Trip Report: Thailand (part 9) Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa

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Introduction
United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt (FRA)
Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)
Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Koh Samui (USM)
Conrad Koh Samui
Mae Koh National Park Boat trip and Chaweng Beach
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)
Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa
James Bond Island and Little Island Boat trip
Phi Phi Island Boat trip
Patong Beach and Bangla Road
Air Asia Economy Class Phuket (HKT) to Chiang Mai (CNX)
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
ELE (Elephant Life Experience) Elephant Camp
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)
St. Regis Bangkok
Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)
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Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa

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Myself in front The Naka Island entrance

The next leg of our Thailand vacation was spent at The Naka Island which is part of Phuket. The Naka Island is part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection portfolio.  We spent three nights at this property while exploring Phuket.

We had made arrangements prior to our arrival with the resort for transportation from the airport to the property. The cost for this was 1400THB ($40-45) for a Toyota Camry. Their airport representative was waiting outside the exit terminal holding a signboard for The Naka Island.  We waved at him and he jumped over to grab our bags.  He then escorted us outside to our awaiting Camry. The ride to the Ao Por Grand Marina was about 25-30 minutes or so.  The Taxi driver spoke English and was very nice.  Once we got to the pier we were met by two actual Naka Island employees who then grabbed our bags and escorted us to the awaiting boat.

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The Marina

 

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The Naka Island boat

 

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On our way to The Naka Island resort on the boat
With our bags on board we were off to the Naka Island pier which is about a 5-7 minute boat ride.  When we got to the Naka Island pier there were two other representatives to greet us and welcome us to the island. They put our bags on an awaiting buggy and we hopped on as well and off we went!

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Arriving at the The Naka Island Pier

 

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The Naka Island Pier
We were given a brief tour around the property while on the buggy. First they recommended we hop off the buggy/cart to ring the gong however I am sorry I forgot the reason for this!! (Naka Island staff please leave a comment below as to why guests should hit the gong) We then arrived at our villa after the cart ride around the property.  We were also given a floral bracelet which smelled really nice and you could tell it was put together in the past few hours.

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My wife hitting the gong upon entrance at The Naka Island

 

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The Naka Island Entrance villa

 

OUR VILLA

The checkin process was done in our villa by a lovely young Thai woman. She also showed us around our villa and detailed all the ins and outs of the room. For my Starwood Gold amenity I chose a free drink for my wife and I.  I signed some paperwork for the checkin and our bags were placed in the bathroom area and we were all set.

The room is very large and has a large outdoor space which includes a large private pool! When walking into the exterior of the villa I noticed on the ground was fine sand and the sand was actually swept up in a way so that you could not see any footprints! Meaning that as housekeeping left the villa they swept over there footprints so it looks like you are the first guests entering the villa.

We were assigned villa 23 which was sort of in the middle of the Naka Island property.  The property has many villas which reside on the coast of the island allowing for ocean or beach views.  Our villa was not a “Sea View Villa” or “Beachfront Villa” but categorized as “Tropical Pool Villa”.  The Tropical Pool Villa’s are all located on the interior of the island.

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Entry way to our Naka Island pool villa

 

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Our pool villa front entrance
We found the room to be very nicely appointed and the garden areas very well maintained and lush.  The bed has the mosquito netting for an added layer of protection from the critters.  The bedroom is segregated from the rest of the villa. The reason for this is the bedroom is the only air conditioned portion of the villa. As soon as you leave the bedroom you will be somewhat “in the elements”.  Almost immediately we discover the toliet did not flush very well and had to call for assistance.  They serviced the toilet however it did happen again later.  We had to be mindful of the toilet for the rest of our few nights which is sort of disappointing in my opinion but no big deal.  The bed was comfy and the wifi was good throughout most of the property.

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 The Naka Island pool villa bedroom

 

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The Naka Island pool villa desk and storage

 

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The Naka Island pool villa bedroom seating

 

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The Naka Island pool villa bedroom

 

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The Naka Island  pool villa bedroom storage
There is a ton of storage in the villa which is a plus. Also awaiting us were two jars of snacks which consisted of dried fruit (apricot and coconut) and it was tasty.

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The Naka Island pool villa complimentary dried fruit

 

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Naka Island pool villa bedroom

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Our Naka Island pool villa pool and garden

 

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Our Naka Island pool villa pool and lounge area’s

 

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Our Naka Island pool villa pool and garden area

 

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Our Naka Island pool villa pool and lounge area
The property has a very rustic feel to it. If you like a more modern and refined luxury experience this may not be for you.  If you like a more natural setting which submerses you in the surroundings and nature then this would be a good choice.  I think the rustic theme was a bit much for me personally in the beginning.  For example I simply would not take a bath in the bathtub due to the condition of the tub.  The shower looked cosmetically to be in poor shape but I know the shower is cleaned and maintained its just the rustic part of the villa being exposed to the villa in which many parts are a stained concrete like material. The pool while I am sure is clean and sanitary did not look very inviting to us so we went to the main pool if we wanted to take a dip.

