Jul 26, 2012|
The beach club trend, swanky all-day lounge style venues, usually with a pool perched right on the beach, has been sweeping the globe for a while, first arriving in Thailand around five years ago. Leading names like Nikki Beach and Beach Republic have turned their respective stretches of sand on Koh Samui into mini party hubs visited by the beautiful and the wealthy. Yet, for whatever reason, Phuket has been a little slow to the party. Until this year, that is, which has witnessed an explosion of beach clubs on the island’s West Coast.
Benedikt De Bellis, manager of the very first such venue on the island, the 200-seat Catch Beach Club on Surin Beach which opened in 2007, certainly agrees. “The trend has well and truly arrived in Phuket.”
Veteran hoteliers clearly believe they’re the next big thing, with a beach club central to any plans to renovate decades-old beachfront resorts. When The Boathouse unveiled its new look after a US$6-million renovation this January, the legendary resort also introduced its beach club Re Ka Ta, designed by a Bali-based architect Fredo Taffin to present beach loungers with what they call the “James Bond Martini Lifestyle.” Re Ka Ta features an infinity swimming pool on the beach front, adjacent to a sun lounging area, spa and boutique.
Another example can be found on Bangtao Beach in the north of the island. After operating for more than a decade, Sheraton Grande Laguna Resort is being rebranded into the world’s largest Angsana Resort, under the management of the Banyan Tree Group. The rebranding is part of a multi-million dollar renovation, which includes the addition of Xana Beach Club. Officially opened last month, it is managed by the Attica Group, who are known for running successful clubs like Le Noir Clarke Quay in Singapore.
Obviously one of the big positives that Phuket has to offer is lots of long, sweeping sandy beaches. ”To have a beach club, you have to have a nice beach,” explains Mark Brimblecombe, of the Attica Group. “The most attractive feature of Xana is the beach itself. If you look at other beach clubs, they all seem intent on competing with Bali. But the beaches in Bali cannot compare to Phuket.”
“Phuket has always had these small bars by the beach that were made into beach clubs. But none of them are really very high-end. So we’re here to assist the hotel and make this club special. I think this is probably the first proper beach club in Phuket,” he continues.
The design of Xana is all about making the most of its sea views, with the main highlight being the 35-meter swim-up bar, the longest in Phuket, hugged by day beds, lounge seats and cabanas. As well as the setting, Xana is also looking to bring in international acts or host special events every month, aimed at attracting weekend visitors from Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore and even Sydney.
With three main beach clubs, and more coming soon (Nikki Beach is set to open their Phuket branch near Bangtao Beach next year), competition will inevitably heat up. As the pioneer, De Bellis says he enjoys the rivalry because at the end of the day everybody gets something in return. “We don’t mind there being more beach clubs, we like competition. It helps us to improve ourselves. And hopefully it helps attract more people from elsewhere on the island, Thailand and overseas so that we all reap the benefit.”
Phuket’s first fashionable beach club, the highlight of Catch has to be its setting on the beautiful and delightfully quiet Surin Beach. A popular night spot this place is more about partying than lounging during the day as there’s no pool to cool off in. Day membership ranges from B1,500 in summer (May-Oct) to B5,000 during peak season (Dec-Jan) but you do get complimentary food and drinks up to this value.
Surin Beach, Cherng Talay, 076-316-567. Open daily 9am-midnight. www.catchbeachclub.com
Part of the renovations of The Boathouse resort, this brand new club is currently running a special B1,000 minimum spend deal that gets you complimentary food and drinks up to this value plus access to the spa, pool and island bar. Sat overlooking Kata Beach the mood is contemporary and funky.
182-184 Koktanode Rd., Kata Beach, 076-330-421. Open daily 7am-midnight. www.rekataphuket.com
Located on the sweeping Bangtao Beach, this club is wonderfully glamorous, from the 35m swim-up bar, and striking white décor to the regular nightlife events managed by the Singapore-based Attica Group. Minimum spends (TBA) are expected of every guest, however young, as they do not encourage small children.
Angsana Laguna Phuket, 10 Moo , Srisoonthorn Rd., Cherng Talay, 076-324-101. Open daily 9am-midnight. www.xanabeachclub.com
Elegant and sexy with its red hot décor, Beach Republic boasts two infinity pools, regular DJs and live performances. The Ultimate Sunday Brunch Club features an impressive international buffet while entry into the club is B1,000 per day (which turns into F&B credits).
Lamai Beach, 077-458-100. Open daily 7am-11pm. www.beachrepublic.com
The Thai sister of celeb-hang-outs, the Nikkis in Las Vegas, Miami and St. Tropez, Nikki Beach offers the chance to kick back on their plush champagne beds and Nikki’s signature teepees around a free-form pool. The highlight of the week is the Amazing Sunday Brunch, offering over 40 dishes including seafood, sushi, meat carvings, and desserts though the sunsets are pretty special too. If you really like it then there are even bungalows to rent.
Lipa Noi Beach, 077-914-500. Open 11am-11pm. www.nikkibeach.com/kohsamui