WHEN the Indigo Pearl in Phuket was recently named Thailand's number one luxury resort, it came as no surprise to many who had stayed at this unique venue.
In fact, the only surprise would have been that the Indigo Pearl had not received this accolade years before.
I first visited the resort in 2005 shortly after it opened its doors. It was a one-night stopover, but it was enough for me to rate the Indigo Pearl as one the best places I had ever stayed.
Unless you have visited this unique resort it is hard to impart its magic.
Raw sensuality, industrial chic, lush green punctuated by striking art objects - that is the world of the Indigo Pearl.
American-born general manager Kelly Lewis came to the resort two years ago, and his philosophy to develop his staff of more than 600 to achieve the highest levels of quality service took the resort from one of the best to the very best.
"It was a wonderful accolade for the entire staff and now we are all committed to keeping the award for years to come," Mr Lewis said.
Helping him with that quest has been the recent decision of the resort owner, Khun Wichit Na-Ranong, to invest even more into the Indigo Pearl.
The resort has actually decreased in room numbers from its first entry into the market, with rooms expanded and more luxury suites now available.
In all there are more than 180 rooms ranging from small villas - the size of a two-bedroom hotel room - to magnificent 2500sq m private pool villas that will set you back more than $1000 a night.
When he took over the resort, Mr Lewis saw the need to bring in extra expertise, particularly in his executive chef team, and he managed to persuade fellow American Jack Voss to join him.
Mr Voss has just finished setting up the restaurants at Bali's six-star W Resort.
It took Mr Lewis almost a year to get his man. Now Mr Voss is one of the key reasons that resort guests decide not only to stay at the resort, but also to dine there every night.
The resort also revamped its Coqoon Spa.
This was a decision that led to its naming as the best luxury resort spa in Thailand.
One of the gems of Indigo Pearl is its premium dining room, The Black Ginger, which is reached by a small hand-pulled punt. It is also recognised as one of the best dining venues in Thailand.
The competition is getting fierce in the Thailand resort world with seven new hotels set to open in the next 12 months.
But while the competition will get tougher, they face an almighty battle to emulate a resort that captures the essence of style and class.
I am not the only Australian who has fallen in love with this resort.
Last year Aussies booked 10,000 room nights at Indigo Pearl, making this country one of their key markets.
* The author was a guest of Indigo Pearl and Escape Travel
INDIGO PEARL AWARDS
World Travel Awards
- 2012 winner "Asia's Leading Design Hotel"
World Luxury Hotel Awards
- 2012 winner "Best Luxury Beach Resort in Thailand"
- 2012 winner "Best Luxury Resort Spa in Thailand"
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