Our trip to Thailand was definitely a spontaneous one! It was actually meant to be a trip to Mauritius but we ended up having to cancel two days before due to a cyclone hitting the beautiful island. We weren’t sure of what the aftermath of the cyclone would be so we decided to play it safe and change our destination. We will definitely be doing our trip to Mauritius one day! We’d planned on staying at the Constance Prince Maurice and the service we’d already received had been incredible.
We decided the world was our oyster … well the Emirates destination travel list was anyway! Preetam and I visited Thailand in 2013 (pre kids) and to date it was one of our favourite holidays – it’s full of culture, amazing food and the most scenic beaches. The only down side was that we only had 7 nights to spare this time so travelling around wouldn’t be an option. We were drawn to Thailand based on our previous experiences of the beautiful country and decided Phuket would be a good call – we’d not been before and the JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort seemed just right – boasting Asia’s longest pool at 1.9km, it was bound to be a winner with Arjun especially!
This was our first long haul flight with Saajan and as you may have gathered from our previous holidays, he hasn’t been great with flying so far – like his daddy, he gets cabin fever! We decided it would be wise to fly business class with two littles in tow and after the year we’ve had, why not! The extra space would be good for Saajan and also for Arjun to keep himself entertained.
Although flying Emirates meant we had a stopover flight, there was no give on our preferred airline – it’s definitely our absolute favourite airline and they definitely didn’t fail to live up to their reputation this time either. Their planes are adorned with such luxurious textures and fabrics, their service is impeccable and obviously there’s the added bonus of lots of space! You barely feel you’re on a flight! There’s also the added bonus of the seat converting to a bed for naps and play time for the kids.
Emirates business class service also provides customers with a chauffeur service in the UK and at many of its international destinations – Thailand included. All four chauffeur transfers included baby seats.
The Emirates lounge offers a range of hot and cold snacks – we had a quick bite prior to departure.
We definitely got lucky – on three out of four of our flights, Saajan ended up having his own seat as the flight wasn’t full which was especially handy for nap times!
The staff on the flight to Dubai were absolutely incredible – Fedi in particular ended up quite quickly developing a soft spot for Saajan and the feeling was mutual! He was incredibly helpful with assisting us with a fussy Saajan who wasn’t feeling great – he went out of his way to provide us with whatever he could to comfort Saajan. Not sure what we’d have done without him as for a lot of the flight he took Saajan when he seemed restless and entertained him at the bar with the other crew. Saajan was definitely pretty popular even among the other passenger!
On all flights, both kids were given a little goody bag – Arjun a colouring book, a Tiger erase away board and some stickers, Saajan a little backpack blanket and baby essentials such as a bib, cream, feeding spoon and wipes.
I was armed with a new in flight bag for Arjun to keep him entertained. I packed it with a host of things and definitely over packed! I packed a few new bits for each leg to keep him entertained but to be honest he was mostly entertained by the Lego on the way out! I’ll do a separate post on what I packed in his bag. Arj also enjoyed watching Cars 3 before he slept.
We had a two hour stop over in Dubai where we quickly freshened up, changed the boys clothes and had a quick snack at the lounge before boarding our next flight. Surprisingly we weren’t dreading our next flight as like I said, it didn’t feel like we’d been on a plane despite Saajan being a little grumpy.
Emirates have strollers at Dubai airport which was particularly helpful. Arjun was pretty tired and fussed over wanting to sit in Saajan’s buggy (we have a Baby Zen YoYo), so we grabbed an additional one from the airport free of charge for Saajan.
By the second leg, Preetam and I were pretty tired but Arjun was far too excited about going on holiday to fall asleep till the very end! Saajan was also struggling with a nasty cough making him extra grumpy. It was quite exhausting!
We arrived at Thailand at 8am meaning we’d lost a whole night (we left the day before at 9.30am). There was a 1 hour 15 minutes drive to our hotel and by the time we got there, we all crashed! Our first day was a little jumbled and we were all heavily jet lagged.
Upon our arrival to the hotel, we were eagerly greeted by a member of the reception staff who were expecting us. They were all so hospitable, friendly and informative – just what we needed for energy refueling after a long flight!
Once we’d settled in, Chef Sa (Assistant Head Chef at the resort) got in touch to get to know us and our palettes a little better! Throughout our holiday, she was absolutely incredible – she’d always be there to check in on us and to ensure we were served delicious food and dishes were created from scratch if required to ensure we were offered a range of different foods. We were really grateful for Chef Sa’s efforts in aiming to satisfy us, the efforts of her and her team really paid off and made our stay even more enjoyable. The hotel was amazing at preparing food that wasn’t specifically on the menu to meet our needs which was particularly helpful with the children.
Given we only booked Thailand a few days before arriving, the service we received via email by the various departments was remarkable. All our requirements were met without any hassle such as early check in and providing a baby bottle steriliser as well as a stool for Arjun to be able to reach the sink. They responded promptly and were eager to help us where possible.
