Phuket's Indigo Pearl is now The Slate. Hotelier Prakaikaew Na-Ranong, heir to Thailand's tin-mining pioneers, reveals her vision for its design
Perspective first travelled to Indigo Pearl, Phuket, in 2012 and found a delightful resort cleverly crafted by architect Bill Bensley. Its beautiful industrial chic interiors had been inspired by the history of the property's owners, the Na-Ranong family, noted as pioneers of the island's tin-mining industry. Five years on, the family plays a pivotal role in Phuket's all-important tourism business and has plans for further growth.
The privately owned beach resort was recently renamed The Slate, after the stone often found alongside Phuket's tin deposits. According to Prakaikaew Na-Ranong, who co-owns the hotel with her father Wichit Na-Ranong, Phuket's Father of Tourism, the name is a nod to the past. "We decided to evolve and connect the brand name directly to the design and tin mining history of Phuket," she says. "The new name goes deep into the root and soul of the island, while hospitality today is about creating unique guest experiences where design and business are moulded together as one element."
In the shift from mass-market to upmarket, Phuket's hoteliers have been reinventing the island as a lifestyle destination, with beachside hideaways, private villas and the like. In keeping with the new direction, the Na-Ranong family sought a designer to whom they could give carte blanche for the entire property — from the landscape to the architecture, interiors and more. Bill Bensley, a close friend of the family was the man for the job.
"To me, good design is what strikes you at the first impression and lasts in your memory. A good designer is someone who always thinks out of the box and pushes boundaries. But of course, we have to get along," Prakaikaew says practically.
Bensley's design for the renovated hotel is one-of-a-kind. It incorporates elements of Phuket's tinmining past, as well as the local way of life, not only through its design but also staff uniforms, the food and drinks, and other elements. Bensley adopted the industrial-chic concept with applied Thai elements, using mainly raw cement, blackened stainless steel and dark wood. Black Ginger, the property's stunning Thai restaurant, is set in the surroundings of a traditional garden and accessed by a raft ride. Customised Ayutthaya houses built with charred wood are accented with cobalt-blue tiles on the ceiling and stainless-steel accessories to give the decor a modern twist.
This is an excerpt from the “Set in stone" article from the Jul/Aug 2017 double issue of Perspective magazine.
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