Hotels & Resorts

Review: Avani+ Khao Lak Resort Thailand

A sprawling new beach resort pushing fitness and nature immersion, Avani+ Khao Lak gives you room to stretch. This is what a stay is like on this addition to the Thailand coast.

Avani+ Khao Lak: The Beach House

The Beach House

By Vincent Vichit-Vadakan

May 5, 2022

THE NEW AVANI+ IN KHAO LAK may only be about 90 minutes north of Phuket International Airport, but it’s worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the more popular resort island. 

Here in Phang Nga province, a greener, quieter alternative to Phuket, there are no jet skis or motorized water sports and no vendors plying their wares on the beach. This is not the destination if you are looking for go-go bars, pulsating discos, or raucous nightlife. Locals like it that way, and so do the visitors.

Avani+ Khao Lak
Avani+ Khao Lak

What you do get is blissfully soft sand and big sky over the Andaman Sea; the Similan Islands National Park and their impossibly blue waters are about an hour boat ride away. Inland you’ll enjoy the dappled light of the leafy jungle and a tranquil bamboo raft trip down the gentle waters of the Lam Ru Yai. If you want to reconnect with nature, this is the place. And Avani+ Khao Lak, the newest beach resort in the area that opened in March 2022, is an ideal launching pad from which to explore. 

Of course, you could also opt to spend your whole holiday in the resort itself. I could have chosen to laze on the beach or at one of the resort’s four public pools, but I was on a mission. I signed up for a session with a personal trainer and headed to AvaniFit. 

Avani+ Khao Lak: Deluxe Room Pool Access
Deluxe Room Pool Access

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been looking after myself as well as I should lately. Between semi-lockdowns, gym closures, and a fridge door that never seems to stay shut, I’m not exactly at my fittest or healthiest. 

Full disclosure: it’s not like I’m a gym bunny at the best of times. But clearly I needed to get off my derrière and the trainers helped me to do exactly that. AvaniFit is the brand’s new all-encompassing fitness concept that is being rolled out first in Khao Lak. From beach walks to Pilates, paddleboarding to rock climbing, there are several scheduled activities a day that you can join. The gym is open 24 hours. 

After a brief chat with my trainer Yong, I found myself doing something that I’d never even considered before: At 8 a.m. on my first morning at the resort, strapping on boxing gloves and climbing into the muay Thai ring. 

Avani+ Khao Lak: Yong, AvaniFit Trainer; Rock Climbing
FROM LEFT: Yong, AvaniFit Trainer; rock climbing

I asked Yong what the benefits of muay Thai, also known as Thai boxing or kickboxing, were. Endurance, core strength, balance? Yong looked me in the eye and said, “It’s good for your mind. It’s like meditation.”  Make no mistake, it also takes strength, balance and flexibility, but the inner peace that comes with the physical effort was something I didn’t expect. 

Left, right. Left, right, left. Left, right, left, block, block, kick, duck, duck, kick. It was like choreography and required concentration. I stretched in ways I hadn’t imagined (I’m still not sure that my hip should ever bend at such an obtuse angle). I did Rocky Balboa air-punching sit-ups with every lunge, with Yong holding a protective pad as a target above my feet. “Three more,”  he shouted. Swing left. “Harder!” Miss right. “You eat too much!” Thwack. Motivation is what it is. 

Every morning I started the day with an invigorating workout with a patient Yong. I kicked higher and reached further. I felt it in my joints, but I also felt calm, limber and energized, with a new-found respect for a sport that is so much more than just throwing kicks and punches. 

I didn’t spend all my time in the gym. I walked for miles on the white sandy beaches. If you go, try to walk in the morning when the trees provide shade. The afternoon sun can be brutal, and temperatures over 42ºC are not uncommon in the hot season that has just started. 

Avani+ Khao Lak: The Beach House
The Beach House

Food options include Thai and Western food at The Beach House and daytime pizzas at Splash by the kiddie pool. The Elements breakfast room may have fitness as a decorative theme with artfully arranged dumbbells on the buffet, but alongside detox juices and a gluten-free corner, you’ll also find indulgences like a donut ring toss, croissants piped full of Nutella and an M&M station. (Apologies, Yong.) In addition to the grab-and-go café in the lobby, two more restaurants will be added before the end of the year. 

In the meantime, there are several Michelin-rated street food options nearby, like the hugely popular Roe Dang that has crowds lining up for their punchy gaeng som (sour curry) and even more fiery barnyard chicken soup. If you need to cool off after all that spice, Garang Artisan Ice Cream Beach Café takes southern flavors like green mango and traditional tao sor filled cakes and turns them into beautiful ice cream creations. 

FROM LEFT: Stir-fried stink bean and prawn at Roe Dang, source: MICHELIN Guide; courtesy of Garang Artisan Ice Cream Beach Café

Kids are well looked after back at the resort, too, with the AvaniKids area that offers two floors of toys, games and screens to keep the little ones busy and out of their parents’ hair. There is a pool with a waterslide, a skateboard park and, yes, muay Thai classes for children as well. 

The AvaniSpa is a treat and I had a vigorous Thai massage, which worked the joints and muscles that muay Thai missed. The adjoining sauna, steam and jacuzzi were being finished during my stay. They should be open any day now. 

My two-bedroom family pool suite was spacious, all light woods, earthy tones and open spaces. And who doesn’t love a private pool? But even better than that was the oversized day-bed, that was perfect for curling up with a book… or meditating on the ancient art of Thai boxing. 

Avani+ Khao Lak Resort
Two-bedroom Family Pool Suite

Avani+ Khao Lak is 89 kilometers north of Phuket International Airport. Rooms range from a 35-square-meter Deluxe Room to the opulent 765-square-meter Royal Beachfront Pool Villa, which has its own private access to the beach. A 165-square-meter two-bedroom family pool suite starts at Bt14,355. 

All photos courtesy of Avani+ Khao Lak.

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