Here we are in Phuket, staying at Bel Air Resort. We're staying here as part of the deal we got from deals.com.au. I'm travelling with my husband Clinton, and daughter Natalie, who is 2 years and 8 months old.
I'm going to try and write something every day and give you our impressions.
Friday, Day 1.
We arrived late on Friday evening, travelling with Jetstar from Melbourne to Sydney and on to Phuket.
Juggling Natalie and our luggage, we lined up in the declaration line as both my husband and I are on a range of medications. I'll actually post something later, specifically to do with taking medications into Thailand.
There was only one person in front of us and we got waved through. So much for being prepared with all our medications in our hand luggage with letters from the doctors. Knowing our luck, if we weren't so organised we would've been pulled up.
Out into the general pick up area we went (still inside the airport) and immediately the taxi, tour and accommodation people rush forward to offer their services. It can be a bit confronting when you've been on a 9 hour flight and it's late in the evening and you're on home time (it was about 2330 AEST).
Exchanged some traveller's cheques and then went searching for the taxi booth.
We brought a lot of things with us, mainly stuff for Natalie i.e. disposable nappies, swimming nappies, favourite munchies for the plane, toys, stroller etc. We figured for the trip home our suitcases would've been emptied, and room made for all our holiday purchases.
If you're travelling with more than 2 or 3 biggish suitcases, and a 3 people, the taxi service might recommend 2 cars. We weren't to pleased with the idea of being split up, so we went with a guy who was standing near by with his taxi placard.
I was too tired to haggle prices, but we agreed on 1100 baht to get us to our hotel, Bel Air in Cape Panwa district. We probably could've haggled but if worked out to be about AUD 25 for a 1 hour drive to the hotel. The car was nice and big, with air-conditioning and very comfy seats.
We had to stop once at the office so that our driver could get signed off. The owner of the tour office came out to the car and asked us about our holiday, how long we were here for and if we wanted any trips organised. She was very polite and not pushy. She gave us some brochures and a business card, with a promise that we would contact her in a couple of days to organise a trip or two.
Part of our deals package included day trips such as elephant trekking, Phuket Aquarium, and shopping trip. On our flight, Jetstar showed a 15 minute Phuket tourism type video, which gave us ideas for some day trips such as James Bond island etc which we were interested in. Not forgetting that we had a toddler, the tour organiser said that if we didn't want to go on high speed boats, we could go on the larger, quieter boats. I thought this was a considerate suggestion, but our Natalie is a bit of an adrenaline junky, so I said we'd wait and see.
Off to our hotel at a rate of knots, we continued. Driving at no less than 100 km/hr, we got to our hotel by about 2130hrs Phuket time.
My first impressions arriving at the hotel included the steep drive up to the reception area. Not looking forward to pushing the stroller up the hill. Will add photos later.
The staff at the reception were lovely. Polite and very thorough. Our key and paperwork all ready and waiting prior to our arrival. Their English language skills aren't as bad as what people have made out to be. Coming from an ethnic background, with parents that were born os and growing up part of the Russian community, maybe it didn't phase me having to explain some of my questions and comments to the staff. It wasn't too big an issue.
Our room is on the 3rd floor of the hotel. The hotel itself is split up into a few different buildings. Ours is attached to the main reception building. Armed with Natalie and our essential bags we were shown to our room by one of the staff. I don't think they have dedicated porters, but the staff member was extremely helpful.
Ok, about to enter the room and get hit by the musty smell that people have spoken about.
What musty smell???? There was a faint odour, but as my hubby said, you get that in hotels on the Gold Coast near the beach. They must have a deodorising cleaning product that they use, because there was actually a pleasant florally smell in the room.
The room was clean and tidy. I had rung from Sydney airport and asked if we could have a cot in our room as Natalie has been toing and froing from her cot and toddler bed at home. They obliged happily over the phone saying that wouldn't be a problem.
Our luggage was delivered a few minutes later and the staff member showed us the A/C controls and where everything was.
It was quite warm in the room as the A/C wasn't on so the first thing we did was switch them all on as cool as possible. We noticed in the bedrooms that the thermostat couldn't be set lower than about 24 degrees which I was a bit worried about. By the time we unpacked our essentials and had Natalie changed for bed the bedrooms were pleasantly cool.
Natalie's cot was in our bedroom. She wouldn't have a bar of sleeping in it so she crawled into our bed and was asleep within 5 minutes. Clint tested out the shower in our ensuite which had one of those rain shower heads. It only took a couple of minutes to get the water temperature right, and he was happy as a pig in mud!
We had a slight drama on the plane from Syd to Phuket, where Natalie was sitting on her Daddy's lap and decided to have a huge wee which leaked out of her nappy all over Clint. Oops! As a mum, you pack a toddler's bag with 2 sets of spare clothes. You just don't think about yourself getting wee'd on. Well Daddy wasn't a happy camper, travelling in wet denim for 6 hours! Dried out pretty quickly and towards the end of the flight, he was able to laugh about it.
