Iniala Beach House, Thailand

A three-starred chef puts Phuket on the global fine-dining map.

The most logical place to locate Iniala Beach House, Thailand's newest and most lavish retreat, would have been on Phuket's flashy "millionaire's mile" at Kamala Beach. But the flamboyant 10-bedroom seafront property is an hour's drive north along the Andaman coast, in the farming village of Baan Natai. Opened in December, the resort is the latest project of British philanthropist Mark Weingard.

Phuket isn't really considered a fine-dining destination, so it's also surprising that Iniala's restaurant, Aziamendi, is the first overseas outpost for one of Spain's hottest young chefs, Eneko Atxa. At 35, he's the youngest chef in Spain to receive three Michelin stars. Atxa eschewed the glitz of San Sebastián for a rural idyll in 2005 when he established Azurmendi in the mountains close to Bilbao.

In a similarly left-of-centre move he chose Phuket rather than Bangkok for his first offshore project. Atxa and his team - chef de cuisine Alex Burger, formerly of Daniel in New York, restaurant manager Behzad Davarkia and sommelier Fabien Etienne, both from Heston Blumenthal's Dinner in London - have devised a Thai-influenced Basque menu, served in a striking restaurant designed by Spanish architecture studio A-cero under a ceiling of timber waves.

Atxa, known for his playful creations, says his techniques at Aziamendi are simply tools to serve the ingredients, which are seasonal and sourced locally. "In Bilbao, our food is influenced by the environment around us - the mountains, the sea, the four seasons, the fresh produce in the markets," he says. "In Thailand, we have the sea right here, mountains nearby, different seasons and so much beautiful produce."

A minimum three-day "Gastronomy and Spa" package, including transfers, driver and vehicle, butler, chef, housekeeper, meals and spa treatments, costs from $11,500 per couple. Aziamendi is open to guests and non-guests; a 14-course tasting menu costs $250.


Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
Louvre Abu Dhabi opens
Three of the best Italian villas with views
Inside Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa
World view: Weligama Bay, Sri Lanka
Welsh summer cabins inspired by myths and legends
Three of the best ski lodges in Colorado
The Gourmet Traveller podcast

Each fortnight we round up the most interesting characters from the food world for your listening pleasure. We chat to chefs, cooks, authors, bar tenders and baristas - anyone who has something new and interesting to say about the way we like to eat and drink.

Recipe collections

Looking for fresh dinner ideas? Not sure how to make the most out of seasonal produce? Or do you need to plan the perfect party menu? Our recipe collections have you covered.

See more

You might also like...

Best of Italy

Rome, Florence, Naples, the Amalfi... the list of our favour...

Best New Hotels 2009 slideshow

We’ve got the keys to the most fabulous new hotels in the wo...

Burgundy, France: Top soil

“Water can rust iron. Imagine what it does to your insides. ...

Bali's new high

It’s no secret that recent times have been tough for Austral...

New South Wales South Coast

Unsung hero Flashier holiday spots may steal the limelight, ...

Gourmet Barcelona

From the city's best sandwich bar to its favourite charcuter...

Greece's Mani peninsula

Greece’s rugged and bloody Mani peninsula was once a no-go z...

Venice in pictures

Read our story on what to do if you only have 24 hours in Ve...

Great Brittany gallery

Take a walk on the wild side. Follow Brittany’s windswept co...

South African safari lodges gallery

Travelling from the Great Karoo to the Kruger, Emma Ventura ...

Iceland photo gallery

Erase the images of that volcano with the unpronounceable na...

Happy holidays

They’re following the sun and chasing the snow, staying clos...

Kyneton and Castlemaine

Kyneton and Castlemaine were born out of the gold-rush era, ...

Insider's guide to Manly

Breath of fresh air The classic Sydney beachside neighbourho...

The best of New Zealand

Choosing from the bounty of New Zealand's holiday destinati...