Travel Diary – Destination Thailand – The Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa

Our travel diary…part words, part pictures and a video journal in between! Enjoy part 1 of our Thailand adventure 🙂

With three fun filled days in Dubai behind us, and our family vacation off to a good start; the excitement was mounting for our next destination! If Dubai was only the pit stop in this family holiday, then it’s safe to say that expectations were high for the next stop. After a quick bite at the Shake Shack at Dubai International airport, we boarded our midnight flight to Thailand.

The flight itself was a little bit noisy for that time of night. I had all good intentions to sleep through the six hour flight, but I had to wait a good hour or two until the cabin crew completed their rounds of food and drinks before I could finally settle in and catch a snooze. Zee had no problem sleeping through everything though, and the rest of the family had little to no sleep at all. This meant that we hit the ground feeling slightly more exhausted than excited.
Our first impressions of Thailand was a little underwhelming. We expected to see an island paradise, but instead we were greeted by a Thailand that was bustling, extremely hot & humid and a little grey; and on our drive from the airport to our hotel, the kids kept comparing it to the bright lights and glitziness of Dubai – but to be fair, I think it had a lot to do with the overall feeling of exhaustion.
 For me personally, I just enjoyed soaking it all in! The houses, the temples, the way people live, the shops that line the streets, the fresh coconuts that you see everywhere, the electric cables that look more like a security hazard than anything else, and the way entire families commute  too and fro on a single motor cycle. But most of all it was the lush landscape. There was greenery everywhere…right up to the peaks of the mountaintops was lush and green. Words fail me…the natural landscape was beautiful! And when we finally made our way around a bend that revealed the ocean on the one side of us and Big Buddha on top of a mountain ahead of us; the fatigue left us and excitement started to mount once more!

We stayed at the Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa, a family friendly resort situated in the less populated Karon Beach, but also not too far from the tourist hub of Patong beach. It was in close proximity (walking distance) to shops and eating places, and just across the road from the beach. Judging from the sheer enormity of the grounds of the hotel, it’s safe to say that the Thai people have saved the best of their beautiful landscape for their tourists!

The hotel foyer has kind of an open plan setting, and by this I mean that although there is a roof,everything else is in the open…as in, there’s no walls or door…and no air conditioning  (but they did have fans). It was very pretty, but also felt a lot like it was blending in with the outside. At first I found this strange (and also unbearably hot), but the longer I stayed there, the more sense it made. The beauty of Thailand is very much in its natural environment, and the hotel has so many outdoor lounging areas scattered through its grounds that I’m sure was intended for the purpose of getting their guests to enjoy the natural landscape which is such a big part of the Thai experience!

Our early arrival meant that our sea facing family suite was not yet ready. Running on pure adrenalin, I was ready to leave my bags in the foyer and hit the town and explore, and then come back to the hotel when the room was ready. The rest of the family…not so much! For this reason we opted to swop our original suite for one with a less spectacular garden view, but readily available, so that my grumpy crew could have some rest. Strangely enough, I don’t have a proper picture of our room (though the video below has some nice footage of the room) . It had all the modern amenities one would require, while still maintaining a richly Thai style décor of dark wood with carvings in it. But we noticed none of those things till after we woke from our much needed slumber. It’s amazing how differently you view your surroundings with a tired set of eyes versus a refreshed pair.

The view from our suite

Don’t forget to click on the video above to watch our video diary!
Can I just say that jetlag is an actual thing!!! The 5 hour time difference, and also losing a nights sleep to travelling really messed with everyone’s sleeping patterns – so much so that we spent most of the first 2 days sleeping! Had it not been for the tour company that pursued us to book our day tours from the minute we arrived at our hotel, we might never have even left the hotel and would probably have missed out on the best parts of Thailand. Also, had we booked outings from day one, we may never have gotten to enjoy some of the amenities the hotel has to offer either, so I think it all worked out well in the end.
 The hotel has something like 5 pools – some with slides which are perfect for visiting families (which we made the most use of. There’s also some really nice shots of this in the video somewhere in the middle of this post); and some with a more tranquil setting overlooking the Andaman Sea for those just wanting to relax and sunbathe. The only gripe I had with the pools is that they weren’t open for swimming at night! I’m not sure as to the reason why, but we did sneak in an evening swim with the kids one night, which really upped our cool ratings with them 😉 Who knew parents do fun things like sneak into pools late at night!
And then there was the Spa – possibly one of the most beautiful and tranquil settings I have ever experienced in my entire life! One could easily spend a whole day in the confines of the Spa just to soak up the peace a tranquillity that the grounds and its surrounds bring with it. There were about 16 individual, free standing spa rooms that overlooked a massive lake, and offered all the seclusion from the outside world that you could ever need to completely unwind and relax. The Thai have the whole spa experience down to such a fine art, that I am going to make it my mission to find a duplicate experience here in Cape Town!
This was the best tasting Litchi juice I have ever tasted!

I think we stumbled across the exit to the beach quite accidentally on our first evening there while exploring the grounds of the hotel. We had slept most of the day away, and after indulging in a late lunch which ended as the last bit of sunlight lingered, we decided to venture out to watch the sun set. The beach was just across the road from the hotel, and I regret now not going over more often.  It was probably the best accident of the entire holiday.
Karon beach was scattered with tourists enjoying the last rays of the day, without it being overpopulated. There was still a lot of activity, with speed boats doing their rounds and some tourists could still be seen parasailing. Further down the road there were bright lights, loud music and bustling activity that was begging to be explored (but which we regrettably opted against for our first evening) The water was invitingly warm, as was the  ocean breeze against our skin. It was such a beautiful ending to a day that started out as a little underwhelming…
Thanks for taking the time to read!

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