In the name of our 16th anniversary, we went on our first family beach getaway last weekend. Yes, you read it right. It’s the first time we are traveling to a beach holiday destination. Because there’s only so much anti-ageing products can do, the Husb and I avoid the sun as much as we can as we grow older.
But like they said, everything changes when you have kids. We decided to give beach holidays a try and stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach which is highly recommended by friends traveling with young kids. Honestly, it’s hard to get it wrong with the kids when you give them a hotel room, swimming pool and a sandy beach. And we topped that with a suite with pool access!
Phuket was experiencing very high PSI levels of haze that affected even some of the flights on the day before our date of departure. I was in two minds about the trip but the Husb decided we should just go ahead. I prayed hard for good weather and packed masks, inhaler and all the medication we might need. Figured we could just stay in our room or the Kid’s Club should the haze persisted. Thankfully, we arrived to clear skies and excellent weather!
Getting to the Hotel
We arranged for a taxi from the airport which cost us THB600. Had a minor scare when the taxi driver drove us to some unknown place, left the vehicle, and a big-sized lady came into the taxi asking if we wanted to book them for our return ride to the airport. We politely declined even when she told us our hotel will charge us a higher transport fee if we get them to arrange transfer to the airport. Seriously, that is not the way to convince anyone to go back to you for your services!
I was a little wary of the driver when he returned after the lady left. Fortunately, we didn’t have to hide our uneasiness from the kids for too long as the hotel was just a 20 minute drive from the airport. When we reached, we were reminded of the Thais’ hospitality with a warm welcome by their friendly staff and Resort Manager!
Knowing our kids would definitely squeeze with us to sleep, we booked ourselves the Junior Suite instead of the Family Suite. The room was a good size for us four. The shower area is huge, which is a good-to-have when we bathe the kids.
We really enjoyed the pool access – didn’t even have to go to the main swimming pool!
We could lounge around and just get our feet wet for fun! A word of caution though – the floor gets very slippery when it’s wet, which happens often when you have a pool right outside your room. Both kids slipped a couple of times, and one brought a bruise back.
We borrowed some DVDs as well, and the couch was the cub’s favourite spot to lounge and watch TV.
J’s Café & Restaurant
I love that at Holiday Inn hotels and resort hotels, kids aged 12 and under get to eat for free from items under the Kid’s Menu. And that does not mean they get stingy with the food portions!
The kids tried the burger and pasta while the Husb and I went for Thai food! Was a happy wife when the Husb looked for a favourite dish of mine to order – pandan chicken! Food tasted great and we left with happy tummies.
The breakfast buffet spread was not bad either – covering both Continental and Asian styles. We stuck to our usual comfort food of croissants, omelet and bacon.
Thailand street food
The Husb recce-d the surroundings right outside the resort, and found some local food places and stalls located between the Mai Khao beach and resort. It would be unlike of the Husb to not try them out.
With the early flight and whole day of play, the lil’ dragonlady couldn’t keep her eyes open anymore and dozed off while watching TV around dinner time. So the Husb went out on his own to get dinner takeaways. It gets awfully dark after sun sets here. Only the routes inside the hotel compound are lit. Gotta commend my husband for his bravery to explore into the dark and unfamiliar territory for good food!
Thanks to his efforts, we had delicious local food and incredibly sweet fruits for dessert!
We decided to try out the other F&B option on site – Pesto on anniversary night.
As an Italian restaurant, they are really good with their pizza (made with a real pizza oven!) and pasta. The steak however, was a huge disappointment. We ordered the steak to be done medium, and it came out well-done. They offered to change it for us but the steak turned out the same the second time. We gave up and just made do with it.
Do note that the “Kids under the age of 12 get to eat for free” promotion is not offered by Pesto Restaurant.
Mai Khao Beach
The Mai Khao beach is literally steps away from the resort itself – how convenient! We didn’t spend much time there because there was a bit too much sun to bear that morning, and we had forgotten to bring sand toys. Plus they were quite wary of getting their feet wet and dragged a little when the tide pulls them into the sea. We retreated to the shady comfort of the resort soon after.
Tea Tree Spa
Because of scoliosis, I have chronic aches in my neck, shoulders and back. I’m not a big fan of massages because I usually feel so much pain during the session I want to throw up. Sad but true – I go for a massage only when I can no longer bear with the pain.
That said, I thought we should try out their massage place since we were already at the resort. Before we started, the staff asked us for our preference on areas to focus, and for any medical history that they need to take note of. I was most impressed when the Spa Manager knew immediately about the problem with ligaments when the Husb briefly mentioned that he had done ACL before. Very experienced indeed!
my view from the massage bed
I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying the massage after becoming accustomed to experiencing pain during massages all these years. My masseuse did such an amazing job I actually fell asleep! I’m sure the Husb’s masseuse was doing a fine job as well ‘cos I heard him snoring away. Ha!
Our couple massage session was made possible by the lovely hotel staff who kept the kids company and busy at Kid’s Club!
We had wanted to try out the family package which includes mini massage and mini manicure/pedicure sessions for the little ones the next day but the cub wasn’t keen. The lil’ dragonlady on the other hand (pun not intended), was excited to finally get to paint her nails! She had been asking to do the same like mine every time I come back with new nail colors.
I grabbed the opportunity to do another round of massage while keeping her company. Contrary to her usual rebellious self, she listened obediently to the staff who instructed her not to touch anything for the next 1 hour or so and was extra careful with her fingers.
Obviously very pleased with her freshly manicured nails, the usually I-don’t-care-what-others-think dragonlady couldn’t resist shoving her hands into her brother’s face and asking him repeatedly “Gorgor, see! Nice or not? Nice right?” This makes 3 out of 4 of us very happy customers of the Tea Tree Spa.
The kids’ happy place! With a big ball pit area, toys, TV, and coloring area, the kids, especially the cub, LOVED the Kid’s Club. If the kids had their way, they could stay in there all day!
The Kid’s Club offers mostly free activities where the kids get to do some handicrafts, and some paid activities like pizza-making. Older kids might not appreciate these much though! I’d think the target audience is about 2-6yos.
The cub was also very much in love with the trampoline that is located outside the Kid’s Club.
The lil’ dragonlady wasn’t too much of a fan though.
Thanks to the hotel’s arrangement, we got to experience something different for our anniversary getaway – learning to cook Thai food with our little ones!
The Chef gave us a step-by-step demonstration and was always nearby to help guide us along. I was so proud of the cub who was surprisingly more adventurous than he usually is in the kitchen – tasting ingredients, helping to cut and pound the ingredients, and even wanted to help cook the curry in the pot, etc.
It was a really fun bonding activity for us all and we got to enjoy the fruits of our labour!
We had a wonderful time doing nothing much in each other’s company. The kids are looking forward to go back again!
Note: Discounts at Tea Tree Spa and J’s Restaurant and a complimentary cooking session were provided during our stay at the Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach. Opinions are my own.