phuket luxury villas

Inside Phuket’s Vegetarian Festival

in Culture/Destinations by

Festivals provide an interesting peek into the local culture, and Phuket’s Vegetarian Festival is no exception. Also known as Nine Emperor God Festival or Jia Chai, it falls in the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar. Thailand and exoticism go hand-in-hand, and this Taoist festival is celebrated with a unique zeal here. Each shrine is extensively cleaned, in anticipation of the festival and giant Go Teng poles are raised on the first day (to be lowered after the last) symbolically to allow the Jade Emperor and other Nine Emperors to come down from the heavens and walk the earth again. 

Rules of the Festival

The name may have you believing that it is a food festival showcasing vegetarian delights. Though the streets are lined on both sides with hawkers selling vegetarian fare, it is not the highlight of the festival. Instead, it marks a period where devotees are expected to follow ten strict rules, and observe abstainance from meat, alcohol, sex, and other stimulants. The locals believe that following these rules allows them to achieve a greater level of spirituality, and is a way of honouring the Gods.

Processions

However, the festival is not celebrated behind closed doors. Like many things Thai, this too is a boisterous public celebration, and one not for the faint-hearted. The Vegetarian Festival in Phuket involves processions wherein devotees perform self mutilation and all other kinds of torture on themselves to shift ill-luck and evil from other worshipers onto themselves. They believe that by doing so, they can bring good luck to the community.

Expect vibrant and chaotic processions, with firecrackers being thrown around, lion dances, and coal-walking. You may find people with their cheeks pierced with spears, knives and other paraphernalia.

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Get Ready to Be Wowed at Cape Yamu, Phuket

in Destinations/Dining/Recreation by

If you are seeking tranquillity, seclusion and endless sea views, consider planning your next holiday at Cape Yamu, Phuket. This remote peninsula is located on the eastern side of the island, overlooking the picturesque Phang Nga Bay. Cape Yamu is both topographically and metaphorically a cut above other popular tourist spots in Phuket. While it has evolved from a predominantly fishing and farming community, Cape Yamu remains set against a breathtaking and diverse natural environment peppered with traditional villages enclosed within rubber, coconut and cashew plantations. It is now considered an exclusive holiday destination unashamedly preferred by those seeking a unique and luxurious holiday experience.  

Cape Yamu is home to a variety of elite havens, and each luxurious holiday home boasts sensational sea views, attentive staff and finely appointed amenities. Whichever haven you choose, you are assured of the very highest level of service, and exclusive access to the Elite Concierge, to organise day trips, excursions, transport and everything in between.

Here are top three reasons you should pick Cape Yamu for your next Thailand holiday:

World-Class Dining

When you stay at an elite haven, you have access to personal chefs who have been trained in some of the best professional kitchens in the country. Your villa chef will be happy to stir up a delicious meal for your entire group. From Thai specialities to International favourites, each dish will have you craving for more. However, if you wish for a change of scene, you are spoilt for choice too. Catering to globe-trotting travellers, the east coast has a classy dining scene.  Nahmyaa Thai Restaurant, at COMO Point Yamu Resort, boasts of localised favourites with a healthy twist. Seafood lovers will love everything on the menu at Laem Hin Seafood, which offers flavourful Thai dishes, to be enjoyed against the backdrop of sea views that extend till Coconut Island. If you want to be adventurous, hop aboard a long-tail boat and dine at one of the floating restaurants just offshore.

Yachting Adventures

Ask the Elite Concierge to organise a yacht or speedboat for your group and head out into the deep blue. Phang Nga Bay, often featured in movies and shows, is famous for little limestone cliff islands, mangrove forests and floating villages.

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Breaking the Circle in Yaowawit, Phuket

in Destinations/News by

Situated in the verdant jungles of Thailand’s Phang Nga province, two hours north of Phuket, Yaowawit School is home to as many as 150 underprivileged children from the surrounding areas. Either orphans or children whose families cannot take care of their upbringing, the children of Yaowawit live at the school until they turn 18. Different from other establishments, the school focuses on holistic education and experiential learning to help break the cycle of poverty. It proudly claims that quite a number of its graduates have gone on to university and the older ones have even begun successful careers.

Founded in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Yaowawit is an impressive operation. Dedicated mentors work tirelessly to care for the children and teach them important life skills. While the school generates its own income from several small enterprises and is working towards being self-sustaining through the use of permaculture, it is grateful to receive help from individuals, small groups and corporations that share the school’s vision.