By the time I crawled into bed, it was about midnight Phuket time. The bed. Big comfy king size bed! Enough room for the three of us with space to move. The mattress is on the firmer side, but that's how we both like it. Natalie was dead to the world, and she didn't really care.
Saturday, Day 2.
0530 hrs, PT (Phuket time), Natalie is wide awake and raring to go. She normally gets up about 0700 hrs AEST, so this was a sleep in for her.
We entertained her for an hour or so and armed with our breaky vouchers we went off in search of the breakfast area.
When we'd arrived the reception staff gave us heaps of information, but I had to cut them off as my brain wasn't functioning and I wanted Natalie to get settle for bed. They were very understanding and told us the essentials we needed to know for the night and morning.
Wasn't too hard to find the restaurant for breakfast, up on the 4th floor. We followed another family in who we're leaving that day to return to Melbourne. They'd also got a deal off deals.com.au, so I hit them up with questions.
They raved about their trip. Loved the hotel and surrounding area etc. They had two older kids about 10 ish. Some of their suggestions included emptying the fridge and stocking up with your own goodies which you get from the minimart. They only went to the hotel beach the day before and said they should've gone earlier in their stay.
On one of the comments about the hotel, someone had commented that the beach was dirty and not pleasant. The family we were talking to, said it was the best beach they'd had ever seen and been to. White sand, crystal clear water. Having the beach club was great for food etc. Again it was great to hear such positive comments.
Breakfast was great. Remember we're not staying at the Ritz or Club Med. 3 cereal choices, (muesli, cornflakes and coco flakes), the egg man (whose omelettes are meant to be brilliant), white and wholemeal bread, croissants, strawberry jam or marmalade, sliced watermelon, papaya, and another fruit, yoghurt, 2 juices and water. A couple of salad items, shredded cabbage, lettuce, cucumbers and dressings. Tea and coffee and plain milk.
Then we move onto the hot food. French toast, pancakes, baked beans, bacon, sausages, sautéed mushies, asian noodles, fried rice, steamed rice, fried tomatoes and other asian dishes. The food was warm to hot and very, very nice. It's great to have such a wide variety of foods. Could do with some extra spreads like vegemite and peanut butter, maybe porridge, but we'll see what the week ahead brings. After pigging out, we went for a walk unto the roof swimming pool. Stunning views of the port. The pool is a descent size, with a toddler's pool attached. Watch out, Natalie is ready to jump in for a swim!
We returned to our room to get sorted for the day. We unpacked our suitcases and stored them into the storage area (which I think could've been a little laundry cupboard in a previous life). The hotel room is huge. We're staying in the lowest room type. We have no complaints about the rooms. The bedrooms are spacious, the communal bathroom has a shower with jet heads on the side walls. Will have to figure out how to use it! The main bedroom is big enough for a party and the ensuite is the same. We have a large balcony with a table and four chairs, and 2 lounge recliners and a drying stand. Our view is out to the port area, overlooking the main road and houses as well as the ships and outlying islands. No smells outside, bit noisy at times (which you don't hear inside), but pleasant.
There's minimart just outside the hotel, to the left of the entrance. Strolled down there with Natalie to get some essentials. Extra water, soft drinks, munchies etc. Just before the mini mart is a laundry place and they charge 50 baht per kilo. That seemed quite reasonable. took the first load down at about 1 ish and they said it would be ready the next day, washed and folded. Directly opposite the hotel is a taxi area. Prices seem quite good. Organising for them to take me into Phuket town to a shopping centre so I can get more supplies, and check out the shops! I forgot to buy swimmer nappies at home, so we only have a couple. Natalie is in the middle of toilet training, so need to get some more. There's a bigger minimart opposite the Raddison which is a couple minutes up the road by car. The shuttle bus will drop you off on the way down to the beach club and then pick you up on their way back. Gives you about 10 minutes. The prices of food items are so cheap. Will give you some prices later. The minimart isn't like our 7 elevens at home where everything is double the price. It will be interesting to compare prices with the supermarket in Phuket town. Bought a 1/2 loaf of bread, butter, plastic cheese, 6 x 500ml bottles of water, 4 soft drink cans, 2 packets of chips, 2 x noodle cups (for Natalie) and a bar of cussons soap. (There's toiletries in the rooms, but no hand soap??). Paid about 400 baht (AUD 13). Cheap huh? For ease of converting money, i work on a rate of 30 baht to 1 AUD. We exchanged travellers cheques at the airport at a rate of 31 baht. The rate is better than this, but it's easier to work in round numbers.
Anyway, it's Sunday mid morning, and we're off to the department stores. Tonight I'll write about Phuket town markets which went to last night as well as other bits and pieces. Hope I'm not boring people too much, but I know some people will find this informative for their trip planning.
Dosvidanie, til tonight.
PS will post photos on the hotel review area.