Monday, December 26, 2011

Holiday Inn Resort Phuket

Just came back from a 5 days vacation with my girlfriends and their families. The last time we had a holiday with them was about 6 years ago. That was before we got married, had children and of course, got busy. Hence, it was nice to be able to go on a trip again. One of my girlfriends had just given birth to her second kid three months ago so she was given the privillege of choosing the accommodation. Having a well-serviced accommodation is very important so we agreed on Holiday Inn Resort Phuket. Being an international chain and located right on Patong beach, we had high expectations. Afterall, we are paying about S$200 a night for the superior room.

Phuket is a short 1 hour and 30 minutes flight away from Singapore, which makes it a real blessing when travelling with young children. We have 4 children on this trip. Oldest being 4 years old and of course, 3 months as the youngest. Journey from the airport to the hotel took about 30 to 45 minutes.

Relaxing while waiting for the hotel transfer

The hotel is rather pleasant. There are two sections to the hotel - the main wing and Busakorn wing. We stayed at the main wing (cheaper) and the check in upon arrival was smooth. The staff was also very clear in her brief orientation of the hotel. Only 1 of the 3 rooms were ready at that time so we all squeezed into one room to unwind from the heat before heading out for lunch. Daddy and I found the superior room to be rather spacious, definitely bigger than some of the superior rooms we have stayed in in other hotels. Really good for the children. Toilet is also very spacious. Room was clean and as I found out later, housekeeping staff mops the floor everytime they clean our room. I was quite surprised because not all of the hotels we have stayed in would bother mopping the floor on a daily basis. Perhaps it is because the kids have dirtied the room so much that the ladies had no choice but to mop it. Opps. The only thing I wish was better was the toilet door. It is a sliding door with no lock. It made going to toilet a very stressful activity because the kids can open the door anytime.

Our room
Clean toilet

We checked out the children's pool and Kids Club after checking in. There are 2 kids pools, a 0.4 m depth pool for smaller children (both the girls could walk around in it with ease) and the other for older children, at a depth of 1m. The latter has a basketball rim for water activities.  The pool for the younger children comes with water toys so it made staying in the water more fun. They also have children tables and benches by the pool so the children can rest and snack. The Kids Club, which is just in between the 2 pools, is clean and painted with welcoming colors. Kids under the age of 5 have to be accompanied by an adult. If your child is above the age of 5, you may leave them in the Kids Club for free. This probably explains why the Kids Club was really crowded when we were there. On one occassion, loud music was playing while the children jumped around. It even took 15 minutes for Daddy to be attended by a staff. He was told by the staff to fill up the form and wait as she was busy. There were 5 staffs in the room at that time and one can imagine, how hectic things must be.

Loving the collection of soft toys
Kids' Club. We went early in the morning to avoid the crowd.
Making friends.
Professional Jamming Session
Ample water toys, yes, including a plastic doll.
Taking a break from the swim
Wild Slide Time

For the adults, the hotel provides guest activities everyday at different time-slots. Half of which need to be paid for.The well-established Aspara Spa is also located within the hotel. Then again, there are a lot of cheaper options available outside the hotel if you are willing to keep a look out. I went for 2 separate massage sessions with my friends at this massage place called Let's Relax. The place looks very clean and decent, very much like a spa boutique. The massages are good and they are cheap too. 

Just walk out of the hotel from either one of the 3 exits and you would be on Patong beach.  Patong beach is famous among tourists and this translates to crowds. Store owners were shouting out to get the tourists' attention, hoping to clinch a sale or two. The deck chairs on the beach were occupied by the sun-lovers. You need to pay for the deck chairs, about THB100 each and you can spend your day away, getting baked by the sun.

The buffet breakfast was mouth watering enough to demand some extra hours on the treadmill at the comfy fitness centre. An array of juices, local delights, and typically western picks such as bacon, eggs, beans, and breads awaited us.

The night scene was colorful. Colorful lights came on, guiding the tourists, along the street stalls lined along the beach. Every now and then, you can see colorful firecrackers bursting forth in the sky. You can also write your wishes on lanterns and set them off into the sky. We tried some local food and they were rather yummy. There was this one stall sending fried worms and cockroaches but we did not have the stomach for that kind of delicacy. That aside, we ate out for most of our meals. Food was cheap and for 10 of us, we spent on an average of about S$30-40 each meal. And mind you, we ordered a lot of dishes. Most of the restaurants and eateries we went to have high chairs so that was a plus.

Trying on Mummy's sunglasses
More food...
On the local public transport - Tuk Tuk

We treated ourselves to the hotel grill buffet on the second night. The spread was stocked with all sorts of meaty treats, from the juicy beef, seafood, or grilled veggie kebabs to light beef steaks, hamburgers, and roast meat. The usual buffet sides were also not to missed: ice creams, smoked fish, fruits, and local flavours. For about S$30 per person (kids under 12 eat free), the yummy buffet was a steal.

Excited about the food

On the last night, we realised we had not yet used the complimentary coupons for our 'welcome' drinks. They were redeemable for non-alcoholic drinks at any of the resort's restaurants. We ordered juice smoothies at the Charm Thai Restaurant in the exclusive Busakorn Wing. The restaurant boasts a wonderful ambience of dim lights and neon coloured table lamps.

Stay was great and the kind staff made the stay even more pleasant. Still, we would opt for somewhere quieter, like Karon beach, the next time we visit. Nothing wrong with Patong beach. It is just that we would prefer somewhere with less visual stimulation for the children. (There are a lot of pubs at Patong beach). However, if you prefer shopping and are for the nightlife, Holiday Inn resort Phuket puts you in a very good spot for the action.

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