A Thai Adventure in 3 Days at The Holiday Inn Resort, Phuket
It was a long weekend and we were preparing for beach adventures, eating out and splashing about in a hotel pool – only this time not in Dubai but in Phuket! Thailand for a long weekend? From Dubai? With Kids in tow? Yes mamas it’s not only doable but also magical if you have an adventurous spirit and you’re prepared to fly overnight with all that this entails!
We went through the usual routine of supper/bath/pyjamas but overnighted onboard an Emirates 777 bound for the Thai island of Phuket. The best night’s sleep ever? No – but the kids got at least 6 hours of uninterrupted shut-eye and as for me and hubby, well we’ve kind of forgotten what a truly restful night feels like anyway.
Only 6 hours after take-off, our plane was taxiing the Phuket runway at 8am local time –and a whole 3 days of Asian adventure awaited us. Yes the kids were a little cranky but a quick catnap in the car and the excitement of being surrounded by forest covered mountains, buzzing street life and a whole new world, so different to their usual desert cityscape soon took over and all was well!
Phuket is a perfect family friendly destination from Dubai for so many reasons – the direct fights, the lush greenery, the beautiful beaches, super-welcoming people and a mix of laid-back and vibrant that makes for an ideal break.
Home to many stunning hotels, villas and hideaways dotted around the island, we’d been invited to stay at Holiday Inn Resort, Phuket – in Patong. Yes I know what you’re thinking….because we were skeptical too but actually this resort was the perfect base from which to explore the island. Infamous for its lively nightlife and party scene, Patong may not seem like the number 1 choice of stay in Phuket – and yes, at night you may not want to wander off the main street – BUT, with the Holiday Inn Resort, Phuket being a really family friendly and wallet friendly option, there really is no reason to rule this area out.
First up, The Holiday Inn Resort, Phuket has the kind of hotel rooms that every parent (and kiddo) will wish for. I’m talking inter-connecting rooms with one half decorated in those muted tones and big fluffy white duvets that we look for in a hotel and the other in kiddie friendly themes complete with vibrant colours, fun beds (ours were shaped like turtles – there are also bunk beds in smaller rooms) and a trunk of toys to get stuck-into. It may be one of the oldest hotels on the island but that just means that its gardens are established and beautiful and that the team really understand what family visitors to Phuket are looking for. While the ‘grown-up’ room has all the features that parents will look for, the children had their very own toiletries, mini-bathrobes and even beautifully wrapped gifts on arrival. This place is all about the kids (and when you’re on holiday with 3 of them, that’s a really really good thing!).
If you’re looking for the latest in minimalist design then this property may not be for you. But if you want big comfy rooms, beautiful palm-fringed swimming pools (4 in total), spa, kids club (which is small but perfectly ok for kids over 4 if you want some child-free time) and a choice of restaurants including traditional Thai, Italian, an amazing steak house and the breakfast/lunch/dinner buffet option then this is the place. And while tuk-tuks buzzed about on the surrounding streets all was beautiful and serene within the hotel grounds.
The perfect budget and family friendly base from which to explore the gorgeous island of Phuket , we planned each day meticulously (with the help of the hotel staff – big shout out to ALL of them for taking such great care of us). The best beach? Freedom Beach, a gem of a find really close to Patong but without the crowds, surrounded by tropical plants and palm trees – a long boat ride away from Patong Beach (or apparently a fairly strenuous hike …) Patong Beach itself is busy but there are vast expanses of sand which are peacefully quiet if you’re up before the crowds descend (and yes, of course you will be!).
Surrounded by the most beautiful, lush jagged islands and rock formations, we took a boat tour away from Phuket to waters teeming with fish and to beaches just perfect for running about and meeting the locals (aka monitor lizards – yup my eldest managed to seek one out!). The boat ride itself is fun for little ones, bouncing over the waves, searching for sea creatures, playing at being pirates and spotting the next bit of land. The hotel concierge/excursions desk can help organize whatever you need – just be specific about it being family friendly and away from the crowds.
Ask my kids what they most loved about Phuket they’ll say running through the rain on the beach (we visited during the rainy months – September/October but the tropical climate means that rain can happen anytime which actually is completely magical for desert-dwelling children!). And when splashing in puddles was ticked off the list, we headed to the hotel’s ‘Tea Tree Spa‘ as a family where kids treatments including mini mani-pedis, cute little hand massages and a back rub for my 7 year old (which by the way helped with a great night’s sleep – must repeat!) and a couples massage for me and the hubster were just the thing.
Our first experience of Asia as a family was about adventure and packing as much into 4 days as possible – quite different to the chill-out-and-do-nothing Phuket vacation my husband and I took years ago! With beautiful beaches, delicious food and a lush, tropical landscape, Phuket was a perfect mini break. Just as in Dubai, Thai people are hugely welcoming to children and the kids were embraced (sometimes quite literally) at every stop – from noodle houses to market stalls. The little ones loved learning about everything that makes this part of the world so different to the Middle East – from the crazy shaped and foul-smelling dorian fruit to trying new tastes with chopsticks. And of course the hotel – at the end of every day, they had their turtle shaped beds to sink into – perfect.
Emirates Fly Direct To Phuket twice a day
The Holiday Inn Resort, Phuket