Earlier this year some very good friends of ours sent us their wedding invitation. The groom had fallen in love with a French belle years ago and they were tying the knot: in France. Hubby decided we were all going on a 6 week round world trip. It sounded amazing, Sydney to Asia, Europe then via the USA home.
Then I remembered that 4 of our children are 9 years and under and I would rather eat my own kidney than travel that far with them. The wedding coincided with the July school holidays and I didn’t want to stay here either on my own, so I asked my dad and a friend and her two daughters to come away with me and the kids.
We decided on Phuket. I had been to Thailand twice before: as an 18 year old and on my honeymoon. Hubby swore he would never go again, despite loving Asian people and food he hates travelling in Asia and hates Thailand in particular, probably due to the fact on our honeymoon a lovely Thai shop assistant told him she didn’t stock elephant sized shorts. It was the perfect time for me to show the kids Thailand.
We flew Jetstar at 230pm. The flight was just over 9 hours and was hideous for me. Jetstar I will never fly again – your fare includes nothing. You have to pay for seats if you want a window seat confirmed. You have to buy meals, entertainment packages, blankets, pillows – just add it to the fare who doesn’t want to eat and watch TV on a 9 hour flight?
We got in late at night and had to get through customs then into a transfer to take us into Phuket. If you ever listen to a thing I say this should be it: if you do this flight book an overnight at an airport hotel. It was 230am before we got to bed and the kids were wired.
We stayed at The Village Coconut Island. It’s a 5-10 minute boat trip from Phuket Marina. I had booked a 3 bedroom pool villa which ended up moving to a 4 bedroom after the first one was located right next to the live music they played till 1030pm three nights a week. The kids couldn’t sleep through it so they moved us. The villas are huge and have their own pools, and are decked out with everything you expect in a 4-5 star resort. My friend had a 2 bedroom and had trouble with getting clean towels and the standard of cleaning, I couldn’t fault ours.
There are two pool areas plus two water slides which the kids loved. The kids club was poor. It is a room with one lady left to look after whoever comes there daily. There is an outside part with a toy car and a climbing frame and inside has a TV plus a few wooden toys. There is a shelf with plaster moulds the kids could buy and paint. I think we got up to about 12 each. Apart from that they do not leave the room. No organised activities. No walks. Zero. This was a huge disappointment and dashed my hopes of kid free time – it was too boring to leave them there for more than 1-2 hours at a time.
There were three places to eat in the resort, The Tamarind, The Deli and Koko. The food was pretty good, a mix of Western and Asian cuisine. You can eat breakfast at all three of those places – The Tamarind had the biggest and best selection. There is a spa there that I never got to try out but it had a huge selection of treatments available. To get off the island you have to book a boat transfer that runs every hour all day and most of the night. At the Marina there is a kids indoor play centre that we went to one day and they loved it. We also went on a two hour elephant trek adventure which the kids loved and shopping at the weekend markets. Remember: offer one third of the asking price and work up.
By day 8 we had had enough and booked into the Centara Grand West Sands which is right near Phuket Airport. Our flight home left at 1020pm so we booked that night to check out late with the kids. It was a good move. This 5 star resort has a water park located inside it and the kids absolutely loved it. It has waterslides, a wave pool, a lagoon pool to float down, two huge kids play areas and suits all ages. We booked a family residence which was small for me plus the four kids – it would be fine for a family of four. The food was better here than at our first stop. It was a quick stay and I would suggest staying here on arrival and departure into Phuket, not for the entire time it is too far out of Phuket town.
Would I recommend Thailand? Yes – I love the country. Would I recommend taking 2,4,8 and 9 year olds that far? Probably not. I will be waiting a few more years before I travel that far with my tribe again!