We travel to get away from the hectic pace of life and to reconnect with our family. However when a family with diverse needs and age groups travels together, ensuring that everyone’s idea of a ‘happy’ holiday is fulfilled can be a tad challenging. Not so if you’re at the Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach. This gem of a beach resort, a mere 2 hours by flight from Singapore and a 15min ride from Phuket International Airport are what perfect holidays are made of.
A Bike that ‘Barks’!
Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach is located just a short 20 minutes drive away from the Phuket International Airport. Guests would be able to check in and find themselves either lounging at the pool or, like us, riding an old Russian steel bike with a local guide going through rural Phuket right upon arrival!
The cycling experience to me, was phenomenal – riding through rural ‘kampung’ roads, rubber plantations, rural schools, rice fields, buffalo pens and waving to local kids and their families then finally topping it off by riding along the seaside basked by the golden sunset with the tropical breeze from the Indian Ocean brushing through my hair.
The cycling tour, an optional tour from the resort, gave me an unexpected chance to relive my childhood days as a boy cycling through my Grandma’s village back in Perak, Malaysia. Even more special for me was that my daughter, Dana experienced it too, riding pillion with the tour guide, on the back of another Russian steel bike that has brakes that are so loud, they seem to ‘bark’ whenever used! In short, it was a ride back in time, discovering rural Phuket…with my daughter. Our short getaway got off to such an unexpected magical start!
Note: You’d have to be a reasonably competent cyclist to ride solo through the rural roads. Currently, there are no children’s bike so children will have to ride pillion with the parent or with the guide. This activity is recommended for kids at least 6 years-old and up.
Let’s take a virtual bike ride with us through rural Mai Khao, Phuket:
‘Mi casa, Su casa’ – My Home…is Your Home
Back in the room, Mommy and Buddy were enjoying the clean, bright and spacious room, taking a dip right outside the veranda of our Pool Terrace Family Suite. The Pool Terrace Family Suite has 2 adjoining rooms (one for parents and the other for kids). In a similar concept like that of Holiday Inn Resort Phuket, Patong, both rooms have their own amenities including bath rooms ,TVs and closet spaces. This way, both parents and kids can have their own privacy.
The children’s room’s pastel colour theme reinforces the laid-back, relaxed feel of the resort. The children’s bathroom is the most spacious we’ve ever seen, with a water play area inside! We appreciated that the children’s bathroom has windows so that parents can monitor whatever the kids do inside. Both rooms are appointed with luxurious beds, complete with thick plush bed linen and mattresses, perfect to catch up on precious sleep.
The rooms are refreshingly new, crisp clean and very comfortable to say the least. One wonders why we need to even step out at all!
Walk Out, Dip In:
Just right outside the verandas (yes, there’s 2) of the Family Suite, is a pool that runs along the exclusive pool access rooms. Here, families can lounge and swim whenever we like. It’s perfect for quality family time and perfect for our young Buddy to experience dipping into the pool with us, far from the other resort guests. The verandas provide ample space to dry our swim wear, towels, water play toys etc. Writing this makes me miss the pool access room already!
Join us for a virtual dip!
When Three’s A Crowd:
Right after cycling with the daughter and the wife’s dip with the son, it’s time for ourselves., we were enticed by the idyllic serenity of the whole place. For me, it was also a time to recount my amazing cycling experience earlier to Angie. Fortunately for us, it’s the Kids Club to the ‘rescue’. At the Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach, the Kids’ Club is big, featuring 5 distinct play areas:
1. Large Ball Pit – you can’t miss this, the star attraction of the Kids Club. Kids can literally have an ball of a time here with a low slide and a multitude of small colourful plastic balls. Even we were tempted to ‘dip’ inside but no, it’s only for the kids.
2. Reading Area – Kids can read, relax and ‘perch’ themselves inside one of these ‘shelves’ (almost like climbing up to a tree top). It’s strangely appealing for kids to retreat into this creative space.
3. Craft Area – This is for both parents and child, a place for all to do something ‘crafty’. Create all the crafty mess you want from a range of craft activities available here. We’ll feature this a bit later on.
4. TV and Media Area – Video games and movies are available here. The kids club holds a Movie Nights for the kids as it is opened till 9pm daily. This frees up Mom and Dads to enjoy a nice distractions-free dinner together on that special occasion.
5. Outdoor Play Area – Right outside this comprehensive Kids Club is an outdoor slide and playground area. All Kids Clubs should have an outdoor playground where kids can be free to roam, play, skip, hop, jump and enjoy some sunshine.
The Kids Club is staffed by a team of competent staff . They were friendly, warm and engaging and it was a bonus that they are so patient and accomodating too. How do we know the Kids Club was good? Easy, the kids refused to leave.
While the kids are meaningfully occupied, Mommy and Daddy roamed around the sprawling resort and the private beach hand in hand, freely. The sounds of birds chirping against the lapping sound of the waves put us into a relaxed mode instantly.
