A sweet treat in Phuket

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - NEWS -

A col­league of mine once stayed at a self-styled “fam­ily friendly” re­sort. She was eat­ing her lunch in one of the out­door ar­eas when a soft­ball, fly­ing off-course from a kids’ game nearby, landed in her soup. There was a splash. All over her clothes.

The Pull­man Phuket Ar­ca­dia Naithon Beach is not that sort of fam­ily friendly place. There are no hordes of scream­ing chil­dren, no chance your gue­stroom’s much­hyped bal­cony will have a com­mand­ing view over the kids’ pool. Partly, this is down to the luxury of space af­forded most Thai re­sorts, but it also re­flects Pull­man’s po­si­tion in the mar­ket as a stylish, at­trac­tive and af­ford­able of­fer­ing that just hap­pens to be pitched at lit­tle ones, too. Good de­sign and well-si­t­u­ated fa­cil­i­ties help. There are two pool zones, one within a stone’s throw of Naithon Beach, an­other near the kids’ club. The all-day din­ing area, El­e­ments, is al­most as spa­cious out­side as in, with lots of ocean-fac­ing seats and a sep­a­rate chill-out area for big­ger groups. And the 277 villa-style rooms, built into a steep hill over­look­ing the An­daman Sea, take max­i­mum ad­van­tage of their set­ting.

The bal­cony of our Ocean View room is so close to the wa­ter that even with the doors closed, we fall asleep lis­ten­ing to the sound of the sea against the rocks far be­low. Ac­com­mo­da­tion is com­fort­able, airy and stylish rather than ul­tra-lux­u­ri­ous, decked out in sand and stone shades with pops of aqua. It’s worth not­ing the mini-bar tea here, from the Dilmah Ex­cep­tional real leaf range, is fresher and bet­ter than that of­fered at a “luxury” re­sort we have just checked out of. And isn’t it nice to step into your gue­stroom to find a plate of choco­lates, in­clud­ing a very child-friendly solid-choc ele­phant? (The se­lec­tion is re­plen­ished daily; from later this year, cho­co­late will be made on-site in a work­shop un­der con­struc­tion.)

It’s even nicer to wake next morn­ing to the dul­cet tones of your preschooler say­ing: “Mummy, when can I go to the kids’ club?” From 9am daily, ac­tu­ally. A su­pe­rior fa­cil­ity, it has a ball pit, an out­door play­ground and fun craft ac­tiv­i­ties led by ter­rific staff; the kids make wind chimes one day, tie-dye T-shirts the next. And after fetch­ing up there rather late one af­ter­noon, wor­ried my daugh­ter would be starv­ing, I find her hap­pily snack­ing on what the staff have fixed for her, at no cost. The club stays open un­til 8pm, giv­ing par­ents the op­tion of an early child-free din­ner.

Ar­guably the best food at Pull­man Ar­ca­dia is at the break­fast buf­fet at El­e­ments, a vast mash-up of ev­ery cui­sine worth eat­ing first thing in the morn­ing. Think beyond the ob­vi­ous to miso, con­gee, pan­cakes, cho­co­late cake, even kim­chi and a bas­ket of gluten-free breads and baked good­ies. And when the miso isn’t on of­fer the next day, staff say mak­ing some to or­der is no prob­lem.

Lunch and din­ner is at El­e­ments or the Ital­ian restau­rant up­stairs, Vero. At the lat­ter, we pass on the “crumbed Aus­tralian lamb cut­lets” (about $50) for the rather nice

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