Here are three more (long) reasons why we LOVE this resort…
5. Good food
How’s this for dining with a view? At dusk, you can view the sunset from this seat, and dine under the stars as night falls.
That table and more belong to Pesto, the Italian restaurant of the resort. Its pastas are yummy and my favourite are the thin crust pizzas that are made in the open kitchen, just as you order. The freshness means that there’s a bit of a wait, but as they say, good things come to those who wait.
Their appetisers are also huge by Singaporean standards, and we did think the mussels (about 10 in the plate!) were more of a main than starter-size. The drinks are prepared by the pool side bar, which explains the cheery frangipani flower that comes alongside the fresh coconut.
The staff everywhere were attentive, and especially so to the little ones. They’d ascertain their comfort first, before attending to the adults, which I thought was very kind. When B didn’t want a high chair they immediately padded up her seat with an extra layer of cushions. At Pesto, they were equipped with interesting activity books in full colour that included a sheet of stickers, a postcard and numerous pages to colour and write in.
The kids meals at Pesto’s are chargeable, though they could easily share the huge pizzas ordered by the adults. It was interesting that the other language on the flip side of the kids’ menu is Russian! Apparently Russians make up a large proportion of tourists in Phuket. We didn’t see as many of them as we did last March, probably because high season only starts in July instead of June.
J’s Restaurant serves a variety of Western and Thai food (even Malaysian curry, given that their Head Chef is a Penangite), with interesting starters like char-grilled vegetables (pumpkin, tomato, eggplant and onion!) and massive salads. Desserts range from yummy mango with sticky rice, to crème brûlée and tiramisu.
Although it has a spacious air-conditioned interior, J’s Restaurant also offers outdoor dining options, and what lovely ones! If not for the heat, I’d be lounging at this sunken table everyday. The breakfast buffet spread includes a good range of Western and Asian fare. You can even order Eggs Benedict from the egg station. K loved the noodle station, and would have soup noodles every morning. Some days they serve really yummy porridge too, so those with toddlers have an extra option.
You can tell that this resort doesn’t just pay lip service to the fact that Kids Eat and Stay Free (with every paying adult). Beyond the cost savings, the hotel goes out of its way to make kids feel like their honoured guests.
This new kids’ section within J’s Restaurant that was recently renovated as a kids-only breakfast dining area is simply the best thing ever. From gorgeous crockery (including cake spades!) to an array of breakfast buffet food that particularly appeals to children, this space is the loveliest dining area for children that I’ve ever seen. Our kids made new friends there every morning.
6. Fun Cooking Classes
You can sign your kids up for pizza making classes at the Kids Club (350 baht per child), and the facilitators will bring them there, and they can have the pizza for lunch after it is baked! K & B had so much fun, even as B rolled out a really odd shaped base.
We were treated to an adult cooking class too, and the chef patiently guided us through making some fresh papaya salad, tom yam goong, as well as some green curry. All this was held at the breakfast buffet open kitchen, so we had plenty of space to manoeuvre in air-conditioned comfort. All those who were dining in J’s at that time, could see us
struggle along capably cooking, haha. We were really tired out after the cooking, but enjoyed consuming the fruit of our labour.
7. It’s an all-in-one resort
Although some people might feel that Mai Khao is somewhat in the boondocks, we love the fact that this resort can meet all our needs without us ever having to step out of it. (Plus free and strong Wifi everywhere in the resort, for those who NEED make social media posts on what a splendid time you’re having *I plead guilty*.)
Although it’s tucked away far from town centres or shopping malls, there are enough activities thoughtfully planned by the hotel for the needs of a family with petite travellers such as ours. To be frank, just the pool access room and the super kids’ club activities were enough to keep the girls totally happy. But for those looking for more, there are other interesting programmes offered by the hotel.
Movies under the stars
We were drizzled out for the scheduled movie night during our stay. In less inclement weather, little packets of free popcorn are offered as a cartoon is screened around 6pm, followed by a movie for grown-ups around 8pm, and guests can lounge on the cabanas on a first-come-first-serve basis at no extra charge.
For a fee, embark on a 2 hour bicycle tour around Mai Khao, or hop on a shuttle that can bring you to Patong in about 45-60 minutes (depending on traffic conditions).
What’s a resort without a huge pool? Over here, there’s an infinity pool with large shallow areas, and a little hut retailing pool toys.
There’s also the Tea Tree Spa for massages in air-conditioned comfort and privacy, as well as a 24-hour gym for the gym rats amongst us. Prefer to vegetate in front of the telly in the comfort of your room? Some 50 DVDs are available for you to browse through and borrow free-of-charge from the reception.
All in all, we love this four year old resort that still feels very new, as it is proudly up-kept by scores of gardeners, handymen and staff. We know that the flourishing flora, the spiffy furnishings, and clean corridors do not come about by chance. We woke up one morning at daybreak (no thanks to our early risers) to realise that the pool outside our room was being cleaned with impressive equipment too – no wonder it always looks and feels pristine.
One day around 7 am, as we walked to the beach, we witnessed a team of ladies in broad straw hats raking the sand to clear casuarina needles and tiny branches that have fallen in the night. These are swept into little piles, and cleared away, just so that hotel guests traipsing to the beach don’t get poked too much. What indulgent care.
Singaporeans who need to shop, and yearn for the hustle and bustle of rows of shops and street food might feel somewhat bored here, but this resort was perfect for us.
For our family, a good holiday need not cost an arm and a leg, or take place in an exotic location. It just needs to comprise some time away from too-familiar surroundings; a getaway from the distractions of work, buzzing phones and the glare of laptop screens. It was exactly such a holiday that we had this June, at this great resort in Phuket, just 1.5 hours away by air.
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.