From here to infinity
Wily old Mother Nature always has a way of tripping us up. On Phuket, she stops me in my tracks.
What was a gentle dawn rising over the Andaman Sea seconds before is now a blazing pink ball, shining on a breezy walkway I was in such a hurry to cross. I am alive but unlike most sunrises, I am awake to witness the beauty. Stop. And breathe.
Perhaps the biggest shock is that the semi-spiritual moment with nature - there was a tear - is at a sleek place overlooking the limestone karsts of Phang Na Bay, where staff glide in cream Calvin Klein uniforms and the infinity pool stretches a whopping 100 metres.
But this is a Como, a luxury group with wellness leanings and in Bangkok, home to the David Thompson-led restaurant Nahm, just voted No. 13 in the latest World's 50 Best Restaurants and No. 1 in Asia.
This Como, at the tip of Point Yamu, a piece of land on the island's east, is a new and blinding elevated addition and a sharp departure for anyone hoping for a traditional Thai-style hotel.
Elevated? That's right, no beach. Instead, there's a private club on Rang Yai island with white sand and clear waters 20 minutes by the hotel's high-end long-tail boat.
Think of it as a change from the schlep up and down the sand from hotel to beach in dripping bathers.
Away from the crowds on Patong's west and at the tip of a boot mid can-can kick, modern style by Italian designer Paola Navone mixes with nature and indigenous heritage.
By day, corridors of a bamboo cross-hatch throw different shadows as the afternoon sun passes over; at night, giant shades, reimagined lobster traps, light the giant pixel wall of wooden blocks from Chiang Mai. Wooden pillars are swathed in the orange of monks' robes.
Places for lounging in public are vast, from the checkered banana loungers straight from the '60s (but far more comfortable) by that mega pool, to couches to sink into at the end of the Italian La Sirena restaurant. At Nahmyaa restaurant, the island's distinctive flavours are on the menu including blue crab with coconut curry with turmeric and ginger or hot and sour tiger prawn soup.
It's overseen by Australian-born chef Daniel Moran who has described one dish, Kaeng som, a sour fish curry, as a "culinary wake-up call - like a bowl of orange juice set on fire".
The ultimate hideaway, as if you weren't already there, can be found at the elevated Shambhala Retreat spa with a floor of river stone, each pebble individually laid, and a relaxation area with lap pool. It's all so easy on the eye.
Not so easy is the heavy door to my bay pool suite, but there's a Klein assistant for that. Inside it's a crisp and uplifting space of turquoise, blonde wood bed overlooking private pool then sea.
Floor tiles inspired by designs from old Phuket are recognisable when I later wander the town's streets.
Most charming though is what this hotel can be for the chameleon guest; one day a self-styled health retreat with wheat grass shots and egg white omelettes after morning yoga; the next a decadent day of margaritas at the open bar and pork belly with palm heart and wild basil. Or both.
Whatever your style of stay, pack your sunglasses and an ethereal dress. It needn't be a Calvin Klein.
The writer stayed as a guest of Point Yamu by Como resort. 225 Moo 7, Paklok sub-district, Talang District. A king bay room costs from $290 a night; bay pool suite $628 a night. See comohotels.com/pointyamu.
Sydney Morning Herald