Luxe Thai resort Point Yamu by COMO draws on the talents of Italian design star Paola Navone
BY SOPHIE DAVIES
When we heard that new Thai island getaway Point Yamu by COMO was upping the luxe factor on Phuket we were excited. When we realised Italian design whizz Paola Navone was behind the interiors, we started planning our holiday…
Walk into a COMO hotel – in Bali, Bangkok or Bhutan – and it’s the fragrance that hits you first. Throw in simply sleek mod-Asian styling, invigorating spa products, delicious food and some naughty-but-nice cocktails and you have the recipe that’s made founder Christina Ong’s escapes among the world’s most coveted.
Perched on Cape Yamu, on Phuket’s secluded east coast, COMO's latest style sanctuary overlooks the Andaman Sea and Phang Nga Bay’s jaw-dropping limestone karsts. 'Point Yamu is on a peninsula with water on three sides,' says Navone. 'The light and views are incredible, so they were the starting point.' She describes the project as 'still warm out of the oven,' and was delighted to take on her first hotel design challenge. 'I also liked working in Asia very much.' Although Belgian talent Jean-Michel Gathy took the architectural reins, the hotel feels like it was built from the interior design out, with Navone creating everything from coffee cups to side tables. The result is as uplifting as it is inspiring.
Colourful yet uncluttered, contemporary yet indigenous, the look manages to be both minimal and relaxed. 'It's about building a resort where you feel soft and not stressed by anything that surrounds you.' Navone’s signature skill with colour and materials, and ability to create a laid-back mood through graphic furniture and tactile accessories, is much in evidence. Hits of blue and aquamarine in bedrooms – from oversized headboards to ceramic sidetables, lamps and vases – recall the sea and sky, with striking cobalt tiles adding indulgence to bathrooms. Cool white, pale wood and tranquil grey form a soothing backdrop, with bold orange bringing warmth to public spaces. Quirky touches come care of intricate-edged mirrors, flocks of plates on walls and many-faced ottomans, with Navone's beloved flowers everywhere. 'Whatever we liked that can make people happy.'
Thailand is 'a paradise for sourcing materials, crafts and design solutions,' says Navone. 'You can find a factory producing industrial tiles – very modern and sophisticated – or small workshops that do simple, beautiful bowls.' She covered entrance columns with broken ceramic ('probably the most popular material in Thailand'), and used a big chunk of carved wood from the country's north as a lobby sculpture. Ceiling graphics were inspired by Thai calligraphy, the imperial craft of weaving rattan was harnessed for walls, and old Thai roof tiles were used to create a fishscale-esque feature wall in the restaurant (both cutlery and the aquatic-hued tableware was commissioned locally). Balloon-like lampshades took their cue from native crab and lobster traps, and Navone even encouraged one gold-leaf artisan to sing while he worked, to achieve her desired wall effect. Chinese furniture and Burmese lacquer bring pan-Asian flair, with cheery elephant figurines to remind guests where they are.
Naturally, outdoor furniture expert Navone, who is Italian brand Gervasoni’s art director, gives good sunlounger. 'The pool is my favourite place. You can read a book semi-submerged with your drink in the shallow end.' Alongside the glittering 100-metre infinity pool, Point Yamu spoils guests with a COMO Shambhala Retreat spa (including a yoga studio and healthy organic Glow menu), buzzy bar Aqua, great diving and a private beach. Thai street food and Italian restaurants Nahmyaa and La Sirena also beckon, overseen by Australian executive chef Daniel Moran. Most of the 106 rooms, suites and villas have view-blessed decks, while selected boudoirs boast private pools. Come on in – the water's lovely...