Bangkok 101 was delighted to be among the first magazines to view Iniala Beach House, a stunningly unique resort dedicated to art, design, gastronomy and philanthropy on Natai Beach in Phang Nga province, just 20 minutes’ drive from Phuket International Airport.
Entrepreneur-philanthropist Mark Weingard commissioned 10 world-famous architects and designers to create 10 opulent suites across three beachfront villas and a spectacular penthouse, all fronting a pristine, 7km stretch of Andaman sand and surf. This design effort, unmatched in Thailand, included such impressive names as Brazil’s Fernando and Humberto Campana, Spain’s A-Cero, England’s Graham Lamb, Ireland’s Joseph Walsh (who created a custom version of his famed Enignum canopy bed for the Library Suite in the Collector’s Villa, pictured right) and Thailand’s Eggarat Wongcharit.
Aziamendi, the resort’s exclusive dining venue, transforms Iniala into a destination for the keenest gastronomes, including foodies who might be staying elsewhere in Phang-Nga or Phuket. Weingard visited eight Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain’s Basque region before asking 34-year-old Eneko Atxa, chef-owner of Azurmendi, to create an inspired cuisine to match the inspired spaces. Along with his Spanish-trained kitchen crew, Spain’s youngest three-Michelin-star chef combines his signature flair with carefully selected local flavours, aromas, and colours.
For outsiders, a reservation at Aziamendi includes limo service from the airport, a welcome cocktail en route before being seated in the dining room, exquisitely designed to resemble underwater climes and filled with original art.
Designed by A-cero, the restaurant boasts undulating timber waves on the ceiling to symbolise the Andaman Sea, while tree-like tables and lush green velvet chairs represent the surrounding tropical landscape. It’s open to the public as well, Tuesday through Sunday, 6pm until midnight. Menus start from B5000 – call 09-3779-2312 or email [email protected]
An architect by training, a journalist by profession and a designer by vocation, Barcelona’s Ramon Ubeda designed the Swarovski snooker table, studded with 500,000 crystals, in the Bar. Ubeda also designed scaled-down muaythai rings for the Gym. Andy Warhol lithographs of Muhammed Ali add colour.
The central courtyard of the Collector’s Villa, designed by the Campana Brothers, features pillars adorned with mixed ceramics from Lampang.
Around 3,000 individual ceramic pieces – including cups, bowls, plates and teapots – were assembled by the Brazilian brothers in the lounge of the Collector’s Villa.
Villa Bianca fuses Asian and European contemporary design inside and out, guided by A-Cero’s minimalist architecture. Organic, naturally flowing interiors blend white hues and natural wood to evoke serenity, while Russia’s Philosophy of Design takes the classic matryoshka nesting doll as inspiration for everything from bed alcoves to lamps.
Made Djirna contributes Garden of Eden, a modern whirlwind of metallic paints and luminous colours, has its roots in the traditional Balinese narrative style, evoking cosmological understanding, unity, and environmental preservation.
The Penthouse, designed by British architect-interior designer Graham Lamb, features a unique wall-to-wall carpet system laid over latex layers to recreate a futuristic, sand-inspired roomscape that is a delight to frolic upon. A hanging bed, organically curved walls and wall-to-ceiling views of the beach and sea below combine to create an almost surreal living space.
A massive sunken sofa in a sitting room of the Collector’s Villa is perfect for entertaining.
Mark Brazier-Jones designed all furniture and accessories in the Sensual Suite, a luscious, romantic boudoir-themed space filled with twinkling crystals and jewel-toned fabrics. Lighting behind the bed may be changed to suit the mood.
The work of Thailand’s own Eggarat Wongcharit puts forth a very strong presence at Villa Siam. Inspired by the topography of nearby Phang Nga Bay, beds, hanging sofas and other furnishings represent karst islands rising from the sea. Master bamboo craftsman Korakot Aromdee wove intricate cocoon beds out of wicker, allowing the weave to twist and flow upward to form ‘clouds’ on the ceiling.
The piece de resistance at Villa Siam is a serene spa room designed to resemble the interior of a giant Thai temple bell. Calligraphy inscribing English translations of verses from the Theravada Buddhist canon overlay the golden interior.
Art photographer Manit Sriwanichpoom, best known for his satirical Pink Man series, contributes Glass Buddha, a triptych of illuminated boxes featuring close-ups of Buddha images rendered in bright primary colours. Renowned textile artist Jakkai Siributr contributes Luang Porr, a striking mixed-media piece in which a variety of Buddhist amulets and other common Thai talismans are held together by a mesmerising hemp weave Japanese-inspired koi fish and marine motifs decorate the walls of the bathroom.