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Our Naka Island pool villa sala lounge area

 

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The Naka Island Villa hallway to the bathroom

 

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The Naka Island pool villa storage and incense candles
One tip is to make sure you light all the incense candles and coils in the bathroom to make sure any pesky mosquitos stay away.  We did a good job of this and don’t recall seeing a misquito in the actual room here.

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The Naka Island pool villa water closet

 

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The Naka Island pool villa water closet

 

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The Naka Island pool villa seating and drawers

 

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The Naka Island pool villa closet

 

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The Naka Island pool villa closet

 

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The Naka Island pool villa bathroom

 

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The Naka Island pool villa bathroom

 

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The Naka Island pool villa bathroom

 

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The Naka Island pool villa amenities/toiletries

 

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The Naka Island pool villa shower/steam room (would you have issues showering here?)

 

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The Naka Island pool villa bathtub

 

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The Naka Island pool villa bathtub (no thanks)

 

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Our flower welcome bracelets at The Naka Island Resort and Spa

 

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Our room key and free drink coupon at The Naka Island
Directly outside the villa were our complimentary mountain bikes for getting around the island if we so chose. We actually used these on a couple occasions to go to Zbar as the island is somewhat spread out.  The bike was very small for me and the first time I rode it I looked like a clown I am sure!  The next day I had a Naka Island staffer adjust the seat for me but it was still somewhat small for my frame to petal comfortably.  I suppose I should have asked to just switch to a different model bike as they had a good variety and styles to choose from.

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Our complimentary bikes in front of our villa at The Naka Island
I did also mention prior to my stay in an email communication that I would be celebrating my birthday while on my vacation in Thailand and the staff was nice enough to provide a complimentary birthday cake. In fact at checkin they noted my birthday and then asked me what they could do for me which I thought nice but strange at the same time.

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A complimentary birthday cake in our pool villa at the Naka Island Resort and Spa

 

Walkthrough of our entire pool villa at The Naka Island Resort and Spa (villa #23) below:

 

AROUND THE RESORT

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa

 

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The Naka Island directional marker

 

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The Naka Island retail gift shop

 

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa chess board with the gift shop in the background

 

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa kids game room

 

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa

The Naka Island resort map
The Naka Island resort map

POOL and BEACH


We spent a few hours at the resort pool over two separate days, the day of our arrival and the day of our departure.  The pool is huge and the water temperature was perfect! I don’t think the pool was heated but it was warmer than the pools we experienced in Samui for sure!  The beach chairs are situated in the water which I personally don’t like but my wife does.  I like to put my stuff on the ground next to my chair and you cannot do that at this pool but there is a table next to each chair.  However I don’t like to have my electronics on top of the water like this but to each their own.  There was never more than two other people at the pool when we were there so we had plenty of space to spread out.  We actually raced the length of the pool using the butterfly (my wife won) when nobody else was in the pool.

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa pool

 

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa pool

 

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa pool

 

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa pool

 

Service at the pool was OK.  A nice feature is during a certain time (1-3pm) they provided complimentary ice cream and the coconut flavor ice cream was really good my wife had the mango flavor but preferred my coconut flavor!! This is one of those rare pools where they don’t push a cocktail menu on you.  They did bring over water but didn’t really ask about other drinks which many people may find refreshing but seemed sort of strange to me.

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Complimentary ice cream at The Naka Island Resort and Spa

 

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Coconut ice cream at The Naka Island Resort and Spa pool

 

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Me relaxing in The Naka Island Resort and Spa pool

 

We didn’t really spend time on the beach but I did want to walk over and check it out. It was somewhat “rocky”.  A bunch of smaller rocks in the water but the water was calm and seemed swimmable. I didn’t see anyone else swimming while I was here however there is a VERY nice beach on the opposite side of the island in which you could ride your bike over to!  The beach on the other side has multiple vendors that sell food and drink as well.  The beach on the other side is not at all affiliated with The Naka Island resort.

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The Naka Island beach

 

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa beach

 

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa beach

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa beach

 

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa beach

 

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa pool

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa pool

 

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa pool

 

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa pool at sunset

 

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa pool at sunset

 

FITNESS CENTER

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa fitness center

 

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa fitness center

 

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa fitness center

 

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa fitness center

 

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The Naka Island Resort and Spa fitness center
ZBAR

Zbar was one of our favorite places to relax at The Naka Island! We would typically have a sundowner or two here and relax and chitchat about our trip. There is a variety of seating here and we chose the more “loung-y” type of seating at the bottom to get a better view and to lay down a bit while boozing and snacking.  This is where I met my friend the “crossword muscle” cocktail!  I loved that specialty cocktail.

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Zbar entrance

 

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Zbar seating

 

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Zbar seating

 

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Seating at Zbar

 

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Bar at Zbar

 

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Zbar drink menu

 

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Zbar drink menu

 

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Zbar drink menu

Once seated the attentive staff brings out complimentary black olives and nuts to snack on.  We usually finished both of our bowls of snacks after a drink or two.

