We stayed at Mai Khao Lak for 8 nights and mostly hung around the resort, aside from trips to the beach the resort backs onto. Anto made a couple of trips into the nearby town. Firstly to get snack and drink supplies, and then to get me a cable for my camera so I could get photos off as my computer card reader wasn’t playing nice. The rest of us didn’t bother heading in with him as we weren’t really keen on shopping and there really wasn’t much to do or buy anyway.
We did have a day excursion to do an elephant trek and I’ll post those pictures separately, hopefully in a couple of days. The kids were more than content playing in the pool, at the beach and in the resort playgrounds. We had booked the resort using a Cudo voucher (with an upgrade to the pool access room on the advice of my parents who had been before). The package included breakfast, some dinners, 8 hours of massages/spa treatments and a cocktail making class and a Thai cooking class. As a result there was plenty to keep the adults busy between swims.
My mum had done the cocktails and cooking classes on her previous visit, so wasn’t fussed about doing them again. She happily minded the kids while we ate and drank. We were more than familiar with how to make cocktails but decided to go to the cocktail class to get our 2 free drinks. We made Mojitos and Mai Tais and our measuring of alcohol may have been liberal so we were feeling very relaxed after those drinks (so relaxed we forgot to take photos).
A couple of days later we did the cooking class which was held at lunch time. There were around 20 in the class, so it was more a demonstration where 2 people per course got to stand up the front, get hot and sweaty, and ‘cook’.
The 4 course menu was:
*Yam Nuea Yang (spicy grilled beef salad)
*Tom Yang Goong (spicy & sour prawn soup)
*Gaeng Phed Ped Yang (roasted duck curry)
*Klouy Buad Chee (banana in coconut milk)
As I’m vegetarian I couldn’t eat any of the first 3 courses as they all contained meat and/or fish. The kitchen was preparing alternate meals for me and those with nut and seafood allergies so we all got to eat each course, although mine were entirely different to those that they cooked. Anto helped with the duck course and noted it was very hot in his chef get-up and standing over the hot plates! While we didn’t do much cooking, the food was tasty (definitely a healthy dose of spice) and we were stuffed after 4 courses.
The beach provided a host of massage options for a fraction of the price of those at the resort. As we had 8 hours included at the spa we didn’t even bother with the beach massages and just used our spa vouchers for massages and facials. They were lovely but I probably wouldn’t have paid the resort prices if we hadn’t of had them included. Nonetheless we were definitely relaxed after all our spa treatments and it was pleasant having a massage or facial almost every day.
With all the swimming the kids were needing plenty of nap time to keep up their energy levels. Even Miss Astrid, who doesn’t day nap all that often any more was needing some rest time. Of course Soren would try it on when Granny was minding him (if we were off for a massage or class) and she would let him sleep in the bed rather than in his cot. They are always so cute when sleeping!!
For some reason the reception area of the resort had 2 giant blue teddies on lounges. From the moment we arrived (in the middle of the night), Astrid was taken with them and always crawled up for a cuddle. Even Soren liked a teddy cuddle, even if he wouldn’t look at the camera for me!
We were quite pleased with the rooms we had at the resort. All the rooms in the main part of the resort were identical. As we were on the ground floor with a pool access room you could walk straight out into the pool (which was totally awesome for the kids). The rooms on the 2 higher floors were the same, but with a balcony and a table and chairs rather than the lovely day beds….. which incidentally we spent very little time on lazing around reading due to small munchkins. The back section of the resort had villa type rooms with a private pool. They looked nice but were further away from the main pool area and were more suited to couples.
The rooms were lovely and spacious. A king sized bed for us and a lounge that folded out into another king sized bed. Astrid elected to room in with Granny (in the next door room) so we used ours as a lounge, which was handy to watch TV from after kiddy bed time. There was plenty of room for Soren’s cot, and the room had 2 TVs, one in the lounge area and one opposite the bed. There was a bar fridge area and enough storage to get by. The bathroom area was big enough, although with all our crud was permanently a mess! We found the rooms more than comfortable enough for our 8 nights, and it would have been plenty big enough even with both kids in with us. We also loved our daily towel animals and the arrangements of kids toys and comforters after every room service. The kids loved seeing how their toys had been put to bed each day!
Overall we were happy with the resort. It had 3 pools but we mostly used the huge one directly outside of our room. It had a swim-up bar and plenty of shallow areas. There was also a quieter area at one end that would have been nicer for people without small kids, but it turns out where our room was located (between the pool bar and bridge) was nice as it wasn’t too noisy but the shallow area was easily accessible.
We probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the stay had we have been in one of the non-pool access rooms. If you are considering this resort, definitely pay the upgrade for pool access. The spa was lovely, the gym perfectly acceptable and there was a really good buffet breakfast, one of the better ones I’ve seen at big resorts. It was pretty much identical every day but there was a tonne of variety. The also had a separate kid buffet, a good selection of high chairs and booster chairs (which was awesome for Astrid), kids cutlery and plates and 2 different playgrounds. There were 2 kids clubs, the regular one and one set up for Scandinavian guests (of which there were many). We didn’t use the kids club but it looked like it would have been alright.
The resort looks fairly nice from pool level, but a little concrete jungle for the upper levels. It was certainly good value though for the package we bought and we enjoyed our 8 days. The kids had an absolute ball.
The negatives of the resort are that it is 1.5 hours from Phuket airport by car, so a long transfer. This did mean it’s a much quieter area and a nice place to stay. The package only included transfers to the resort and they charged an exorbitant rate for car seat hire. With 1.5 hours in the car and very questionable driving we weren’t going to risk not having the car seats. We were a little annoyed with the cost of hiring them both directions and the fact that it was very expensive to get the transfer back to Phuket which we booked through the hotel. It’s cheaper to hire a local taxi but we then couldn’t have car seats. The hotel, despite running vans back and forth to the airport, refused to schedule people leaving on similar departure times in the same van and split the cost. We saw 2 other groups from our resort leaving within 15 minutes of us (and we saw them again at the airport). It was a good money making scheme for them!
Aside from that one negative it was a good stay. Friendly staff and good access to great food on the beach. It was hot, 35 or 36 degrees every day with very high humidity, but lovely when in the pool. We only had rain once, one afternoon thunderstorm, but it was still dry season (second half of March). I’d definitely recommend it to friends with young kids if you can get a good package rate like we did. As you can see the kids ADORED being able to swim directly from the room….. even if more than once there was a huge tantrum when they were made to get out!!
After 8 days we had to farewell Granny as we headed for Phuket airport and the second half of our holiday in Koh Samui. Granny was heading back to Brisbane later that day and got a couple of hours peace and quiet before her flight. There were tears from the kids but they were distracted with promises of a new resort and more swimming.
I’ll post about the elephants and Koh Samui over the next week or so, but for now that is a wrap of Khao Lak…….