This is an incredible resort! You will be blown away by the beauty of it! The trip from the airport takes a little more than an hour. I'm not sure if the hotel offers a shuttle service but we read another trip advisor review that mentioned a transportation service that we ended up using. The moment we arrived at the hotel, I was impressed. Immediately you can tell that the grounds are beautiful but I was mostly impressed by the service at this point. Right when we walked in, we were greeted by one of the desk clerks. She brought us both a drink with a beautiful flower in it and lead us to a comfortable sitting area in the lobby. We thought this meant that we would have to wait a little while to check in but she came and sat next to us, gathered all our info, and checked us in from there. It was the best service I have ever received upon checking in to a hotel.
We were then lead to our room. All the walkways to the rooms are open air and you can get a great view of the different areas of the resort and the pool when you walk to your room. Our room was on the first floor which was nice because we had a porch that lead right out to the pool. I definitely recommend this! The room had a wonderful bathroom with a large walk in shower, dual vanities and a wonderful soak in tub. The premium upgrades were obvious in the marble floors, countertops, faucets and fixtures. We had a large king bed which was clean and very comfortable. Coming from the states, we were still a bit jet lagged and slept very well in this room. There was also a couch and desk area in the room. When we first walked in, there was a fruit plate waiting for us on the coffee table. It was full of traditional Thai fruits and snacks. Honestly, I didn't love the options but the gesture was wonderful and really helped set the stage for our whole experience at this resort. The TV was large and top of the line and there was a coffee maker in the room. The closet was nice and the dresser where the TV sat provided plenty of space for us to keep our clothes. As I mentioned, the porch area overlooked the pool. The pool area is actually a lagoon that winds all throughout the resort. it is massive, beautiful, and lots of fun. Surprisingly, I didn't see a lot of people in the water when we were there. Regardless, it is surely a very wonderful feature and would be excellent for anyone whether you just want to sit on the waters edge and relax or you want to splash around with your family or friends. There are also lots of wide pool areas in the traditional sense where you can sun bathe and cool off. There is a smaller pool area that has a slide which would be great for kids. At the main pool area, there is a swim up bar. They serve food and beverages there. It is wonderful and I highly recommend the frozen banana beverage that is on the menu - you will not be disappointed!! If you would rather relax at the beach as opposed to the pool, comfortable chairs are offered.
We booked our package online and we chose to include breakfast for both of us every day during our four day stay. This added a minimal amount of extra cost (maybe $20 per day) but it was well worth it. The breakfast was extensive and delicious. They had a lot of different types of food including a plethora of fresh fruit, yogurts, omelets, pastries, meats and cheeses, oatmeal, pancakes, cereals, etc. The breakfast spans several hours and you can choose to sit inside the restaurant or outside on the patio. It is a large area but it gets quite crowded. There seemed to be a lot of families vacationing there so you will see a wide array of guests at breakfast. It is a great time to meet other travelers and chat about what there is to do in the area.
For lunch and dinner, I recommend venturing off the resort. There is a small place within walking distance on the beach called Mama's. It is small and you can literally see the skeleton crew cooking your food in the very small kitchen but the food is excellent. It is all very fresh and delicious! My husband loved the spicy kick that each dish seemed to provide. Be forewarned that even those dishes that you would not think would be spicy, often have a little kick to them (even the salads seem spicy). Regardless the food is delicious and the prices are very reasonable! We ate there numerous times in our four days at the resort.
The resort also offers a shuttle in to town where you can visit the local shops and restaurants. We made the trip but didn't really find any food worth writing home about. There are some cute shops where you can find little trinkets and souvenirs. Feel free to barter to get a better price!
We did eat at the Italian restaurant at the resort one night. The food was good, the service was good and the ambience was nice. But I think it was a bit expensive for what we got.
The hotel did offer events almost every night while we were there. Some of them required an extra fee and we didn't attend those but they were a nice option.
The fact that the resort offered a spa was a nice option but I wasn't overly impressed with it. I had a pedicre and the tech was very nice but didn't do a great job. It almost seemed that the spa staff was either brand new or under trained. I also had a massage. The area where the therapy was given was very beautiful but the service was just mediocre. I thought it was a bit expensive for what I actually received. We were in Bangkok before going to Khao Lak and had received numerous massages while there. They were all excellent and about a third of the price of the one I received at the resort. The surroundings of the massage shops in Bangkok were not as nice however so I would expect to pay more at the Marriott but I still thought the services were overpriced.
All in all, this is a gorgeous resort and the price we paid (about $240/night) was very reasonable! We have paid much more for rooms in resorts that were not half as nice as this! If you are going to Khao Lak and want a full-service, relaxing resort away from the hustle and bustle of Phuket, do yourself a favor and book a room at the JW Marriott Khao Lak.