A sweet treat in Phuket
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