Hotels in Phuket: 3 Awesome Design Concepts
Design is important. As you are readers of Noupe, one of the best design magazines this side of the milky way, you are certainly aware of that. Recently I had the chance to take a deeper look at three design-oriented hotel concepts over here in Thailand. And I saw that design sometimes just isn't enough. For a hotel to be successful it must have a strong concept that appeals to an increasingly wide range of people from all over the world. I went to check the Millenium Resort, the Pimnara Hotel and the Color Kata Hotel, all three located in Phuket, Thailand. And this is my story...
Millenium HotelTwo pools, five dining options and over 500 rooms spread across two mansion-like wings, both only meters away from the foreigner orientated, 2,000 sq m Jungceylon shopping mall and Phuket's notorious party district along Bangla Road. You can keep within five minutes of this 5 star resort and still stagger, wide-eyed and breathless, back onto the plane.
The ConceptThere is no other phrase I can think that describes the concept of this hotel better than minimalistic hedonism. Just imagine this: You wake up, sometime on a hot, clear Monday afternoon, climb into your swimming trunks, fling open your French windows and dive dolphin like into the warm water of the Millennium Resort swimming pool. On the other side you order a cocktail before stretching your body out onto a lounger to dry. If you get too hot you can either visit the hotel spa around the corner for a massage or stroll through the lobby into the Jungceylon shopping mall to restock your wardrobe. Of course all this is merely a prelude to Bangla Road's crazy nightlife. Discos, bars, nightclubs, restaurants, ping pong shows, massage parlors - as you hear so many westerners say – rather cryptically, and perhaps a little worryingly – whatever you do in Thailand, stays in Thailand.
A Walk Through the Millenium HotelTo the left of the reception the Millennium has a large pool of water full of obscure bell-like sculptures. While they may symbolize some aspect of Thai culture, to most people they probably only reinforce the fact that the Millenium is a 5 star hotel. This chic, minimalistic theme continues throughout the rest of the hotel. The Millenium has six types of rooms: the superior room, the deluxe room, the grand deluxe room, the cabana room, the junior suite and the executive suite. The cheapest and smallest room is the superior room located on the beachside wing. The most expensive room in the hotel – the cabana – is 40 sq m with a patio that leads straight into a private jacuzzi and the Lakeside swimming pool.
- "The ponds and waterfalls in the hotel lobby were beautiful."
- "Never had to catch a taxi as everything is already right there."
- "You can walk through the hotel lobby and into the very heart of the Phuket shopping district."
- "All the basic necessities were – power adapters, room amenities and even bottles of juice."
- "In one of their bars you have a stunning view of a mountain in the background."
- "We had our own private Jacuzzi that lead into the communal pool and had the pool bar directly opposite."
- "The pool was a lot better on the lakeside and you had to walk through the shopping center to get there."
- "The room on the north side of the hotel faces a car park."
- "Get a room away from the clubs otherwise you can spend all night listening to the garbled speak of the drunks outside."
- "It is important to arrive at the wing you are staying at because they distance from each other."
- "All the so-called superior rooms are situated in the lesser of the two wings."
- "What is it with the glass window to the bathroom? I know you can pull down a blind, but still…"
- "The one gripe I had was having the bathroom sink above the minibar. That was a little weird."
The Final JudgementStrangely for a five-star hotel, the Millenium seems a little unsure of its customer base. While business people and couples enjoy its chic design and extensive facilities some are turned off by its location in the middle of Phuket's party district. Certainly they could find cheaper and equally good options in quieter areas of the town. If people are looking to party they could just as easily stay at a nearby guesthouse that is within walking distance of all the facilities the hotel offers.
The Pimnara HotelLike the Millenium, the Pimnara Hotel sits right next to the Jungceylon shopping mall and like the Millenium it offers a fitness center and a spa, but why as it has no pool and only half the amount of services and facilities does it cost more? "But Sir", the hotel staff will reply, throwing back the question with a slight smile, "how many hotels have you stayed at where a different avant garde artist has designed each room?"
