Quality family time is the most important thing to the ultra wealthy when they holiday these days, says 67-year-old Bill Heinecke, and he would know. He is the CEO and chairman of Minor International, the largest hospitality and leisure company in the Asia-Pacific, with a portfolio of more than 18,000 rooms across more than 140 hotels, resorts and serviced suites under the Anantara, Four Seasons and St Regis brands, among others.
He is also a father of two and grandfather of four, and a strong believer in family downtime. “Our UHNW [ultra-high-net-worth] guests might take a boat trip one day, but most of the time they prefer to stay in the comfort of their villa and spend time together as a family,” he explains.
Heinecke says he kept this dynamic in mind when designing The Residences by Anantara, a private estate of 15 luxurious villas set on a hillside overlooking the stunning Sirinat National Park and Phuket’s secluded west coast.
Each villa has accommodation for a butler and a private chef to live in, so owners and guests need never leave the comfort of their home. Discreetly at the back of the villa there is an industrial-sized fully fitted kitchen for barbecues, banquets or midnight snacks on demand. A cosy sunken dining area overlooks a wild panorama of untouched jungle and beach – and at night, garden torches are lit, creating a dramatic flame against a sky full of stars.
The individually designed two-storey three- to six-bedroom residences — ranging in size from 1,700 to 2,550 square metres — are fully furnished. So far, seven of the 15 have sold, mainly to international individuals including buyers from Hong Kong and Dubai. Prices range from US$6.9 million to US$14 million. Heinecke himself owns two (one is still under construction, due to complete in November), and he often travels down to the resort for a restful weekend, from his home on the outskirts of Bangkok.
Designed to incorporate authentic luxury in a modern interpretation of classic Asian design, The Residences have high ceilings and expansive windows with panoramic views of Layan Beach and the Andaman Sea. There are large bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, a study and gym room. There is also a room for visiting practitioners from the Anantara Spa, for a stay-at-home retreat in the privacy of your residence. Outside, rooftop decks, sweeping pool decks and generously sized 21m infinity pools are perfect for enjoying a sundowner.
Glance up from the downstairs bedroom and glass skylights on the floor of the infinity pool sheds dappled sunbeams into the room below, while mature trees within the development have been protected and cultivated to grow up through the roof. The Residences’ design ethic won Best Residential Interior Design awards at both the Thailand Property Awards 2015 and the South East Asia Property Awards 2015.
For those who do feel like venturing out, the resort has excellent Thai and Mediterranean-inspired restaurants and one of the most diverse buffet breakfasts on the island, where friendly executive chef Silvano Amolini conjures up everything from goji berry granola to crispy deep-fried ‘cronuts’, and everything in between.
As for other entertainment, the Anantara Spa is well kitted out with seven treatment suites and a peaceful relaxation area. There is a Muay Thai boxing ring where resident martial arts expert Bright can put you through your paces. Guests can charter the resort’s magnificent motor yacht Major Affair, a 90ft Sunseeker, for laid-back day trips to explore the spectacular islands of the Andaman Sea. Or, for racier adventures, there is Siam Seas, a 36ft multi-purpose speedboat, good for snorkelling, diving or fishing.
Heinecke believes that, as well as a lifestyle investment, The Residences could provide a financial return, partly because the location is so rare. “I don’t think there’s anything quite like it. We don’t have much in the way of competition around here,” he says.
Heinecke adds: “Historically, I have seen prices in Phuket rise enormously; I’m thrilled I bought land here five years ago. It’s gone up every year, in spite of political problems. People are very happy here and there is a strength and family unity that is perhaps greater than in the US. I take a very positive long-term view of Thailand.”
For further information on The Residences by Anantara, visit www.residences-anantara.com