A sight for the senses

The Como Shambhala Retreat (left) in the resort offers massages.
All rooms, suites and villas at Point Yamu by Como overlook the serene, glittering waters of Phang Nga Bay. PHOTO: COMO HOTELS & RESORTS
All rooms, suites and villas at Point Yamu by Como overlook the serene, glittering waters of Phang Nga Bay.
The Como Shambhala Retreat (above) in the resort offers massages.PHOTO: COMO HOTELS & RESORTS

Soak in the sea view and luxuriate at a spa in Phuket

Like many Gen Ys, my smartphone (and a speedy Internet connection) is my security blanket. My fingers feel twitchy without a touchscreen and I am disconcerted without my daily dose of social media.

So when my editor tells me I am going to Phuket for a four-day, three-night stay, my first question is: Does this place have Wi-Fi?

I need not have worried.

Point Yamu by Como (www.comohotels.com/pointyamu) is a tranquil gem nestled on the tip of a peninsula on the eastern coast of Phuket, Thailand.

All rooms, suites and villas there overlook the serene, glittering waters of Phang Nga Bay, which boasts the famous James Bond Island where part of the 1974 movie, The Man With The Golden Gun, was filmed.

And yes, it has Wi-Fi, not that I need it after all.

I find myself using my phone only to take pictures during my stay at the luxe three-bedroom villa by Como Hotels and Resorts, which was opened by Club 21 founder Christina Ong.

Most of my short trip there is spent soaking in the magnificent sea views, luxuriating at the spa or in the villa pool, and indulging in a glorious array of lavishly prepared food.

All this, in a resort that has taken visible care to build a cohesive, articulate design philosophy, one which informs everything from the restaurant's cutlery to the lamps in the hotel lobby.

Italian interior designer Paola Navone's hand seems guided by a rustic, back-to-nature quality, one which draws heavily on its Asian roots but, at the same time, is modern in its love of asymmetry and irregularities.

One wall of the hotel lobby is lined with small, fist-sized wooden blocks, which are each hewn roughly into shape by hand. No two blocks are alike and the effect of the cascading wood is of waves and ripples.

Pillars scattered along walkways and in the lobby are dipped in a vibrant orange paint, visual echoes of the tangerine robes worn by Buddhist monks.

Even the accents at the end of the corridors are crafted to resemble interlocking strips of rattan, calling to mind woven baskets.

It is no wonder that since the hotel opened in December 2013, it has been bagging top awards such as Best Hotel Architecture Design and Best Villa Development at last year's Southeast Asia Property Awards.

Inside the 3,638 sq ft, three-bedroom villa I am housed in, the attention to detail continues. Passing through the wooden double doors, a row of outstretched palms akin to Buddha's abhaya mudra pose line a wall, guiding one towards the sanctuary within.

The bathroom is soaked in a beautiful seafoam green, reflecting the expanse outside, and an intricately wrought aluminium pot next to the bathtub houses a lemongrass-scented mix of bath salt.

Point Yamu by Como comprises 79 rooms and suites in the main hotel area and 27 private villas scattered around the compound.

The private villas - seven one-bedroom properties, nine two-bedders and 11 three-bedders - each come with a private, seafacing infinity pool as well as shared butler service.

The villas, which were launched earlier this year, are available for both purchase and rental. The smallest costs between 40,000 baht (S$1,580) and 75,000 baht a night to rent, and the biggest pool villa costs between 90,000 and 125,000 baht.

The luxury extends to the Como Shambala Retreat at Level 4 of the main hotel building, which I have the good fortune of experiencing on the afternoon of my second day there.

After an extensive tour of the 13ha property in the morning, I am in dire need of a good unwinding and my Como Shambala Signature Massage is everything it promises to be. Using its signature blend of massage oils, which have notes of warm lavender and mint, the masseuse delivers an hour-long, firm but gentle rub-down.

By the end of the session, I am almost too relaxed to slip into the fluffy bathrobe provided and sip the accompanying refreshing honey ginger tea.

But a stay at Point Yamu is not just about relaxing. The property is a 25-minute drive from Phuket Town, which is a vibrant mix of old and new.

On the third day of the trip, we pass through the town and several of the nearby marinas on the way to our afternoon yacht cruise around Phang Nga Bay.

While the waters of the bay are not crystalline clear, they are a deep, rich cerulean blue. Chugging out to sea, we cruise past towering limestone cliffs - the hallmark of the bay - which are carpeted with thick vegetation.

When we stop near the foot of one of these cliffs, several of us leap from the boat's top deck, suspended in the sun for one glorious moment before plunging into the welcoming waters of the bay.

Swimming towards one of the limestone spires, we scramble up slippery rocks at its base and follow a sheltered path to come across a still, deep lagoon, populated only by a few striped fish.

I do not follow the lead of my travel companions into the lagoon, but stumbling across such tranquillity in the midst of an undulating ocean is a welcome surprise.

Guests staying at the resort can book such cruises and also enjoy other activities such as scuba diving, deep-sea fishing and bicycle tours.

For those who do not want to drive out to the town for sustenance, Point Yamu has two restaurants: the Thai-street-foodinspired Nahmyaa and the Italian La Sirena.

With tiled mosaics of goldfish on the walls and bubble-like lamps, the interior of Nahmyaa is spirited and lively. Its food, which features a balance of contrasting flavours, is also invigorating; the yellow crab curry in particular is outstanding.

La Sirena, an airy, aquamarineclad establishment with floorto-ceiling shutters which open towards the hotel's main pool, is a health nut's dream come true. It offers the Como Shambala Cuisine menu - plenty of nutritious, organic ingredients with little oil and fat - on top of regular Italian cuisine.

After spending four days in the warm embrace of the Phuket sun, leaving Point Yamu seems a momentous task.

After detaching myself from technology for half a week, I dread returning to the endless rush of e-mail messages and notifications.

But we all have to do what we have to do, and so, with a heavy heart, I board the plane and plug back into the digital world.

But the next time a trip like this comes around, my first question will not be about the Wi-Fi.

Rather, I will ask: "How's the view?"

•The writer's trip was sponsored by Point Yamu by Como.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 23, 2015, with the headline 'A sight for the senses'. Print Edition | Subscribe