We almost don’t want to give this place a rave review - we would rather keep it our little secret. This was our second trip to Indigo Pearl. After having the most wonderful honeymoon there in 2009, we considered staying elsewhere for this trip for all of 30 seconds then decided anywhere else would be a disappointment. So we will give credit where credit is due and also share some experiences and tips in what will be a lengthy review so if you don’t want to read the whole thing the next couple of paragraphs might help you decide if this place is for you…
DON’T STAY HERE IF…you like to drink til you can’t stand up, want to party all night, go to bars, like being around lots of people, want an endless variety of shopping within walking distance of your accommodation, just want a clean, comfortable and cool place to stay and you don’t really care what it looks like. May I suggest Patong is the place for you.
DO STAY HERE IF…you love peace, quiet and serenity, want to relax by the pool, feel like royalty, read a book or watch the clouds roll by, you appreciate accommodation that is really stylish and has the ‘wow’ factor, don’t really care for late nights and partying, happy to pay for a taxi or bus to take you shopping.
Indigo Pearl is something special. If you have not yet looked at photos, it is based around Phuket’s tin mining history. The theme carries through to everything - and I mean everything. The attention to detail is extraordinary - right down to the cutlery, the tissue boxes and even the toilet roll holders. It’s all rusted metal, recycled / aged timber, plate glass, polished concrete and fabulous blue lighting. Some reviews suggest the resort is cold and industrial (“what - you booked without looking at it on the internet?”), we found it simply amazing and even on our 2nd visit we would come across some fabulous design feature that made us go ‘wow’! I guess just like some people cannot appreciate a classic painting by a famous artist, then not everyone will like this place. If you don’t really care for surrounds that are something out of the ordinary, go and stay at the Dewa Phuket just down the road. It is nice; but it won’t blow your socks off like Indigo Pearl. If you have any kind of interest in construction, interior decorating, landscaping, art or photography then you will love it here.
We had booked Kelly Quarters but were upgraded to (I think) a Pearl Beds suite; they gave us exactly the same room we had on our honeymoon which was a really nice touch. The room is quite spacious with a clever walk-in robe / dressing room with plenty of hanging space, shelves and drawers. The provided toiletries - soap, lotion, shower gel are good quality and smell just divine.
We were just a short walk from the gym, which was great as we were there at 7am each day. If you are going to work out you have to do it early as it gets hot real quick and you feel like you’ve earned a big brekky once you‘ve exercised. The gym is small but has a great range of equipment for a full body workout. We really enjoyed our conversations with Graad, such a nice friendly guy who is working on his English. Ask him to show you what he can do with the fit balls!
There is a shuttle bus each day to Phuket town, Central Festival shopping centre and Patong. There aren’t actually any signs in the lobby for this, just ask at the concierge desk. It costs 490 baht per person return, more reasonable than local taxi which is 900 baht one way. I thought it strange that the bus left at 12 and returned at 4, giving us barely 3 hours shopping time in Patong. As it turned out this was a blessing. I previously visited Patong in 2002 and now it is just crazier and more crowded, full of sweaty tourists and every step of the way someone is wanting to take you somewhere or sell you something. It was ridiculously hot and we were happy to make our purchases and get the hell out of there. There is no way on god’s green earth that we’d consider staying there for even a night. It really is only good for shopping. As a guide (and I’m told I’m pretty good at bartering!) singlets and t-shirts 150 - 200 baht (good quality but beware they do shrink a bit); pashminas and silk scarves 300 - 350 baht; silk robes 300 baht; boxers shorts 2 for 300 baht. Of course it does depend too on the quantity purchased and the willingness of the seller. Do remember to smile when you barter, you will get a better price. And in my experience if a Thai seller says they are giving you a good starting price, (ie because you are buying a few things) they really are giving a good price. I spent quite a bit of time talking to one stallholder and he told me he buys the silk robe I bought from a wholesaler at 285 baht and sells for 300 baht, a profit of just 15 baht (about 50 cents in Australia). So remember also when you are haggling that small change to us is a lot to the locals. I also recommend Central Festival for shopping. It is huge and while not exactly cheap there is plenty of variety and it‘s nice and cool! When we were there last year there were a few temporary stalls where you could barter and we did some great shopping there. The stores where it’s one price were similar prices to home. Cosmetics are certainly cheaper but the best place for cosmetics is the duty free store at the departure lounge at Phuket airport. As for Phuket town I wouldn’t bother going there for shopping. It has some interesting architecture but the streets are a confusing maze, some very putrid smells and the shopping is not that great.
