DC and I took a long weekend off to recharge. We chose the Renaissance Phuket based on excellent reviews about this modern hotel that had great service. It’s on Mai Khao beach on the north of Phuket island, near the airport. It’s far less touristy in the area, but whatever there is that caters to tourists tends to be more expensive because there are only the Marriott group properties and a handful of other resorts in the area and not much else.
The great thing about staying at the Mai Khao area is that the airport is minutes away. It was a very easy check-in complete with ice-cold ginger and pineapple punch and cold towels. I liked how the reception area was wide open, with a grand water feature drawing the eye to the rest of the resort below.
It was a very clever bit of design to make use of the height difference between the reception and the beach and I loved the landscaping with the many coconut trees dotted everywhere.
The grounds below were equally beautiful and we enjoyed walking around the compact resort admiring the ponds and the greenery.
It was so relaxing that even this tree lizard stopped for long enough to let us take a good shot before scarpering off!
The beach itself is quite nice, though not the best. It’s a long expanse of yellow sand that’s a bit on the coarse side. Be careful when going in the water because there’s a steep dropoff rather early on. It’s definitely not safe for kids unless you’re in the water very close to them.
But walking on the beach is just fine, and it’s a long and beautiful stretch.
Now for the villa itself. We booked a pool villa. They somehow designed it so that it had a touch of both modern and traditional. Check out the entrance.
The villa was beautiful, with plenty of well-planned touches, like unobtrusive lighting and a high fence outside for privacy.
The villa was essentially one extra large room divided into sleeping and bath areas. Look at the pictures to see how pretty they are.
I loved the stone bathtub the best, it was huge (and takes forever to fill up) and when the pool was too cold (which was most of the time), we soaked in the tub instead.
The hotel also gave us a complimentary bottle of wine (which unfortunately gave us both a terrible headache) and a rose as we told them ahead we were celebrating a special occasion. That was a lovely touch. They also provided afternoon snacks in the room. We had cake pops one day, complete with chocolate dipping sauce and coconut shavings, and local snacks another day.
There was also a fancy espresso machine in the room, so we could have a cuppa any time we wanted. They refilled the pods every day too.
Now for the pool. It was the first time I stayed at a place with a private pool and it was such luxury to lie in bed or lounge on the couch while enjoying the view of the pool. We didn’t really use the recliners outside because it was far more comfortable indoors and I was afraid of being bitten by mosquitoes.
The water in the pool was pretty much always cold, probably because the villa was quite shaded for much of the day.. It was more comfortable to swim at the beach, but nice to have a cold dip before going into the shower. There’s a nice outdoor shower for rinsing off before and after a dip. The best part really is to draw a hot bath, have a dip in the pool and then run inside for a soak.
Mornings found us hanging out at the breakfast buffet which was part of the room rate. It had a really good spread, with local favourites changing every day, like green curry fried rice or pad thai. There was the usual assortment of bread and baked goods with spreads like honey on the comb. There was a juice bar with plenty of freshly squeezed choices. We went to town ordering green apple and ginger, then pear and dragonfruit, pineapple and celery, and all other combinations in between. There was satay and Caesar salad, eggs made to order, rice porridge with plenty of toppings and so many choices that three breakfasts were hardly enough for me to feel that I had sampled it all. The waffles are worth trying, mainly because of the banana, kaffir lime and coconut topping and the yummy home made ice cream you can have on it. One tip about breakfast – make sure you sit inside and bring a cardigan if you feel the cold. The airconditioning inside is quite strong, but it’s definitely better than being outside with the flies. This seemed to be the case every morning and nothing seemed to be done about it. It’s fine in the afternoon when we had an ice cream outside – no flies then.
We spent much of our time in the resort and tried most of the restaurants and cafes. Unfortunately, the Thai restaurant was disappointing as the flavours were off-balance. Later we realised that the kitchen was helmed by a Caucasian chef – what a travesty considering that there is definitely better talent right there in Phuket! For authentic Thai food, we ordered in from the nearby Kin Dee restaurant. The other places serving Western fare were decent, just be prepared to pay resort prices.
Overall, it was a lovely experience, with charming and friendly staff. They would ask if we wanted a buggy ride even though it was but a short walk to the villa. I was also very impressed by how they managed a fussy guest very well. He walked away happy.
We walked away happy too. It was a lovely experience with good service as advertised. And one of the best things about this place? Sunset at the beach while lounging at the main pool.