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Zbar complimentary snacks

 

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View from our table at Zbar

 

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My wife always happy picking a drink

 

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Enjoying some cocktails at Zbar

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The crossword muscle cocktail at Zbar

 

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View from our seats at Zbar

One evening we decided to stay on the resort for the night and we ordered food at the bar.  We went with the endless tapas for one person (even though my wife tried a bit….shhhh).  I thought the tapas were damn good and we cleared two plates and when we were done they decided to bring out a plate of fruit to end the night!!!  I would definitely recommend the tapas as they were not very expensive either.

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Endless tapas at Zbar

 

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Endless tapas at Zbar

 

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Crossword muscle and endless tapas at Zbar

 

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Private, separate seating at Zbar

 

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Zbar from the private seating area below

 

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Fruit plate as part of the endless tapas at Zbar

 

TONSAI-THAI AND INTERNATIONAL CUISINE

Breakfast was served every morning at Tonsai.  We had complimentary breakfast as part of our rate.  The buffet was very solid and the nice part was they included champagne and vodka at the drink station for mimosa’s and Bloody Mary’s!! We of course had to taste test them as my wife made a few Bloody Mary’s each morning while I had the champagne straight with no orange juice.  They had a menu in which you could order hot items as well.  The hot items were very good!  I must point out that if you order a hot item you could be in for a bit of a wait sometimes. I mean one time we ordered two egg dishes and it was about 20 minutes or so.  REALLY?!  The head chef would walk around and speak to the guests. He stopped and talked to us on two separate mornings. He was a very nice man from the UK and had been working in Thailand for the past few years.

 

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Tonsai seating

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Tonsai seating

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Tonsai seating

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Tonsai breakfast buffet

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Tonsai breakfast buffet

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Tonsai breakfast buffet

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Tonsai breakfast buffet

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Tonsai breakfast buffet

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Tonsai breakfast buffet

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Tonsai breakfast buffet

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Tonsai breakfast buffet

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Tonsai breakfast buffet

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Tonsai breakfast menu

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Tonsai breakfast menu

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Khao Pad Gai breakfast at Tonsai

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Fried eggs at Tonsai

 

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Scrambled eggs at Tonsai

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Eggs Frittata  at Tonsai

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Champagne at breakfast at Tonsai

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French Toast Brioche at Tonsai

I would highly advise trying some items from the hot menu, especially the seafood sausage dish! Wow that was a standout of an item and better than any breakfast item that I personally tried at while at the Conrad on Koh Samui.

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Panfried homemade seafood sausage (superb!) at Tonsai

 

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American pancakes with fruit at Tonsai

We really enjoyed our breakfast here and having that included in our rate was a nice benefit!  The staff was great overall but on one occasion did forget to bring out an entree when I ordered two one morning but its ok we are not perfect and that must’ve been God’s way of saying I don’t need that extra entree!

MY GRILL

One of the most memorable and best meals of our entire vacation was here at My Grill!! Our last night in Phuket we debated going back to Patong to eat but decided against it and we were glad we did!  Once seated we were presented with a cold towel.

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Scented cool towel at My Grill

We were then offered a bread basket to snack on. Service was really good as we were mainly helped by the sommelier which was different but thats what he had on his name tag.  We were presented with a tasty potato amuse bouche.

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Bread basket at My Grill

 

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Amuse bouche

 

I decided to go with the chicken thigh to take a break from the Thai food and my wife went with the black cod wrap.  We were both raving about our dishes and shared a bite with each other.  Very impressive meal.  The chicken was so tender and supple and bursting with flavor. After our main dish we were asked if we wanted dessert and we politely declined but they did bring out a complimentary small bite dessert for us to try.

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Chicken thigh at My Grill (superb)
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The chicken thigh entree at My Grill


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Black cod wrap at My Grill

 

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Complimentary dessert

 

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My Grill seating

 

OVERALL

At the outset of staying at the Naka Island I was really focused on the hard product and the aesthetic of some of the aspects of the villa and my initial thoughts were that I am not thrilled with the property.  The property did grow on me each day and by the time I left The Naka Island I was sad to leave-I ended up enjoying my time here.

I will point out that if you want to be close to the action in Phuket then this may not be the property for you.  They offered us complimentary boat rides to the marina as SPG gold members which is huge because it was somewhere around $50 for a ride to the Marina otherwise.  You then need to take a cab ride from there (around 2000THB for 4 hours) which is much cheaper than Samui!

While overall this is a very comfortable luxury property with great staff and we enjoyed our time I would probably skip The Naka Island in a future visit to Phuket due to the hard product.  My wife agreed the property needs a face lift in the villas.  Starwood needs to plow some money to give it a refresh to remove the nasty looking stains in some parts of the villas. We did receive great value for the price we paid however.

 

PointsPinnacle Breakdown

No points were used for this hotel stay however we were able to secure a really good rate for this property in my opinion. It would typically cost at least 35,000-45,000 Starwood points per night since it is considered an all suite or all villa property. In those situations the points redemptions are astronomical!

Please see this BRG post which I published back in February which detailed how we booked this resort and the price we paid using Starwood’s Best Rate Guarantee policy!!

Let me know if you have any questions on this property or any details of our stay that I may have not covered!

-pointspinnacle

 


 

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