Stepping into the sunlit, breezy lobby at Devasom Khao Lak, it’s easy to see why the name of this vast five-star resort is a play on the Sanskrit words for ‘angel’ and ‘residence’. Among those who arrive here after a long flight, an ice-cold welcome drink in hand and the sounds of nature all around, there must be some who think they’ve died and gone straight to heaven.
The appeal of Devasom Khao Lak is undeniable, thanks in part to its unusual architecture, inspired by a seafaring civilisation, which set up the trading port of ‘Takola’ along the Maritime Silk Route in Southern Thailand over 1,000 years ago. Not much is delivered of the way they lived their lives, and less still about their exact fate, but what we do know is that they navigated the night skies with the help of stars. To this day, very little light pollution along the region’s coasts facing the Andaman Sea means that once night falls, the velvety blanket above twinkles with a million, little lights. It’s not the only pretty sight around here, for the very ground the property stands on is blessed with natural beauty.
A total of 69 rooms, suites and villas sit across some three hectares of land uniquely located between the never-ending Khuk Khak beach and a natural lagoon running along Devasom Khao Lak’s southern edge. While certainly big and busy, most of the action is restricted to a tiered, beachside saltwater pool offering front-row views of the area’s jaw-dropping sunsets – we flocked here like bees to the honey in the evenings.
For a more private dip, our ‘Pool Paradise Suite’ came with its very own marble dipping pool and a generous tub positioned between our bedroom and bathroom. The layout of our suite was a little hectic for our taste, but it’s all to guarantee the best possible views for each accommodation type. Design-wise, a Moorish influence continues across the property’s rooms and suites, with pillowcases adorned with ornamental prints, lampshades that look positively Middle Eastern and even our air-con came clad in geometric latticework.
We did come across the occasional detail that revealed builders had clearly skimped a little during construction – think half an inch of bright blue piping being visible behind bathroom fittings or tiles that didn’t line up quite as neatly as they should. But it was easy to forgive little flaws in light of our generous private terrace, a Bose sound system with a curated playlist (exclusive to suites and villas) and an original aesthetic that makes the resort unique not only among local competitors, but probably across all of Thailand. On that note, we hear an exclusive duo of two-bedroom, 430 square-metre Sky Villas with panoramic sunset views, can add yet another layer of luxury to your stay at Devasom Khao Lak.
Right on time
While you’re Out There
The hotel booked us on a day trip to the protected Similan Islands some 70km off the coast of Phang Nga Province. They work with Wow Andaman, who went above and beyond to make our experience not just safe, but also incredibly fun: between the Similan’s Maldivian blue waters, home to turtles and (harmless) black tip reef sharks; and huge, Seychelles-style boulders that double as natural viewpoints, a sense of adventure was omnipresent.
Beyond enjoying our generous suite, we spent most of our time taking advantage of the resort’s experiential offering: a ‘Dining by Desire’ beachside supper stood out to us for just how thought-through of an experience it was, involving everything from a charming, on-site ‘bar’ to intimate lighting using vintage oil lamps from the private collection of Devasom’s CEO, who sources them from Germany, Switzerland and beyond. Other amenities include bike rentals, complimentary transfers into Khao Lak town, sandbank picnics and more. There’s also the chance to paddle board on the adjoining lagoon, something we sadly missed out on as we ran out of time, but thoroughly enjoyed watching others attempt (and sometimes fail) from the comfort of our suite – a little schadenfreude here and there isn’t such a bad thing, is it?
Wellness-wise, all our needs were covered in the hotel’s heavenly spa, where guests in need of some downtime are kneaded en plein air, among turquoise pools and fluttering white curtains. For maximum tranquility during our Tibetan singing bowl ceremony, we, however, were advised to retreat to a private treatment room, which suited us just fine. Our massage was one of many available at Devasom Khao Lak, and we relished every moment of it. Should you find yourself looking for a different kind of relaxation during your stay, you’ll be glad to hear the hotel has just launched a custom-built long-tail boat to take guests to a lesser-known beach some 50 minutes south.
For dinner, we enjoyed the traditionally Thai TAKOLA, although Devasom’s second eatery, the Mediterranean-inspired Beach Grill & Bar, comes with the bonus of sunset views – neither are Michelin-starred, but marvellously, both restaurants appear in the Thai Michelin guide. At TAKOLA, each dish was treated like a showpiece of the Kingdom’s sophisticated cuisine, with layers of flavours unfolding on our tongue as we tucked into classic Thai fare before washing it all down with a bowl of ‘bua loi’, rice flour balls cooked in sweet coconut milk (alternatively, you could opt for a bottle from the restaurant’s well-stocked wine cellar). We also tried the Beach Grill & Bar, which positions itself a little more on the comfort food side of things, although fresh ingredients and modern sensibilities make for an elegant menu and dining experience. All in all, we thought the resort did a good job at catering to guests with different dietary requirements: despite being in seafood central, us vegans never went hungry.
Service was on point, as well. There was the odd moment when overly eager staff would clear our plate at breakfast before we’d finished eating, or some waiters would struggle to understand requests made to existing dishes due to a language barrier. But small teething issues are to be expected from a hotel that’s still fairly new, and has run almost exclusively on local tourism during the pandemic. Commendably, the resort has kept on its entire staff throughout Covid-19 (bravo!). You can tell the team is happy to be there, too. It’s in their warm smiles and accommodating nature, both of which gave our stay at this ‘angelic residence’ a quintessentially Thai feel.