This was a very memorable vacation for me - my boyfriend proposed to me here!!
JW Marriott Khao Lak is around one hour away from Phuket airport. We arranged the hotel to send a limo and it was around 1500baht - pretty reasonable. The limo had bottled water and wet towels prepared for us once we got in after being picked up.
This resort is spectacular - when checking in, they asked us to sit in the lobby sofa's to relax while they checked in for us - much better than standing at a desk watching the receptionist type away looking for your reservation!
First thing that caught our eye while checking in was the fantastic view of the resort - all those swimming pools! I almost got lost on the first two days because they have 3+ swimming pools, one with a small water slide, one with a bar [w/ happy hour every night], a pool for kids, and more. We stayed in the pool nearest to the lobby because they have small secluded cushions that can sit 3-4 people. Each cushion is in a little corner covered by bushes and greenery so you can't really see what people are doing unless you swim around them. I didn't really like their beach - it was very messy. They did not have enough staff to help with towels so you had to find an empty chair or lounger yourself, which is pretty difficult when people hog them from morning to night even if they aren't there! Don't worry, you learn their habits and adapt to them after a day with NOWHERE TO LIE DOWN!
I personally did not like the towel storage areas. The resort is ever so huge and they only had 2 places to provide towels but for some reason the closest one to the rooms was closed almost all day so the only place to get towels was at the beach. - mind you the beach is a little bit far away from some of the swimming pools and rooms.
Rooms - what can I say? Every resort I've been to have the best rooms! This JW Marriott had beautiful balconies. Each one had an outdoor sofa (see picture!).
Breakfast buffet - best part is the DIY smoothies (you can pick which fruits you want to mix and if you want to add milk) The downside to this setup were the smoothies went too quickly and this resulted in long lines every morning. *DO* go early if you can get up for the breakfast because it is insanely busy. Staying at the resort, you feel like the rooms are half occupied and its quiet but then the next day, you'll see EVERYBODY at the buffet! I loved the Thai restaurant "Ta Krai" - very authentic and romantic. The food arrived quickly and the service was excellent - full of smiles and laughter.
Quan Spa - they had cute little shacks for the couple rooms and it did not feel like we were in the resort.
For two nights, it rained so we could not get to town so we entertained ourselves with table tennis and pool near the lobby.There are tons of activities - the concierge have many brochures and pamphlets. We went river rafting, elephant riding, zip lining and quad biking (remember to take mosquito repellent!). There were a day trips we waned to do but they take a whole day with sitting on a speedboat to the outlying islands so we had to pick the tip top things we wanted to do within 5-6 days.
This JW Marriott resort is on my top ten list of hotels to stay in and they did live up to our expectations and they WILL live up to yours, I swear it.
The only downward part of this trip that might not even be the resort's fault was when we checked out, i gave them 15 postcards to post off for me. I did pay for them to do it for stamps, etc but none of them, not even one arrived. They were sent to Australia, USA, Canada, Spain and Hong Kong. It was a special occasion for me so it was pretty disappointing that none of them were delivered. I did email them twice to find out but we never got a response so I'm still a bit upset every time I think about them., especially when they didn't email back or try to find out what happened.
Another comment I have to make for this resort is the tension in the staff when they worked together. I think the management company for this resort are Europeans because half of them were European, mostly German and the other half were Thai's and when they talked to each other, you could feel the anger between them. That is definitely a horrible thing to observe and feel but I hope the hotel resolves their issues to ensure great service in this incredible resort.
APART from the above two comments, DO GO TO JW MARRIOTT KHAO LAK - you won't regret it.