Many of us have driven by the funky and colorful Dara Hotel near the Central Festival intersection in Phuket and wondered what it?s all about. TSM decided to check it out and see for ourselves.

The first thing you notice upon entering Dara is, of course, the colors. Colors, colors everywhere colors!! Vibrant shades of green, orange, red, blue, yellow, all thrown tastefully together to create an experience of creativity, aliveness, and energy. This hotel definitely has personality!

Hotel owner, Khun Katha Watcharapin (better know as ?Boat?) says his inspiration came from fascination with Legos as a kid. Most of us over 30 have at one time or another enjoyed these simple yet challenging multi-colored building blocks during our youth, but somehow we lose the playfulness and creativity of Legos as we get older.

K. Boat has managed to reawaken this creative spark in Dara. The Lego theme is prevalent throughout the hotel, with modern, straight, minimalistic lines giving the impression of being assembled from a rainbow of building blocks. There is even a set of Legos in the lobby from which guests and staff have built a myriad of Dara inspired creations. The colorful theme is present right down to the smallest detail, including the light fixtures, chairs, and even the complementary soap and shampoo bottles.

Rooms are offered in different color combinations and the creative schemes invoke a different feeling for each space. Warm, sexy, chic, cool, tropical, modern; there is something to suit everyone?s taste and mood. Many guests actually request particular colors when checking in, and even the layouts for the same room types are slightly different meaning a unique experience on every visit.

Dara isn?t just about colors, though, it?s also about comfort. No expense has been spared in the high quality spring mattresses, custom made oversized pillows, and top-end linen that offer 5 star comforts at 3 star prices. The most striking feature as you enter each room area is the vibrantly colored, seamless and shiny flooring which was poured using a special self leveling resin technology and has the feel of? walking on polished glass. The experience is made even more interesting by the thoughtfully selected modern lighting.

Other than the sensory candy, all the spacious rooms boast oversized fridges (convenient for those food and drink purchases from Central), LCD TV, custom built in furniture, wi-fi, hot water pot and kitchenette counter, central a/c, and surprisingly roomy walk-in robes. No more living straight out of your bag for lack of space like in a lot of hotel rooms we?ve stayed in.

Rooms come in 4 varieties: Studio, Junior Suite, 1 Bedroom Suite, and Honeymoon Suite. Some of the larger rooms include sofas and oversized bathtubs. High season Prices range from 1,600 per night for a Studio room to B3,500 for the Honeymoon Suite (inclusive of? breakfast, taxes, and service charge). Green season (surf season!) rates are even more attractive, ranging from B1,200 to B3,000.

Guests will find that the fun atmosphere extends to common areas as well. The huge, multi leveled pool is surrounded by long, padded sofas with colorful pillows allowing guests to unwind to the max. For sunbathers, there are deckchairs sitting directly in the water of the ?low tide? area of the pool making basking in the sun a more refreshing experience. Other features include an in-pool jacuzzi and a modern-design waterfall plunging directly into the inviting waters.

Not far from there, you?ll find Dara?s chic bar and restaurant as well as a comfortable meeting room available for guest use. Overlooking the pool and accessed by a spiral staircase is a wide open roof garden where you can watch the action below during the day or enjoy a good view of live poolside entertainment from above at night.

One hotel feature TSM found especially cool is a proper 3 wheeled Thai tuk tuk offered free for guests. What better way to explore Old Town in Phuket, go shopping, or hit the golf course than via an authentic, open aired tuk tuk?

K. Boat plans on adding more features to Dara in the near future including an acrylic stage that can be lowered directly into the pool offering a unique setting for live bands, fashion shows, and other parties and presentations.

Contrary to popular belief, the name ?Dara? (which can mean ?movie star? in Thai) has nothing to do with the hotel?s chic, hip, and trendy atmosphere. Nor did it come from the fact that the Central Festival intersection is also known as the Darasamut intersection (another nice coincidence). The hotel is actually named after K. Boat?s mother, K. Dararat.

K. Boat, who originally worked in the auto industry as an industrial engineer, was drawn to the hotel business by brothers, sisters, and cousins who were already involved in the industry in locations around Phuket. Their knowledge and support have helped K. Boat to realize his fantastic creation.

Having only opened 6 months ago, Dara is already catching on through word of mouth amongst businessmen and the young, hip, and trendy crowd from Bangkok and neighboring Asian countries. The hotel?s central location, being one of the best positions from which to explore ALL of the island, is also starting to catch the eye of Western visitors looking for a different experience from the usual Phuket beach resort.

TSM thinks Dara has all the ingredients for success: great prices, comfortable rooms, generous amenities, and of course, the unique, colorful, hip, and trendy modern living atmosphere. Definitely worth checking out on your next visit to Phuket.

Dara Hotel Phuket

14/18 Moo 4, Chaofa Road, Vichit, Muang, Phuket 83000
Tel:+66 (0) 7661 2846 to 49
Fax:+66 (0) 7661 2850




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