Singaporeans head to Phuket all the time, but probably not many are familiar with Mai Khao beach. Just 10 minutes drive away from the airport, it’s a little nook that emanates sheer tranquility. And sometimes, all we need is some peace and quiet, isn’t it?
The Holiday Inn Mai Khao is the newer sister resort of the one we visited in Patong, having opened about four years ago. To our family, it counts as one of the very few resorts that we wouldn’t mind going back to again and again – we last visited it in March 2014 and were happy to visit it again this June.
Here are seven reasons why.
1. The beach is clean, serene, and practically a private one
The hotel has direct access to this beautiful, quiet beach, with clean sand and crashing waves. It was red flag monsoon season when we visited, so the roar of the waves was a warning to just appreciate the wild beauty of the sea from a safe distance, going close enough only for its foamy surf to caress one’s feet.
The girls had a good time digging in the sand (complimentary rental of large beach mats available from the pool towel station). Early morning yoga classes are available for a small fee, and there are two hammocks for guests to laze on, as you nap or read a book……
2. Shiok beach-side Massage
One of the things I dearly look forward to when I visit this resort, is the beach side massage. Not a formal set-up of the hotel, this comprises a rustic hut with simple but comfortable mats run by friendly Thai massage ladies, who are so obliging, skillful and non-pushy. Imagine hearing the pounding of the surf, as it echoes the pounding of strong hands on your aching muscles, as you are soothed into a happy lull, as a cool breeze blows.
If I could, I’d be there twice a day. Their rates of 500 baht for an hour long whole body massage are extremely reasonable too. The hotel also has the posh Tea Tree Spa, with more private rooms and luxurious trimmings, and rates that are closer to Singapore’s (S$50-S$60 an hour), which is still very affordable.
3. Luxuriously comfortable rooms that go for a song
As a family with kids, value for money is one of the most important factors when it comes to deciding on a holiday venue. And this resort is somewhat unbeatable on that score.
For a maximum of 3 adults, a Deluxe Pool Access room only costs around S$130 a night, and you get the privilege of plunging into a lovely quiet pool from your balcony! For 2 adults and up to 3 kids, a Kids Suite (69 sqm) with bunk bed costs about S$180 per night, and a Family Suite (82 sqm) that comes with a separate kids room (and massive kids’ bathroom with huge bath tub) costs about S$210.
June is their low season, which means that the hotel was only 60% occupied when we were there, and the staff to guest ratio was so high that we felt especially pampered. The pools and restaurants were also neither crowded nor noisy, which was nice!
Pool access rooms
We were offered the option of a Kids Suite (S$180), but being huge fans of their pool access rooms, we opted for a Junior Suite Pool Access room (S$152), which can comfortably accommodate 2 adults and 2 little kids. The only downside was that B would wake at 7 am, and beg to use the pool. These kids have no concept of sleeping in during holidays, argh!
Official hotel policy is such that it discourages bookings from families with children under age 13, given potential risks. However, if you ask really nicely, and promise to take on all risk, then most times they will not be too much of a stickler for the rules. K can swim competently (SwimSafer 2 certified!), and B is mostly water safe, having taken lessons for almost a year, so we felt comfortable with this. And what a splendid time we all had.
It was utter bliss to sit at the balcony and finish Gaiman’s Stardust, as the children enjoyed themselves in the pool. They came up with all sort of pretend games, sang cheery songs in English and Thai, and would sporadically erupt into peals of laughter.
They swam till dusk at times, and this was the alluring view of the sunset skies from our balcony.
4. Our girls’ favourite kids’ club ever
K&B have been to this kids’ club twice now, and they enjoyed it this time just as much as they did last year. It’s not hard to see why!
These cosy nooks were their ‘treehouse’, and they had an especially delightful time playing there with one of their favourite friends, 3 year old E. Our friends decided to book a stay at the same resort after finding out that we were going, since our kids get along like a house on fire. Then their friends decided to book a stay around the same time too, so it was great to have another family to eat together with and other familiar adults to chat with on this leg of the trip!
I loved the good quality wooden toys that they stock in this kids’ club, and those that you see above, are all of the Plan Toys brand. It’s one of my favourite brands that has won more than 20 awards from Germany, UK and the US. But did you know that they are all manufactured in Thailand? I guess that must be why they are well-stocked here. I confess that I had a great time playing with the elaborate doll-house and its many expensive components!
What a spectacular ball pit! Imagine hanging thus and then falling into the bed of colourful balls. Super fun. There was a slide on the playhouse which the younger children (aged between 2-4) particularly enjoyed. The girls also loved making up stories and playing pretend in there. I love watching them at free play, and hope that it does more for their mind in the marathon of life, as opposed to being drilled on worksheets everyday.
The schedule of the bottom right of the collage above shows how there are so many activities organised throughout the day. K loves craft, and there is at least one free craft every day that she can engage in. The staff at this kids’ club were also really patient and friendly, so K&B were very comfortable with them. The lady who painted K’s nails with nail art (200 baht) was very sweet, and I had a nice chat with her too. Kudos to the staff of the kids’ club!
One activity that we really enjoyed was the tie-dye tee making (350 baht)! I have never done it myself, so it was a real treat that K and I got to make a tee each. They didn’t have a tee in B’s size, and she wasn’t keen on making one anyway, so all’s well that way.
With some guidance from the helpful kids’ club staff, we created matching hippie masterpieces! Haha. The tees had to be hung out to dry for about a day before we could collect it the day after, so make sure you don’t check out on the day of this activity.
There’s also a playground next to the kids’ club with a pair of swings that my girls enjoyed, for that extra dose of outdoor activity. And I must say, the hobbit-sized door at the kids’ club entrance is still the cutest thing to me.
The other awesome thing about this kids’ club is that they allow children from four years old (B makes the cut!) and above to be dropped off (other kids’ clubs tend to have a minimum age of five years, boohoo). That spelt FREEDOM for the hubs and I, knowing that they will be in good hands, as we trotted off to the beach where he read a book whilst I had an amazing massage.
…Hop on over to Part 2 of our holiday, which reveals the remaining three reasons why we love it so.
(If you haven’t read it yet, we also have a post on our recent trip to sister hotel the Holiday Inn Resort Phuket at Patong Beach)
Holiday Inn Mai Khao
81, MOO3, TUMBOL MAI KHAO AMPHURTALANG,
Phuket, 83110 Thailand
Note: We were invited to a two night stay at Holiday Inn Mai Khao with full room and board, for the purpose of this review.