The Banyan Tree, Phuket – Family Holiday Review

With Tiger

My eldest lounging with a tiger at Tiger World, Phuket

School holidays are over… so it’s clearly time to think about booking another family holiday… our inspiration for you today comes from Simone Pietschner. 

I nearly passed out when Simone sent me the photos to go along with her Phuket family holiday review.  Both the tiger and Simone’s son look very relaxed, but it sure gave me a shock.

And a sudden urge to get over there with the kids and have a cuddle ourselves.

This review is great, it makes me feel as if I know exactly how our family would fare in Phuket, with plenty of enticing detail and lots of top tips.  Many thanks to Simone Pietscher.

Heidi on Bang Tao

My family have just returned from an enjoyable 11-night holiday in Phuket: we were my husband and I, our two sons aged 10 and eight and our daughter aged five. We chose Phuket as an alternative to Fiji after experiencing Cyclone Evan last year, and because we could get affordable direct flights from Sydney to Phuket –a short 9.5hr trip.

My husband enjoys a bit of luxury and he selected the accommodation, which he researched on Tripadvisor. My only stipulation was that I didn’t want to be anywhere near the ‘seedier’ side of Phuket, and I can report that I did not feel ‘unsafe’ at anytime during our holiday.

We stayed at the Banyan Tree Phuket, part of Laguna Phuket, a secure resort area that includes seven different hotels. We booked a very spacious 2 bedroom self-contained villa – which included a ‘study’, which we had converted into a thirdrd bedroom for our daughter. The villa  had its own pool, which was a hit with the kids. A fantastic buffet breakfast was included in the rate.

We spent a lot of time at the resort’s beach, Bang Tao, which is easily accessed, quiet and well organized with everything you needed. Even though we were on a ‘private beach’ we could still do typical Thai holiday things like have a Thai Massage -an hour for 500 Baht, whereas in the resort’s spa it was 2,500 Baht.

The Resort catered for children, with a children’s menu available in all of the resort’s restaurants as well as Room Service.  There was a selection of four, 1hr Kids Club activities available each day between 10am and 5pm.

turtle club activities (1)

Here is a list of the kids activities

The Kids Club operated more as an activity centre than a childcare centre.  Babysitting service was available for 750 Baht per hour, about $25, which we used for a date night. Of course the staff love kids.

Our kids participated in Fun Tennis Games, Plaster Painting, Kite Making, Sandcastle Building, Henna Painting, Toy Making out of recycled materials and the Board Game Challenge.  I also had a hit of tennis with son no. 2.

Henna painting (1)

My husband used some of this time to go to the gym and I enjoyed the yoga classes.

A highlight of the experience was bike riding around the resort as a family.  With my daughter perched behind myself, or my husband, it really added to the carefree energetic feel of the holiday. Golf buggies could also be called to ferry you about – which was particularly useful when I was wearing heels.

We had fantastic weather for the whole time we were there.  We explored Phuket extensively, taking the Phang Nga 4 in 1 Speedboat tour, a cruise on a luxury boat, riding elephants, going to a fabulous show called Phuket Fantasea, playing Mini Golf, shopping in Patong, Go-Carting, visiting Tiger World, seeing the biggest Temple – Wat Chalong and visiting the Big Buddha.

Elephant riding

Elephant ride, located with the Laguna Phuket precinct

canoeing around islands (1)

Canoeing through caves and around the islands – part of the Speedboat tour

The Phuket Fantasea is a cross between side-show alley at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, a musical a Magic act and an old-fashioned circus with actual performing animals (up to 15 elephants, but also tigers, goats and roosters – yes you heard right!)

All of the activities were as well suited to our 5 year old as to our 10 year old and we met quite a few families with teenage children, who were having a ball or even on a return holiday.

Satay chicken sticks

My 5 year old enjoying Chicken Satay sticks in Patong

 Having use of a hire car the whole time we were there was a bonus, but not strictly necessary as lots of restaurants, destinations and tours pick you up in their own mini-buses. My husband is a confident international driver and while you have to drive a bit differently than in Sydney, it certainly isn’t any worse than trying to get a park in a Westfield at Christmas time 😉

lounging with Buddha

Posing with a Buddha in a temple at Wat Chalong

We also used it to head off resort to explore nearby restaurants, which was a big success.  The menus were suitable for the kids with Fish and Chips and Satay Chicken and other child friendly options.  My eldest has an allergy to wheat and they were very willing to alter dishes to help him out.  High chairs were in evidence as well as colouring pages and waitresses eager to entertain bored children.

Downsides: My daughter did pick up a dose of ‘Thai Tummy’ toward the end of the holiday, but made a quick recovery.  Communicating in English was not always easy. The island is not well sign posted for those trying to navigate themselves around.

Would I go again?  YES!  There was plenty to see and do and the local cuisine is an absolute highlight.

Is it a holiday that is suited to you?  I would say that it is better suited for families with children six and up.  The Kids Club can’t compare to the kind of ‘childcare’ that you can get say in Fiji or Hayman Island for example.  Other resorts may provide a different ‘Kids Club’ service.

 

 

Thank you Simone, we have never visited Phuket as a family and it hadn’t struck me how relatively close it is.

For another family review of a Phuket holiday, check out this post on the Surin Resort from Mrs Woog.

I did go there when young free and single and spent a lot of time scuba diving with French soldiers who were on R + R leave… but THAT is another story!!

Have you started on your 2014 holiday planning yet?

Have you visited Phuket?

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Posted on: January 29, 2014

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