‘Excuse me sir, you take care of your children, let me take care of your bags’.
Never in all our travels have we heard such a statement from the hotel rep who greeted us at the airport. Sure, they are supposed to do airport to hotel pick-ups but this lady staff’s intention was not to load the bags quickly and bus us off to the resort. Instead, she put the kids’ welfare first. Such is the family-centric care that is so much within the fiber of this established resort which we will spend the next few days in. We’re impressed.
Coming to a popular destination like Phuket, Thailand sometimes can be ‘challenging’. There’s just so much to do in so short a time – with street shopping, shopping malls and then there are the beaches, the spa, the food or the lazing on the hammock. The list goes on and on…How do you ensure everyone in the family gets to do what they want and leave recharged?
During the September school holidays, we went for a short break at the Holiday Inn Resort Phuket and discovered to our delight, that though the resort is located right opposite Phuket’s famous Patong Beach and in the heart of the shopping district, it has ample space and facilities to ensure every traveler gets their well-deserved time to rest and reconnect!
Built on a sprawling compound offering 300 over rooms, The Holiday Inn Resort Phuket has rooms to fit every travellers’ needs. The Main Wing has rooms for families while the Busakorn Wing, with its traditional Thai décor, has villa rooms exclusively for couples and business travelers who want more privacy. Just a few steps out of the resort and your feet touches either the sands of Patong Beach or the streets of Patong, shopping for those quintessential souvenirs and savouring the exotic flavours of Thailand.
We were sold the minute we checked into The Family Suite which comprises of two newly-refurbished adjoining hotel rooms (one for the adults; the other for kids). The level of care put into designing the Family Suite is unparalleled.
The Family Suite
The children’s room is adjourned to the main room (with a door) so parents can have their privacy when needed but yet can keep close supervision on the kids.
Luxurious beds with thick lush quilts and colourful bed spreads: King Size for parents and 2 single beds for the kids, with both ‘soft’ and ‘firm’ pillows for all.
The room welcomes the kids with coloruful décor, soft toys, XBOX machine, DVD with a selection of children’s movies to keep them entertained and even a bowl of treats especially for kids (and the young at heart)!
Children’s bathroom amenities: talcum powder, body wash, shampoo etc. are all provided. The kids even have their own cute shower head and kid-sized bathrobes!
2 separate rooms mean 2 separate of everything : bathrooms, TVs, closets etc…So everyone has their privacy at all times. The only thing the Children’s Room does not have are the water kettle and tea making facilities, which is good as we do not want young kids to be boiling their own water and handling their own cutleries.
Both rooms are spacious and comfy. There is ample room for luggage, stroller while still having space for a bean bag, chaise lounge and even a wooden chest of toys. Amazing!
Something for Everyone:
Venturing out from our fabulous room we were amazed by the myriad of activities both adults and kids can be meaningfully engaged in either together or separately. Let’s start with the kids, for we know that once the kids are well looked after, the adults can be truly ‘free’ to enjoy the vacay.
For the Kids:
1. Kids Club:
The Kids Club here has a team of dedicated and friendly child minders providing recreational activities for children in a safe, home-like atmosphere. The Kids Club is designed around 2 sections: one section for the older kids and while the other is for younger toddlers and infants to toddle around. Both are housed within the same building.
Facilities aside, the activities are well-paced and engaging. During our short stay, Dana had lessons in balloon twisting, and even picked up common conversational Thai phrases, played darts and interacted with children of other nationalities in simple pool games. Most activities are complimentary and run by the competent Kids Club staff. There are also some fun activities where vendors are engaged for a small fee such as the ‘Zorb Ball’ where Dana tried walking on water for the 1st time (she liked it so much she didn’t want to stop!). The myriad of activities provided engages the kids meaningfully, allowing parents to enjoy a stress-free holiday. Lunch for the kids can be ordered from the Kids’ Menu at extra charge so they can spend the full day at the Kids Club.
Pools are a sure winner for kids and families on holidays. Outside the Kids Club are two separate pools for the kids – One for older kids, complete with natural landscaping and slide while the other is a shallow pool for younger kids to splash around under parents’ supervision.
This is the first we’ve seen. At the resort’s in-house ‘Tea Tree Spa’, there are massage packages customised for kids from 5 to 10 years old. Girls have an added option of having professionally done Princess Pedicure and Manicure, alongside their Mommies. A massage session is typically 30 minutes while the Pedicure & Manicure takes an hour. Dana enjoyed her 1st relaxing massage. It was not painful (in fact like adults, they even asked her if the pressure was ok). After that, just like a lady, she had her nails done. It’s a great experience to reward our daughter with!
