Phuket has long been a top destination choice for the world's upscale travel set, which is why immaculate private villas pepper its coves and beaches. The island's four main marinas are also now popular enough to warrant expansion plans thanks to 15 percent year-on-year growth in marine leisure and tourism.
Luxury vessels just keep arriving and Thailand's Andaman jewel now gives the Med and the Caribbean a run for their money.
As luxury boating has extended its reach into Asia over the last decade, Phuket has fast become the region's most appealing marine playground.
The island's well developed infrastructure and pristine, easy to reach cruising grounds make it the destination of choice for the rich, famous and salty to berth and maintain their superyachts, gin palaces and saying vessels while making the most of the tropical lifestyle on offer.
The complimentary vacation experience offered by luxury villas and boats on Phuket offers visitors a rare blend of tropical indulgences. Guests can check into their own private oceanview residence, spend a few days being pampered by the staff while they soak up the views and warmth, then switch to a luxury charter vessel or even have their own private yacht delivered by the crew to cruise the unspoilt waters and islands of the Andaman Sea.
This month's Phuket International Boat Show (PIMEX), held from March 21- 24, has over the last 10 years become a showcase for the best in marine lifestyle products in the region, with a packed indoor exhibition hall and in-water displays that attract over 4,000 visitors and interested buyers. Matching the Phuket vibe, PIMEX is a relaxed event where participants can enjoy the boats and surroundings while indulging in fine food and hospitality at one of the island's top yachting facilities, Royal Phuket Marina.
"Over the years we are proud the role PIMEX has had in helping to develop and promote Phuket and Asia's marine industry,” says Andy Dowden, PIMEX Show Director. "Together with marine and lifestyle businesses in Phuket and the region, PIMEX helps to position Phuket at the centre of Asia's booming marine industry.”
The boat show is just one choice in a diverse menu of aquatic attractions that draws international visitors to Phuket's indigo shores every year. Diving and snorkelling spots abound off the countless small islands that fill the surrounding waters and even for those less acquainted with sailing, speed boat trips can easily be arranged through the towering limestone peaks of Phang Nga bay to deserted beaches and pristine coves.
The 2012/13 high season has seen the largest ever number of superyachts arrive on Phuket— a stunning parade of state-of-the-art luxury craft that chose the island a base to explore more remote archipelagos like the Similan and Mergui islands, or simply as a place to stop off for a while on a longer voyage down to Indonesia, Australia and beyond.
Yacht Haven Marina on the northeast coast has welcomed more than 50 vessels over 30 metres since the cruising season began in November last year, and even with their own floating palaces to enjoy, many of the owners have been heading ashore for a change of scenery, as well as to avail themselves of the luxury amenities on offer in private villas.
On land and at sea, Phuket definitely deserves its moniker as " The Monaco of the East ".