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“Brunch upon a Time” with Richard Pope at Kata Rocks

Kata Rocks
Kata Rocks, Phuket

by Baz Daniel…

“Once upon a time, on a stunning tropical isle ringed by azure waters and thronged with beautiful primal verdancy, a gorgeous young maiden sunned herself beside a luxurious infinity pool within the grounds of a perfect waterside resort!”

Such is the opening of many fantastic fairy-stories, totally alluring, yes, but also totally unbelievable. Yet, last Saturday I found myself dining poolside at a gorgeous brunch, surrounded by beautiful maidens and their tanned escorts in a super-luxe resort that exactly fits the bill for such a fantastical fairy-story. Far from being the stuff of fantasy, this was in fact at Kata Rocks’ eighth anniversary poolside brunch and it was as wonderful in reality as any fairy-story could possibly have been.

Leaving behind the recently resurrected chaos and aggression on what remains of Phuket’s roads, I entered the stunning white hillside Camelot that is Kata Rocks, with its luxurious villas cascading down the steep hillside to the poolside on the gorgeous rocky headland between Kata and Kata Noi beaches.

Kata Rocks is a quintessential vision of tropical perfection with every facet of its design breathing elegance and sophistication and I felt a distinct sense of entering a beauteous oasis or sanctuary, geographically close to the hot streets of Kata, yet somehow a million miles removed from the chaos outside.

A simply irresistible buffet, which fairly groaned with the weight of its delectable cuisine, was being set upon by throngs of happy and boisterous guests; beautiful people frolicked and danced poolside overlooking the gorgeous Andaman waves beyond; talented musicians, singers and dancers caroused and played; somehow even the sun blazed from a peerless blue sky after all the rains we’ve endured, while cascades of the most enlivening libations imaginable fueled the proceedings.

It was clear even this early in the day that this was going to be the unrivalled start of Phuket’s long-delayed High Season and that the abundant guests planned to make up for the pandemic-induced postponement of their hedonism in no uncertain terms.

I joined a smiling Richard Pope, CEO of Infinite Luxury the developer of Kata Rocks and the magician behind all this fairy-tale magic, at his table surrounded by many happy guests. We’d had the chance to catch up exactly a year ago at last year’s somewhat muted anniversary event during the pandemic, so I asked Richard about the return of Kata Rock’s super-luxurious ‘new normal.’

Richard said, “Obviously we’re seeing a huge uptick in arrivals into Phuket right now and with big increases in airfares and the general cost of travel, many of these returning tourists tend to be in the upper end of the market, which is our target group. I think we’ll possibly see a reduction in the three-star level of tourism, which is being squeezed by costs, but the luxury sector is seeing a huge unleashing of pent-up demand.”

Certainly, looking about me at the rising intensity of the partying going on around this beautiful headland oasis, ‘unleashing’ seemed to be proceeding at full throttle!

“What about the cost-of-living crisis?” I asked, “Won’t that take a lot of the steam out of the returning tourists’ ability to spend?”

“We’re finding that there’s a distinct sector of the market who seem to be quite insulated from the cost-of-living crisis and many of our loyal repeat visitors and owners are a part of that cohort. Strangely perhaps, the super-luxe end of the market is not a bad place to be when living costs and wages are under stress.”

Kata Rocks will once again host their highly successful Superyacht Rendezvous this year from December 8th to 10, also with a repeat of last year’s fun-filled round-the-island speedboat Poker Run event on Sunday 11th. A stellar guest list of yacht owners, trend-setters, builders, industry professionals, yachting and lifestyle media and VIP guests all interested in the yachting and luxury lifestyle will once again throng and cavort at Kata Rocks (and occasionally even take to the water!) during the course of this fabulous event.

When we’d met last year, Richard said, “I see the 2021 event as a great opportunity to take fabulous images of Kata Rocks, plus the Andaman yachting environment and the Superyacht Rendezvous itself and get them into the media, so that next year the luxury-seeking international audience, who will be so very keen to travel again, will come flocking back.”

Prophetic words indeed, from Phuket’s resident magical master of luxury and hedonism… exactly what our island needs to bring back all those well-heeled international jet-setters to help rebuild our fairy-tale dreams!

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