Escape the cold weather and head down to Kata Rocks, a brand new luxury resort in Phuket, Thailand. Thirty-four ultra-luxe “Sky Villas” are scattered on a hillside along the south-west coast, making up the Kata Rocks resort. Each villa is finished with all-white, Italian-made furnishings and floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open onto your own private infinity pool that looks out onto the sweeping ocean view. Spend the day at the Kata Rocks spa, where the extensive wellness treatments include energy pods and light-emitting treatment beds, and visit the private oceanside restaurant for a serene end to your evening.
We spoke to Richard Pope, the owner of Kata Rocks, who shared his insights on what makes this resort unique and what guests shouldn’t leave without experiencing.
S/: Tell me about yourself—did you always want to open a hotel?
Richard Pope: For the past 27 years, my main focus has always been property development and most of this has been in Notting Hill in London. When I first came to Phuket, I wasn’t really looking to do anything except have a holiday but this great piece of land came up and as we progressed with the project it became clear that we should run it as a 5-star resort, offering all the best hotel features. This was never in my game plan so I’m an accidental hotelier really!
What makes Kata Rocks unique, in your opinion?
Kata Rocks is unique because it offers the space of a luxury villa with the service of a 5-star hotel. It stands out for many reasons: the prime oceanfront location, the Sky Villas with their own private pools, great sea views from each villa, 460 square metre penthouses, great resort facilities, 5-star hotel-style service, etc..
Why Thailand? Tell me about your choice to move there and start a business.
I first came to Phuket to sail in the King’s Cup Regatta in 2006 and I was not really thinking of doing any business here. While I was here on that trip, a friend got involved in a project on Natai Beach and so I looked at that and became interested in what was happening on the island in terms of property development. I met some people who I asked to look for land for me. I was shown lots of rubbish, but on one of my trips back to Phuket in the middle of 2007, I was shown the Kata Rocks site. It is an amazing place and I couldn’t walk away from it—oceanfront, west-facing for the sunset, perfectly sloped landscape, great rocks placed like ornaments in front of it, and an outlook directed at the little island Koh Phu. Perfect!
Did the natural surroundings inspire your choices in designing and developing the hotel?
The inspiration is the unique site and the amazing rock features that join it to the Andaman Sea. Positioned on a headland with two of the best beaches in Phuket alongside it, makes it the perfect location for a hotel. The brief was to create these oversized Sky Villas, all with private pools, and all with full sea views. What we now have is a truly iconic development and resort with these amazing futuristic buildings that look like they have been inspired by superyachts with their wrap-around glass and louvers.
What kind of person is drawn to vacationing at this hotel? Do you have a targeted clientele?
With Sky Villas that rang from 1-bedroom to a 4-bedroom penthouse, Kata Rocks offers something for everyone looking for a 5-star holiday in a fantastic oceanfront resort. We are attracting honeymooners to families from a wide range of nationalities.
What is important to you in terms of hospitality?
Obviously, when you pay for 5-star hospitality, you expect the best facilities, restaurant, spa etc. but for me, it is also about the friendliness and quality of the service—everything should be easy. No fuss. We like to offer a bespoke experience for everyone and this is delivered by our ‘Rock Stars’ who will ask each guest on arrival what they would like to get out of their stay at Kata Rocks and then suggest activities to fit these expectations. Some people want to do many activities and others just want to read a book, so we do tailor experiences to the guest’s requirements.
I noticed the décor’s abundant use of the colour white. What kind of mood were you looking to create with the hotel’s interior/exterior design?
Kata Rocks is modern, with clean lines and a spacious feel with its oversized Sky Villas. The look was very much inspired by superyachts, with their wrap-around glass and louvers. The resort punctures the landscape and consequently stands out as a truly iconic example of modern tropical architecture blending into its local surroundings. We believe that we have created something very unique and there are not many people who visit our main infinity pool without stopping to take a ‘selfie’!
What is one thing that guests shouldn’t leave Thailand without doing or trying?
There are so many things to do and experience in Phuket; the amazing food, the best spa treatments, the incredible beaches, the friendly people, etc., but for me, a holiday is not complete without a trip out on the water. There are so many little islands around Phuket, and most are uninhabited. To leave without experiencing them would be a sin.
For more information and bookings visit katarocks.com.