Thailand Beach Clubs:
Phuket Beach Clubs Offer Year-Round R&R
By Anne O’Connell
To say the fun continues all year long on the touristy island of Phuket, Thailand, is an understatement. As many shops and restaurants shutter business during the summer months, there’s still an undercurrent of frolicking that bubbles away for year-round residents.
The quieter low-season is when the locals and expats come out of hiding to enjoy Phuket’s five (soon to be six) ‘destination’ beach clubs – Bliss, Catch, Diamond, RE KÁ TA, Xana and Zazadad – for entertainment morning, noon and night, seven days a week.
“During low season we see about a 70/30 split of expats to tourists coming to visit, but during the high season it’s the reverse,” says Pepe Viva, general manager of the Bliss Beach Club and an Italian expat who has been living in Thailand for nine years.
Each club offers decadent lounging by the pool or beachside, overlooking the pristine Andaman Sea, along with mouth-watering lunch, dinner and snack menus as well as extensive cocktail menus and wine lists. Yet each one has its own unique personality, spicing it up for visitors and making it tough to choose only one.
The very ‘family friendly’ Bliss Beach Club (www.blissbeachclub.com), which opened in November 2011, fronts on the gorgeous, not-so-chaotic Bang Tao Beach and features a grassy kids’ play area next to the pool.
According to Viva, Bliss, a winner of the Trip Advisor 2013 Certificate of Excellence, attracts all ages. The party crowd does tend to filter in later in the day to enjoy sunset cocktails followed by dinner and dancing. There are even showers and changing rooms for a seamless transition from beachwear to evening wear.
The club’s menu boasts a few very special Chef Alex creations, including the Pesto Sen Yai, made from fresh herbs right out of Bliss’s own herb garden and accompanied by an Indonesian Salsa, made from chili peppers also out of the garden.
Traveling south from Bang Tao Beach along Phuket’s west coast brings revelers to the busier Surin Beach, where Catch and Diamond beach clubs are nestled almost side by side. A third, Zazada, the first Thai style beach club, is due to open on Surin Beach in the fall of 2013. Surin is the perfect scenario for a night out with a bit of variety and no driving required in between clubs.
The eye-catchingly brilliant white with glowing turquoise accents of the Catch Beach Club (www.catchbeachclub.com) is the first in the Surin Beach line-up and was also the first Phuket beach club to open. Catch is well known for its lively parties and lunch and dinner buffets that stretch as far as the eye can see. Also popular is the Catch Beach Club Fashion Gallery featuring custom-designed clothing and accessories for those in the mood for a little shopping.
Diamond Beach Club (www.diamondbeachclub.com), which opened in December 2012, has several claims to fame but the first one that might come to mind is the talented, awe-inspiring flair bartenders who perform in the open-air venue under a big top, circus-type tent. Bar staff are called ‘mixology experts’ and one of their ‘flair-tenders’ can often be seen testing the limits of flairing … probably while preparing one of their signature cocktails such as the Diamond Lycheetini or some wild concoction created by a patron, which is wholeheartedly encouraged.
Meanwhile, Chef Nicollini, an Italian from Sicily, might be found putting the final touches on his renowned antipasti menu, a creative Thai/Mediterranean fusion. Diners can take advantage of wine tastings or stroll through the art gallery while they wait for dinner to be served.
Newcomer, RE KÁ TA Beach Club (www.rekataphuket.com), winner of Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence, is the farthest south on Phuket’s Andaman Coast on Kata Beach. RE KÁ TA has a slightly different take on the beach club scenario, touting its fashion boutique and café culture along with a spa where visitors can enjoy a massage, aromatherapy and other beauty treatments.
That’s in the daylight hours, though. Like its cohorts, RE KÁ TA also offers a nightclub scene after dark with an “eclectic blend of St. Tropez ‘Beach Lounge’ fused with classic ‘World Flavors’ and Miami ‘Party Beats’ for the cocktail-sipping, after-dinner crowd,” according to its website.
Xana Beach Club with Attica (www.xanabeachclub.com) holds the northern-most position, located on the Laguna end of Bang Tao Beach. One of the star attractions is a 114-foot pool. It’s particularly appealing during the summer months when the seas can get a little rough in Phuket.
After a day at the pool, Xana’s party scene kicks into high gear with regular appearances by world-renowned DJs. Rumor has it that many patrons who need a little sustenance before letting go often choose the ‘no rules’ burger … (almost) anything goes on it.
It may be one-upmanship or just pure competition, but each club’s parties seem to get more and more elaborate with famous DJs, fire jugglers and trapeze artists making frequent appearances. The upside is that it makes for great festivities on a regular basis for visitors, locals and expats. From special events like Bliss’s annual charity benefit (this year’s Mystic Mirage) and Xana’s Electric Beach Bingo, to Diamond’s monthly Moonshine the first Saturday of the month, there’s plenty to do. All the clubs also offer hosting and planning for private parties and weddings.
The ‘beach club’ scene on Phuket has certainly taken on a whole new meaning, bringing with it an infectious vibe. Locals, residents and visitors alike are definitely digging it. More information on all the clubs can be found on the Phuket Beach Club Society website (www.phuketbeachclubsociety.com). Details on seasonal specials, weekly ladies’ nights, BBQs, Sunday brunches, pool parties and other events are outlined on each club’s site.
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