Natai Beach is easily one of the best secrets in Phuket. The reason? It’s not technically in Phuket. Located in Phang Nga in mainland Thailand, Natai is an effortless extension of the popular tourist island (using Sarasin Bridge, you can reach Phuket airport in 35 minutes), but still remains below most travellers’ radar.
A 10-kilometre stretch of unspoilt sand, Natai Beach houses just a handful of private villas and boutique hotels. Nothing here is large, bright or garish, as local laws limit the number of rooms to just 80 per property.
Jivana Beach Villas is one of the lucky estates occupying this area. This private complex consists of three villas: Ananda, Jia and Shanti. After a 45-minute drive from Naithon, our van pulls up in front of a grand entryway metres from Natai Beach. We’re ready to check in to Ananda at Jivana.
Greeting us right upon arrival, the villa manager Nancy could not be more gracious. After enjoying our welcome drinks and cooling off with cold towels (always welcome in +30-degree weather!), we take the grand tour of the property.
Ananda at Jivana is a distinctly Thai villa focused on dark wood, open-plan architecture and standalone pavilions. From the get-go, I’m charmed by the subtle touches of beach house chic that are visible throughout, effortlessly paired with classic Thai design.
There are Hamptons style textiles on the sofas and two straw hats casually thrown on an armchair, gently reminding even those of us glued to our laptops that hey, you’re at the beach, enjoy! The coffee table always has trays of fresh marigold. This is relaxed Thai luxury at its best.
Perfect for Families
Life at Ananda at Jivana is centred around the Great Room. This open-sided space has a relaxed living area and a long dining table with room for up to 14 guests. When you want to host a movie night, the villa also has a separate air-conditioned TV room where we spend an evening watching Madagascar 2 (nothing wrong with connecting with your inner child!)
The villa is staffed with a personal chef and each night, our group of 10 gathers around the long table for a family dinner of delicious Thai food.
And that’s the one word which best captures the spirit of Ananda: family. Whether it means packing up the kids to enjoy the beach or gathering up your loved ones for a special celebration, the villa works wonders in bringing the whole group together.
Ananda at Jivana has a total of seven bedrooms, with six full-sized rooms housed in separate pavilions facing the ocean. The rooms follow the classic style of the property and feature sumptuous beds draped with white linen, wooden furnishings and crisp and classic bathrooms.
Besides these six bedrooms, the villa caters to families by offering a separate bunk bedroom which can sleep up to four kids. This room is adjoined by a separate nanny’s bedroom, so parents get to enjoy a little me-time when needed. For parents who want to keep a closer eye on the kids, the master bedroom shares an interconnecting door with a neighbouring twin bedroom.
The most striking feature at Ananda is the stretch of lawn just before you hit the beach. Dotted with palm trees with two dreamy hammocks suspended in between and a swimming pool nestled at the centre, the overall effect is that of a classic island paradise.
Though you can read about the length and low key status of Natai Beach beforehand, experiencing the real thing will still catch you off guard. We spend the golden hours of sunset strolling down the beach, enjoying the sunshine, the sea and the sand. There’s not a single soul in sight and we’re free to forget about the world and simply enjoy each other’s company.
This also makes Natai Beach an idyllic and intimate setting for weddings, with no chance of curious tourists photobombing your nuptials. The three Jivana Beach Villas can all be booked together to create a 19-bedroom estate sleeping up to 36 guests, which is ideal for hosting the whole extended family.
After three days of enjoying the fresh beach breeze, it’s time to move on. What will stay with me the most about Ananda at Jivana is the easy feeling of living by the ocean.
In the morning, you can watch the sky turn pink as the sun begins to rise over the sea. During breakfast at the open-sided sala, there is the gentle sound of waves crashing to the shore and you can spot local fishermen casting their nets in the waters. At night, we throw open the doors and curl up in bed to watch a storm roll over the ocean.
Sun kissed days spent by the sea – the very moments you look back at in the heart of winter and smile.