Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Float Your Boat

Cheking In Phuket
Executive summary by darmansjah

Fresh from a major makeover, Phuket’s iconic Boathouse is set to win over a new generation of guest, by Ron Gluckman

Great  expectations abound with the alteration of any landmark, especially one as beloved as Mom Tri’s Boat house in Phuket. Designed by the Harvard-educated Thai architect Mom Luang Tridhosyuth Devakul, the 36-room resort opened on Kata Beach in the late 1980s, quickly establishing itself as one of Southeast Asia’s top seaside hangouts. It was renowned as a culinary retreat-many called it a restaurant with rooms-with an unrivaled wine cellar and excellent Thai and French food served on white linen.

Such charms undeniably faded with time, as five-star resorts swamped the island. Still, legions of admires fretted when, early last year, the same company that owns Phuket’s upscale. Trisara resort took over the property and closed it for a US$6 million revamp. They needn’t have worried. Open once more, the new and improved Boathouse is likely to impress not only the faithful, but also a new generation and suites have been brightened, with white interiors replacing dark wood. They also sport bigger bathrooms, along with modern fittings and enhanced in-room technology. Yet the old allure has been retained, and the refurbished beachside restaurant still boats snails and spicy Thai salads, along with an award-winning, 800-bottle wine cellar that offers three dozen labels by the glass.

The biggest changes have taken place on an adjoining beachfront plot, where a new beach club offers a  spa, salon, and cabanas. Dubbed Re Ka Ta (as in, rebirth of kata) and designed by Freddo Taffin, the French architect responsible for Bali’s Ku De Ta, it is centered on a chic bar that opens to a pool terrace shaded by sugar palms and sea almond trees. Best of all is the raw-food restaurant, where South African chef Bryan Burger whips up zesty pastas from marinated zucchini shreds instead of noodles, and pseudo-breads of nut paste and fruit. “People have this stigma about spa cuisine,” he says. “More and more people are health conscious these days, but you don’t have to sacrifice taste to be healthy.”

Nor need you sacrifice tradition to become trendy. It’s a fine balance, to be sure, but one that the Boathouse has managed with aplomb. 182 Koktanode Rd, Kata Beach, Phuket; 66-76/330-015;; doubles from US$156

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