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Friday, September 25, 2015

The new Manathai resort in Khao Lak, #Thailand

If Phuket's busy beaches can be compared to upbeat music fit for a good cardio workout, then the newly launched Manathai Khao Lak is surely the equivalent of new age sounds designed for yoga practice and sleep. A 90-minute drive north from Phuket, the resort is located on Bang Sak beach, a slice of unspoiled tropical beauty dipping down to the Andaman Sea.

 Manathai Khao Lak is the latest addition to the independent Thai hospitality group Manathai Hotels & Resorts. It boasts 158 spacious rooms, the smallest a generous 48sqm in size. Facilities includes a swimming pool, a fitness centre, a 24-hour reception and concierge service, complimentary Wi-Fi, room service, luggage storage, in-room dining, a childcare service, and an activities and tour service. 

 The porters seem confused by our arrival but nonetheless rush forward to deal with the group's more than 10 pieces of luggage and their friendly smiles give us confidence that the cases will indeed find their way to the right rooms.

 The towering open-air lobby is a beautiful space from which to admire the sea and the tropical greenery and the proffered cold welcome drinks and iced towels are gratefully accepted on this hot and humid afternoon.

While waiting for our rooms to be ready, we decide to have a late lunch at Colours, the hotel's all-day dining restaurant. The sun is right overhead so we opt for the air-conditioned area instead of the terrace, which we will no doubt check out the next morning when we breakfast al fresco. Colours' menu offers both international and Thai dishes and while the choice is not large, it is adequate for our needs. 

 The room has with LCD TV with cable channels, coffee maker, refrigerator and a safety deposit box. The bathroom is well equipped too with a shower, bathrobes, hair dryer and slippers. Additional amenities include complimentary toiletries and blackout curtains.

Dark wood against white walls and careful placement of Thai artefacts accentuate the peaceful ambience. Thai textiles and soft light from the rattan birdcage lamps make the room elegant but cosy.

I almost fall off the bed when a lady steps on my terrace and reaches to open the glass door. As she sees me, she looks embarrassed and confused and after she's walked away, I go out on the terrace and look around. Her mistake could happen to anyone. All the rooms look the same from the garden and there is no room number.

 n the late afternoon with the sun beating a retreat, I head out of air-conditioned comfort to check out the pool and the beach. Surrounded by serene landscaped gardens, the pool is a fine place to take a leisurely dip when the waves are too rough or to splash around with the kids. The adjacent Pool Bar offers light bites and refreshing drinks throughout the day and Pad Thai, the resort's poolside restaurant, celebrates one of Thailand's most iconic and best-loved dishes.

The warm grains of sand massage my feet as I stroll along the beach. Children are building sandcastles while their mothers sip fresh juice and concentrate on their tans. It is a place to forget about your hectic city life and enjoy the best the sun and the sea have to offer.

Heading back to the hotel's beachfront, I sink into a hammock with my favourite e-book. With the cool sea breeze, the rhythmic sound of the waves rushing to the shore, the swaying coconut palms plus a cocktail in my hand, I take a deep breath and enjoy every lazy second as I wait for the sun to set.