Dusit Thani Laguna Resort
Most of Phuket's high-end properties are hermetically sealed temples to luxury, tucked behind gates with little daily interaction with non-guests. That's what makes the Dusit Thani so refreshing. Though part of the gated Laguna Phuket complex, there's an easy friendliness to the hotel, thanks, in part, to its location along the public Bang Chao Beach. So you can have the friendly hubbub of fruit sellers plying fresh mango and local families frolicking in the surf without the over-commercialization of the island's other public beaches. Complimentary shuttle boats allow you to access the pools and eateries at each of the complex's other resorts. But at the Dusit Thani, you're already spoiled for choice, with five restaurants, a large spa, an even larger swimming pool, and lessons in everything from sailing to Thai boxing to batik. The 226 rooms have a nautical-by-way-of-Thailand vibe with navy and white striped textiles complimenting antique carvings and ceramics, all with private balconies overlooking the lagoons or the crystal waters of the Andaman Sea.