On 15 May 2019, the Elite Havens Phuket team decided to head to Phang Nga for a day of fun with the children of Yaowawit. On the way, Elite Havens Thailand Country Head, Femke Beekers, shared, “As a responsible company, we must also think about the community. So, along with the villa owners, we find out the needs of the community and help out as much as we can. In the past, we have supported the children of local prisoners in Baan Lung Pitak prison and the abused mothers in Good Shepherd by donating food and gifts on Children’s Day and Christmas. And we are always looking for locally-sourced products we can use in our villas. One such product we use is a beautifully scented soap made by abused mothers. We give this soap as gifts to our guests on their birthdays or in special gift baskets and we include a note about the women who make the soap and what they’re doing to make their lives better. We heard Yaowawit has a really good organic farm and that they also make products like detergent, so in addition to giving gifts today, we’d like to look into buying their produce or products for our villas. That way, our assistance is more long term.”

When the Elite Havens team arrived,

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Through the Keyhole: Villa Amanzi Kamala

in Destinations/People by

With cutting-edge design and magnificent ocean views, Villa Amanzi Kamala is an inspiring hideaway near Kamala Beach in Phuket. The modern three-storey villa is a visual masterpiece that complements its beautiful tropical surroundings. It was built around a large boulder to accommodate nature and its magnificence; the boulder acts as a gigantic wall beside the staircase down to the family room, which is replete with an Apple TV, a pool table, a foosball table and a jacuzzi to entertain guests of all ages. The 15-metre pool on the main floor extends towards the sea in a dazzling manner, and is the focal point of the villa at sunset. Each of the villa’s six bedrooms, set on the floors above and below the living level, are stylish retreats, with fabulous floor-to-ceiling windows and breathtaking views. The modern kitchen has indoor and outdoor dining areas, and celebrates easy holiday living.

Hidden away in the Cape Amarin Estate, Villa Amanzi Kamala offers complete privacy and a convenient base for exploring the island, with Kamala and Patong Beach less than 15 minutes away by car. But because of its terrific sunset views and seductive allure, you might just be tempted to stay put in the villa.

We chatted with the amiable Villa Manager who helps deliver the Amanzi experience, to get a glimpse into what goes behind those amazing walls.

Elite Havens:  Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Boom Jaikamham: My name is Apirom Jaikamtham, and my nickname is Boom. I’m 34 years old, having been a Villa Manager for 9 months.

EH: And what did you do before you joined Elite Havens?

BJ: I have always been in the hospitality industry. I worked with different hotels and resorts as a butler, here in Phuket, before I joined EH. Actually, when I saw the job opening for Villa Manger at Villa Amanzi Kamala, it was a part-time position. But during the interview, they asked if I was willing to work as a full-time Villa Manager, and I said why not?

EH: Is the job of a butler the same as the job of a Villa Manager?

BJ: It depends on the company. Sometimes, the job is very similar, sometimes it is a little different.

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Chef du jour: Villa Amanzi Kamala

in Destinations/Dining by

The first thing you see upon stepping inside Villa Amanzi Kamala is the grand and luxurious 180-degree view of the ocean. Surrounded by modern furnishings and a large expanse, you feel as though you’re floating above the water in your own private paradise.

Below you is the games room in which a large boulder the size of a hill rests – untouched from the original place Mother Nature left it in. This forms part of the villa, and leaves you breathless. On the 2nd floor, aptly-equipped bedrooms fill a large hallway. You will want for nothing.

But the real draw of the venue is the modern kitchen, where your chef will be able to make you anything you ask for. We interviewed Villa Chef Thietam to get his insights into cooking in this beautiful villa.

Elite Havens:  Hi, Chef Thietam. How did you learn to cook?

Villa Chef Thietam: I started when I was 18 years old; I’m 35 now. I was working with people who knew how to cook, and I learned to cook from them and then I started cooking on my own. And later on, I worked in hotels so I learned to cook from there too.

EH:      What did you prepare for us today?

VCT:     Thai beef salad, crab meat in yellow curry, and crispy pork.

EH:      Why did you cook these dishes for us today?

VCT:     These are our most requested dishes. Our villa guests usually ask me to prepare these.

EH:      Are these your specialties?

VCT:     In addition to these dishes, my specialty is actually fusion food. Usually when you go out, you   will see things like prawn or chicken Pad Thai but I like to make scallop Pad Thai. It’s not traditional. We don’t really have scallops here, we have to import them. So when people serve scallops here, they’re usually just sauteed with garlic and pepper. But me, I like to cook them Thai style, so I use them in Pad Thai instead of prawns.

EH:      What do you do in your free time? Do you eat out?

VCT:     I like to fish and I like to look for fresh ingredients and then I like to go home and make new          

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