Jan 10, 2020
Just 15 minutes from Phuket International Airport, this luxury, family-friendly resort is a gateway to the pristine beach of Mai Khao. Guest rooms give views to the shady lush property while suites and villas look out onto the Andaman Sea. The vast beach-bordering lawn hosts kids activities and offers grassy nooks to watch the sunset. With three main pools—one with a swim-up bar—an award-winning spa, a gym and tennis courts, and 11 restaurants and bars, there is always something to do at the JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa.
It’s day two of my trip to Phuket and my skin more closely resembles the colors of last night’s sunset than anything close to my usual ghostly shade of white. It’s not the bronzy goddess glow I was hoping for, but I have no complaints—not about my sunburn, not about my early-morning flight tomorrow, not about anything, really. That’s what happens when you’ve spent the last 48 hours basking in the sun, hopping from pool lounger to beach to swim-up bar.
I’m at the JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa, a 265-room haven on the shores of Phuket’s Mai Khao Beach. The hotel markets itself as a luxury family-friendly resort, but I’m here alone seeking respite from Bangkok’s bustle. With 11 restaurants and bars and one of the best spas on the island, there is absolutely no reason for me to leave the premise of the hotel for the next few days, and that’s just perfect.
Given how vast the grounds of the hotel are, I don’t feel out of place among families and honeymooners. But that’s probably because, with a football field-length lawn and large lush gardens spread around, there’s enough room for everyone to have their own space.
There’s a kids clubhouse and pool, but many of the child-slanted activities can be enjoyed by all. I shamefully joined a group of teens and a few parents in a tie-dying activity after going on a bicycle ride through the hotel grounds. Later, I clapped with the same enthusiasm as the five-year-old next to me during feeding time at the Mai Khao Marine Turtle Shelter and Education Center.
But there was nothing childish about my Ocean Front Suite. My sun-drenched balcony, which was as big as my apartment in Bangkok, gave way to views of the Andaman and boasted two loungers and my very own whirlpool. And I’d be remiss if not to mention the massive jacuzzi bathtub.
Needless to say, I’m already in a state of relaxation when I arrive at Mandara Spa. Covering an area of over 1,560 square meters, the highly accoladed spa offers various packages and treatments to heal all your ailments. I go for the Signature Mandara Four Hand Massage after wasting too much time studying the heavy spa menu. They offer everything from mangosteen and bamboo charcoal scrubs to family wellness packages focused on helping you reconnect with your clan.
By the time I’m finished, the sun is setting and the frogs have taken over for the spa soundtrack. In the name of wellness, I try to be present. But I can’t stop myself from plotting how I’ll fit in another treatment before my flight the next day. —Veronica Inveen