The main free form infinity pool in the resort is a short stroll away with unblocked view of the beautiful beach and the Andaman Sea. One can swim here all day but all too soon, evening drew near and parenthood duties beckoned.
Lured by the large trampoline at the lawn, Dana and I went in for a few jumps (to work up our appetite for dinner). We tumbled, laughed over and over again. Mommy was right outside with Buddy and laughed along. Holidays should be made of these – spontaneous laughter and unhurried moments.
Best of East and West:
Dinner was at J’s Café & Restaurant, one of the 2 main restaurants in the resort. Tonight, we enjoyed a semi-buffet which comprised of any main dish of our choice cooked according to our preferences – steak, ribs, lamp chops, pastas etc. We can then take our pick from the salad and dessert buffet. Naturally when one is in Thailand, one has to try its papaya and mango salad. They were so fresh and appetizing.
Our mains arrived – the meats were well-cooked and succulent. Flavours were retained with the spices and flavouring well-infused. What was truly enjoyable was that it was cooked fresh in the open-concept kitchen!
To make our culinary pleasure complete, we sipped refreshing cocktails and sampled the decadent spread of Thai desserts. The coconut ice-cream was simply divine!
The restaurant staff was very attentive to the kids (both ours as well as those of other guests’). Children’s cutlery were readily given without us having to ask and they struck up conversations with the kids. A chef even prepared a healthy fish porridge for our 15 month old Buddy upon request . It was really tasty (yes, I had to try!)
The Night Is Still Young:
Walking back from dinner, we were drawn to an activity in the middle of the lawn – a popcorn movie night right under the starry sky! What novelty! Right in the central lawn was a large screen and at a short distance away, there were comfy little cabanas with people inside. A large speaker was in the middle playing scenes from the movie. It was magical, catching a movie below the stars. A perfect way to end our first day in this idyllic resort.
Rise and Sssstretchhhhh…
Sleeping-in is a luxury we relish on holidays but for this holiday, we decided to do something different. We woke early and joined the Sunrise Yoga on the beach.
Just before 7am, 2 adults and a 7 year-old were seen trudging their way across the beach to meet a lone Thai fitness yogi, waiting with all the mats laid out. Against the strong morning trade winds and the beautiful surfs, we couldn’t have asked for a more breath-taking location for our morning exercise. Our yogi was professional and patient especially with his 2 adult guests who were struggling to achieve some of the poses. Dana, being a 7 year-old, was far more nimble and flexible then her parents and was relishing this unique experience, giggling often. All in, we had such a memorable time, definitely worth waking up early for!
When One Good Experience Deserves Another
For breakfast, we returned to J’s Café and Restaurant where a good spread of international and local food is served. We particularly loved the Thai Noodle Soup, cooked fresh and topped with wantons, char-siew, shrimps and vegetables. We looked forward to dining at J’s since we had such a warm reception there the previous night. Today was no different. Service was brisk and friendly, food was readily replenished despite the larger crowd.
In fact, Dana was thrilled to walk into the colourful Kids Corner where a separate breakfast spread awaits the little ones! Our sociable girl made new friends and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with their company, right inside this cheery room. This exclusive buffet line empowered children to select their own food and drinks, something they are very pleased with.
Where Are The Kids Going Again?
Right after breakfast, Dana requested to go back to the Kids Club for more playtime. There were a range of crafts (such as wind chime making, coin bank painting and batik shirt printing) for them to do. For the next hour or so, Mommy and Dana teamed up to paint Batik tees alongside three other parent-child pairs. How meaningful. Over at the ball pit, Buddy was enjoying himself with one of their lovely minders. After the painting was done, we left both kids in the Kids Club and snuck away for a walk at the beach.
What? Cook My Own?
Yes, you heard it right. The hotel arranged for us to cook our own lunch. No, this is not a lapse in service but rather it’s another initiative for guests to discover Thailand for ourselves – a Thai cooking lesson for the family!
For the adults, we were taught how to cook quintessential Thai dishes such as Green Curry, Tom Yum Goong (Tom Yum Soup) and Papaya Salad. I must admit that it was quite daunting attempting to cook Thai dishes in full view of the Thai chefs but thankfully, the chefs were friendly, patient and speak good English too! Once the cutting and cooking started, all my inhibitions disappeared as the smell of the spices permeated the air and added to the air of anticipation.
Dana was not left out. She was tasked to make her own pizza lunch from scratch. The chefs taught her how to knead the dough then allowed her to chose her own toppings, spread them across before sending it into the oven. She was even given a short tour of the hotel kitchen! Soon, our lunch was ready. What joy! We savoured the dishes we cooked and they tasted extra “aroimak-mak” (yummy), thanks to the guidance of our chefs. The cooking workshop was thoroughly satisfying, a must-try!
Mixing It Up Even More!
