My wife and I choose the Holiday Inn Mai Khao Beach Resort for a four day, three night stay to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary. The Holiday Inn Mai Khao property is brand new (less than 2 years old) and appeared to offer the quiet and relaxing escape we were looking for.
I am an IHG Platinum member and stay in Inter-Continental and Holiday Inn properties around the world upwards of 50 nights per year for a mix of business and personal travel. I live and work in Thailand and speak Thai fluently.
After researching the property, reading reviews on Trip Advisor and the Holiday Inn review website we settled on booking a "King Bed Deluxe Pool Access Room.” I emailed the hotel in advance (firstname.lastname@example.org) and received very helpful and detailed assistance from Khun Nanthita (Ms.) in the reservation department. K. Nanthita should be commended for her detailed assistance and prompt responses to my emails.
I will briefly outline our experience, check-in to check-out, below.
Phuket's public transport system is non-existent. Mafia controlled taxi's and tour businesses control transport to and from the airport and between tourist sites. In an effort to get our trip off to the best start possible I requested the Hotel arrange a Toyota Camry Limo to pick us up at Phuket International Airport and transport us to the hotel. Reservations informed me that the pickup fee would be 700 baht one way. Upon our arrival the drive was waiting, on time and as-scheduled in front of arrivals and escorted us to the vehicle. The ride from the airport was approximately 15 minutes and very comfortable.
The airport pickup was as expected, great service and headache free. If you don’t want to battle with airport taxi’s and scam-artists then I recommend this path.
Upon arrival at the hotel our bags were taken by the bellboys and we walked to the Holiday Inn Priority Club Check-in desk. We waited as several Russian guests completed check in during which time we were served a cold towel and refreshing fruit drink. The individual manning the Priority Check-In desk was not Thai and appeared to be either Swedish or Russian, his name was Max. Max may be an intern or new to the job but he was fairly flustered and running back and forth between the front desk and the back office looking for paperwork. When we were finally invited to sit down (~15 minutes after arrival) to check-in he informed us that our room was ready and handed us the room key with no further information. K. Jenny came out from behind the check-in desk and informed us that we had been upgraded from a King Bed Deluxe Pool Access room to a Junior Suite with pool access. This was a great upgrade as it provided us with a much larger room (69 sq.m. incl. balcony). K. Jenny escorted us to our room and went out of her way to explain the features of the room and layout of the resort property. K. Jenny was very pleasant, very helpful and made sure our questions were answered.
The check-in process was acceptable but we found it odd that a seemingly young and inexperienced foreigner was handling the Priority Club check-in desk. We would like to thank K. Jenny for taking the time to assist us and escort us to the room.
The Junior Suite was very well appointed with a large spacious living area, LCD TV and DVD player, large sofa, work desk and best of all a double door which opens on to a private balcony with stairs into the semi-private pool. The bathroom had a large walk in rain shower, separate toilet and dressing area. Wireless and wired Internet were provided in the room as well as a legacy iPod docking station (supports iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S but not 5/lightening connector). To view the room layout and design see: http://www.holidayinnresortphuketmaikhaobeach.com/panorama/junior-suite.htm which offers a panoramic view. We were very pleased with the room layout and design.
Several minor notes regarding our room, number: 8112.
1. Our shower had drainage issues the first night we were there. I was able to correct the issue by removing the drain guard and cap. It has simply not been cleaned in some time.
2. We stored several valuables in the security safe and on the second day it issued a ‘battery low’ error and was unable to lock. I changed out the batteries with the TV remote and the unit reset and was able to be used again.
3. The pool access doors had difficulty locking on several occasions and my wife was unable to lock them on her own without my pushing the doors in hard from both sides.
4. There were visible paint corrections and patch-ups around several of the light fixtures and around floor skirting boards. This was surprising for such a new hotel. Whilst not a major issue, it did affect the overall aesthetic appearance of the room.
Note: I realize I could have called maintenance to address the drainage and security safe issue but I’ve never been fond of calling maintenance to come and fix things during a personal stay as it’s less than comfortable when personal effects are already setup around the room.
Another minor complaint was the bed. Unlike other IHG and HI properties we have stayed in, the beds were quite hard and uncomfortable. This may have been an issue specific to room 8112 but both my wife and I found ourselves tossing and turning in the night to get comfortable.
