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The ttgluxury Experience

island nearby, but the resort will also have

its own beach club in August. Reached by a 20-minute speedboat ride, it will have all the usual Como touches, such as spa treatments, healthy cuisine, a pool and impeccable service. Some of us discovered a little local beach of

our own when we were out for a bike ride. Some grandparents had taken a little brood of kids there for a quick swim; sucking on a mango, the baby of the group eyed us all up fiercely as we arrived on our bikes with funny helmets and pasty skin. The grandmother took to us a little more kindly, offering us a little mango each. Enjoying the ride was Julie Smart, owner of

Cannon Travel in Royal Wootton Bassett: “I loved it, even though I fell off in the rubber plantation as I was getting back on the bike. It was great to see the villages and I thought all the activities such as tai chi and yoga were brilliant, actually – there are so many wellbeing elements, which makes Point Yamu a very special place.” Daily yoga, pilates or tai chi classes are

offered free in the yoga studio at the Como Shambhala Retreat, where there is also a gym, outdoor plunge pool and relaxation area, seven treatment rooms where agents enjoyed jet-lag massages, and four Thai massage alcoves.

New arrivals As well as allowing agents to get to know Point Yamu, the ttgluxury Experience was also aimed at highlighting Etihad Airways’ daily flights to the island from Abu Dhabi which launched last year. As Clive Wratten, UK general manager for

Etihad, says: “The trip gave agents a first-hand experience, with the aim of helping them to promote and sell the first-class products and services we offer, both onboard and on the ground. This was an especially important opportunity to showcase our new Business Studio on the A380 aircraft, alongside the daily service from Abu Dhabi to Phuket, to a group of luxury-focused members of the trade.”

At Heathrow’s Terminal 4, the Etihad lounge is

home to a Six Senses spa, which helped some of the agents get a bit of pre-trip pampering before the night flight to Abu Dhabi. It’s also worth preparing clients that clearing security in transit in Abu Dhabi could take a while. “We were a bit surprised by the queues, but it

is a busy airport, I guess,” says Price. “I had never flown with Etihad before, but I had a very positive image of them as we use them a lot. In economy, I thought the service and comfort was one of the best I had ever experienced.” On the way home, those flying back to London

(instead of Manchester) got to experience the new Business Studio product on the A380s. Luke Skinner, who manages a small team of

Holidaysplease agents, says: “This was the most comfortable flying experience I’ve ever had and it compares well with business class on other A380s, with loads of space, fantastic service,

entertainment and food. When we landed, I drove four hours home, did a day and evening at work and went to bed at 11pm; I woke up refreshed the next day. Normally, after that length of flight I’d have struggled to keep going.” Another form of transportation sampled on

the trip was a beautiful yacht called Jaya, aboard which the group experienced Phang Nga bay, sailing from a marina just 30 minutes from the resort. The views got better and better, past James Bond island and endless limestone karsts – the guide pointed to one, telling us there was a hidden lagoon in the middle of it and within minutes, Skinner had disappeared into the sea to go and find it. “When I swam into it, it was bathed in sunlight and as I looked up, there were birds flying around everywhere and nesting up in the rocks. It was incredible,” he says. An intrepid traveller, Skinner has cycled the

length of Africa and also runs a cycle hire and tours business in Hay on Wye – in downtime on the trip, he was off on a bike exploring the island. “Thanks to all those bike rides and getting lost

a bit, I now have a much better understanding of the geography of the island, which will be a big help, especially as this was my first trip to Thailand,” he says. “I have already discussed Point Yamu with a client and lined it up for their next trip to Thailand.” All agents said they thought it was of one of

How to book it Operators featuring Point Yamu include Carrier and Lusso; rooms start from £159pn with breakfast. The cooking class costs 4,000 baht for two people, approx £76 ( Etihad Airways flies from London and Manchester to Abu Dhabi; flights from there to Phuket are daily. Flights from £573,


the best fam trips they had been on, or as Matt Price puts it: “Carlsberg don’t do educationals, but if they did…”

Pictured 1. Paola-designed detail at Point Yamu 2. The group enjoys their cooking class 3. Luke Skinner in Etihad’s Business Studio 4. Brian Telfer ready for a bike ride 5. The 100-metre infinity pool at Point Yamu 6. Old quarter of Phuket Town 7. Phang Nga bay boat trip 8. Open-air hallway at the hotel 9. Locals spotted near Point Yamu

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