WHERE TO STAY: The Slate Phuket
Formerly known as Indigo Pearl, the property is reinvigorated by its tin mining history and starts with a clean slate.
Few hotels in the world can be directly linked to the birth of tourism in a certain area, but The Slate Phuket can do just that. The property is the brain child of prominent businessman Wichit Na-Ranong. At a time when tourism in Phuket was just a pipe dream, Na-Ranong invested in and created what was formerly known as Pearl Resort. The idea for seeding tourism in Phuket came from a rather unlikely source: James Bond. In the 1970s, while he was hosting the film team that was working on a Bond film, Na-Ranong saw the potential in the island. It seems fitting that these days, Na-Ranong is better known by his moniker — the Father of Phuket Tourism.
But even with such an accolade, it doesn’t seem like it has gone to his head. Na-Ranong is as unassuming as they come. His daughter Krystal Prakaikaew Na-Ranong, though immaculately dressed, also exudes the same air of approachability. Speaking with her, you can tell that the property is very much her baby as it is her father’s.
Just as Phuket has evolved over the years, so has The Slate. The property went through a couple of revamps taking on the name Indigo Pearl and finally, The Slate. When asked if this was a deliberate rebrand, general manager Paul Jordaan said that it was more an evolution as there is always some sort of work being done at the resort.
Funnily enough, The Slate’s edgy new look was inspired by something from the town’s history — a perfect example of how looking back can sometimes be the best way forward. The property had always taken inspiration from Phuket’s history as a tin mining town, but this time around, The Slate took it a step further. The result is an eclectic design mix that toes the line of kitschy without being in poor taste.
The estate houses 185 villas and suites and of them all, the private pool villas have to be our favourites. Available in one- and two-bedroom permutations, these marry industrial chic and opulent luxury perfectly while having a super relaxed and comfortable ambience. We can think of nothing better than just lounging by the pool with a glass of wine in-hand.
The standout establishment on the property has to be Black Ginger. A lesson in introducing local flavours to international palates, Black Ginger serves traditional Phuket cuisine, but it doesn’t try to water down flavours just to be more universally acceptable. Rather servers tell guests spice level and overall flavour profiles for each dish and should a guest not be able to handle or dislike a certain taste, they suggest alternatives which might be more suitable. This method of casual culinary introduction in place of the usual dilution of flavours typically seen at other restaurants ensures there is something for everyone whether you’re a holidaymaker or a local.
Another stunning feature of the hotel is the Coqoon spa. Situated a few metres away from the main lobby, the spa offers a variety of treatments ranging from facials to Thai massages. The reception area of the spa is pretty standard, but the treatment areas and The Nest in particular are standouts. Nestled among the trees, The Nest is as much part of nature as it is the resort.
Having such a storied history as a resort, The Slate runs like a well-oiled machine. And though there are certain elements of the hotel that hark back to Indigo Pearl, you can see the direction the resort is going towards in terms of design. From modern restaurant Black Ginger that is painted all black to the newest private pool villas, The Slate is walking the line between heritage and avant-garde design.