We went for a family lagoon pool access room as we thought a room with direct access to the swimming pool would be perfect for us with a toddler and baby as while Saajan napped we could easily go straight in to the room without it stopping from Arjun continuing with one of us. We found it super convenient and the added foliage outside our balcony meant we had a little privacy.
The room is made up of dark brown mahogany and white shades. The dark shades kept the room quite cool which was helpful in the 30 degree heat! I do think the main bedroom and lounge area could do with a giant mirror – just to open up the room further and who doesn’t love a mirror?! I loved the cleanliness of the room – it definitely met my standards! Housekeeping were so thorough and always very helpful – they were definitely in tune with our needs and ensured we were provided with 12 bottles of water daily!
I loved the bathroom decor with its luxurious cream marble. There as a separate shower which was huge and was definitely the best shower I’ve used in my life – so powerful! The double sink was handy as we used one for washing Saajan’s bottles.
We found that the family room wasn’t as spacious as a suite at other hotels such as the Lopesan Boabab in Gran Canaria or the suites at Sheraton Fuerteventura and therefore we struggled with space a little. For example there wasn’t enough storage space for all of our clothes (I didn’t overpack … that much!) nor for our empty suitcases. I also struggled in the bathroom with laying out our toiletries and my make up and I wasn’t able to put my make up bits in the living and bedroom area as there were no mirrors.
We mainly used the river pool that wraps itself around the entire property. Its like a lazy river without a current. Its 1m deep for the most part but does go up to 1.8m deep in small pockets. We really loved having a swim up room – it meant there was no faffing with packing a pool bag and there was no worrying about running back to the room. There is also an infinity pool which we didn’t use very much. There are two pool bars which added to the convenience of keeping the toddler hydrated!
A beautiful little touch is that every day (provided the weather permits) there’s a little boat that comes around the pool serving soft drinks and fresh coconut right to your door step!
Breakfast offered a large selection of continental and international cuisine. The omelettes were by far the best we’ve ever had. They were cooked perfectly and the flavours of the vegetables were delicious!
The tables at the Waterfront restaurant where breakfast is served are huge which was so helpful with the kids – Arjun always grabs a host of plates with an assortment of food and Saajan tries to grab everything and anything within his reach! The view from the Waterfront restaurant is that of the beach and it’s absolutely breath taking – especially to start your day off with.
There are several dining options at the JW Marriott Khao Lak which is really convenient especially with children. The wide variety of cuisine offered is also really outstanding – there’s something for everyone. The restaurants include the Olive, a Mediterranean restaurant; Sakura, a Japanese restaurant; Ta Krai, a Thai restaurant and the Waterfront, international cuisine; Deli, offering a range of sandwiches, pastries, ice creams and hot drinks as well as fresh juices; Czar Lobby Bar; Beach Bar, offering quick bites. The hotel also offers two pool bars – the Infinity Pool Bar and the Aquamarine Pool Bar – Arjun was definitely a frequent user of this one for his daily pineapple juice!
We ventured to the Olive restaurant on our first night and were greeted by Chef Enzo. Before I speak about the food, the view was absolutely breathtaking from the outdoor seating – we got to witness the most beautiful sunset which painted the sky a beautiful mix of pinks and oranges. It really was like a postcard picture! The setting at the restaurant was beautiful – there was a gorgeous ambience with the tree stump candles and tube LED lighting.
After a long flight and severe jet lag, we weren’t sure what we fancied eating, we decided to leave Chef Enzo to work his magic! He came up with a beautiful starter – a bed of Italian salads using a variation of Italian cheeses which were absolutely divine! In addition he also created for us a medley of various vegetables on a platter. The ingredients were so fresh and the infusion of flavours worked so well – you could taste each and every ingredient but they worked so well together.
We were pretty stuffed after starters and requested a light main. Chef Enzo came up with a trio of vegetarian pastas – pesto gnocchi, tomato ravioli and olive oil chili ravioli. All were exquisite but my favorite was the olive oil chili ravioli.
Chef Sa reserved us a table by the pond with beautiful views of the sunset overlooking the infinity pool for dinner at the Thai restaurant. Chef Mama Du, Head Chef at the Thai restaurant, came to personally meet us and suggested her favourites for us – we went for the vegetable spring rolls which were so refreshing and tasty – a little different to your traditional deep fried spring rolls! Vegetable tempura – oh so crunchy! For mains I went for a Thai green curry with vegetarian pad thai and Preetam went for a fish red curry. Both were delicious – amazing what a difference there is with authentic food! Dessert was deep fried battered banana with ice cream – I LOVED it.
We often stopped off at the Deli to grab an ice cream or a fresh juice or in the evening after dinner for a hot drink and cheeky slice of cake! It’s a casual little place but be warned it’s pretty cool compared to the other restaurants!
We dined at the beach front restaurant one evening for a casual one. Chef Sa had her team whip us up vegetarian quesadillas loaded with beans and vegetables which were delicious – all while watching the sunset. Arjun in particular had fun dancing to the entertainment! We often used the beach front bar during the day when lounging at the beach – they do lots of snacks from fried rice, French fries to nachos.
The beach offers absolutely breath taking views which pictures do no justice! One of my favourite things to do was to lie on a hammock and take in the scenic view of the different shades of blue.