No, not the Leonardo Di Caprio movie, Nai Yang beach. But if you expect Nai Yang to look like the movie you will be disappointed. Nai Yang is a perfectly lovely, picturesque little beach. But let me qualify that by saying I live near some of the best beaches in the world. There is a little bit of rubbish, but I’d rather come across the odd plastic bottle or a tin can on Nai Yang beach than broken glass and hypodermic needles which you‘d find on the dodgy beaches back home. I think the only people that swim at Nai Yang are the locals and tourists who have never seen a beach before.
Indigo Pearl sits in the centre of Nai Yang, but it doesn’t have direct beach frontage. The resort is separated from the beach by a high wall. Nai Yang beach is in a national park, so I think that’s why the restaurants and shops along the beach have enormous casuarina pines literally growing out the roof. A very funny sight.
The ‘road’ that runs along the beach is a narrow strip of bitumen barely three paces across. You can walk from one end to the other in under 5 minutes. There are 20 or so restaurants, a couple of clothing shops and tour operators, massage services, tailors and taxis. It is not unusual to go into a shop in the afternoon to find the shopkeeper asleep on a stretcher at the back of the store. There is a real sense of community here…if you want a massage for two but they only have one person available they just call down the street for someone to come from another massage place. One nice thing is that the shop prices are really reasonable even BEFORE you start bartering. If this was home, where you have tourists at a somewhat isolated little beach resort, they would jack up the prices for sure.
The restaurants are all pretty much open air, plastic tables and chairs on the sand. I hate it when people call these places shabby old shacks - what were they expecting? Yes they are made of whatever the owners can find but there is a lot of love and pride in what they do. They even sweep the sand!
We ate 6/7 nights at Mamma Mia’s. It was great last time and even better this time. You have never seen a more organised kitchen. Very clean and tidy with a place for everything. Also one of the few places that has a fridge from what I can tell (compare this to the so called restaurant next door). Mamma Mia’s is run by a friendly extended family who all speak English quite well. I like that you can see exactly what the cook is up to in the kitchen. We ate at Batik last year, which was nice, but the kitchen is way out the back and you can’t see into it and that is a concern. Also at Batik you dine in these gorgeous little timber huts but after dark I saw a huge rat running around the sand so that was a put-off! But we thoroughly recommend Mamma Mia’s; everything we tried was delicious and the vegies were always fresh. Even their Western food was great - had the best French fries I’ve ever had and they did a cheeseburger that looked exactly like the one on the photo in their menu (take note McDonald’s). Average price of a meal for 2 with four dishes and soft drinks was around 400 - 500 baht. Very reasonable. Highly recommend the green curry soup with prawn.
There is a choice of restaurants at the resort but after handing over a big chunk of our holiday budget for the accommodation I’m happy to support the locals and dine on the beach. So other than Tine Mine restaurant where we had breakfast daily and one dinner I can’t comment on the other resort dining. Same goes for the spa, you can get a perfectly nice massage on the beach for much less.
A tip for the thrifty - the first thing we do when we arrive is take a local taxi to the nearest 7/11 (200 baht) and stock up on soft drinks and snacks. We then take all the expensive mini bar items out of the fridge. Soft drinks are only 14 baht at 7/11. You can also buy these from the mini mart just outside Indigo Pearl on the beach but you’ll pay more (35 baht).
THE BEST THINGS ABOUT INDIGO PEARL…
- The beds are divine, enormous king size beds so soft you feel like you are floating on a cloud. Huge feather pillows - not normally a fan - but found these extremely comfortable. You just sink into the bed and feel like you never want to move again. As someone who has chronic back pain, I woke pain-free every single day. I’d have taken this bed home if I could!
- The breakfast. Honestly anyone who says breakfast here is substandard is a complete idiot. There is fresh fruit and juices, the best bircher muesli I ever had, cereals, yoghurts, salad and stir fries, delicious fresh petit pastries and variety of fresh breads, bacon, sausages, potatoes, baked beans, hash browns, grilled tomatoes, smoked salmon, a variety of cheeses, waffles, pancakes and your own personal egg chef to cook eggs any way you like. The omelettes were sensational and if you order one, when you return the chef remembers what you ordered and hands over your plate without hesitation. OK I suppose there’s always going to be someone who will whinge that they don’t have some obscure brand of tea or something. All the food was fresh and delicious, not your typical bland crap for the masses that is churned out at your average buffet. It made us want to try everything; which we did. To the point where we just didn’t want to move we were so full!
- The gardens. Some reviewers have complained about getting lost in the resort. What a place to be lost in! Mass plantings of aloe, agave, bamboo, bird of paradise, liriope, frangipani, cordylines, cactus and enormous palm trees the likes of which I’ve never seen anywhere else. They look like something out of Jurassic Park. Simply awesome! Get lost, enjoy, take a camera.
