Stay and play in style

A fam­ily-friendly re­sort in Phuket is also a fine place to hide away

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN BRE­DOW

THE best thing about ar­riv­ing at a new des­ti­na­tion af­ter dark is what you find when you wake the next morn­ing.

When I step on to the bal­cony of my room at the 305-room Club Med Phuket, there is a wide view of the An­daman Sea and one of the best beaches in the area. The day is al­ready hot and steamy with rapidly evap­o­rat­ing pud­dles of overnight rain. The sky is cloudy and the sea grey and choppy. But I want to get closer.

At 6am, life is stir­ring along the bay. A scooter car­ry­ing lo­cals to work put­ters past. Deckchairs are un­stacked and placed in neat rows, ready for sun­bak­ers who won’t hit the beach for sev­eral hours. Stall­hold­ers wheel into place their bar­rows of cool drinks, fried snacks and plump trop­i­cal fruit.

There are many en­joy­able as­pects about a hol­i­day at a Club Med prop­erty, but the first you notice is you don’t need to carry money. The pack­ages are all-in­clu­sive and at Club Med Phuket the drinks are part of the deal — in­clud­ing a Bloody Mary as a heart-starter.

Guests are ar­riv­ing to eat their morn­ing meal in the large buf­fet res­tau­rant and no one is in a hurry. Break­fast starts at 7.15am and when it of­fi­cially ends is closely fol­lowed by the next meal . . . and the next. You could eat from 7.15am to 11am then back up for lunch from 12.15pm to 3pm and per­haps lie down and rest your stomach un­til din­ner, from 6.45pm to 9.30pm. There are sand­wiches, prawn crack­ers and dips avail­able through the day.

The food is a star­tling ar­ray of pre­pared and cookedto-or­der Thai and in­ter­na­tional dishes, such as Chi­nese, Ja­panese and Euro­pean. The choice of pavil­ions in which to dine is var­ied, too, with out­door or air­con­di­tioned spa­ces, each dif­fer­ently dec­o­rated.

There have been re­cent ex­ten­sions and im­prove­ments to the 27-year-old re­sort, which more or less kick­started a boom in tourism to Phuket when it opened in 1985. The re­fur­bish­ment in­cludes the Chu-Da a la carte res­tau­rant, open for lunch or din­ner at the far end of the gar­den. A gi­ant pur­ple, plas­tic-framed bar is part of the up­date and is open un­til late.

As I move around through the day to find the best WiFi ac­cess zones, I dis­cover lovely lit­tle places to sit and con­tem­plate, in­clud­ing ar­eas that over­look the sea, a de­light­ful sunken top­i­ary gar­den and a dark blue pool, which is like a work of art, dec­o­rated with golden fish mo­tifs. Else­where there are more swim­ming pools, a day spa, stat­ues and Thai or­na­men­tal carv­ings. By the end of day one, I am wean­ing my­self from my lap­top.

I doubt any­one will won­der if I have fallen off the planet and so I re­lax, fi­nally, en­joy­ing lively con­ver­sa­tion by the pool. One fruity cock­tail be­side the wa­ter and un­der the palms in­vari­ably leads to an­other.

The next day it’s rain­ing. The surf is thump­ing hard on to the shore of Kata Bay. The wind has blown over the sun um­brella on my bal­cony. I feel like do­ing some­thing phys­i­cal so de­spite the weather go for a walk through the grounds along paths framed by dense trop­i­cal plants, all lush and drip­ping. I pass a large child­care com­plex tucked qui­etly into the for­est of a gar­den.

There is plenty of time to get to yoga at 9am, but I arrive early and am re­lieved to lie re­lax­ing qui­etly in the air­con­di­tioned room be­fore the class starts. Then I head back to my room to change for the new adults-only Zen Pool — no mo­bile phones and no WiFi (and that’s by choice). I arrive fully clothed and slowly lose lay­ers un­til I am barely de­cent and en­folded in a beach chair along­side sim­i­larly un­dressed hol­i­day-mak­ers. Ev­ery­one is quiet and af­ter a while I feel we are turn­ing the pages of our books in com­plete syn­chro­ni­sa­tion.

On the other side of the re­sort, guests are form­ing teams for games of wa­ter polo and lin­ing up for aquaro­bics and other busy and noisy ac­tiv­i­ties, but I am hav­ing trou­ble keep­ing my eyes open.

My spa­cious gue­stroom has a king-size bed and I’ve stayed in ho­tel rooms smaller than the walk- in wardrobe here. There’s an over­flow­ing bowl of fresh fruit and the com­pli­men­tary mini-bar in­cludes a bot­tle of Moet et Chan­don.

The long bath­room has two basins, sep­a­rate toi­let, dou­ble bath and shower stall. There are over­sized bot­tles of soaps, balms, gels and lo­tions, with an in­vi­ta­tion to call if I need more. There are plenty of big white tow­els. Mine is a suite, but the deluxe and stan­dard rooms are sim­i­larly spa­cious.

Club Med Phuket is set across a 25ha palm grove on Kata Bay, 50km from Phuket air­port (about an hour by road) and well re­moved from the bars and clubs of Pa­tong. Ev­ery night I feel hap­pily worn out from do­ing so lit­tle here. I wake af­ter a full night’s sleep to chirp­ing birds and the gen­tle rum­ble of the surf. This has to be very close to drop-out paradise. Su­san Bre­dow was a guest of Club Med Phuket, Jet­star and Novo­tel.

The re­sort’s rooms of­fer An­daman Sea views

Re­lax pool­side at the newly im­proved prop­erty The Ma­muang res­tau­rant is one of sev­eral din­ing spots at Club Med Phuket

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