24-hour room service: The Naka Island, Thailand

Barefoot luxury with Thai flair

Stepping off a gleaming speedboat is a pretty glamorous way to arrive at a hotel. For this tiny private island resort, off the coast of Phuket, it's the only way to arrive. Shades on, windswept hair, twinkling seas beyond ... it's a fabulous prelude to The Naka Island resort.

The isle of Naka Yai is a five-minute swoosh on the seas from Phuket, but it feels a world away from Thailand's biggest island. While Phuket is brash, noisy and neon, tiny Naka Yai is serene, secluded and star-lit, home only to this newly opened resort and a small fishing village.

Guests stay in one of the 67 villas dotted around the main communal buildings, which house the restaurants, bar, library and spa. Despite the high-octane arrival, the ambience is pleasingly laid back. There's a stripped-back, natural feel here, with bare floorboards, thatched roofs and rough-hewn walls, rather than the pristine, starched-collar approach of other five-star resorts. It's the kind of place where you can mooch around barefoot, without being bothered by anyone.

To see what Naka Yai has to offer beyond the resort, each guest is given a vintage bicycle – personalised with a wooden plaque carved with your initials – to explore the 2.5sq km island. Pedal out to the small fishing village and the stunning beaches. But it's probably best to do this before you discover the Naka Spa. Once ensconced there, the thought of doing anything more strenuous than lifting a cup of herbal tea seems preposterous.

Treatment rooms are housed in peaceful pavilions set on "islands" surrounded by gentle, lapping waterways. The piped Thai music felt a bit laboured, but the hydrotherapy room, watsu pool, ice room and kanieep pool (for foot massages) are deeply pampering. A must, of course, is a Thai massage – taken very seriously here.

As is the food. British executive chef Ian Thomason is overseeing operations across the two main restaurants – My Grill offering Thai food with a European twist (squid tentacle confit and lemongrass chicken are stand-out dishes) and Tonside for more casual, lobster-on-the-barbecue kind of dining. Freshly caught fish and seafood play a starring role in both.


Naka Yai, off the north-east coast of Phuket in the Andaman Sea, has covetable views towards the lush Phi Phi Islands that rise out of the emerald waters of Phang Nga Bay. Also, close by is the top-heavy limestone rock, Ko Tapu (or "James Bond Island"), made famous in The Man with the Golden Gun.

Naka Yai also has a nearby sister island, Naka Noi, home to a pearl farm. Normally off bounds to visitors, it does occasionally open its doors; it's worth checking times with the concierge.


There are five types of villa to choose from, some on the beach, others with gardens or sea views. A Tropical Villa was my shelter. As the name suggests, it is built around its own lush garden. A crooked gate opens up to polished stepping-stones, which trail up to your room.

Inside, the scene is simple yet cosy with exposed beams, white linens and brightly coloured Thai silk yoga mats and pillows.

Sliding doors reveal a private plunge pool, while another door takes you to the al fresco bathroom, where teeth are brushed as insects whizz by, centipedes parade while you soak in the bath, and using the loo in a tropical downpour gives a new meaning to being at one with nature. (There are plans to cover these.) Safely inside, there are enough mod cons to keep you happy – iPod docking system, music library, Bose sound system and free WiFi (although only in the public areas). It's perfectly wild at heart.

The Naka Island, Tambol Paklok, Naka Yai Island, Phuket, Thailand (00 66 76 371 400 luxurycollection.com/nakaisland)

Rooms ****
Value *****
Service ****

Villas start at 8,910 baht (£184) B&B, with transfers.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor