PHUKET: Oh the thrill of discovery! Who doesn’t love it? Especially when it comes in the most unexpected of places. For me, it was just a few days ago, when I had the pleasure of experiencing it just a stone’s throw away from downtown Patong, at the Avista Hideaway resort’s Sizzle restaurant.
Phuket’s “Sin City” isn’t my cup of tea. The aesthetics, the entertainments, the crowds, I find none of it appealing and generally try to stay away. But the recent invitation to dine at Sizzle forced me to take the lengthy, though scenic, drive from my beloved Northern Phuket to the island’s night life beating heart. And I’m glad it did.
Located just five minutes drive past Patong’s beach road, the resort that was recently nominated for the World Luxury Award and World Travel Award, has hideaway in its name, and for a good reason. Stepping into Avista’s tastefully decorated lobby is like entering a different universe. Gone is the racket and chaos of the infamous party town, what you get is the serene atmosphere and mesmerizing views of what must be one of Phuket’s most prime locations.
And it gets better. A short lift ride up from the lobby is Sizzle, where the only thing able to compete with breathtaking views of the ocean is the food on the menu, created by the 30 years experienced American chef Tim Westaway. Although he was brought up in Los Angeles, California, Tim learned the secrets of his trade in New Orleans, and it’s the Louisiana flavors, with a touch of Hawaiian and Asian influences, that you should come to experience here.
“The theme of this place is turn of the century, dining under the stars steakhouse. I studied all the classic steakhouse recipes in America and Europe and brought it here,” explains Tim.
The proof of the above statement landed on my plate in the form of a Cajun blackened beef rib eye steak, easily one of the best steaks I’ve ever tasted. Its tenderness, enveloped in a butter and herb crust, left me in awe of the Chef’s skills and the culinary traditions of Southern United States. And that is something I can say just about everything I tried that evening: Oysters Rockefeller, the lobster bisque with a Tom Yum twist, the cherries jubilee which were set on fire on a mobile cooking station right next to my table, even the walnut maple bread served with my meal – it all falls into the “awesome food” category.
“The food speaks for itself, all the flavors are there,” says chef Tim and there’s nothing I can add. Except maybe that on request, all this can be enjoyed in a special private setting with personal service and a special menu.
The combination of amazing location, awe inspiring food and top class service at Sizzle makes for one of the best experiences in my Phuket foodie career, but the evening I spent at Avista provided we with even more memories. Before I sat down to my meal, the resort’s Executive Assistant Manager Nitichai Nenraksa offered me a tour of the premises while explaining what sets it apart from other world class establishments in Phuket.
“The focus is on activities, ” he said. “With a daily program running from eight in the morning to five in the evening and sometimes longer. Cocktail classes, aqua dance, fit-ball, yoga, a number of activities for children and of course the PGA approved golf simulator.”
The activities on the above list, especially the final item, grabbed my attention. It turns out, once you arrive at Avista, there’s no real need to go anywhere else, golfers included. The on-site golf simulator provides perfect conditions for practicing your swings, without the need to spend time and money on getting to a golf club. The hi-tech simulator is conveniently placed in the vicinity of a bar, soon to be revamped in an Irish Pub style, making it easy to hit the 19th hole anytime you please.
There’s even a golf membership, though it provides much more than the name suggests. The one-year Avista Hideaway Virtual Golf Club membership gives unlimited access to the resort’s three swimming pools and all its facilities, including the fitness center, the games room, kid’s club and, naturally, the virtual golf. On top of that, membership holders get a voucher for a one night stay in the resort with champagne breakfast, two hours of Thai massage and massive discounts on food and spa treatments. One year membership costs 25,000 baht for person and 40,000 for a couple, with the first 20 members getting a complimentary a bottle of 12-year-old single malt whisky.
People travel from all around the world to discover Phuket, the famous tourist destination. But while they get pampered and spoiled, it’s us, residents, who get the best part of the deal, with this unique concoction of stunning nature and world class hospitality at our doorstep. And it’s places like Avista Hideway and Sizzle restaurant that serve as a reminder that the choice to stay here for good, was the right one to make.
— Maciek Klimowicz