We just have time to enjoy a cold face cloth in a private airport transfer before we pull up to The Slate Phuket, set within protected national parkland less than ten minutes drive through tropical forest from the airport. A modernist sculpture of nuts and bolts greets us as we enter the resort: The Slate’s design draws from Phuket’s tin mining heritage, and it’s not scared of making a statement. Inside the triple height lobby industrial metal detailing and traditional wooden decor combine with jewel box gemstone detailing. It’s a Thai spa retreat, but not at all as we know it.
The hotel grounds are more traditionally Asian, with lakes of lily pads, skinny palm trees and chic grey green planting, through which villas and suites peep. Amongst the foliage nestle three swimming pools, including an infinity pool for adults only. On a rare weekend sans children much excitement ensues. Beyond expansive green lawns is the unspoilt Nai Yang Beach and the Andaman sea. I visited Phuket thirty years ago, when our mod cons were a bamboo hut and beachside hammock. The Nai Yang of 2018 really doesn’t seem that different.
The Slate’s Coqoon spa is set in a series of capsules amongst the tropical scenery, and has been voted the best luxury spa resort in Thailand: This is going to be good. We sip pre treatment natural tea of the most intense natural violet while we sample massage oil options. En route to the treatment rooms our therapist points out the psychedelic butterfly pea flowers from which our tea is made. Combined with the apparently floating ‘nest’ in which we are to have our treatments in, I start to feel a little like Alice in Wonderland. All that essential oil sniffing has a lot to answer for.
Inside our nest we gaze through a rooftop peephole to blue sky. Clouds drift. Bird song plays. I am road testing the impressive sounding Cryotherapie Age Defying 60 minute facial. Its method of treating the face with nitrogen filled cryotherapy ice cubes has earned it the moniker ‘natural botox’. It’s out of this world. The ice is the highlight, I almost feel my face shrinking, but the lead up nearly has me flying round the ceiling with those virtual birds. My husband’s 60 minute Signature Rebirth massage with eucalyptus is by all accounts equally as spectacular. Afterwards more butterfly pea tea and pineapple is devoured in a kind of post hallucinogenic hunger. These treatments are powerful stuff.
We are staying in a D-Buk suite, where high ceilings and oversized wooden sliding doors reference the hotel’s industrial heritage, and a decadent oversized bathtub on the balcony demands testing. Verdict: It’s heavenly- with views across foliage to the infinity pool. It would be enough to bathe and rotate around the pools for a weekend, but the adventures The Slate’s Experience Team can organise are too appealing to miss, from national park cycling to cooking courses and bespoke excursions. We take a private trip via authentic long tail boat to iconic James Bond Island. Bucket list ticked.
That evening, wrinkle free and relaxed we dine at Black Ginger, The resort’s Thai fine dining restaurant, reached by hand pulled boat to an island floating in the middle of a flame lit lagoon. The food is divine, using delicate ingredients from The Slate’s organic garden. We put the ‘light enough to eat twice as much’ idea to the test, and 7 courses later launch ourselves back on our boat, suite-ward bound. Next morning we reluctantly leave our triple width bed for breakfast where bircher muesli and freshly made coconut yoghurt diffuse the effects of the previous evening, before our short taxi hop airport bound. The Slate has felt like heaven. But with a much easier journey to get there.