For the Adults:
Now that the kids are meaningfully occupied, parents can freely enjoy each other’s company or have some ‘couple time’ with a variety of activities, all conveniently located within the vicinity of The Holiday Inn Resort Phuket.
1. Lazy Swims and Cool Dips:
Take a dip or enjoy a leisurely swim in any of the resorts’ two main pools. The one in the Main Wing is circular shaped and quite ‘happening’ especially since it is right next to two restaurants – Sea Breeze and Ristorante Terrazo. It is also close to the entrance of Patong Beach, perfect for a lazy post-beach or pre-meal dip.
The 2nd pool is at the exclusive Busakorn Wing, a short 3 minutes stroll from the Main Pool. There, the pool wrapped by the natural landscaping of the resort and is exclusively for adults only, perfect for parents to enjoy the serenity, far from noise and the family crowd.
We particularly enjoyed the pool at the Busakorn Wing for its lush, idyllic setting amidst the greenery adorned with classic Thai-styled landscaping. The bar in the middle of the pool provides the added convenience of ordering your Happy Hour drinks midway through your afternoon’s dip. Perfect.
The Resort also has a large 24 hour gym perfect for keeping to the exercise routine or just for a workout to ease any tension or jet-lag.
2. Pampering and Rejuvenating:
Tea Tree Spa offers a range of excellent massage and spa packages for adults. The Thais are famous for giving an invigorating, relaxing massages. So rather than trying your luck at the street masseurs, let the team at Tea Tree Spa pamper you with the spa experience you deserve while in Phuket.
What we truly enjoyed apart from the ambience is the quality of the massage and the overall professional service. Never hurried, never intrusive, the masseuse ensured that the ressure were given to our liking and that every stroke and knead was done properly, firmly to give customers a relaxing massage. We were thoroughly rejuvenated by the massage experience.
3. Hitting the Beach and the Streets:
If venturing out to the streets or Patong Beach is in the cards, then The Holiday Inn Resort Phuket is the perfect place to be. Patong Beach, with all its beach activities and eateries, is just right outside the entrance from the hotel’s Italian restaurant, Terrazzo.
Take a short walk and exit from the Busakorn Wing and you’re at the shopping belt of Patong. Filled with shops peddling souvenirs, apparels, bags, knick-knacks etc…to spa and massage services, you would be spoilt for choice. One of Phuket’s main shopping mall, Jungceylon Mall is about 10 minutes walk from the resort. There we found more authentic branded items along with exquisite crafts and a wide array of eateries and fast food joints. We even enjoyed an exceptional glass of Thai Iced tea from a street vendor. Yum!
The Thai culture is synonymous with good food. A trip to Thailand is never complete without sampling some good authentic Thai food.
1. Charm Thai Restaurant:
Situated at the Busakorn Wing, this restaurant serves a good selection of Thai Cuisines and is also one of the hotel’s restaurants offering International Breakfast to their guests. With a name that means ‘Thai Bowl’, you would know what to expect from its quality of Thai food served here. The restaurant is also opened to the public who may stream in from the streets and Patong Beach.
Upon entering, the high ceiling with wooden beams stretching across makes one feel like I’ve entered the home of a Thai aristocrat. And I was right. The service was spot on. Along with the signature smile and warm service, the staff were also very attentive to details and able to engage the kids (dishing out toys and colouring materials to keep them occupied).
Food quality for dinner was very good and flavourful. Everything you would expect from a well-prepared Thai meal. Coupled with warm and attentive service, this is the perfect restaurant for a satisfying meal to end the day. (You may ask the kitchen to reduce the amount of spice to suit the children’s palate. The staff would be happy to do so)
The dishes we would recommend are as follows:
– Mixed Satay: Succulent, the sweet rice and the sauce stole the show!
– Phad Thai: Well-cooked and sweet.
– Massaman Ped Yang: Smoked Duck in Masaman Curry: Nice textured dish with a smokey touch. The curry lifts it up with its creaminess and spice.
– Goong Yang rad Kreung (Grilled Tiger Prawns with Curry Sauce): Large fresh prawns, grilled well.
– Goong Sarong (Crispy Fried Shrimps in Noodle Wrap served with Plum Sauce).
– Khao Phad Sapparot (Pineapple Fried Rice).
– Phad Pak Boong (Stir-fried Kangkung).
– Gaeng Kiao Wan Gai/Moo (Green Curry Chicken).
I accompanied my meal with a special cocktail (not on the list!) prepared by the supervisor – Called ‘Sooksun’, named after a previous manager that concocted this cocktail. It is served in a simple coconut. But within, the contents are filled with Rum and a blend of Malibu, Coconut Cream and Banana. It reminds me of a Banana Milkshake with a hint of coconut and topped mixed with Rum – nice , cool, playful!
