Choosing a resort in Phuket is a bit of a nightmare with so many reviews, glossy PR pictures and big promises. After weeks of procrastinating we settled on the Grand Centara and crossed our fingers. We arrived at midnight after snow in England pushed back all flights 16 hours. Our 4 children had been patient but after 32 hours of travelling were ready to lose it. The young woman at reception seemed to be a bit sheepish about our adjoining deluxe seaside rooms and we were concerned she had given them away as we were nearly a day late.
Maybe she could sense our desperation but she said they were willing to upgrade us for about $100 a day. We had read on trip advisor this was a tactic and declined the offer. A quick discussion with her boss and she declared the upgrade was for free with adjoining ground floor rooms with small pools. We remained sceptical and asked if she could show us the rooms before we agreed.
A quick trip on the golf buggy through the resort and we were very pleasantly surprised. A spacious room with king size beds for the adults with marble bathroom and large outdoor deck leading to the deal clincher... our own pool. Oh and one for the kids next door. The lady from reception tried to ask if this would be okay but the kids were already in their pool taking a midnight skinny dip. I said this would be fine and she smiled and headed off.
It was still hard to tell exactly where we were through all the jetlag but it turns out we had a great spot in the resort close to the pool bar but still quiet. The benefit was we could retire from the burning midday sun to our private pools and order food and drink from the bar and they could signal us when it was ready. Once the kids (8-15 years old) ventured further in the resort they all loved the variety of activities on offer with jump rock, the slides, lazy river and water walking in a giant ball. There's also a great rooftop tennis court but play early or late as we tried an 11 am match and nearly died of heat exhaustion.
Of course I had to try the Spa (being a modern man)and let me tell you fellas it was well worth the 2000 baht for an hour long massage. Luck we had a 1000 baht discount voucher.I must admit though I seemed to be the only guy in there and maybe I haven't seen too many Spas but I felt like I had been to a very Zen place.
We missed the inclusive breakfast on our first day (which ran till 11 am ) because we slept in after the long journey. But when we did eventually find the restaurant it was an eclectic mix of cuisines from around the world that had the kids trying something new each day. Not sure who would eat roast pork for breakfast but I soon discovered. The Russians recently discovered Phuket and are there in large numbers along with other Europeans and Australians. The Russian men are a little larger than most and even though they are often accompanied by dainty wives, they also seem to bring mother in laws on holidays. I doubt if many Australians would do that.
In regards to the food we generally dined in Karon town which was a 15 minute walk along the beach or a 200 baht tuk tuk ride from the hotel. There we could feed the family for about 30 Aus dollars whereas the resort was a lot more. The kids favourite place was a beach restaurant right outside the resort in the sandy corner. They had a monkey etc and again we could all dine on Thai food for 30 dollars. Changi beer too was only about $4 for a large bottle.
So of course the holiday was over quicker than it started and while we thought about doing a Phi Phi island trip and other adventures the kids were pretty happy to just hang around the various pools and the beach which was flat and clean. We found the staff very friendly and helpful and the lifeguards quickly got to know all the kids names. The resort is away from the maddening crowd and one of the few with direct beach access and no road in between. There was an adult only swimming pool that looked great but was a little boring really.
I would certainly recommend Grand Centara for families and couples looking for a peaceful out of the way spot. Oh and when in reception...check out the bathrooms, they are very unusual with a waterfall and open roof.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket is a modern five-star luxury resort built directly on the foreshores of Karon Beach. Designed with distinct Phuket colonial Sino-Portuguese architecture, the luxury accommodation comprises of 262 guestrooms and villas. All guestrooms have a balcony and are ocean facing. Room types consist of spa suites, pool suites, deluxe suites and one and two bedroom villas. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket Hotel Karon
- Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket Karon