Sand castle-making, Batik painting, and organic vegetable planting. Milk and cookies at turn-down. A bakery with a selection of old-school American candy. A pool with water fountains, giant turtles, a life guard-assisted slide, and continuous bubbles. Free popsicles from 1230-1330 every day. A fantastic kids' club. Giant scoops of ice cream atop home-made waffle cones. You guys, if you are planning on visiting Phuket with kids, this is the place: the JW Marriott Phuket.
There are no fancy words that I could concoct in some elegant way in my head would do it justice, so instead, I’m going to describe to you a typical day (of three) we spent at the resort in 2013, hoping to transport you to that serene vacation destination that is a wonderland for families.
our favorite spot on phuket with kids
a typical day for families at the jw marriott phuket
6am: The high-pitched excitement in our one-year old’s voice wakes us all from sweet slumber in adjoining deluxe garden view rooms. These are the most basic rooms at the resort, yet they are stunning and boast beautiful views of the expansive, jungle-like yard area surrounding the resort and along the sea. The rooms include a balcony, a small nook with Thai triangle pillows and full-length windows that overlook the garden (perhaps meant to be an in-room massage area, but most definitely a GREAT place to kick back and read a book), and a massive bathroom with a fantastic tub for washing three or four kids at once and a separate rainwater shower. These “basic” rooms are the largest basic rooms I’ve ever stayed in. Bar none.
7am: Dressed and ready for breakfast, we mosey on past a fantastic infinity pool that seems to seep right down into the ocean. We arrive at the hotel buffet, which is a veritable breakfast feast. You thought omelette and waffle stations were fancy? Try a full bakery of all kinds of freshly-baked breads, muffins, doughnuts, croissants, just to name a few, as well as a waffle, pancake, and french toast station. As if six pitchers of different varieties of freshly-made fruit juices weren’t enough, you can opt for a breakfast juice shot of tamarind or ginger. Need something that fends off jet lag? They have a shot for that. What about something to quell nausea? The JW Marriott has you covered. And the setting? We sat on the balcony facing the ocean every morning. Amazing view.
8:30am: We are swimming at one of the resort's three pools. We spent most of our time in the spectacular kids’ pool, which has giant turtles, a life-guard assisted water slide, bubbles, fountains . . . the whole nine yards. My one-year old could walk on her own in a wide swath of the pool. My toddler could walk around the whole thing. That, my friends, makes your life as parents much easier. Staff dole out free popsicles from 1230-1330 at the kids’ pool everyday. Does it get any better than that? You can also order food and drinks (an extensive children’s menu is available) poolside. Our kid-free friends hung with us for a few and then ventured on over to the pool with a swim-up bar located under a waterfall. Yes, you heard that right.
10:30am: It’s time for a break from the sun. We get the kids dried off and dressed and we walk 20 feet behind us to the kids club. Generally, kids are crying when their parents leave them at the kids club. At this club, kids are crying when parents try to pull them out. The club is spacious and bright, outfitted with padded areas and indoor playground equipment for the little ones, toy kitchens, an entire area devoted to painting, drawing, coloring and creating, an X-box Kinect with awesome games, computers, a separate movie-watching room with bean bag pillows and a sweet flat screen, and more that I’m sure I’m forgetting. The real draw of the kids’ club, however, is the constant flow of insanely cool activities they offer children (ages four and up). Here are a few examples: sand castle making, super stilts walking, fishing, foot and hand massage introduction, Thai language, Thai costume studio, kids mocktail-making, Thai dancing, nature color hunt, Thai dessert making, yoga, cookie making . . . the list goes on and on. This is a place where the kids could never get bored because there is something new and fun offered every hour. I want to be a kid again. Jeez!
12:00pm: After finally convincing Logan out of the kids club (by way of ice cream bribery), we head to the Siam Deli for lunch. Inside the deli, you can find a well-stocked bakery, a mini-grocery store with tons of fresh and exotic fruit, a whole wall of candy (the kids will go nuts over this), baby food, and snacks. And there are the home made waffle cones and ice cream . . . yum!
1:00pm: Nap time for the whole family.
3:00pm: Back to the pool and/or kids club for more play. The staff at the resort is amazing. Seriously, the best I’ve encountered in Thailand (and probably anywhere I’ve ever been). A pool server stops to pick a flower and bends down to place it behind my daughter’s ear in the pool as we swim.
4:00pm: We stroll along the resort’s board walk taking in the impressive views of the Andaman Sea along Mai Khao Beach. The private beach is empty and beautiful, with picturesque hills rolling into the side of the ocean. The surf is a little too rough to venture into the water this time of year, so we collect sea shells instead.
5:30pm: Back to the room for a quick bath, change of clothes, and then out to dinner at one of the resort’s six restaurants. You can choose from Italian, Japanese kabuki-theater, Thai, seafood, and more.
7:00pm: Our gang is quiet by now. We roll back to the room and find that the turn down staff has left three giant cookies and two full glasses of milk (as they did every night) to cap off our wonderful day. The kids have a few bites, take a few sips, put on their pajamas, and pass out. It has been a good day. No, a great day. The perfect day in Phuket with kids.
Hop a flight from Bangkok to Phuket; take the JW Marriott Phuket shuttle (or a taxi, but beware of the notorious taxi mafia in Phuket) to the resort (20 minutes).
*Please know that this content is not sponsored. The JW Marriott Phuket is one of our favorite places to stay in Thailand, and I feel compelled to share our experience with you so that you can perhaps visit one day.
Do you have family-friendly recommendations on where to go and stay on the beaches of Thailand? If so, please share in the comments below.