Helen van Berkel checks into the Aleenta resort, at Phang Nga, in Thailand.

Getting there:

About half an hour's drive north of Phuket International Airport, across the Sarasin Bridge, is one of the most luxurious resorts in which I have ever rested my head.

Check-in experience: An honour guard of bowing staff greet you and peel off one by one to escort you to your room. Barely an eyelid is batted if one of your group, struggling after an ill-chosen lunch dish, flees the meet-and-greet — hands firmly over mouth — and makes a dash for the bathroom. And almost makes it.


Room: Across the road from the lobby, through a guarded gate and across a flagstoned patio is a wide concrete boulevard that leads you to your room. Well, cottage. Behind the double wooden door is your own private courtyard and your own private pool and my own private idea of where I want to spend the rest of my life. You're looking at about $450 a night.

What's in the neighbourhood? About half an hour's drive away is Phang Nga Bay, famous for its soaring limestone karsts and as the site of Scaramanga's hideout in the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun at Khao Phing Khan, now known as James Bond Island.

Food and drink: Aleenta has two restaurants, both with fabulous views of the private Natai Beach, which is yours to enjoy. You could also flit up the road to the Akyra, the much more casual sister resort for a more relaxed vibe. There is also room service and an extremely caring staff, useful when you recall you also shared the ill-chosen lunch.

The bed: A Super King almost within jumping distance of your private pool.

The view: Your private pool.

Room: I had some difficulty finding lightswitches, and hidden mirrors on several occasions made me emit a shriek when unexpectedly confronted with my own reflection.

Facilities: A fitness room, spa, two restaurants and a variety of rooms catering also for honeymooners and families.

Free Wi-Fi? Yes.


Online: aleenta.com/phuket; tourismthailand.org
Perfect for: Anyone with deep pockets who wants to indulge in serious luxury. Most of our fellow guests seemed to be young German couples.

Would I return? If Lotto comes in for me, I'll be on the next plane.