If the name Baba Beach Club conjures images of barefoot parties on the sand, dance music, sun and surf — well, that’s the sort of vibe you get on this patch of tropical paradise without the need to sleep rough.
Rather, we’re talking high-end luxury on the resort island of Phuket, complete with 200m of private beach frontage, big luxurious villa accommodation, perhaps your own infinity pool … but the same funky party beats.
Overlooking picturesque Natai Beach on Phuket’s north-western beaches, the resort is a convenient 20-minute drive north of the international airport. Even on a stormy, cool day, I feel right at home as coconut trees rustle in the strong breeze, competing for attention with the crashing waves behind them.
Less than one year old, the luxury resort is part of the Thai property development empire of the Issara family — the Charn Issara Group, which operates the Baba Beach Club and Sri panwa hotel brands in Thailand.
And this is where the beach club story gets interesting.
Its managing director, Vorasit “Wan” Issara, is a disc jockey with cred (who has played at party capital of the world, Ibiza, Spain) with a passion for dance music and hospitality. He trained at DCT International Hotel & Business Management School in Switzerland — it’s where he says he combined his “love of food and entertaining with design and service”.
Wan’s mark on his resorts is everywhere to be seen … and heard. He curated the playlist of house/underground/tech music that seems to be ever-present wherever you go around Baba Beach Club; it’s even playing softly through a Bose speaker dock in my luxurious Gabana Villa as my porter welcomes me inside. Not the thumping doof-doof type but really cool house beats that just fit their surrounds … its rather intoxicating even before the cocktails.
“A five-star resort with lots of fun rolled into one,” as Wan describes.
My palatial double-storey Gabana Villa oozes elegance and functionality, it’s a huge 145sqm and has all the modern comforts to please the fussiest of guests — a huge bathroom that’s as stylish as I’ve seen anywhere that comes with a walk-in shower and sensor toilet with lots of buttons.
There’s a big walk-in wardrobe, kitchen with full-size fridge, a grassed garden courtyard with direct access to the pool deck; even a retro-style Marshall speaker atop an aqua-coloured ornamental drum in the lounge. I like being able to make my own coffee with the Nespresso machine in the kitchen.
But the best part for me is opening up the upstairs curtains to sweeping views out over the pool, the ocean and the tropical resort gardens through floor-to-ceiling windows.
Downstairs, the bi-fold doors open out to the courtyard, but with stormy weather today, I’m happy watching through the windows.
“I wanted to apply our own concept and be free to choose key elements like the design, the music, the food etc,” Wan says.
There are 16 hotel suites and villas for guests to book, plus 24 residential villas that offer investors a slice of luxury beachfront real estate — these can be bought and must be leased through management by Sri panwa.
An outdoor playground
As I seek a cool refuge on day two of my stay, a DJ bops to his tunes playing his set, seeking protection from the inclement weather under the poolside eatery terrace … it’s funky chill to the max.
Live DJ gigs are a weekly feature by the pool … it’s Wan’s signature.
He seems to have a knack for adding uber-cool to luxury resorts without being pretentious.
Even for someone fast-approaching middle age, I’m really into his music.
His worldly experiences in hospitality and music have seen innovations at his hotels like Circo Loco — a house-music event originating in Ibiza and brought to Baba Beach Club for the first time this year, and will feature again over two consecutive Saturdays in January 2020 (11th and 18th).
“Music has always been one of my passions. I am proud to work on what I love and make it as a part of my business too,” he says. It’s warm and sticky — a tour colleague and I meet up and make a beeline for the round pool bar for an ice-cold Thai beer.
We stand and chat in the water and listen to tunes — it’s the ideal elixir.
At the pool, there are plenty of sun lounges to go round, and the music pumps from the speakers around the perimeter — not too loud but perhaps not the spot you want to enjoy a book in some peace and quiet. For this, I suggest a retreat back to your plush villa.
Dining and bars
The Baba Beach restaurant opens out over the expansive pool area and is a particularly relaxed place to enjoy good food and company, indoors or outdoors.
It has a selection of international cuisine, and I’m sharing fine Italian dishes with my group at dinner — the pizzas are really good, but it’s the fettuccine with crab-meat pink sauce that I want to keep diving in to.
There’s also Thai, burgers and grilled meats to choose from and Japanese restaurant, Iki, upstairs.
Cocktails are a specialty at Baba Beach Club and after dinner, I try a bespoke variety of dark rum in coconut water drunk from the coconut through a straw … a nice combination. Another must-try is the spicy Baba Tom Yum.
The breakfast spread includes nice strong coffee and omelettes made to order, as well as a good selection of Asian fare.
Services and activities
If you fancy some pampering, or just want to indulge, Cool Spa offers a comprehensive spa menu, couples and family packages, treatments and massages.
There is also a fitness centre and beach activities off site if you feel the need to venture outside, including shopping, cycling, golf, elephant trekking as well as Ao Phang-nga and Khao Lak national parks.
Also worth the short drive is Sam Chong Seafood restaurant at Sam Chong Village for lunch — heaven for lovers of fresh seafood.
It’s in a modest-looking stilted hut on a river, next to a fishing boat jetty, and has gorgeous views out to the countryside.
- Prices from $560 (low season) and $720 (high season) in a Baba Suite (70sqm)