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What’s hot in Phuket – the road trip revisited

It was the end of the rainy season and we encountered a few showers as we approached the island but all was well, the car had been well serviced and prepped and handled the journey easily.

It was last year in October, we decided to repeat our successful road trip from Bangkok to Phuket before the high season kicked in.

I had three objectives for this trip. Firstly I am always on the search for new travel products and I was keen to visit a friend’s new property, which since its soft opening a few months earlier, was creating quite a buzz on the island.

Secondly to revisit places that we enjoyed last year and thirdly to explore the area around Surin beach which is a favourite corner of Phuket for many travellers.

Our journey from Bangkok took most of the day leaving early morning at 5 a.m. we arrived 12 hours later with stops for meals and fuel. A journey of 900 kms. It was the end of the rainy season and we encountered a few showers as we approached the island but all was well, the car had been well serviced and prepped and handled the journey easily. The route is well served by motorways and A-class roads. The showers soon dissipated too. Welcome to Phuket the Pearl of the Andaman.

The SIS Kata Resort

Our first 2 nights of our fortnight on the island we stayed at the SIS Kata Resort.

Opened and designed by three sisters the SIS Kata Resort is a delightful place. Their triangular turquoise logo design is evident throughout the resort, supporting its strong sense of style and brand.

The 4.5* SIS Kata Resort, with 224 rooms is billed under the banner of ‘stay in style’ and you quickly realise this is no ordinary hotel. The strong brand identity is not normally associated with family owned properties and here lies its strength and individuality.

The resort has excellent beach access. It’s literally a few minutes walk to the golden sands of Kata Beach.

The ensuite room was spacious and can easily compete with well know international brands. It certainly punches above it’s weight. It felt instantly homely and comfortable. There were so many small touches and well thought out details. On the balcony a Jacuzzi. I’m sure honeymoon couples would simply love it.  

That night we had drinks followed by an excellent dinner in the hotel.

At breakfast in the morning there was an enormous array on the buffet including an eggs station. Service was slick and the young team happy and friendly.

Our two days passed so quickly. Our next stop was touring of the island south of Kata beach and later we headed inland for a return visit to a favourite hotel of mine from last year’s trip.

The Villa Zolitude Resort

The Villa Zolitude Resort and Spa is a 5* 30 room mountain retreat. Our villa was set into the hillside surrounded by trees with spectacular views of the valley below. Each villa is a two storey house with a private pool and its own pool deck, cleverly screened to provide absolute privacy.

I spent most of my visit at the 25 metre salt water main pool. Comfortable sun beds with heaps of bright fluffy towels. The rest of the time I spent at the villa. The villa is a wonderful space of comfort, nature and light. Wood floors ceilings and blinds.  It totally envelops you. I simple adore staying here.

The resort has two and four-bed villas, great for a weekend getaway with friends and family.

Dining with a difference? The resort provides a BBQ service, the ultimate in in-room dining. The kitchen provides everything including the outdoor BBQ grill. You just cook! A great concept and fun guaranteed!

The Villa Zolitude Resort is just a short hop from Chalong Beach. Free transfers are provided daily. Beach and Jungle – a perfect holiday combination.

If you are looking for a unique and outstanding venue for a wedding the Villa Zolitude is a great choice.

Manathai Surin Resort

Next stop the Manathai Surin Boutique Resort. It’s a fabulous 66 room resort just a short walk (6 min) from Surin beach. It’s a trendy location and all ‘walkable’.

We visited the resort last year but didn’t stay. This year we decided to stay 2nights. The room was excellent large and comfortable. Super clean overlooking the hotel pool.

Phad Thai, the classic Thai noodle dish at this hotel is famous. We tried it. World class! An absolute must. Breakfast was a dream too. Try the eggs benedict!

A thoroughly enjoyable stay. First rate.

The Surin Phuket

Just next door the Surin Phuket, run by my friend and former Skal Int’l Phuket President, was our next port of call. A 103 room 5* hotel with direct access onto one of the best beaches in Phuket. It shares Surin beach with the Amanpuri Resort.

We booked a hillside cottage. It was delightful. It’s white wood interiors and shuttered windows lent a colonial elegant feel. Cottage was an apt name. It was extremely well equipped and it’s bathroom was a dream.

The black tiled pool area gets busy, it’s south facing and is bathed in sunshine for most of the day. Just step off the pool deck and you’re on Surin beach. A wonderful stretch of soft golden sand. You can walk its full length and hardly meet a soul.

Dining in the resort was a highlight. They have a first class kitchen and service was professional and effortless.

Phuket Marriott Resort, Merlin Beach

One of my lasting memories was our return to the Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa, Merlin Beach.

A 414 room 5* resort the room was sumptuous and perfect. Three large central pools dominate the resort. We spent much of our time poolside. The hotel has a real buzz – a happy feeling. The staff are a pleasure, their smiles huge.

We were so preoccupied with the pool we didn’t venture to the private beach this year. Preferring instead to laze on the sun beds at the pool.

Everyday there is a pool bar happy hour in the late afternoon. The Mai Tai cocktails were great.

We watched as the hotel prepared an amazing beach front wedding. The set up was focussed around the beach gazebo and lawn. The flowers and orchids were stunning.

I particularly like DOCG Italian Restaurant. It’s an outstanding culinary experience one of our best during our two week stay on Phuket Island.

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Andrew J Wood was born in Yorkshire England, he is a former hotelier, Skalleague and travel writer. Andrew has 48 years of hospitality and travel experience. Educated at Batley Grammar School and a hotel graduate of Napier University, Edinburgh. Andrew started his career in London, working with various hotels. His first posting overseas was with Hilton International, in Paris, and he later arrived in Asia in 1991 on Bangkok with his appointment as Director of Marketing at the Shangri-La Hotel and has remained in Thailand ever since. Andrew has also worked with the Royal Garden Resort Group now Anantara (Vice President) and the Landmark Group of Hotels (Vice President of Sales and Marketing). Latterly he has been the General Manager at the Royal Cliff Group of Hotels in Pattaya and the Chaophya Park Hotel Bangkok & Resorts.

A past board member and Director of Skål International (SI), a former National President with SI Thailand and a two time past President of the Bangkok Club. Andrew is the former President of Skål Asia. In 2019, Andrew was awarded SKÅL’s highest award the distinction of Membre D’Honneur.

He is a regular guest lecturer at various Universities in Asia.