I’m a big believer in budget travel. Make your money go as far as possible (literally) and get more time our of your holiday. Frankly, that is easier said than done in many countries, but there are still some amazing destinations where you can easily travel on a budget without scraping the bottom of the barrel. Thailand for example.
Thanks to Thailand still being a relatively affordable travel destination my little son and I were able to spend a whole three months there, while our friends back home froze in the blistering winter cold that is so typical for Berlin. We stayed in cheap hotels, ate in roadside kitchens and spent our days by the beach. With that said, I am also a firm believer that the soul needs to splurge a little, especially after working hard to keep expenses at bay. Believe me, there is no better time for a fancy hotel stay than after weeks and months of low budget accommodation.
In our case, the invitation to hang out and relax at the Movenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach on the island of Phuket could not have come at a better time. We had spent the past month on the nearby island of Ko Lanta and after a reasonable 90 minutes on the speedboat we arrived in Phuket. We did not exactly come from rags but when I opened the door to our hotel room it felt like entering a castle. Atlas and I each had our own bedroom, connected by a living and dining room. All was beautifully designed without seeming over the top. In fact it was very much like a real apartment (in Denmark, or some other nordic country that’s notorious for their love of good design).
It struck me just how clean everything was. You’d think the hotel had only been a couple of weeks old, when in fact it’s been around since the 80’s! All of the resort is giving that same impression. Each morning as I strolled to breakfast I was greeted by a couple of gardeners who worked to keep the tropical feel of the super green setting alive. The many trees and bushes give out a wonderful feel of seclusion and relaxation and that really does take its toll on guests: I was quite surprised at how laid-back and easygoing everyone here seemed to be! It’s the sort of lightness one gets when they know someone else is doing everything they can to make people feel comfortable.
So what else did I love about this place? The biggest selling point for me is this: FOOD. If good food genuinely makes you happy, eating at the Movenpick Karon Beach will put a massive grin on your face throughout your stay. Not only is the breakfast selection downright epic, dining at El Gaucho, the Movenpick’s very own Grill Restaurant just off the main strip, is an almost mind-blowing experience. I had the Brazilian Churrasco, where a chef dishes up a selection of 15 grilled meats to your plate – straight from the sword. This was easily the best food I have ever eaten on any Thai island and I’d go as far as making Dinner at El Gaucho the Number One thing to do in Phuket.
Have you ever eaten good food at a bar? I don’t mean good as in fatty and juicy and greasy but just high quality, delicious food? I have, at Mint, the open air bar, just below the El Gaucho. The bartender was casted especially flown in from South Africa, the music has just the right volume to be fun but still allow conversation and the ocean waves are just in sight. Sounds good yet? Well, it gets even better. The pizza comes straight from the stone oven and tastes incredible. Enjoyed with a custommade martini (leave it all up to your bartender!) you’ll feel high up in holiday heaven. I certainly did.
For those of you traveling with kids, the babysitting service here is of extremely high standard without the high standard rates. An English-speaking, qualified babysitter watched over my sleeping son for two hours while I got to try my first cocktail after an 18-month break from drinking… all while I paid only EUR8 per hour.
Speaking of childcare, the Movenpick has a great kids club that lets you drop off your wee ones with knowledgable and loving child minders. They offer a great range of activities, big and small, to make sure those kids are happy and entertained while mom and dad get to enjoy a swim in the pool or indulge in a massage. As probably any other parent, I am quite picky with whom I hand my baby over but Thais adore children – and the kids can tell.
Did someone say spa? Ah, the spa. The haven and heaven of any great resort. Book 60 or 90 or 120 minutes of mind and body escape with a treatment of your choice. There is a lot to chose from! Swiss brand Movenpick prides itself on providing high quality service from front to finish and the Spa here is no exception.
There are three things that make this place stand out to other resorts. I have already mentioned food. I have been to few resorts that can compete with the culinary pleasures I’ve enjoyed here. Second on the list would be family friendliness, the many pools, the proximity to the beach, the friendly personal and outstanding childcare options make this place a top choice for kids and their parents. Finally I loved the natural setting of this place. I have rarely seen a greener resort. Full of trees, bushes and green lawns – strolling back to your room after breakfast remains an experience!
For more info on staying here, check out their website and have a read through the reviews on their facebook page.
All photos by Katja Hentschel and Movenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach.