Stay and play in style
A family-friendly resort in Phuket is also a fine place to hide away
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