of the west coast is at its calmest from November to May, but also spectacular during the monsoon months when rolling waves make for a wild, dramatic backdrop to the stay.
Where would you eat? For those staying at one of the fabulous private villas on Natai Beach, having the luxury of a personal chef to prepare delicious meals to order makes eating out less of a temptation that it may be for regular hotel guests. The seafood in this part of Thailand is obviously as fesh as it comes and definitely a recommended treat for the barbecue. If you do decide to venture out, the restaurant at the nearby Aleenta resort serves traditional and contemporary Thai cuisine, while over on Phuket proper (around 15 minutes by car) Mai Khao Beach is home to a choice of 5-Star resorts, including a JW Marriot, Anantara, Rennaisance and Sala Phuket, all of which offer multiple dining options. There's also a quirky Thai restaurant complete with an ingenious crane lift that lets you enjoy the coastal views. The restaurant sits on a hillside opposite the road that leads to Natai Beach from the main highway at Kok Loi. Fun for a lunchtime outing.
What keeps you busy? Around Natai the choices for land and sea adventures are endless and a private speedboat can pick your group up right from the beach in front of your villa during high season. Cruise through the geological splendours of Phang Nga Bay, visiting the sea gypsy village on stilts, kayaking through limestone caves and talking in the legendary James Bond island. Live aboard and dive the teeming Similan reefs, trek through the tropical jungles of Khao Sok National Park and visit authentic local villages untouched by tourism and time. Alternatively, enjoy a round of golf at one of Thailand's only truly beachfront courses, Thai Muang Beach Golf & Marina, then return to the superlative comforts of your villa for a seafood feast in your own private beachside garden.
What about the villas? When it comes to renting private beachfront villas, Natai Beach is a unique option, even when compared to Phuket. This is undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking locations for a personalised luxury beachside vacation with a choice of stunning private properties offered on two luxury gated estates.
The magnificent contemporary properties on the Jivana and Sava villa estates boast unrivalled facilities with expansive lawned beachfront gardens and huge private swimming pools, offering uninterrupted sea views right from their cool blue waters. The villas come with their own staff teams and a full range of exceptional onsite facilities. Many of the residences cater for larger groups, with access to neighbouring villas allowing for an extended family gathering, special celebration or memorable wedding.
Sava Estate The villas on the Sava Estate — Tievoli, Amarelo, Malee Sai, Essenza, Roxo, Aqua — offer families or groups a chic, personalised beachside vacation amid spectacular, unspoilt oceanfront surroundings. The fully gated, contemporary luxury estate provides a choice of four and six bedroom properties, backed by a private access road with CCTV security, a communal fitness centre and a professional onsite management team to cater for guests' individual requirements. In-villa amenities include leading-edge entertainment systems such as flat screen 3D TVs, plus iPod docks with 4 station sound controls to play your favourite music throughout the grounds. Each of the six beautifully designed properties also comes with its own team of well trained staff, with private chefs on hand to prepare fabulous dishes served with one of the many fine wines stored onsite. In addition to breathtaking private seaview pools, the villas also come with a choice of beach accessories, including paddle and boogie boards, sea kayaks, pool toys and beach volleyball nets.
Jivana Estate Featuring just three opulent private villas — Ananda, Jia and Shanti — the Jivana Estate offers guests a consummate luxury beachfront escape. Each property is spread through a series of well appointed pavilions on its own impressive expanse of oceanfront land and boasts 60 to 90 metres of absolute beach frontage, guaranteeing a unique sense of personal space and exclusivity. A choice of six or seven bedrooms, along with sophisticated facilities such as fully fitted western kitchens, indulgent bathtubs and 25 metre private pools, as well as outdoor dining and relaxation salas overlooking the beach, means families and groups have an abundance of choices for sublime holiday diversion. The sheer size of the villas and their palm clad gardens creates a liberating sense of freedom, while smart designs also mean private moments can easily be enjoyed, even when sharing with a larger group of friends and family. The onsite staff teams include a private chef to ensure every whim is catered to and every request met with graceful Thai hospitality.
by MAX VEE