This lush family resort and spa on a tropical southeast Asian isle offers the best of Thai hospitality and a gorgeous beach overflowing with family activities.
If you’re thinking about a tropical paradise with palm trees swaying above deserted sand beaches, Phuket, Thailand may be your ideal destination. And this first J.W. Marriott Phuket Resort in Asia is still one of the best. When it opened on the coast of the Andaman Sea on the island of Phuket, the Marriott staff was quick to cite the friendly, welcoming Thai people as the main reason why their new property, with excellent facilities for families, was built there. Thanks to the Thais’ love of fun, play and sanuk (a spirit of happiness), other resorts have been built nearby.
In part due to the reconstruction that followed the December 26, 2004 tsunami, Phuket is much less of a tourist-infested party destination for Aussies and backpacking Europeans than in the early 90s. The Marriott and other luxury resorts were a sign of change and for most visitors, the island has successfully transitioned into a very upscale getaway.
From our own family’s experience, we know the Thailand Tourist office slogan “Land of Smiles” is true, and after repeat visits, the gentle Thai people have made it one of the most comfortable destinations we’ve taken our child. And Thailand doesn’t have to be as exotic as it seems; according to management, Marriott’s family guests are largely from the US, U.K. and those Asian countries where many British, American and Australian expats reside.
The Marriott’s two-bedroom villas at the edge of beautiful, almost deserted Mai Khao Beach are adjacent to the Sirinath Marine National Park, so you won’t see the hawkers, masseurs and hair-braiders from Phuket’s other coastal villages. Year-round, several international and religious holidays are celebrated at the resort with colorful pageantry, special meals and events, and kids activities. However, if it’s more action you seek, there are complimentary shuttles to Phuket Town and Patong every hour.
The JW Marriott Phuket’s Beach Club is the expanded wing that has the family villas. These boast a master and second bedroom, sofabed in the living area, kitchen and laundry facilities, two bathrooms and three TVs, making them ideal for long-staying families and those traveling with nannies and/or grandparents. Due to popular demand, another 84 units and a third swimming pool have been added to the family area.
The two Marriotts share many facilities and the resort deli, for example, will deliver baby supplies or groceries to the villas. The resort’s 295 very spacious rooms with balconies overlooking 27 acres of landscaped gardens are another comfortable option.
Cultural & Active Programs for all Ages
Families together can take advantage of the MAZE (Marriott’s Activity Zone Experience) program, with its daily menu of cultural classes (Thai cooking, dancing, language, introduction to Thai Buddhism, massage, arts and crafts, kick boxing, Batik, origami, fruit carving), watersports, meditation and fitness classes. Or, simply, play tennis, play golf nearby, try a snorkel boat trip or visit the turtle sanctuary in a nearby village.
As elsewhere in Thailand, dining is a real treat. Wannabe’ chefs will enjoy learning at the resort’s Thai Cooking School about the region’s intricate cuisine. From the many restaurants, kids will gravitate to the sushi bar and to the evening seafood market at Sala Rim Talay, where you can ‘shop’ for your catch and have it freshly prepared in any Thai or Asian style.
The resort’s expanded Children’s Pavilion features separate Tots and Teens sections. Guests from age 4 and up have a colorful cubby house/climbing frame, wooden toys, karaoke, a dolls house, computers and their own small sized furniture in their part of the Pavilion. Teens have a large movie screen, Sony PS2, table tennis and another section of computers (with IM access to keep in touch with friends back home).
Most recently, the resort has expanded the teen zone by adding new facilities which include a pool table, DVD lounge and a new party room for all ages to celebrate events such as Christmas, Easter, Halloween, New Year, Chinese New Year and the beautiful Thai festivals.
Sean Panton, Director of Recreation, addes, “We have provided the most extensive program and children’s facilities on the island. We want to ensure our younger guests have an amazing experience while staying at our resort.” The supervised children’s program runs daily from 9am-5pm (for kids 4-13) and again from 6-8pm (teens can stay until 10pm) and offers swimming and sand castle making, circus training, Thai boxing, language and classical dance, arts n’crafts and special activities such as turtle conservation projects, jewelry making and hair beading.
The resort requests a guardian remain on resort property whenever a child is registered. (Private sitters are available on request.) The three pools, kiddie pool and waterslide are attended by lifeguards trained in CPR and First Aid. As if all this didn’t sound posh enough, the Mandara Spa has received Conde Nast Traveller magazine’s award for the “Best Hotel Spa in Asia” and believe me, there is a lot of intense competition for that honor.
Learn more about this resort and the other Marriott options nearby at Marriott Resorts.
Resort Report Card
|Name:||JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa|
|Address:||231 Moo 3, Mai Khao
|Seasonal Rates:||$ – $$$$|
|Choice of Activities:||A|
|Quality of Amenities:||B+|
|Bonus:||The Thai staff really know how to please.|
|Note:||Rates vary often with the hot, dry and wet seasons and many international holidays, so you can find real bargains.|
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.