The same menu is also available for lunch. We got to enjoy a larger variety of delicious Thai meal from the menu. For lunch, we would recommend the following:
– Pla Nueng Si Euw : Steamed whole Garoupa with Soy Sauce and Ginger.
– Gaeng Jurd: Clear Vegetable Soup cooked with Pork and Tofu.
– Of course, you should definitely try the local desserts, Mango Sticky Rice and Crepe with Fresh Mangoes topped with Coconut Ice-cream. Heavenly!
For Breakfast, it serves a wide spread appealing to the Western and local taste buds. In the salad room (there’s a cold room for salad), there are the cold cuts, pastries, fruits and, check it out, even Veggiemite – for those who love the Aussie spread!
Over at the main section, take your pick from the largely local spread of noodles, rice dishes and assortment of meat and veggie dishes. Along with different types of sausages, meats, cold cuts and an egg station which cooks eggs anyway you like it, fresh. The highlight would be the Kids Selection of sausages, hash brown and also being able to ‘make’ their own pancakes! Check out the cute cutleries too. It’s nice to know they take care of these details. The service there was friendly and prompt…and in the usual Thai style, a smile and warm service is never far.
Dave’s Recommendations: The spread is comprehensive and nice but these are the ones you wouldn’t want to miss:
– The Soy Drink…with the little dough sticks (‘You Tiao’) : Nice warm soy drink with small little ‘you tiao’ to soak it in – nice reminder of home while on holidays. My suggestion is to toast the ‘you tiao’ over the toaster then soak…whoa!
– Cheese Sausage: Just a tinge with the smoky taste with cheese oozing out. Shiok!
– Fruit Platter: This is Thailand, famed for their fruits such as mangoes and papayas. Go for the thick sliced mangoes in the morning and for the papaya, take it with a tinge of lime…subtle and sublime.
2. Seabreeze Restaurant :
Seabreeze is located at the Main Wing and serves breakfast to the guests at the Main Wing. The breakfast spread is almost the same as that at Charm Thai. The ambience is more resort, informal beach feel (after-all, it’s just a few metres away from the sea). The fact that it is situated next to the main pool adds that relaxed, casual vibe to the whole restaurant.
Service there is prompt and warm. One consistent thing we’ve noticed about the staff at The Holiday Inn Resort Phuket is that they like to engage children. It’s heartening to see them go out of the way to smile and interact with Buddy and Dana…we were quite moved.
3. Terrazzo Ristorante and Bar
This is a restaurant which, even before you are seated, you would know it’s Italian! Not because of its name only but the ambience it exudes, both from the location but mainly from its staff, particularly the manager Tony.
With a name like Tony and together with his build and personable qualities, Tony and his staff carries the passionate nature of Italians into the hearts of their patrons. The prompt and attentiveness of the staff is commendable, adding to the relaxed feel, a good blend of luxury (from its high quality food) and leisure. To add, the Food at the Terrazzo is exceptional. Here are what we sampled which left an indelible impression:
– Tuna Salad: chunky tuna with fresh garden salad bursting with flavour and texture.
– Quattro Stagione Pizza: their very own blend ingredients like of pepperoni, olives and cheese on a fine crust. Unmistakably Italian.
– Seafood Pasta: Done al dante with fresh seafood, very nice! Mama Mia!
– Sex on the Beach (Cocktail): Cheeky name but perfect for an afternoon lunch.
For Guests’ Conveniences:
The resort offers these extra wonderful amenities for their guests:
- The Self-Laundry Area: Equipped with 3 heavy duty washers, 3 dryers and ironing facilities, the self-laundry area is a god-sent. With B200, you get your laundry washed and dried at a 40 min cycle for each machine. Detergent is provided free there in that large, bright laundry room. We were very thankful we didn’t have to return with a full load of dirty laundry after such a relaxing holiday!
- The hotel provides a Mini-mart (opens from 8am-10pm daily) that sells toiletries, snacks and souvenirs to hotel guests at pocket-friendly prices.
- Wifi: Free Wifi is avalible throughout in the hotel (not only at the lobby). It was stable and fast.
The Holiday Inn Resort Phuket is an amazingly family-friendly resort. It is a large hotel that doesn’t stinge on service and quality. With its wide expanse, it offers everyone in the family choices to either be active or perhaps just to be relaxed and reflective. Its proximity to Patong gives an added advantage for guests who may want to indulge in that bit of activities in the vicinity. In short, it’s near but yet, so perfectly far. Thank you Holiday Inn Resort Phuket for this wonderful vacation!
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