- I got an inside look at two villas on the Thai island of Phuket.
- While they were listed at similar price points, they offered very different takes on island living.
- The $7.9 million villa had a gleaming, ultra-modern feel to it, while the $8.6 million villa was timeless and sanctuary-like.
Phuket, Thailand’s biggest island, is flush with villas: In the past decade, the Southeast Asian island’s villa stock has more than quadrupled to a total of 4,000 luxury homes.
On a recent reporting trip to Phuket, I followed real-estate agent Norbert Witthinrich around for a morning to get a sense of the island’s luxury real-estate offerings. Phuket is only 13 miles wide and 30 miles long, and while the island is famous for its sandy beaches, the highways that traverse the island are often clogged with traffic.
I met up with Witthinrich on a weekday. He’s originally from Germany, has lived in Thailand for 25 years, and founded and runs real-estate agency Sea Property Group.
Witthinrich, I found, is punctual and excitable: We raced east across the island to the first villa, through it, then cut west across the island again to and through a second villa and back to his office, all in the perfectly timed span of two hours.
Here’s a look at what roughly $8 million can buy you on the Thai island of Phuket. Sea Property Group has both listings.
First up: A modern five-bedroom villa on the island’s east coast
Price point: 268 million Thai baht ($7.9 million)
The specs: 5 beds, 6 baths, infinity pool, indoor entertainment area, private beach access
The east coast of Phuket is less developed than the west, Witthinrich told me. We hopped into his car in Cherngtalay and headed for the east-coast development of Cape Yamu. The highway was a hectic scene, but as we approached the cape, I saw what he was saying: The highway gave way to ocean vistas, smaller roads, and a less-developed feeling. Fishing boats were tied up by the beach, and small shacks stood on prime oceanfront real estate.
The villa is part of a gated development, and after we passed the guardhouse, we parked in a very steep driveway.
“Step inside,” Witthinrich said, speed-walking ahead of me and throwing open the front door, “and let’s talk about luxury.”
The decor of the home was modern and maximal — think huge driftwood-inspired installations and matte black chandeliers. The house knows its biggest asset — its ocean view — and every room was designed to capitalize on it.
On the left side of the photo above, you can see the stairs leading downstairs to the entertainment area, some more bedrooms, and the pool.
Here’s a shot of the kitchen, which opens right up to a patio:
Here’s a final shot of the main dining area, this time taken with my back to the ocean, that shows off the room’s design:
Parting thoughts: It’s full of shiny surfaces and modern finishings and has a killer ocean view. One of the bedrooms is in a separate house. The kitchen is more of a coffee kitchen than a chef’s kitchen.
Next up: A Japanese-inspired villa on the west coast
Price point: 292 million THB ($8.64 million)
The specs: 4 beds, 4 baths, pool, movie theater, spa
In contrast to the gleaming surfaces of the first villa, the second had a timeless, wood-and-concrete theme going on. Like the first home, this villa, too, was designed to wow people with its greatest asset.
Here’s the view you’re greeted with once you enter the home’s gate:
Each of the small buildings on either side of the staircase has a bedroom, a bar, a bathroom, and a walk-in closet. The wood finishing was beautiful, and each suite felt totally private.
The villa is built into a mountainside, so the entrance is on the home’s upper level. Take the central staircase downstairs and you’ll walk right up to the pool. To the left is the kitchen and dining space; to the right is another living space and more bedrooms.
Parting thoughts: This villa felt like a sanctuary. The finishings were timeless and minimal. Each of the bedrooms was basically its own mini house. Also, I did not realize until now that a bar is exactly what I need in my bedroom.
An island take on luxury
Both units I toured with Witthinrich are in gated communities. The second villa is part of Anantara, a hospitality brand that operates hotels, villas, and spas, so in addition to the villa, you also get access to the hotel amenities. The villa I toured is one of 30 Anantara villas in the same development.
What struck me about both homes is that while they were impeccably manicured — the wild, undeveloped feeling of the Thai jungle lay just beyond the communities’ borders.
As far as the market in Phuket goes right now, the middle and top of the market are booming. After the pandemic slump, foreign buyers started picking up property on the island in late 2021 as Thailand relaxed border restrictions.
Witthinrich said that homes in the $100,000-$500,000 range were in high demand before the pandemic. Now, demand has shifted to a higher price range, with those — like the ones we toured — in the $2 million to $10 million garnering the most interest.
“I would say 80% of our clients, they’re looking for the dream,” Witthinrich said. “You want the house in Phuket, you want the pool in Phuket.”