What It’s Like to Stay at Villa Mayavee, the First Mandarin Oriental Exclusive Homes in Phuket
A retreat on Millionaire’s Mile is now part of the hotel group’s curated properties collection.
BY Jen Paolini  |  May 3, 2024
9 Minute Read

Welcome to Checking In, a review series in which our editors and contributors rate the best luxury hotels based on a rigorous—and occasionally tongue-in-cheek—10-point system: Each question answered “yes” gets one point. Will room service bring you caviar? Does your suite have its own butler? Does the bathroom have a bidet? Find out below.

Mandarin Oriental Exclusive Homes welcomed Villa Mayavee into its growing portfolio in late 2023.

Describe the hotel in three words: Million-dollar views.

What’s the deal?

In late 2023, Mandarin Oriental Exclusive Homes welcomed Villa Mayavee into its growing portfolio of branded properties. As part of the exclusive programme, Mandarin Oriental hand-selects luxurious private homes around the world and swoops in to ensure the premises, service, amenities, and features are up to five-star snuff before stamping the property with its seal of approval, bolstering it with the international hotel group’s award-winning hospitality. Currently, Mayavee is one of only three such MO-affiliated villas in Asia-Pacific.

Named by a Buddhist monk during a blessing ceremony for the property’s construction, “Mayavee” is Sanskrit for “mesmerising.” Its modern design will certainly leave you captivated, if not its ideal location on Phuket’s Millionaire’s Mile, a stretch along the western coast that’s home to the city’s most expensive homes. Mayavee’s cliffside perch also means guests have unobstructed, front-row views to picturesque, warm-hued sunsets come eventide.

A 45-minute drive from Phuket International Airport, Mayavee’s indoor-outdoor design composition invites nature into the home, integrating the property into the jungle and mountainside. Comprising four bedrooms, six bathrooms, two dining rooms, multiple sitting areas, an infinity pool, a fitness room, a library and office, a fully equipped kitchen, and more, the multi-storey Mayavee sleeps up to eight guests, though its open-plan design and 1,200-square-metre living spaces can accommodate up to 20 in a social setting.

The master suite comes with a plunge pool with Jacuzzi.

The best room?

It would have to be the master suite, which comes with a sizeable private balcony, floor-to-ceiling windows, plunge pool with Jacuzzi features that is accessible straight from the bedroom, and rooftop terrace, plus some of the best views that look out across the waters and surrounding greenery as well as parts of the villa. It even has a separate dressing room with plenty of wardrobe storage. Although the other rooms in the villa are modest in comparison, each is similarly well appointed, and there are common spaces aplenty for lounging.

Villa Mayavee has multiple indoor and outdoor areas for lounging.

Did they greet you by name at check-in?

At Mayavee, there is no formal check-in process—the arrival experience is almost like coming home. Each reservation made through Mandarin Oriental Exclusive Homes, in collaboration with luxury home rental platform StayOne, includes thorough pre-arrival communication so the housekeeping team can become familiar with the travelling party before their stay begins, including food preferences, dietaries, guest profiles, interests, and so on. If you have previously stayed at a Mandarin Oriental hotel, the process is made even more convenient, as MO can simply refer to its existing records for likes and dislikes.

Was a welcome drink ready and waiting when you arrived?

No, we were greeted with cooling towels and a garland of flowers when we arrived. While the welcome drink was not waiting for us when we stepped out of the car, we were immediately asked what we wanted to drink upon arrival, and the bevvies were swiftly prepared and served to us while we were taken on a tour of the villa and the facilities.

The master suite comes with an outdoor lounge area as well as a rooftop terrace.

Private butler for every room?

More like a private team for the entire villa that you can turn to for anything you need. Five members of staff are allocated to the property to manage operations during each stay, including a villa manager, on-site chef, senior housekeeper and junior housekeeper, and a gardener-slash-engineer.

On regular occasions, two members of staff remain at the villa overnight during the guests’ stay, including the live-in junior housekeeper, so there’s always someone around. We have been told their official hours are from 7 am to 10 pm, though this can be adjusted to the guests’ needs if they require certain services outside of those times. Our experience with the housekeeping team was extremely pleasant; the staff members proved to be just the right amount of perceptive, approachable, and welcoming. We were well taken care of and attended to throughout the day and our various requests were promptly met.

Mayavee’s villa manager is also in charge of arranging activities, experiences, and services—guests can refer to the villa guidebook for details on spa treatments and fitness classes; tours to nearby attractions such as beaches, islands, and national parks; private yacht charters, cruises, water-sports rentals, and excursions to golf clubs; as well as babysitting and car hires.

