The Slate: Artsy Phuket resort is a win for design fans, adventurous eaters, and spa lovers

If you’re the kind of person who appreciates a bit of culture even when you’ve got sloth mode turned on high — this unconventional resort in Phuket pulls off a clever balancing act between artsy and indulgent.

The Slate is a design-oriented beachfront resort just seven minutes by car from Phuket International Airport. SEVEN MINUTES.

If you’ve spent any time in Phuket, you know that the island is deceptively large. Resort enclaves from Patong to Cape Panwa can take an hour by car from the airport, keeping you that much further from being face-deep in a mojito at a swim-up bar.

This is a major plus point about a stay at The Slate. If you’re coming from Bangkok and forgo the checked baggage, you can be settled in, sipping at cocktails beneath this industrial waterfall bar, in under an hour.

Once you’re sufficiently waterlogged and buzzed, there’s lots to see and do at the resort.

All 66 acres have been mapped out by luxury resort designer Bill Bensley. His inspiration for this property was the former tin mining industry in Phuket, so there are metal and industrial flourishes aplenty. Bensley is also the guy responsible for some of the most unusual design hotels around Southeast Asia, such as Bali’s St. Regis, Hainan’s Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok’s The Siam, and Siem Reap’s Park Hyatt.

 

As a design resort, art features heavily on the property. The lobby has a gallery off to one side and original works — many by Bensley himself — are hung prominently in the guestrooms, which ranging from THB5,462 (US$170) for a D-Buk suite (their standard room) per night to THB30,525  (US$950) for a two-bedroom villa.

The room that I stayed in featured a screenprint of an old-school telephone, a ’50s era Chrysler, and a dance step chart. In the living area, a large, trippy black-and-white grid print also bore his name.

Even the bathroom’s toilet paper holder was pointed out to me by a staff member who took me around the resort. It was sculpted like a large screw with bolts on both ends. Without missing a beat, she noted that everything in the resort is available for purchase, from the shower heads to the bed frames.

My room was a Pearl Shell Suite (THB9,450 per night/US$294), which has a living room, bedroom with platform sunken tub, and one surprising feature…

These suites come with their own built-in spa rooms that are easily the same size as the bedroom. The unusual setup allows for in-suite spa services. Sloth mode on full, I did just that, opting for an oil massage (1 hour for THB2,900/US$90).

My massage therapist came armed with six kinds of oil for me to choose from, plus two thermoses (one for the traditional cold drink served before the service, and another with warm butterfly pea “detox tea” for after), and chilled pineapple slices.

We started off with a form where I could specify the massage pressure, concentration area, body areas to avoid, and oil choice.

For rooms without their own massage tables, The Slate also has an unremarkable spa called Coqoon on the property.

Just kidding. Coqoon is a well-known destination spa — it’s centered around this viral, oft-photographed, shared, and pinned structure made entirely of wicker. If you’re totally extra, you and a special friend can get massaged in here as light seeps artfully through the caning, making you both appear striped.

Image courtesy of The Slate.

Back in the room, there were other thoughtful little touches I appreciated: a Segafredo pod espresso machine with coffee cream in the fridge — not those joyless little packets of the powdered stuff, but the real thing. And, the minibar included bottles of locally made tipples like Chalawan IPA and Chalong Bay rum (which is made on the island).

The suites have windows that run the length of all three rooms — and hooray for the heavy, gray blackout curtains that accompany them. These allowed me to block out the world, at least for a few minutes after sunrise, when I would get up to do an intense yoga session. 

Yeah, right. In an ideal world, that’s what I would have done, but I actually slept until 15 minutes before breakfast ended. But if you are into the wellness thing, then the resort does offer morning sessions of Pilates, yoga, and Muay Thai.

For those that prefer underwater exercise, The Slate has three pools and sits beside the beach. The largest pool has wade-in access, built-in underwater loungers with massage jets, and plenty of cozy, palm-shaded nooks for privacy. Try to control yourself though, this is the family pool.

The resorts’ other pool areas are for adults only. The Pulley Bar Pool (below) features music and a low-key party vibe. Guests under 16 are not allowed in this area.

The third option is the infinity pool. The slate gray pool, only for guests 14 and older, is surrounded by grayish palms and is perfect for staging the kind of pictures that get fickle social media friends to unfollow your feed.

Alternatively, there’s also direct access to the beach just by walking through a security gate.

If food photos are more your thing, then there’s plenty of content to be made here too.

The resort is perhaps best known for running the bucket list-y restaurant Black Ginger, a romantic southern-style Thai cuisine outpost that requires guests to ride a raft across a torch-lit lagoon to dine.

Image courtesy of The Slate.
Image courtesy of The Slate.

Unsurprisingly, we hear it’s been the site of many marriage proposals.

As for the actual food, we tried goon mangorn yang, a grilled Canadian lobster with two kinds of Thai sauces, spicy and vinegar-y, and pad pak miang goong sieb, a local garlic, shrimp, and greens dish. Our favorite was por pia sod Phuket, a DIY crab crepe with deep fried soft shell crab also delivered on the same plate. Mains range from THB175 to THB1,200 (US$6 to US$38).

Image courtesy of The Slate.
Image courtesy of The Slate.
Image courtesy of The Slate.

The resort has also recently revamped the menu at Rivet, the second largest of its eight dining outlets. The dark, moody, industrial design-y restaurant features a modern Japanese menu put together by Chef Toshiyuki Koike.

Image courtesy of The Slate.

Among the new menu offerings are unique ingredients. The restaurant says they serve the only Japanese organic rice grown in Thailand, as well as traditional Japanese roasted green tea, and fresh seafood from the Andaman Sea.

We tried a variety of appetizers, including an avocado and shrimp dip, homemade pickles, wakame salad, fresh spring rolls, and deconstructed fried spring rolls. On the a la carte menu, you can order wagyu steak or salmon and cook it yourself over volcanic hot rock stoves placed tableside. The sashimi plate, including salmon, hamachi, tuna, red snapper, and Hokkaido scallop was great, too — fresh and well-prepared. Main courses at Rivet range from THB340 to THB1,900 (US$11 to US$60).

Image courtesy of The Slate.

On the drinks side, The Slate’s got two on-site bars, Rebar and Tongkah Tin Syndicate. Both feature design flourishes that echo the resort’s tin mining aesthetic. Rebar is more romantic, with giant iron swings, a steampunk-inspired bar, and when we visited, Moroccan drapes hanging from the ceiling — though resort staff tell us that they change up the decor regularly.

Tongkah has a more playful vibe, with an oversized abacus on the wall, a bathtub hanging from the ceiling, two pool tables, and two televisions. And, they have been known to open the bar at odd hours when guests want to watch big sporting events happening overseas.

Overall, The Slate is a great destination with plenty of art and design quirks, great food and drink options, and in-suite/on-site conveniences to keep visitors happy without ever having to leave the property. And that commute from airport to resort means it’s just seven minutes to heaven.

 

FIND IT:
The Slate
116 Moo 1
Sakhu, Phuket
(+66) 76 327 006

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