Whether it’s the nearby nightlife, shopping or a relaxing stay, DoubleTree by Hilton Phuket Banthai Resort has it all, writes
Loong Wai Ting
THICK grey clouds gather as soon as we land at Phuket International Airport in southern Thailand. The air is noticeably cooler than in Kuala Lumpur. The grey sky presses down, threatening to let up any time.
After 40 minutes of navigating winding hilly roads and squeezing past small alleys packed with tourists, we finally arrive at DoubleTree by Hilton Phuket Banthai Resort. Like magic, the sky clears up, revealing a vast blue sky.
As we check into this newly opened resort along busy Patong Beach, we are handed a warm chocolate chip cookie.
The lobby looks out onto a small carpark and beyond that are the hotel’s dining restaurants: The Port Restaurant and The Shore where daily buffet breakfast is served. Also at the lobby is the Lobby Bar.
A butler offers to take my small luggage for my 3D/2N stay at the resort, giving me time to explore the resort and the surrounding Patong Beach.
I explore the sometimes chaotic Patong Beach area. It is full of shops selling souvenirs and tourist paraphernalia such as sunglasses, hats and T-shirts. There are also row of shops offering Thai massage at an affordable price.
From the hotel, I take a right turn towards Soi Bangla or Bangla Road, said to come alive as soon as the sun sets. The road in front is closed to traffic and is transformed into a shopping haven with neon lights and loud music from the speakers in nearby bars.
This place is filled with friendly locals and foreign workers who push leaflets advertising tattoo shops, cheap eats and drinks into your hands. There are a lot of bars in this area, so do not be surprised when the owners invite you in for a drink.
I feel the energy and the vibes but long for a quiet spot once more.
It is with great difficulty that I finally escape crowded Bangla Road. Moving past the crowd, I finally find my place of solace: A convenience store. I welcome the cool air and smell of freshly brewed coffee and microwave-heated food. This is a welcome sight compared to the chaos outside.
Grabbing a cup of black coffee, I move past the back door of the convenient store and find a seat next to a stall selling local delights. It’s a little pricey but cheap compared to the city. A woman hands me a menu with smudged photos of Thai food. Luckily, there’s English translation on each food item.
She speaks rapid Thai. I can only catch a few words here and there. “Chaan pood Thai dai mai ka (I don’t speak Thai),” I say. In halting English she replies that I look like a Thai. I select som tam or fresh papaya salad with a huge bowl of tom yam goong and white rice.
Halfway through my meal, my phone beeps with a message from the hotel. “Good evening! Your room is ready” says the message. After paying and thanking the woman for the free dessert, I walk back to the hotel.
ROOM FOR A KING
Most of the rooms are located above the lobby while the rest are fanned out throughout the resort. My room is on the third floor, slightly further away from the lobby.
An overwhelming peppermint scent welcomes me as I step into my King Premium Room with Balcony. My large room overlooks the swimming pool with its Swim-Up Bars.
The bed is neatly made with four big and soft, fluffy pillows. A thick duvet is stretched over the big bed. There is also a sofa that doubles up as a small bed. My room lacks a writing or work area. No, it’s not a bad thing. In fact, I welcome the idea of not having a work station in my room because nobody wants to work during their holidays, right?
When I want to check emails and work on my stories, I head down to the business centre at the lobby and plonk myself in one of the comfortable cushioned chairs.
Every room has a balcony that looks out to the pool. However, I don’t like how it is located too close to your neighbour. One night I had to endure my neighbour’s loud talk that went on until the wee hours. ut at most times, I love to sit in the chair here and catch up on my reading or writing.
My bright and airy room features an en suite bathroom equipped with a walk-in rain shower and toiletries by Crabtree and Evelyn.
DINE AND WINE
The next morning, after a quick shower, I walk over to The Shore for breakfast. I am told that the breakfast spread here is one of the best in the area and I certainly do not want to miss it. A waitress shows me to my table and brings me a cup of black coffee with double shots of espresso.
The breakfast spread is so extensive that I do not know where to begin. Grabbing a white porcelain plate, I pile my plate with fresh local salad and freshly baked French pastries, before heading to the Thai noodles section. The Shore has a fruit counter with a slow juice processor to make your own juice with vegetables and sliced fruits. But there are also ready-made fresh juices. Oh, there are juice recipes that you can follow.
Stuffed from the breakfast, I walk across the road near the restaurant to the beach. Dark clouds are forming on the horizon, promising rain. But that doesn’t bother the holidaymakers here who spread out blankets on the soft sand.
When it is lunch time, I head over to The Port next to The Shore. This casual dining restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating. It serves a wide selection of Thai cuisine and Western delights.
When in Thailand, eat like the locals. So I select Thai mango salad as starter and Pad Thai as my main course. The portion is quite big and I almost give up trying to finish my plate of Pad Thai.
To burn off the calories, I swim in one of the resort’s three swimming pools. Then when the night comes, I relax at Blah Blah bar that overlooks Patong Beach.
At DoubleTree by Hilton Phuket Banthai Resort, it is easy to feel pampered and relaxed.
PICTURES BY LOONG WAI TING
DOUBLETREE BY HILTON PHUKET BANTHAI RESORT
94 Thaveewong Rd, Patong
Beach, Phuket, Thailand
TEL 66 76 340 850
FAX 66 76 340 330
STAY The 290-room resort is in the heart of Patong. All rooms offer a private balcony or terrace area overlooking lush tropical gardens and one of three hotel pools. Amenities include an HDTV, WiFi, mini refrigerator and tea- and coffee-making facilities, and all bathrooms feature an elegant bathtub shower or walk-in shower.
EAT The Port is an all-day dining restaurant, serving Asian and Western delights. Do not miss the breakfast at The Shore. Wake up early to avoid the crowd. Find time to relax at the Lobby Bar or catch the beautiful sunset at Blah Blah bar.
DOEnjoy a workout in the 24/7 fitness centre or take a dip in one of three outdoor pools, featuring swim-up bars with submerged seating.
GONearby Bangla Road comes alive once the sun goes down, with its bars and nightlife making it the ideal spot for party lovers. Jungceylon Shopping Complex is nearby for all your shopping needs, or why not pick up a bargain at Banzaan Fresh Market? Families will enjoy visiting the cultural Phuket FantaSea Themed Park. Phuket Old Town is easily reachable from the hotel and offers a wealth of heritage buildings, shops and attractions.
HIGH Location. Patong Beach is at its doorstep while Bangla Road is just around the corner.
LOW It can get very busy during the holiday season.
FROM now till Dec 31, DoubleTree by Hilton Phuket Banthai Resort is offering the Cookie Suite Experiential Package.
Guests taking up the package get to enjoy a stay in the unique cookie-themed King Deluxe Suite which has a separate living area with a dedicated cookie bar decked out with freshly baked cookies, a neon cookie sign and a special flat-lay photography corner for photo enthusiasts. The suite is equipped with cookie-scented candles, body-scrub bath amenities, customised cookie bathrobes and cookie plushies. Also thrown in is an exclusive beach kit that comes with a cookie-designed beach umbrella and towels.
The Cookie Suite Experiential Package includes:
• Daily breakfast for two
• Daily one sunset drink per person at an al fresco bar, for two
• One four-course set dinner at The Port all-day dining restaurant, for two
• Return airport transfer
• Twenty per cent discount on all food and beverage at the resort
• One-time free minibar
• WiFi access