It has been sometime since we put on our travel shoes and both hubby and I have been quite stretched at work. We decided to have a super relaxed beach holiday in Phuket to unwind and recharge. This was my first trip to Phuket (and Thailand) but hubby has been here multiple times. There is no dearth of luxury resorts there and we had a hard time selecting one. We finally booked a 4D3N stay at Renaissance Phuket Resort and Spa located in front of Mai Khao beach and we are so glad we chose it.
Phuket is a 2 hour flight away from Singapore and hence an ideal destination for a short break. We flew Tiger Airlines with some pretty cloud views during the journey. I had decided to be as gadget free as possible so didn’t carry the camera or laptop for the trip. All pictures taken are from my iPhone!!
The resort is a 20-30 min drive from the airport.Other luxury resorts like JW Marriott, SALA, Anantara are also located in the Mai Khao area within close proximity to each other. We did not use the hotel pick-up as it was quite expensive. We pre booked from this taxi operator who charged us 940 THB for two-way transfer and we were quite happy with the service.
The Resort: Renaissance Phuket Resort and Spa is a gorgeously calm property with beautiful rooms and friendly staff. Away from the hustle-bustle of Patong and Bangla road, its the perfect place to calm your senses. We were greeted with cold towels and welcome drinks upon arrival and check-in was pretty smooth. Ours was a spacious deluxe room with balcony on the ground floor which was 2 mins from the pool, beach and restaurant. Room 118 highly recommended!!
The pool area was the highlight for me as it is right in front of the scenic Mai Khao beach. I could spend hours in the pool watching the waves. Bliss! There are sun beds near the pool all the way to the beach. There is a separate pool for kids and a jacuzzi area in the main pool.
There are morning activities conducted everyday for the guests ranging from yoga to aqua aerobics and of course there is a gym as well. I started my mornings with yoga on the beach- something I would like to do everyday!
The resort is about 1-1.5 hour drive away from both Patong and Phuket town. There are daily shuttles run by the Marriott group at 3-4 different times and you can pre-book according to your convenience. A round trip for one person costed us 700 THB. The distance from Patong is the only drawback in case you plan to spend more time in that area.
The beach: Mai Khao beach is a gorgeous and clean stretch of water minus the crowds. You can’t swim in the beach since its a bit rough but nevertheless walking along its shore and watching the waves was amazing.You can also see the airplanes landing as it is close to the airport. Most of times you will have the beach to yourself, with a handful of other guests of the resort for company-almost like the resort’s private beach. We couldn’t see a proper sunset or sunrise because it was cloudy most of the time during our stay!!
We also visited the famous Patong beach one evening. It is quite commercial with all sorts of activities like parasailing going on and loads of tourists lounging around. It has a very hip vibe and we liked spending sometime there. However, if you don’t prefer crowded beaches then you can give it a miss.
Food: I love Thai food and was really looking forward to filling up on it during this trip. But first, lets talk about the breakfast at the resort. It is probably the biggest spread I have seen so far- eggs station, noodle soup station, juice and yoghurt counter, breads and pastries, salad bar, vegetarian station, fruits, local food, pancakes, waffles, ice-cream and more, phew! The breakfast is quite sumptuous- crab eggs Benedict, waffles with banana sauce and taro and lime ice creams are a must try. If you are staying for at least 4 days then you have good chance of tasting everything. The resort has plenty of eating options- Sand Box, Takieng, Loca Vore, Doppio. They have happy hour in the lounge from 6:30-8:30 pm. Loved the music there and the Mango Daiquiri.
We tried out Sand Box which serves pizzas, burgers, sandwiches etc. and liked the food there. Their wood fired pizzas are quite good I would say and I also liked their cocktails. We really wanted to try out Thai food at Takieng but didn’t get a chance plus unfortunately it is open only for dinner. Overall, the food is nice at the resort but on the expensive side.
Near the resort there isn’t much to see/eat. There is Turtle village and Mai Khao Plaza. We wanted to try out the local food so we visited the Mai Khao Plaza (apparently Turtle Village doesn’t have any local restaurant). There is only one restaurant at the plaza called the Mai Khao Living room and it seemed it had opened that day itself. I actually loved the food there- Prawn cakes, pineapple rice, Stir fried kale with mushrooms, chicken in hot basil sauce and fresh coconut water. But due to the lack options, this restaurant was also on the expensive side (a meal for two costed 1000 THB which is about 40 SGD). I was quite fascinated to see Lord Ganesha (Hindu god) being worshipped there!!
We tried out two restaurants near Patong and liked both. Dinner at the family-run Blue Horizon was delicious and my favourite meal of the trip- Garlic Prawns, Chicken in yellow curry, spring rolls and iced coffee (650 THB for two). I will definitely go there again when I return to Phuket. The other restaurant was Patong Seafood where the food was good but pricey -1440 THB for a meal of Tom Kha Gai, Prawns with cashew nuts, Phad Thai, Grilled fish in lime sauce and steamed rice. I always prefer the little family-run gems when i am travelling. However, on this particular day it was raining and we were short on time so decided to give it a try. Nonetheless, the food was good especially the soup and the fish.
Apart from this I had loads of fresh coconut water and tried out the stir-fried ice-cream with kiwi and raspberries. Yum! The ice-cream making process is quite interesting to watch!
Thai Massage: Moving on from food to the next important thing in life while you are in Thailand- Massage! Quan spa in the resort is ridiculously expensive and we did not try it at all. There is a small massage shack in front of the Mai Khao beach which is pretty decent. They have basic options and a one hour massage costs 500 THB (double the rate you get near Patong but far far better than the resort spas). The best thing about this one is you can hear the waves while getting the massage done!
We tried out two spas near Patong. After a lot of thinking (to find a non-shady massage place) and walking around, we went into Tanya Salon and Massage. We got a 2-hour massage done (1 hour Thai massage costed 200 THB and oil massage costed 300 THB) and liked it. Hubby dear liked it better than I did- it is really a question of how skilled the masseuse is! The second one was Limone Massage and Spa and loved the experience.This one is right in front of Blue Horizon restaurant and we decided to give it a try the next day. It is super value for money because the ambience resembles a more expensive spa experience however the rates are standard (250 THB for Thai massage and 300 THB for oil massage). One of the most relaxing massage I have had so far.
Shopping: There is a big market in front of Patong beach and close to Bangla street where you can find plenty of souvenirs, clothes, sarongs, trinkets etc. Having seen similar markets in Hanoi and Siem Reap, I don’t think the stuff is very cheap so remember to bargain hard. I wanted to walk through the famous Bangla street once just for the experience although I was not too keen on the ladyboy shows so gave it a miss!
I was quite sad to leave as I was loving our ‘super relaxed’ vacation. The weather was good during our stay- mostly cloudy with sunny patches. It did rain continuously on one particular day but after 3:00 pm so we did not mind. We flew back by JetStar and caught a beautiful sunset between the clouds.
We had a great short vacation and I can’t wait to be back in Thailand. Now, back to reality!!