Given a choice I wouldn’t have chosen Phuket because we’ve been there a number of times already, their beaches aren’t fantastic, the shopping is the same old stuff that is probably all made in China, and many resorts are too secluded from anything else if you want a little variety. This trip was only planned as part of an extension of a conference that the hubby was attending at the Le Meridien Phuket, but a holiday is a holiday nonetheless.
We first stayed at the Marriott Mai Khao Beach Resort‘s 2-bedroom apartment, which is a lovely estate, and I really liked having a service apartment with mini kitchen and washing machine, since the kids go through a couple of milk bottles and many many shirts a day.
The resort also has a decent size kids club, a lovely very shallow kids pool which was perfect for Abacus, and the Zest restaurant had really decent fare (much better than the neighbouring s Marriott Cafe) despite a smaller spread. The major drawback, though, was that it was super inconvenient to get to the beach, so it was tiring and the beach wasn’t fantastic, although that’s pretty much typical Phuket. ‘
We also frequented the JW Mariott, since it was just a stone’s throw away (by shuttle bus), and had a much larger pool and was beach front. They have a much larger kids club. And we drove to the amazing Tesco Lotus in Thalang (just opened early Oct!) for supplies.
From Mai Khao we went to spend a night at the Le Meridien Karon, which we really loved. It’s architecture is so dated (70’s) it actually has a retro charm, and we loved the refurbished rooms which looked nothing like the exterior. I also loved the kids pool which has a little canopy making sure there was some shade at any time of the day, and for the adults their pool (or pools?) are amazing in size. The beach was absolutely lovely – fine powder sand and no more than 50 metres or so from the rooms, and locked in a private bay so it felt a lot safer since the waves are pretty strong. And a baby elephant which comes twice a day, although he’s so tiny, maybe 1.5m at the most, I wonder whether he should really be with his mother instead. They also have a pretty decent kids club, but as we were only there for 1 night we didn’t have time to do anything.
This time round was a little more fun though, we rented a car so it gave us a little more freedom with exploring the surrounding areas, since taxis and even tuk-tuks can be either expensive or troublesome. And with the GPS, (Garmin, no less) it was a breeze getting around. Mai Khao is a very easy drive from the airport, which gave us some time to get used to the car and the roads. There is actually quite a bit to see, that the usual 4D3N will not suffice to cover. Now that we’re accustomed to driving around there, we might be more inclined to return for another holiday.
Conclusion: Stay at Marriott Mai Khao only if you’re not keen on the beach, otherwise stay at their other 2 properties at Mai Khao (JW and the Marriott Phuket Beach Club), or stay at the Le Meridien for their lovely facilities and really fine powder sand beach. We have stayed at a few other places before, including Club Med Phuket (twice!), but Le Meridien really stood out.
And drive! But maybe not so soon, I need a holiday to get over this holiday first, and I hope I don’t have to get on a flight with Abacus for another good 6 months when he’s older and more manageable.
We also referenced Jamie Monk’s blog for some To-dos in Phuket that weren’t your usual sleazy stuff.