Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket

We went on our first family trip when our first child was 8 months old. Even though I was looking forward to the break, I was apprehensive. 'What if she cries on the plane? What if she doesn't sleep well and gets cranky? What if she disturbs the guests in the hotel? How to entertain her when all her toys are at home?' Enough questions asked. You get the point. It just seemed so much easier to stay at home and avoid the stress. Yet, I was determined to brave it. I did a lot of research online, read other parents' reviews of places and hotels and even studied the destination maps of potential holiday spots.

I decided to focus on a few things for a start. First, the plane trip had got to be short so as to avoid major meltdowns. Second, the timing of the flight should be taken into account. It is important to choose a time when she would be happy and less likely to cry and throw a fit. Third, a child friendly airline and last but not least, a child friendly hotel where things like kids' pool, baby cot and even kids' meals would be of much help when needed.

We decided on Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket for our 4 days 3 nights stay. 2 main reasons why we chose the hotel. We wanted one that was not too expensive and there was a promotion during the time we went. We wanted a reputable hotel so that we could have the peace of mind that everything would be taken care of efficiently.

On the day of departure, we went to Changi Airport Terminal 2 early so as to avoid added stress from the rush. Terminal 2 has a family corner with playground, nursery room and a well-padded corner for small children and babies. Needless to say, our dear baby had a great time crawling around. Hot water is also available in the nursery room so that made warming up her pureed food a breeze.

Playing with 2 other girls at Terminal 2 Family Corner
We flew by Silkair and I had to admit that the flight there was rather challenging. We had to deal with the change in pressure during the take off. Baby was crying and I was trying to coax her to drink her water so as to reduce the pressure in her ears. She was crying a lot and no amount of smoothing could do. When she finally stopped, it was quite a relief. It really helped that the air-stewardesses were all very kind and understanding. They assured me that it would be over soon and crying actually helped to reduce the pressure in the ears. We were given front row seat because of the infant bassinet but as my daughter wasn't sleepy, one of the stewardnesses removed it so that we could have more space.

We hired a cab upon arrival and were whizzed to Dusit Thani promptly. Cab fare was rather cheap and it was nice chatting with the taxi driver. The journey took only about 20 to 25 minutes from the Phuket International Airport. The hotel is located on Bang Tao Beach, away from the popular Patong Beach. It is located alongside a lagoon and together with a few other luxurious hotels, it formed a mini 'village' around the lagoon. We were there in 2008 and Sheraton and Allamanda were 2 of the 5 hotels around the lagoon. Laguna Holiday Club was being built at that time so I supposed, the whole place must look very different now. A internal bus shuttle was also available so we were able to go to the 5hotels and use their facilities. We only visited Sheraton Hotel so I can't say much about the rest of the hotels. The beach at Sheraton was huge and clean...a great place for sandplay.

Dinner at Sheraton Hotel
The stay at Dusit was very comfortable. Room was made twice a day (as I found out from friends later that such service is actually expected of a 5 star hotel) and it came in really handy as the room would be in such a mess by mid day. It was nice to be able to sleep in a neat room with a sweet message on the bed, wishing us a good rest. The service staff was very obliging with my requests. I asked for an extra hot flask, towels and pillows and they were delivered very quickly.
Restaurant at Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket
The kids facilities are also commendable. They have an outdoor playground with baby friendly swings, an indoor kids' room with many soft and child friendly toys. Even the big table in the room has rounded corners. The kids' club organizes activities for children 4 yrs and above so I did not make use of their services. We did spend a lot of time in the playroom though as we went from toy to toy. Baby was simply overjoyed.
 Laughing so heartily whenever she was in the swing.

Spoilt for choice

My own spot
The swimming pool has a wide shallow end so it was easy to just sit and splash the time away.

No prize for guessing who's the water babe
A baby elephant visits every early evening so it was quite a pleasant sight. It was my daughter's first encounter with an elephant. Her eyes shone with such curiousity. Just thinking about me made me amazed at how babies can observe and learn.

All in all, my stay was great.

Total cost of trip: Air tickets - about $700. Hotel stay: about $500 including food. Not too bad I think. At least my first trip with baby went well, well enough for me to try exploring new grounds again.

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