After a bumpy decade marred by the openings of beer bars and mediocre resorts, the southern Thai island of Phuket is regaining its sexy image. Heralding the new era is Trisara (66-76/310-100; www.trisara.com; doubles from $875), an ultra-private retreat conceived by Anthony Lark, the Australian general manager who helped launch Phuket's legendary Amanpuri. The sugary white swath of beach—with 40 acres of jungle behind it and its own bay in front—now houses 24 tropically modern villas. Outdoor showers have terra-cotta Buddhist reliefs, furniture is handcrafted from local teakwood, and luminescent Jim Thompson silks contrast with red travertine floors. Masseuses who staff the six spa suites were handpicked from across the kingdom. And, reaching into a past from long before the package tourists came to town, the restaurant serves dishes such as cumin-crusted lamb with masala sauce, paying homage to the island's place on the ancient spice route.
While the adults soak in infinity pools overlooking the Andaman Sea, the kids take advantage of the Trisara Kids pavilion. Thirty-nine accommodations make up this resort, ranging from individual rooms to a six-bedroom residence. The “Third Garden in Heaven” (the resort’s name in Sanskrit) sits on its own bay near the international airport and has over a mile of shoreline. Hardwood floors, clean-line furnishings, and cream-colored linens are typical of the room interiors, while decks equipped with lounge chairs round out the exteriors. The spa’s signature is the “Royal Trisara” massage, and the dinner-only Trisara Grill is the main dining option.