- The staff. Extremely gracious, friendly, helpful. They have varying degrees of English but that’s to be expected. You will get plenty of practice saying ‘sa-was-dee’ as you make your way around the resort. I have absolutely no idea what other reviewers are talking about when they say the staff are unfriendly. Mind you we did see some appalling displays of bad manners from other guests who were so demanding and rude to the staff. We believe that a smile and graciousness will surpass any language barrier. When you adopt the traits of the locals you will enjoy your holiday all the more.
When it came to checkout we asked if we could have our room a bit longer as we had an evening flight. Staff told us we could have the room until 2pm but when I went back a couple of minutes later for them to adjust the key card, she said her manager had called and said we could have the room until 4pm because “we are special”. How good is that?
WHAT THE TRAVEL AGENTS WON’T TELL YOU…
- Yes there is just a curtain between the toilet and the rest of the suite. This didn’t bother us in the slightest, but if you need solid timber between you and your partner while you are doing your business, I suggest you look elsewhere.
- The heat is a killer. It was unseasonably hot when we were there and at times we found it unbearable to be in direct sun between 9 and 3pm, yet we are used to much hotter temperatures back home. It’s the humidity and lack of breeze, and the intensity of the sun. I would burn within 5 minutes, even with sunblock on. And yet we saw many people sit by the pool or beach in direct sun for hour after hour and they were red as lobsters! What they say about mad dogs and Englishman and midday sun also applies to Europeans! Makes me wonder if they have skin cancer awareness campaigns in the Northern hemisphere. We often spent the hottest part of the day in the comfort of our room having a nap or watching TV. In fact the nicest time of day to go to the pool is 3.30pm onwards. The sun loses its kick a bit and all the people who are burnt to a crisp have left so it’s easier to get a sun lounge.
- There is really not much to do here and we love that! The nightly entertainment consists of…watching planes climb into the sky while you dine on the beach, watching the local kids play soccer, watching the sky change color as the sun sinks into the Andaman sea, or the local dogs fighting over their patch of beach. There are a few bars on the beach but they had very few customers. We are not big drinkers in fact we didn‘t drink at all while we were there; the prices were not that cheap and I’m fussy about what wines I drink so happy to go without. At night we had dinner while watching the sun set, a walk on the beach, then back to our room for some TV, then an early night. Our holiday was all about relaxation.
- You can just hear the planes. The airport is at the next beach to the north. Inside the resort and depending on the breeze you can just hear a distant rumble of planes. This didn’t bother us at all; in fact it‘s a reminder that you are somewhere faraway and exotic. You can catch glimpses of the planes through the trees while at the adult pool.
- The main restaurant, Tin Mine, where breakfast is served is a big open air space cooled only by fans. It can get quite steamy even in the morning or having dinner there after dark. As everything is open air, if you are at all squeamish about flies on your food you may not like this. Not that I’m saying there are lots of flies, but there are some. We are Aussies so if we had a problem eating food with flies around we’d starve within a week.
- The smells both inside and along the beach. Just occasionally you will come across a really bad smell from the drains underground. You just have to hold your breath and keep walking. It soon passes and you are back smelling frangipani again. Honestly I can’t see why people get upset about this; all those tourists eating all that food, it has to go somewhere! Thai infrastructure is just not the same as home.
- If you leave your door or window open creepy-crawley things will come into your room. (Just like they will at home! Duh.)
And there aren’t many! I don’t know if there’s such a thing as sun lounge etiquette but I’m sure that putting a hat and book on a couple of sun lounges then disappearing for a few hours is not playing fair. I think management could do something about this as it’s really disappointing to get to the pool and find no space, then have to trek off to another.
The prices in the gift shop are way over the top and few things have prices on anyway so you have to ask the staff, then put stuff back when you realise how expensive it is!
I have asked management - again - pleaded in fact, to make one of the three pools smoke free, or even better make a smoke free area at each pool. Or perhaps all you smokers could just go and spend your next holiday in Afghanistan or somewhere far away where you won’t stink up my little patch of tropical paradise.
Kids young and older will be bored in 15 minutes here and won’t appreciate the fabulous surroundings. If you must travel with kids Patong has much more to offer. If you just want a stopover near the airport the Dewa has recently opened at Nai Yang, looks nice and is cheaper. I saw so many grizzly, hot and bothered kids stressing out their parents (and nearby diners) it makes me wonder why you’d bother. I mean who would want to push a stroller through sand?
So there you have it, hopefully you have an idea whether this place will suit you. If you want a peaceful, relaxing holiday away from the masses, somewhere to forget that you have a job, mortgage, kids (leave them home!) and bills to pay then this is the place for you. We will be back next year. What are you waiting for?
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.