After unpacking and settling into our room I was quick to jump into the private pool area in front of the room. As you will see in the pictures, the pool is very beautifully designed and surrounded by large plants which obstruct the view for those walking by and creates a more intimate environment for the guests. The pool is shared with other “Pool Access” rooms but each has their own area in front of the room to enjoy. During our four day stay there were other guests in the pool twice but both at the opposite end of the pool. It was very much like having our own private pool and was very pleasant to swim in during the early evening.
Over the course of the next four days my wife and I stayed at the hotel, ate at the hotel restaurants, used the gym and spa facilities and relaxed on the beach front.
A few comments regarding facilities:
1. The main pool area tends to be very busy. On several occasions we were unable to find chairs and ended up going back to our room to swim. If you plan on swimming in the main pool and hanging out by the pool for the day then you need to get their early (8:30 am) or at around 12:15 pm when guests go to lunch and you can commandeer a chair or two.
2. Towels for the pool and beach are available near the pool bar. You simply sign them out when you take them and return them at the end of the day.
3. The spa is very busy. It was booked full for all four days we were there. At one point my wife was able to get a 1 hour massage due to a cancellation from another guest. If you plan on using the Tea Tree Spa then I recommend emailing the hotel to book in advance. The spa menu can be found at http://www.holidayinnresortphuketmaikhaobeach.com/spa.htm. Prices are reasonable for a hotel based spa. If your unable to book at the hotel then I strongly recommend Oasis Spa (www.oasisspa.net) which has three branches in Phuket, the nearest one being Laguna which is 25 minutes from the hotel. Oasis Spa offers a free pickup and drop off service so you don’t need to use the local taxi mafia.
4. The fitness gym facilities are excellent and a nice way to work off dinner from the night before or to work up a quick sweat before a swim.
5. The beach area is beautiful, as you will see in the pictures. The Mai Khao beach is situated on a government national park and thus has yet to be commercialized. There are no chairs on the main beach or jet ski’s and boats in the water. It’s beautiful, especially at sunset!
The hotel has two restaurants, J’s Café & Restaurant and the Pesto Restaurant, a pool bar serving light snacks and drinks and a heavily over-priced resort center deli.
My wife and I had breakfast at J’s Café on two of the three mornings, lunches at Pesto, a delicious seafood dinner at Pesto and a seafood buffet at J’s Café.
- Breakfast, excellent buffet with an array of meats, breaks, cereal, and egg’s to order and fresh coffee. Breakfast is very busy between 8:00 am and 10:00 am so if you prefer some peace and quiet I recommend going after 10 am.
- Lunch, the Pizza at Pesto’s is delicious. I also enjoyed their Caesar salad with an ice cold coconut.
- Dinner, Pesto’s service an array of fresh seafood grilled to order else the themed dinners at J’s Café are reasonable. An all-you-can-eat seafood buffet was offered on Saturday evening for 899 baht ($30.00 USD) plus 10% service charge plus 7% VAT (total ~1058 baht or $36.00 USD).
In regards to the deli, it is incredibly over-priced even by hotel resort standards. Should you be in the need of soda drinks, beer or wine, a convenience store is located a 5 minute walk away out the front of the hotel and to your left or, exit the back of the hotel to the beach, take a right and walk down the side of the hotel. The convenience store pricing is 50% cheaper than the deli and offers a better selection. The lady at the convenience store was very friendly, chit-chatty and quick to give suggestions and recommendations on food and things to do nearby.
The pool bar serves a good assortment of drinks albeit the pricing is quite high. Happy Hour is from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm and provides a buy 1, get 1 free deal. I recommend the fresh coconut and the mai tai’s!
- Issue: On two occasions we witnessed hotel staff (foreigners, Swedish or Russian) walk into J’s Restaurant, grab a plate, sit down and start eating. This may be standard at the hotel but appeared very strange to us as well as several other guests. The employee’s sitting eating were in company uniform and we believe were front desk staff.
