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Island Adventures and Family Fun in Phuket and Koh Samui

in Culture/Destinations/Families/Recreation by

Planning a family vacation to Phuket or Koh Samui and accommodating the needs of an entire family is no easy feat. The mind boggles with such a wide range of both indoor and outdoor activities available. What are the most reputable and safe options, and which activity could satisfy everyone equally – from the oldest to the youngest? Staying at an elite haven makes the decision-making process simple.  Not only will you receive the attentive care and local tips from your dedicated Villa Manager, but you also have the assurance of the Elite Havens’ Concierge to assist with all your booking requirements and to personally manage your experience. So, you can sit back, relax and simply enjoy your holiday.

Phuket

The Phuket Aquarium, on the island’s southernmost tip at Cape Panwa, is a great place to discover Phuket’s underwater world and learn about local marine conservation at the same time. The aquarium is especially suitable for younger kids who will delight at the sight of sea turtles, manta rays and, of course, those cute clownfish of Finding Nemo fame. Top Tip: Walk along the nature trail at the exit of the aquarium and you’ll find a sanctuary for injured turtles.

Phang Nga Bay, with its magical hidden lagoons and towering limestone karsts, is a sea kayaker’s dream. Day trips from Phuket accommodate paddlers of all ages* and abilities and are a wonderful way to discover this unique seascape. Alternatively, ride the waves aboard a traditional long-tail fishing boat, or charter a luxury sail or motor yacht for the day.

*If your kids are very young, we recommend checking with the tour organiser before you book, as full day trips may not be suitable.

Bikes, Boats and Beaches. If you fancy something a little more energetic, we highly recommend a day out with Andaman Nature Tours (Feel Phuket). This three-in-one tour starts with a boat trip over to one of Phuket sister islands Koh Yao Noi. From here, saddle up for a bike ride. The terrain is relatively easy-going and the scenery is stunning. You’ll ride through paddy fields and meet local farmers who are the real organic hipsters, then up into the rubber plantations. For your lunch stop, hop aboard a traditional fishing boat and cruise to a secluded palm-fringed white sandy beach,

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Through the Keyhole: Villa Naam Sawan

in Culture/Destinations/People by

Enter Villa Naam Sawan in Phuket and prepare to be transported to a beautiful, modern version of Thailand. Statues of Buddha are perched beneath a multi-pitched roof. The ceiling is strategically filled with lights that shine on large couches, Thai artefacts and a sleek dining table surrounded by stately chairs. Inviting, with a vast amount of space to envelop you – you feel tiny in here – the villa was designed by the world-famous architectural design team of Philippe Starck and Jean-Michel Gathy.

The level below has four luxurious bedrooms. All face the large swimming pool, which looks out onto a private beachfront. You can lose sense of time lounging on any of the large chairs by the pool, or on the bale to the side. This marvelous and spacious villa was made just for that purpose. 

We had a quick chat with Villa Naam Sawan’s Villa Manager Wawa about what makes her job special.

Elite Havens: Hi! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Wawa Biutiatinoni: My name is Nukhatra Biutiatinoni, but you can call me Wawa. I’m 37 years old. I’ve been the Villa Manager in Villa Naam Sawan for nearly 3 years.

EH: And what did you do before you became a Villa Manager?

WB: I worked with hotels for nearly 10 years within the Front Office function. My roles ranged from that of a Receptionist to Guest Service Supervisor, welcoming new joinees; as an Airport Rep, picking up the guests at the airport and even that of a Butler.

EH: Why did you choose to live in Phuket?

WB: Well, first of all, I love the sea! And the hotel industry is bustling in Phuket. There are many opportunities to work here and you can practice your English. So if someone wants to work in the hotel industry, I recommend Phuket as the place to start your career.

EH: If a guest wants to visit places nearby, what places can you recommend?

WB: First, I must check to find out what they like to do. If someone likes adventure, we have that! If someone likes shopping, we have that too! Or even relaxation. I first ask them what they like so I can recommend something basis their preferences.

