For a nominal charge, I negotiated an upgrade from our pre-booked 2 DELUXE OCEAN VIEW ROOMS to the amazing, top-level ROYAL SUITE - #500, or as they call them “Presidential Suites.” Located at either end of this U-shaped complex, they are closer to the ocean and have a bonus 125m2 of outdoor terrace that spans the entire width of the hotel. The 2-bedroom suite itself is like a grandiose apartment and our brood could spread out really comfortably. The furnishings aren’t cutting edge or memorable - but it’s cosy. The generous 140m2 scale ensures that you are never under each other’s feet. Each bedroom has its own lounge/terrace; there are four plasmas and the dining room seats 8! We could enjoy the dusk while sitting out on our own terrace; the pale golden, diffused light so pretty and relaxing while the ocean and sky melted together into the same colour.

The kids were in heaven, intermingling between family suites and running in and out of each other’s room. Having a tribe together in the hotel meant that we could really let our hair down about entertaining them, which in turn helped us relax.  Suites 500, along with 100, 200, 300, 400 and 600 have the best beach views, overlooking the massage area where the jet skis and boats launch.

The resort is not a rambling, concrete monstrosity dropped on the beach as I secretly feared. It is very large but well maintained. You can tell that over the last 30 years it has been impeccable maintained and upgraded, without that look of neglect that sometimes creeps into big block, “ghetto” hotels.

The mid-rise, white resort property is also quite attractive. The main hotel is tiered with dark green trim; the Thai architectural elements are saved for the eaves, Asian looking roof and tiles of the open-air buildings by the huge lagoon style pool, which is the hub of the complex. There are bursts of bright fuchsia bougainvillea everywhere and the setting is just Thai enough to give a point of difference and cultural flavour, which adds to the pleasantly loose holiday atmosphere. It has its own charm. Everyone has untied their shoelaces and surrendered to the undercurrent of first class Thai service that seems to just happen with hushed efficiency.

Although the size won’t suit everyone
(it’s like you’re in a large village where you’ll never get around to meeting everyone) the ratio of staff to guest is so good that I never feel lost in the crowd when I needed service. It takes a while to wander around and see everything: the kids club, gym and several boutiques.

The beautiful Phuket weather, with clear skies and no wind, is the icing on the cake. The mildness lulls you into relaxing without being overpowered by tropical heat… 

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LE MERIDIEN PHUKET BEACH RESORT| LE MERIDIEN PHUKET BEACH RESORT, 29 Soi Karon Nui, Tambon Karon, Amphur Muang , Phuket | + 66 76 370100 | View web site
Amannpuri | 118/1 Srisoonthorn Rd, Pansea Beach, Phuket | View web site
The Chedi | 118 Moo 3 Cherngtalay, Talang, Phuket , Phuket | View web site
Trisara | 60/1 Moo 6 Srisoonthorn Road, Phuket, Phuket | Tel. +66 76 310100 | View web site
Six Senses Hide Away | 100 Vised Road, Moo 2, Tambol Rawai, Muang District, Phuket, Thailand, Phuket | Tel: +66 (0) 76 381 010 |
Indigo Pearl | Nay Yang Beach and National Park, Phuket, Thailand , Phuket | View web site
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The resort is located on small, 500-metre long RELAX BAY with sparkling teal water that, although technically not private, is like an extension of the hotel garden grounds - and no-one outside the compound comes all the way to this isolated strip. It is a big, wide beach that is spaced out but quite social, with lots of thatched umbrellas, which are essential.

Sometimes popular beaches are grubby but in Thailand, even on this touristic patch, the sand is golden and clean - which makes a huge difference to the atmosphere. There is enough space to find peace if you want it but a fun vibe for the kids - there was always something going on. We loved the pleasant atmosphere of hanging out here for the whole 8 days and never made it over to the two large pools unless Zoe dragged us there. It’s worth going early in the morning and putting down towels to guarantee you the beach chair and umbrella that you want - book in. The towel attendant then ‘dresses’ the chair.Locals come on the fringes… 

There are two kooky little beach shacks, not connected with the hotel (cash-only), that sell fantastic fruit plates and vibrantly coloured fruit whips in pineapple, watermelon, mango, coconut and papaya. It keeps you going when you can’t tear yourself away from the beach. 

Being Thailand, there was a resident 3-yr old elephant waddling around the resort, the offspring of its Le Meridien predecessor. The younger kids in our group went crazy over the pimped-up hotel version, Chok Dee (‘good luck’) who was so sweet and lapped up the attention. They can ride and touch him when he is walked along the beach a couple of times a day. You give the elephant a banana and a few dollars, which it adorably takes in its trunk and puts into the owner’s pocket. Every in-house elephant has a gimmick: I guess ours was the coiffed hairdo! One day when we visited friends further down the beach at the Sheraton Laguna, ‘their’ elephant was aquatic. Up-for-anything, Zoe hopped on its back and rode it into the water.

Having a safe beach as the centre of attention gives a family holiday its own different flavourYou let the kids run loose and cartwheel. We didn’t need to venture far on excursions all the time as I usually love to do; this time the family fun came to us.

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