Published on April 12, 2008
Movenpick Resort and Spa on Phuket's Karon Beach offers something a little different to your average Thai hotel: Swiss hospitality in a family-style resort.
I first encountered this place at the Thai launch of Movenpick's Swiss ice creams, which are touted as some of the best in the world on the strength of their all-natural ingredients.
Though it's only been open for a year and a half, the huge hotel in generous grounds looks solid and traditional. And that's exactly what it is. Movenpick Karon was once another hotel, but the Swiss company bought the business out and injected international standards of service and hospitality.
Fancy a nostalgic stay at an old-style hotel with large gardens, swimming pools and facilities for the little ones? Then consider what's on offer here. Movenpick Karon has it all, from deluxe ocean-view rooms in the main building to garden villas and plunge-pool villas nestled in the garden. If you are a big family, there are also two-bedroom family suites in their beachfront Residence building, where an all-day butler service is available.
We checked into one of their ocean-view deluxe rooms in the main building. The large room had been sensitively renovated, with decor that was simple - a TV, but not flat-screen, and no DVD player or iPod outlets - but didn't scream "cheap". A peek into the bathroom revealed plenty of space too. The room comes with coffee and tea making facilities and a safe deposit box, useful if you're planning on spending most of your day at the beach or at one of the resort's beautiful big swimming pools.
Once inside you realise what a giant this hotel is. The old, slow elevator reminded me of holidays as a youngster with my parents. And I was soon reliving them, shrunk to child size by Movenpick's huge swimming pools whose various watery corners are fun places whatever your age. The plush, well-maintained gardens provided a different kind of pleasure, capping our holiday with a dose of serenity. As a homeowner familiar with the cost of creating a flawless garden, I appreciated the hotel's efforts in keeping their trees and lawns as beautiful as they are.
But as important as anything else on holiday is the quality of the food. Movenpick's breakfasts have gained a reputation: seemingly endless choices of Swiss specialities like gruyere cheese, smoked salmon, and air-dried beef. Ours ticked all the boxes, with waiting staff who were friendly and attentive as well.
Movenpick's other restaurants matched the standard set at breakfast. We tried their delicious Brazilian Churrasco grill at El Gucho restaurant one night, an assortment of rib-eye beef, lamb, pork, pork ribs, sea bass, squid, chicken and prawns. The cosy restaurant is on the beachfront, and a great place for a dinner treat. We also tucked into their wood-fire-cooked pizzas and fresh salads, but didn't have the time to do justice to the many other dishes the place has to offer. And, of course, Movenpick ice creams are on hand to cool you in the heat of the Phuket sun.
Children should find that there's plenty to do here - the hotel claims to be home to Phuket's largest activity centre, comprising The Zone (a fitness centre), tennis court, games rooms, a library (for free Internet and magazines) and a play area manned by nurses.
SIRIN P WONGPANIT
SPECIAL TO THE NATION