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10 Reasons To Visit Phuket, Thailand

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Whatever you’re looking for in a tropical island family holiday, you’ll find it at Club Med Phuket.

1.    Sun and water

Club Mcd Phuket lies right on the kilometer-long stretch that is the beautiful Kata Bay in the Andaman Sea. The balmy water of the bay is perfect — we floated on the gentle swells for hours, after whiich we headed up to the loungers. The sparkling pools of the resort are the largest we’ve ever seen. The tropical climate means there’s bound to be a bit of rain — certainly in the wet season from mid-year to November — but it won’t be cold. Best time to visit? From November to February.

Description: Club Mcd Phuket lies right on the kilometre-long stretch that is the beautiful Kata Bay in the Andaman Sea

Club Mcd Phuket lies right on the kilometer-long stretch that is the beautiful Kata Bay in the Andaman Sea

2.    Cool rooms

The heat is intense here, so your air-conditioned room is a lovely cool sanctuary of solid teak and cool marble. The resort’s palm grove setting means you look out over lush greenery and, from most rooms, the sea. Only deluxe or suite rooms have private terraces. If you’re taking the kids, book connecting rooms.

Description: The heat is intense here, so your air-conditioned room is a lovely cool sanctuary of solid teak and cool marble.

The heat is intense here, so your air-conditioned room is a lovely cool sanctuary of solid teak and cool marble.

3.    Good food (& free drinks!)

In the main restaurant, the food is served in a massive buffet. It’s split into sections, reflecting the main nationalities that visit this particular Club Mcd: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French and Thai (of course). But there’s plenty of familiar ‘international’ food. And there’s modern Thai cuisine at the Chu-Da speciality restaurant. Our Thai fashion editor Chu says you have to try two signature Thai dishes: papaya salad, a fusion of flavors of crushed peanuts, palm sugar. Cherry tomatoes, lime juice, fresh chili and tiger prawns; and for dessert, the warm mango with sticky rice and coconut sauce. If you’re trying to persuade your children to eat a balanced diet, here their trays are split into color-coded sections to correspond with the different food groups, and with the variety available, surely even the pickiest eater will find veg to taste? But what about the free drinks bit? Cheers to wine, beer and soft drinks from an open bar.

Description: In the main restaurant, the food is served in a massive buffet.

In the main restaurant, the food is served in a massive buffet.

4.    Friendly Staff

The GO (Gentil Organisateur) is particular to the Club Med brand — and it’s the job of the GOs to look after the GMs (Gentils Membre) — that’s you. While you’re at Club Med, there’s a team of them, a kind of United Nations, and South Africans are well represented here.

5.    Time with the kids (or not)

You have all the time in the world to play or splash in the pool with the kids. When you need time out, you can hand them over to the attentive care of the GOs at the ‘Kid’s Palace’. Children are grouped according to their age and entertained accordingly.

Description: You have all the time in the world to play or splash in the pool with the kids.

You have all the time in the world to play or splash in the pool with the kids.

6.    Rest & recreation

The words ‘Thai’ and ‘massage’ don’t go hand in hand for nothing. Two steps out of the Club Med resort you’ll have offered of a massage — and at a price that won’t make your shoulder muscles spasm. A massage on the beach surely takes paradise up a notch? The luxurious Club Med Spa by Payot is far removed from this — set in a Zen garden, it’s serene and sophisticated. Massages and other treatments available here are priced on a par with upmarket SA spas.

For complete peace and quiet, the smaller Zen pool is for adults only. But if you’d like to be on the move, you could sign up for the flying trapeze academy. There’s also a golf academy, and you could try snorkeling, archery, yoga and aqua fitness. Diving lessons are an option, but you’ll need to pull out your purse. And for the song and dance of the evening, the GOs lead the way. The trigger to get everyone dancing is a set of Macarena moves to the tune ‘Life is life’: all together now: na-na-na-na-na.

7.    Local Culture

When you walk the streets outside the resort, buy fresh fruit dipped in a salt, sugar and fresh chili mix from the vendors on motorcycles. Look out for the arrangements of incense, flowers and food left outside shops and homes — offerings for the spirit that protects the area. Big banners advertising Thai boxing events and tattoo parlors offer further insights as to what moves the locals. And don’t get run over by the ubiquitous motorcycles often loaded with several riders all at once. The cultural highlight of our stay was a trip up a long and winding road to the top of the hill to get close enough to the Big Buddha to sec him looking benevolently down at us through heavy-lidded eyes. The white marble statue is 45 meters tall. There is no entrance fee, but the completion of the project depends on donations. Barefooted people queue to be blessed by the monks with the words ‘Happiness, happiness, happiness’.

Description: When you walk the streets outside the resort, buy fresh fruit dipped in a salt, sugar and fresh chilli mix from the vendors on motorcycles.

When you walk the streets outside the resort, buy fresh fruit dipped in a salt, sugar and fresh chili mix from the vendors on motorcycles.

8.    Shop Till You Drop

Shopkeepers here deliver a couple of lines of Afrikaans to sweeten the sale. Saffers are mostly looking for knock-offs of premium-brand watches and bags. There is lots of bargain-basement clothing stores, but here, as with everywhere else, the labels tell the same story — made in China. My best buy was a couple of Thai silk scarves.

9.    Time at ‘The beach’

Yes, the one made famous by the film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Go to the excursions desk to get them to set it up for you. Another sight made famous by the movies is the James Bond island, which you travel to by longboat. This is part of the Phang Nga Bay day-trip — the limestone cliffs rising straight up from the sea are a stock screensaver.

Description: Yes, the one made famous by the film starring Leonardo DiCaprio

Yes, the one made famous by the film starring Leonardo DiCaprio

10. Inclusive Package

There’s a lot to be said for an all-inclusive package, as offered by Club Med. When you tally up what you spend on meals, drinks and activities, it’s usually far more than you bargained for. The  Club Med way holds no nasty shocks.

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