Right after lunch, we walked to the bar next to the beach for our cocktail-making session where we were taught how to mix and match different types of liqueur and juices to make our favourite cocktails (such as the Mai Tai). The resident bartender demonstrated his own mix first and then guided us step by step. I must say that while looking at him mix, we appreciated the rigour of the cocktail making process even more! It certainly was not easy as each step must be precise to get the right taste and, importantly, right colour.
Dana had her hand on making the iconic Shirley Temple – named after the legendary red head child star. Like us, she held the ‘mixer’ for the first time and discovered how ‘tough’ it was to shake it till the ice disintegrated and the cocktail properly blended. Right after the vigorous session of mixing, we tasted our own creations. How marvellous to be relaxing by the beach and sipping away these self-made cocktails!
An Experience With A ‘Kick’
The next experience couldn’t be more unique. From learning to cook, learning to mix cocktails and now I get to learn something uniquely Thai – Muay Thai! Yes, your sporting parent and child pair here learnt some basic Thai martial arts while on holiday!
The 1 hour session saw us headed to the large indoor gym, don the Muay Thai gloves (they have a child size one! Impressed!) and went through the basic steps under the guidance of the Muay Thai trainer. Just when we thought it was just a series of kick and punches, it was much tougher. The execution of the moves and sequences are important. This made me appreciate the sport more. It was also good fun. We laughed as we ‘kicked’, ‘punched’ and ‘sparred’ with one another. Another memorable experience under the belt, literally!
The Knead To Relax:
After an event-filled morning, it was time to wind-down and ease into the rest of the day. We headed to the Tree Tree Spa which comprises of a series of huts in an exclusive enclave right in the centre of the resort. Similar to her sister resort at Patong, the spa here provides packages for kids from 5 to 10 years old too, including the popular princess pedicure and manicure.
When it comes to spas, we are after the holistic experience where our sight, sound, smell and touch are invigorated. True to their culture, the staff welcomed us warmly, making sure that our (and kneads) were met. At the end of the session, with a pot of herbal tea of our choice, our spa experience was complete. Aaaahhh…bliss.
The Last Wave:
Evening came and nature beckoned. When you stay in a resort nestled in natural beauty, it doesn’t take much to draw us outdoors…even if it’s after a subliminal massage.
Our little family of 4 took a short stroll to the beach. Rather than being ruled by the ticking clock, we decided to take in the rhythm of the lapping waves. Time is not important here, the moment is. We walked past the wide open lawn and headed towards the private beach – the same route we’ve taken countless times during this short stay but will never tire of. The sun was setting and casting its final rays for the day. The glorious hues of gold, blue, orange, yellow blended with the splendour of the sun’s last parting rays reflected against the sea. We stood there, transfixed at this mesmerizing view. As the sun finally hid behind the horizon, we walked back to the resort against the gentle sway of the pine trees, bidding a reluctant farewell.
The Italians are passionate about life and for the invigorating experience we’ve had here at Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach, we decided to have our last dinner here at Pesto, the Resort’s Italian Restaurant.
With pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven and pasta done al-dante, Pesto’s pampered our taste-buds with textures and flavours from its freshest ingredients. Nothing like a good Italian meal for good conversations to flow at the table. Wrapping it up were the unforgettable desserts. Sweet, smooth, tranquil – quite like the stay we’ve had in Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach. We find ourselves missing this resort and her people so much, even before our trip was over!
While beach resorts are aplenty in Asia, to find one where the entire family’s needs are all well-taken care of is rare. Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach fits the bill and more. Not only did we enjoy a slew of unique experiences, it gave us the chance to fall in love again with nature, with Thailand and with each other. To top it off, we brought home countless picture perfect memories. Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach are what perfect holidays are made of and this is the place we would love to return in a heartbeat.
Words seem inadequate to convey the beauty and marvels of this resort so we have produced this final home video to do the job. Turn up your volume and enjoy highlights of our stay at the Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach!
Holiday Inn Resort, Mai Khao Beach
81 Moo3, Maikhao, Talang, Phuket 83110, Thailand
+66 76 603 699
Thanks to our generous sponsor, we are giving away a 3D2N stay at the Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach to 1 loyal reader! To participate, do the following:
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Complete your entry by following the steps in the online widget here:
The giveaway ends 31 January 2016, 11.59pm and is open to readers in Singapore. The winner will be contacted using the contact particulars provided when entering this draw and will have 24 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be drawn. All incomplete and unverified entries will be disqualified. All entries will be verified before the winners are announced. Please not that all fake Facebook accounts (e.g. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will be disqualified.
- The prize is a 3 day 2 nights stay in a Pool Access Room (for couple), OR a 3 day 2 night in a Family Suite (for family) at the Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach.
- The prize includes complimentary breakfast for 2 adults and 2 children who are below 12 years old.
- The prize must be redeemed and utilized between 01 April to 30 September 2016.
- Subject to availability at time of booking.
- Please email the resort to book the room at least 14 working days before check-in.
- Prize is non-transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash.
- Air tickets and hotel transfers are not included.
- The sponsor reserves the right to change the terms without prior notice.