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An Amazing Thai Christmas For You and Your Whole Family

in Culture/Destinations/Dining/Families/Recreation by

How do you plan to celebrate Christmas this year? Imagine idyllic beaches, gentle sea breeze, swaying palm trees, and gourmet dining. Add to that, a touch of culture with traditional Thai dances and stunning views that reach for the horizon. A stress-free holiday where you can laze in bed until noon and lounge under the sun all day. Beach volleyball, a swim in the pool and sunset cocktails to end the day. Do we have your attention? You can have all this, and more, if you head to an elite haven in Thailand this Christmas.

 No more sweating it out in the kitchen to prepare a Christmas meal. Sit back as your villa chef arranges the most exquisite feast. Wine and dine with your nearest and dearest, and say cheers to ending the year on a high note. You’ll want for nothing in Thailand.

Phuket

If you decide to go to Phuket for the holidays, Baan Paa Talee is a magnificent and modern estate set on top of a cliff. The villa can fit up to 20 guests and there is a wealth of activities you can do nearby, including exploring the Andaman Sea aboard a luxury yacht charter, scuba diving or snorkelling to explore the enchanting underwater world. The beautiful sights of Phang Nga Bay, Raya Islands, Similan Islands, Koh Phi Phi and more are all within a day’s sail. You can delve into Phuket’s decadent brunches, DJ dance parties and romantic sunset dinners or discover the rich history and get a glimpse of local life on a cultural tour of Phuket Old Town.

Or if you prefer, you can simply stay in the villa and enjoy the dining room which can accommodate up to 20 guests, play a game on the pool table in the games area, have a karaoke party and or just lounge at the bar by the pool deck. Events with up to 80 guests can be arranged, so get your Christmas party-planning on. Make it a trip to remember.

If you’re looking for a cosy villa by the ocean for your Christmas holiday, try Villa Malee Sai. Discover the true meaning of Christmas as you spend time with your family or friends in this private and charming villa.

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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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Paradise on Natai Beach

in Destinations/Families/Recreation by

Natai Beach is a quiet and peaceful 10-kilometre stretch of white sand with an attractive blend of unspoilt nature and stunning luxury villas. Situated in Phang Nga province, only 25 minutes away from Phuket Airport, Natai Beach is the perfect place to escape the crowds and discover the soft sand and lush landscapes of the less-traveled Andaman coast.

There are only a few facilities to be found on Natai Beach – it is not your normal tourist beach. There are no wandering peddlers, no beach chairs or umbrellas – only a random beach massage cabana and some long tailboats. There is nothing except the sun, sea, and sand – and these are the reasons why this destination is perfect for a stay in a beachfront villa.

There are also some fantastic activities and attractions that are within a short distance of Natai Beach if you are willing to put your cocktail down and head out of your villa.

Phang Nga Bay Viewpoint

The sunsets from Natai Beach are great, but the sunrise over the limestone casts of Phang Nga Bay are spectacular. The recently discovered Samet Nangshe viewpoint is 25 minutes away from and it’s well worth an early start to watch the sunrise. It’s not as popular as many of the viewpoints in Phuket so it isn’t crowded. It is becoming a popular place for photographers who want to capture the perfect sunrise. The clear night skies with millions of stars are not too bad either.

Sarasin Bridge

Sarasin Bridge connects the mainland of Phuket and Phang Nga and is known as one of the most beautiful bridges in Thailand. It has a very interesting history: it is named after Pote Sarasin, former Prime Minister of Thailand, but it is best known for an unforgettable tragedy. In 1973, two young lovers, one from a wealthy family and one from a poor family, jumped off the bridge and took their own lives. The story is this: the family of K. Gew, a girl from a wealthy family, forbade her from seeing K.Dam, a local bus driver. They tied themselves together and jumped. A Thai movie about the lovers, The Bridge of Love, was released in 1987.

Views from the bridge are beautiful,

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