I would like to point out that I do not classify this as a “Family Resort” regardless of the marketing on their website. There are a number of well planned, well designed family activates offered (see: http://www.holidayinnresortphuketmaikhaobeach.com/download/Activities_fact_sheet.pdf) but two major issues negate the benefits for most:
Smoking - The public pool area, J’s Café & Restaurant and the Pesto Restaurant all stink of cigarette spoke from various foreign guests. The hotel does not appear restrict or control where guests smoke and I complained no less than three times regarding guests smoking within 6 feet of us while dining at Pesto. Guests were also smoking outside at the private pool area and pretty much every other location in and around the hotel. The hotel needs to establish a “Smoking Area” and keep second hand smoke away from other guests, especially children. I have two young children and had they been with us the smoke issue may have driven us to move to another hotel. In this day and age it is unacceptable that an International hotel chain would permit open zone smoking.
Kids Food - At most Holiday Inn Hotels and Resorts, kids under 12 eat free. For some reason under 12’s only eat free in the J's Café & Restaurant when dining with a paying adult and for the dinner buffet only. With the high price of food and added ‘service charge’ plus tax, 17% needs to be calculated on everything and this quickly racks up.
1. Pool Area - I interacted with four different staff in the pool area over the four days. Two of them were very polite, friendly and chit-chatting, the other two are quite cocky and seemed more interested in chatting about a football match (in Thai) than assisting customers.
2. Gardner’s – The gardening staff are all quite friendly. Most speak southern Thai and had a hard time understanding my central/northern dialect but they tried
3. Pesto’s Restaurant – I would like to thank one of the restaurant staff, K. Jack, for his friendliness and excellent service at Pesto’s. Jack went out of his way to make sure we had our preferred table (reasonably smoke free!) and greeted us by our first names each morning and afternoon when he saw us. No other employee paid this much attention to us during our stay.
4. J’s Café – K. Ae, K. Ann and K. Mai all made us feel very welcome in the J’s café and quickly learned our names during our first visit. They were very chit-chatting and K. Ae assisted us with making a restaurant booking for the seafood buffet. We appreciated his assistance greatly!
5. Spa – The spa has a foreign (Russian) employee and a Thai employee at the front desk. We checked in at the spa several times to see if any slots became available. The foreign employee was quite gruff and unfriendly. Quick to say “nothing available” and not give us any options or suggestions. The Thai employee (we believe she was a manager or assistant manager but don’t have her name) was very helpful on both of the occasions we visited the spa when the foreigner was away. She took the time to get our room number and called my wife when a session opened up.
6. Security Guards – A number of Securitas security guards roam the resort property and beach area. They are there for protection of the guests and the hotel. The security guards were all very friendly and on several occasions we witnessed them assisting guests and helping to move chairs and other equipment.
7. Maids – We requested fresh towels and for some water cleanup in our room on two separate occasions during our stay. The maid staff were very quick to help, very friendly and polite.
As I mentioned, a 10% “service charge” and 7% Thai VAT is applied to all food, beverage and service purchases. This adds a total of ~17% on top of any listed menu price.
With the “service charge” tipping is not expected at the hotel. I asked two separate hotel staff on two separate occasions if they receive the service charge (e.g. tip) as part of their pay or as a bonus and both stated that they did not receive it. This was disappointing to hear as it suggests the 10% is going to the property owner and not to the staff who deserve it.
I recommend guests offer small tips (50 baht to 100 baht) here and there and when possible. Keep in mind that the majority of the hotel staff are on base pay of 5,500 baht to 9,000 baht per month ($185.00 USD to $300.00 USD). Most of the staff commute 40 minutes to and from work each day as they live in Phuket City due to the cheaper rent. This makes for a long work day on top of a 6 day work week!
We had a few minor billing issues during our check out caused by check-out staff forgetting to deduct the hotel room fee’s we had already paid online. We would like to thank. K. Pream at the reception desk for helping to get everything sorted and to our airport transfer limo on time. He was very apologetic and re-checked everything in detail before we departed.
The Holiday Inn Mai Khao Beach Resort has a lot going for it. It’s a beautiful, new facility in a superb location. We would like to thank all of the staff who paid special attention to us and make our trip memorable. Most of the issues I have outlined are minor and can be addressed through the management chain.
Our biggest concern is the smoking issue. We would love to bring our children there later this year but do not want them to be around second hand smoke!
Make sure you book a "Pool Access Room". If you plan on using the spa be sure to contact i...
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.