RE KÁ TA, the first and only beach club in the Kata-Karon area, is putting on a weekly cycle of specials to bring some added pizzazz to the sands until the end of April. Monday through Thursday are Tapas & Wine nights featuring unlimited tapas for 650 baht ++ and half-price wines, with flamenco chill-out music and live guitar, from 6pm till midnight. The popular Martinis and Manicures evenings will continue to run every Friday, with free welcome martinis and express manicures for the ladies. RE KÁ TA’s weekends bring some indulgent seafood spreads with Saturday Sushi nights with a sushi boat for two starting at 550 baht ++, followed by a Sunday Lobster Lunch with a buffet of choice selections.
Kata Rocks is a restaurant and bar that’s part of the spectacular villa resort of the same name on the headland between Kata and Kata Noi beaches. We were wowed not only by its bright and smart design, but by its cutting-edge Enomatic wine dispenser, where you can tap yourself a glass of one of its 24 house wines. They’ve brought in Australian Steve Baker, well known for his innovative approach to cuisine, as Executive Chef and Resort Manager to develop a menu around the idea of clean, fresh food (and dirty cocktails!). Kata Rocks had only just opened when we visited, but we expect this to be a go-to spot for Phuket food and wine aficionados in the coming months.
The headland is home to another elegant dining venue, Mom Tri’s Kitchen at Villa Royale, which has a menu of Mediterranean and Thai flavours developed by Mom Tri’s two chefs Sura Putha and Darren Wiper, with some dishes created under Michelin Star-level guidance by recent guest chefs Henri Charvet, Johanna Maier and Gerard Royant. Mr Charvet was the inspiration behind one of Mom Tri’s most celebrated dishes, pan-grilled Phuket lobster with aromatic ginger, lime and coriander in creamy coconut sauce. Wine pairing is also a dream here, with more than 600 labels in the cellar to choose from.
Good news for Sunday brunch fans, Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket, on the beachfront at Karon’s north end, is now putting on its Sunday Family Lunch every week at Mare restaurant. Since the resort opened, the Sunday lunch has been a big draw for families, especially with the free use of the resort’s swimming pools, lazy river, jumping cliff and water slides.
Kata Beach has long been a surfer’s mecca, and now board riding fans can enjoy year-round action with Surf House, Phuket’s first-ever flowboarding venue, on the Kata beachfront. Weekly events including Wednesday networking nights and Friday ladies nights have coaxed a number of locals as well as visitors to try riding the waves, and enjoy some burgers and cocktails afterwards on its rooftop bar.
Just up the road in the Kata Night Plaza is a colourful little place where surfers will also feel right at home. The newly-built Fin Hostel offers a comfy retreat for boarders on a budget. Though you can stay here for as little as 500 baht a night in the dorm, Fin really splashed out on the design, cleverly making this both a cheap and chic place to stay. Surfer heaven.
We’ve noted the new Kata Rocks above as an innovative dining venue, and its flair as a resort is now emerging, too, since it started taking bookings for its villas this January. While some villas are still under construction, a number of rooms are now welcoming guests. We had a peek inside and found them to amply live up to the resort’s“infinite luxury” tagline.
Each villa’s crisp and clean design, private pool and wide sea views evokes a feeling of being aboard a yacht, and every detail from the iPad-controlled entertainment and lighting system to the dishware in the kitchen is top notch. We also had a look around the Kata Rocks spa and fitness centre, where no expenses were spared to bring in the most state-of-the-art facilities, including a “sleeping pod” – a groovy bubble of comfort that looks rather sci-fi in design, aimed at relieving tension and stress.
Also hugging the headland is a six-bedroom private villa that’s been in the rental market for several years yet showing no signs of dating. Baan Kata Keeree has a lot of added character from the owner’s personal art and décor collection and, in keeping up with the growing private villa market in Phuket, the holiday home’s appeal has been further enhanced by the addition of a large Jacuzzi set under a skylight in the master bedroom and a massage room. And the views across Kata bay? Breathtaking.
The Novotel resort brand has been expanding its presence in Phuket of late, with new Novotel resorts opening in Patong and Kamala last year, and now another one is under construction on Karon Beach. Formerly a Ramada resort, the 217-room Novotel Phuket Karon is found just across the road from the beach, and is due to open in late 2015.
One of Phuket’s best-known resorts, Boathouse, has celebrated its 25th anniversary and doing so in style with the completion of a big makeover and rebranding as Boathouse by Montara. In addition to having a splash-out gala to mark the occasion, Boathouse has been reaching out to a younger set of holiday makers with Instagram contests, special offers and the promise of fresh and lively jazz entertainment to go with the superb sunset views.