The ConceptEach room at the Pimnara represents a different type of holiday experience. If you are looking for a romantic holiday you can opt for the pink room where the sun shines through the window every morning, lighting up the bouquets of flowers that line the walls. On the other hand if you are looking to take advantage of Phuket's seedy nightlife you may enjoy staying at the windowless dark blue room where umbrellas and bowler hats hanging from the wall pegs throw long shadows across the room. Overall the hotel's message is clear: they believe in individual taste and expression.
A Walk Through the Pimnara HotelThe many artistic touches in the hotel's common areas are confounding, amusing and occasionally profound. This photo of Pimnara Boutique Hotel is courtesy of TripAdvisor This photo of Pimnara Boutique Hotel is courtesy of TripAdvisor Walking up the stairs to your room, you will find the only constant theme in its design is its avante garde randomness. This photo of Pimnara Boutique Hotel is courtesy of TripAdvisor The rooms themselves can be freaky, oppressive and rather sweet and lovely.
The Public Opinion
- "Standard rooms are excellent value, overlooking the mall through French windows."
- "My favorite part was that we got to choose our room design."
- "The best part about the hotel is the location, it is right inside the Jungceylon Mall."
- "The hotel has a very modern feel with each room beautifully designed."
- "Though smack in the middle of the party district, you still get a good night's sleep."
- "Signs are not printed but hand-written in such a rushed looking way, your eyes brush over it before you realize it could actually be saying something important."
- "Superior rooms are situated in the heart of the hotel meaning they have no windows. Very claustrophobic, particularly if your room like ours is painted black."
- "The amount of decorations in the room make the room look small."
- "Apart from a heavy black curtain there is no boundary between the bath and the rest of the room."
The Final JudgementWhat is great about this hotel is that they give their customers a choice between 11 different and very unique room designs. Some people may not appreciate such diversity, or any of the art itself, but if that is the case, they would have no other reason to stay. At the end of the day the Pimnara pretends to be nothing more than the boutique hotel it is.
The Color Kata HotelAs a 2 star hotel, the Color Kata may not provide its clientele with the same standard of service as the Pimnara and the Millenium, but they have put an equal amount of thought into its design and concept. For example, while their rooms are only 22m sq, they have decorated each one in different color rhythms and images aimed to connect modern Phuket with its old, illustrious past.
The ConceptThe Color Hotel summarizes its concept on the homepage of its website (in slightly poor English) "Exceptional conceptual from the core outline of the Chino Portuguese which is the significant architecture of the old Phuket. All exterior and interior design of the Color Kata will be representing the color of life from the glorious past of Phuket to nowadays." Exactly what Sino-Portuguese encompasses is left unexplained - and the Internet isn't much help either - but from what I can gather it is a cross between Chinese design (innovative use of space), European colonial architecture (the images above the beds) and Thai culture (the colored cushions and furniture). To add to this retro feel the hotel provides each room with an iPad, a high-powered PC and an in-room sound system.
A Walk Through the Color Kata HotelThe hotel's color theme is obvious as soon as you enter the reception. Some of the objects such as this old bell reference the colonial architecture of old Phuket. The designers have thought a long time over what the website calls the color rhythms of each room. This room uses light colors that suits its theme of nature. This photo of Color Kata Hotel is courtesy of TripAdvisor The darker tones in this room give it a warmer feel than the entrance to the building in the image above the building suggests. This photo of Color Kata Hotel is courtesy of TripAdvisor To add to this modern, retro feel, they have equipped each room with a PC and a sound system. And they even provide free Internet! This photo of Color Kata Hotel is courtesy of TripAdvisor
- "The design made good use of space, yet we still had all the amenities we needed."
- "A modern, futuristic design and a number of great electronic gadgets at your disposal."
- "The room I stayed in faced a wall, which only allowed in a tiny bit of light."
- "The rooms were small with hardly enough space for our bags."
- "The hanging bed felt unstable and made a noise every time we moved."
- "Walls were too thin. You could hear everything."
- "Why do they think it is a good idea, to have a toilet and showers with clear, glass walls? I like my privacy."