The sea was a lovely warm temperature making it the perfect spot to “catch waves” for Arjun. He absolutely loved spending time in the sea with daddy and building sandcastles with the family. The sand was soft and you’d often see little crabs scurrying about.
The sun beds on the beach were often occupied from quite early on so we never really managed to get any but Arjun had no interest in lying around on a sun bed anyway! He was always either in the sea or building sandcastles. We’d take Saajan for a little while to play in the sand, catch some waves and take him in. He loved smashing down mini sandcastles!
The resort has an onsite spa much to my delight! Asia, Thailand in particular, is renowned for its’ world class massages (amongst other things!). I was lucky enough to be treated by the hotel to two massages (Preetam gifted me his – good husband!). My first masseuse was Roong – I went for a deep tissue full body massage. It was absolutely AMAZING. I felt so light afterwards – it was without a doubt the best massage I’ve ever had in my life! The spa surroundings are tranquil and peaceful making it the perfect setting for some relaxation time. I found the whole experience from start to finish really rejuvenating and it was just what I needed.
Private Family Cooking Course
We were truly spoilt at the resort – Chef Sa kindly arranged a private family Thai cooking course for Preetam, Arjun and I. Usually, children under 10 are unable to attend the cooking course, but they made a huge exception for us and Chef Sa and Chef Mama Du put in place many measures to ensure Arjun could attend in a safe environment – Chef Lynn joined as his right hand woman so he had one to one supervision. We are so eternally grateful for the opportunity as Arjun had specifically asked to go on a cooking course while on holiday. The personalised service was impeccable!
It was the first time Mama Du had hosted a vegetarian cooking course and she’d customised our menu to include what we said we’d like to learn. The course was really informative and Mama Du explained everything with so much patience and love – you could really see her love for cooking and its clear to see why all the chefs at the resort often turn to her for her wisdom and wealth of knowledge in flavours and foods she’s acquired over her career and childhood.
Our menu was:
- Papaya salad: I was a little apprehensive about this as the combination sounds odd but it was so delicious! The infusion of garlic and chili with papaya was absolutely amazing!
- Thai green tofu curry: because we would be crazy to go to Thailand and not learn the “proper” way to cook this delight! The combination of fresh produce and Mama Du’s guidance resulted in an amazing curry – it was delicious!
- Sweet and sour tofu: Recently Preetam and I went to the film festival in Vienna where we tried the most divine sweet and sour tofu. It was amazing beyond words and it’s become our thing to try and hunt to find something that comes even close – to date we’ve failed! After Mama Du’s tips and recipe, we’ve now definitely come very close – we just need to tweak our sauces slightly!
- Vegetable Pad Thai: We were really surprised with the amount of ingredients that go in to Pad Thai to form the base. Something I’ve always wanted to master. We were all pleased with our results – especially Arjun who wolfed his down!
- Sweet banana in coconut syrup: another surprise medley of flavours!
We were so grateful to have access to Chef Mama Du’s wealth of knowledge and for the resort taking the time to provide us with a course that Arjun could attend and which he thoroughly enjoyed! A big thank you to Chef Lynn and Chef Mama Du for taking such good care of Arjun and for being so patient. We have definitely come home armed with a lot more knowledge on Thai cooking the authentic way!
During the course, to ensure Saajan had one to one care, we hired a babysitter from the hotel who initially joined us at the cooking course – Saajan warmed very quickly to Mae and once we were comfortable with her, we allowed her to take Saajan to the kids club for a little while. Arjun joined later. Based on our experience with Mae, we’d highly recommend the babysitting facility available at the hotel. The kid’s club facilities were also fantastic – Arjun enjoyed building towers, playing in the soft play play gym and colouring pictures for us.
On Site Nurses Centre
Another brilliant service the hotel offers is a nurses centre which is open daily – one which we ended up utilising when Saajan was feeling a little under the weather. They were able to check his pulse and oxygen on site which was really helpful.
As well as the hotel facilities, we decided to venture out to show the kids a bit of Thai culture and do a spot of shopping to the Bang Niang Night Market which is open on Mondays and till late on Saturdays and Wednesdays. The market was so buzzing and Saajan in particular absolutely loved the atmosphere.
When we visited Thailand in 2013, I struggled to find vegetarian street food (probably wasn’t looking in the right places!) but was ecstatic to stumble upon local veggie finds this time! Potato spirals on a stick, corn on the cob and fresh fried spring rolls were absolutely divine! We also enjoyed a banana and Nutella roti – a Thai specialty.
The market is full of clothing, shoes, dupe make up and lots of souvenirs! Be prepared to haggle!
Our flights back with the kids were really good (surprisingly!) – both played nicely and napped well. Saajan was brilliant on the way back – I was really pleased given our past experience! In total we travelled for 21 hours.
We enjoyed our stay so much at the JW Marriott and would definitely return back – the service was second to none and we all had a beautiful family holiday creating lots of memories to last a lifetime!
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in the form of remuneration or in exchange for a product or service. However all views expressed above are my own.