Michelle was brilliant throughout
Fantastic holiday. Cannot praise you enough. Will ask you for help again next year. Cooper is brilliant
Every time we use you we are more than happy with the service
Looking forward to booking our next holiday next year
Great service and a quality delivery. Very happy.
Ellis was sensational and if I am ever in the UK again he would get my business!
Yet again, great customer service. I always feel secure and confident to book with DialAFlight.
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Excellent as normal.
Nothing too much trouble. Thanks for your professionalism and kindness throughout - much appreciated
You are amazing, please keep it up
Yet again Roray did not let me down! This was a multi trip and all aspects of the trip went according to plan. Will be booking my next trip soon.
From the consideration to book child meals to phoning beforehand to make sure all was fine with us, all excellent service
Had the most amazing holiday to Phuket, thanks for sorting it all for us
As always very good ,thank you ,
Great trip - everything went very smoothly and to plan.
Jude and team continue to provide an excellent service. We have no hesitation in returning to them for future holidays and continue to highly recommend them to friends and colleagues.
Have used you many times. Billy has never let me down.
Samuel was brilliant. Also every time I rang your staff were polite and courteous. Excellent service. Thank you.
Friendly, informative, relaxed, patient with my many questions. Have used before & will use again. Thank you.
Tristan was extremely helpful when booking my flights and found the best deals for me. He is a credit to your company. Would definitely use you again.
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A big thank you
Very happy with service
I always book with DialAFlight - a first class service
Perfect service - friendly people
Excellent as always. Really appreciate the fact that you give me a call a few days before travelling to check all is OK.
On my first full day at the Anantara Layan hotel, I’m told that lunch will be cooked by...me!
Perhaps this is pay-back time from dinner the night before, when the chef presented me with something I can only describe as edible art.
I had been faced with amuse-bouches of olives hung on a miniature tree; a plump, pink disc of yellowfin tuna tartare; seabass smoked with Jack Daniel’s, revealed with a flourish from under an opaque glass dome.
It transpires that Anantara, on the northwest coast of Phuket, does things differently.
To immerse guests fully in the local culture, a cooking school called Spice Spoons is offered - and you get thrown in at the deep end.
It starts with an 8am visit to the food market in the small, dusty village of Talang, a ten-minute drive away, with the hotel’s chef. The market is a cavernous covered space full of stalls selling everything from fresh seafood on ice to buckets of coconut cream, and displays of garlic, ginger, green papaya, mint and more.
There are containers of home-made red, green and yellow curry pastes, fragrant Thai basil and weird fermented cabbages.
The cooking class takes place at the hotel’s Dee Plee Thai restaurant, which overlooks the rest of the sprawling resort (comprising 77 villas and suites).
On the menu today are shrimp tartlets, green chicken curry and mango with sticky rice. Before I know it, I’m mixing batter for tartlet cases, marinading mini-aubergines in coconut milk and curry paste, and simmering the sticky rice (the trick is to ensure there is just a finger’s width of water over the rice).
Phuket is roughly the same size as Singapore, with a population of 600,000. It is under two hours away from a truly exquisite archipelago that includes Phi Phi Leh (where The Beach was shot), Khai (home to nothing but a bar) and an island nicknamed ‘Bamboo’.
A boat trip that takes in all these is the perfect way to get a flavour of what draws so many visitors. We speed across the turquoise water, passing giant granite islands covered in greenery, stopping off at Phi Phi Don, the larger sister island to Leh.
Pausing to go snorkelling near a reef among swarms of colourful fish, we then pull in to Pileh Lagoon, a body of crystalline, emerald green water surrounded by more hulking stone outcrops of the kind you see on postcards.
That evening, the head chef does the cooking, thankfully. He serves up a delicious soft-shell crab curry, a local dish called Khao Soi - a tangle of spicy, crispy egg noodles served with chicken, onion and lime - and a light coconut sorbet. Somehow, Thai food just doesn’t taste like this back home.
For a different island experience we also visit Layan’s sister resort, Rasananda, on the much smaller island of Koh Phangan. Its population of around 8,000 doubles once a month as hordes of partygoers descend on Haad Rin beach, to the south, for the infamous full moon parties which started here in the Eighties.
Apart from those wild nights, though, it appeals mostly to families and couples, while Phuket draws a younger crowd. The Rasananda is bang on the beach, but has all the design touches of an elegant resort: an infinity pool featuring a swim-up bar, spa and 64 villas and suites, each with their own private plunge pool.
Mine has a carp pond outside, and all have a free mini-bar. Everything seems to move at a different pace: slowly. But there’s plenty to do such as snorkelling or kayaking around the Ang Thong National Marine Park, which contains more than 40 tiny islands. And you can also go elephant trekking, commune with local monks, or indulge in yoga every morning on the sun terrace.
Yes, there is a cooking school here, too. And yes, I could sign up to perfect my Pad Thai - but I demur. It’s time to let someone else do the hard work.
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