Villa Mayavee comprises four bedrooms, each with a different layout.

Is the sheet thread count higher than 300?

Exactly 300—all linens are domestically produced from 100 per cent local cotton.

Is there a heated floor in the bathroom? What about a bidet?

No heated floor—temperatures in Phuket are balmy year-round, so there’s really no need—but there are bidets in each of the four en-suites. From freestanding tubs to walkthrough showers and space galore, the bathrooms differ in layout and size, but they really do have it all, and the one in the master suite even overlooks the Andaman Sea, so you can enjoy the view while getting ready or enjoying a soak.

However, our favourite had to have been the guest bathroom in the main living space, a rectangular room dedicated to the super-smart Kohler toilet with a minimalist black bamboo installation to complete the serene lavatory visit. Is it an indispensable feature of the villa? Perhaps not. Did we enjoy using it anyway? 100 per cent. Going to the washroom has never felt more like an experience than a need.

Villa Mayavee’s master bathroom is attached to a covered balcony.

Are the toiletries full-sized?

Yes; the mandarin- and lemongrass-scented toiletries are full-sized and sourced from a local Phuket manufacturer aptly named Lemon Grass, which we are told supplies most other five-star hotels in town. Other bathroom amenities are Mandarin Oriental-branded.

Is there a private pool for the room’s exclusive use? How are the spa and gym?

Yes—a long plunge pool runs alongside the master suite, so if that is your chosen room, you’re in luck, though the slim dimensions of the pool make it more suitable for dipping your toes in and splashing around with a drink in hand than swimming laps. For everyone else, there is a much larger infinity pool with sunbeds, umbrellas, and oversized pool floats.

Meanwhile, the villa gym is decently equipped with a range of LifeFitness machines, free weights, and medicine balls, and it even comes with a steam room. Spa treatments can be had wherever you want it, whenever you want it—just request the service through the villa manager with some advance notice and they will arrange for the wellness therapists to come to the villa. (We recommend getting a stress-relieving massage on the covered balcony of the master suite, overlooking the Andaman Sea, with a lovely breeze in the air.)

Meals can be taken in the dining room, by the pool, or even on the rooftop terrace.

Is the restaurant worth its salt?

Bien sur. In-house chef Po’s culinary skills are Mandarin Oriental-approved, and what he can cook is a long laundry list of dishes and cuisines that takes up over 20 pages in the villa’s menu booklet. From pancakes and eggs your choice to satay skewers, fresh spring rolls, fermented pork sausages, pomelo and papaya salads, larb, stir-fries, grilled meats, curries, noodles, rice, tom yum soup, mango sticky rice, and local-style banana fritters, there is a comprehensive selection to choose from. Western-style salads, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, pizza, barbecued dishes, and desserts can be had as well. Dietary needs and allergies can be catered to, of course, as well as special requests.

We had a hankering for hash browns to go with our breakfast spread and informed the housekeeping staff the evening before—the next day, a platter of homemade, grated potato pancakes, similar in shape and appearance to latkes, appeared on the table, and they were simply phenomenal. Meals can be taken wherever you like—by the pool, in the dining room, or even on the roof terrace.

Spend the evening on the rooftop terrace for the best sunset views.

Do you want to spend Friday night in the lobby bar?

Well, this is a private villa, so there is no lobby bar—or rather, anywhere on the property can become a lobby bar, if you so wish it. We think that sundowners on the villa rooftop is tough to beat, so that was the spot from which we viewed the fabulous sunset one late afternoon with wine from the villa’s selection and homemade canapés. Another evening saw us basking in the warm, orange twilight from the comfort of the pool lounges, clinking fresh fruit juices.

The infinity pool overlooks the Andaman Sea.

Would you buy the hotel if you could?

Absolutely. Quiet, secluded, and with neighbours so far away that you can hardly see or hear them, this is your own little slice of tropical heaven if you are seeking a pampered Phuket getaway replete with warm hospitality and lazy days by the pool to revive you from the rapid pace of urban life. In fact, most guests tend to stay at Villa Mayavee for anywhere between a week to three weeks—that’s how much this place feels like home, and that’s the point.

Score: 8

What Our Score Means:

1–3: Fire your travel agent if they suggest you stay here.

4–6: Solid if you’re in a pinch—but only if you’re in a pinch.

7–8: Very good. We’d stay here again and recommend it without qualms.

9–10: Forget booking a week. When can we move in permanently?

All images courtesy of Mandarin Oriental.