Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

Hamptons with a Twist; Heading Northwards Does the Trick as Glyn May Discovers a New and Stylish Slice of Thai Paradise

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

Hamptons with a Twist; Heading Northwards Does the Trick as Glyn May Discovers a New and Stylish Slice of Thai Paradise

Article excerpt

IT'S 8am on this brilliant sunny day along a pristine stretch of beach at the height of Thailand's tourist season, and the only footprints in the sand are mine.

Even the armies of scuttling soldier crabs indignantly stand their ground as this lone walker dares intrude upon their

territory.

As far as the eye can see, north and south, there's not a soul.

Out to sea, the horizon is clear save for two local fishermen in tiny canoes. No jet-skis or clattering longtail boats.

Ironically, just down the road is Phuket International Airport, gateway to the most popular resort island in South East Asia, busily disgorging some of its four million passengers a year in a non-stop frenzy of jets, buses, taxis, trolleys, touts and tourists.

Overwhelmingly, the hordes head south, to vibrant Phuket's myriad holiday hot spots along the island's west coast, mostly unaware that simply by making a 180-degree turn northwards from the airport, a different experience awaits.

In about 15 minutes, on Route 4 north, you've reached the start of 75km of jungle-fringed, golden coastline, peaceful, relatively under-developed and unspoiled, with a smattering of elite resorts, pool-villas, and hotels, and a nicely-balanced supply of budget

accommodation.

Right now, it's basking in the recently-coined name of Thailand's Hamptons after New York's summer playground of the rich and famous.

This is Phang Nga (province) West Coast, popularly known (incorrectly) as Khao Lak which in fact is the little town and resort area at the northern end of the strip.

Phang Nga West Coast (Khao Lak, if you insist) owes its original popularity to the nearby (two hours by boat) spectacular Similan group of islands, rated in the world's top-10 dive spots.

Today, having emerged less than 30 minutes ago from Phuket airport, I am on a lonely morning stroll-of-discovery on a deserted Natai beach.

This is home to the luxury boutique resort, Aleenta Phuket-Phang Nga a one of three five-star properties in a 20km radius.

(Aleenta management purposely added the word aPhuketa as a cute neighbourly marketing ploy).

Natai Beach also has several high-end private villas built decades ago by some of Thailand's wealthiest families. …

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