After two nights in Bangkok, Mr. Feather and I headed to the airport to make our way to Phuket. Right away when we checked in for our flight, we were informed that there was going to be at least an hour delay. The girl at the counter was nice enough to give us some coupons to use at the airport restaurants, so we went off in search of our food options…which we realized was only one. Hahaha. Actually “FOODSTOP” was a nice little food court that included ramen and McDonald’s, but I still thought this sign was pretty funny (and effective!) advertising. Want to go somewhere else? Too bad.
Our hotel was a bit of a saga. Since it was the very high season, both resorts that we originally wanted to stay at – Aman and Trisara – ended up being 100% booked out. I was told that for the New Year’s period, some of these resorts are basically perpetually full, as the same people rebook year after year.
In a panic, I called my dear friend J in Bangkok – who told me not to worry, she’d take care of it. Lo and behold, a few weeks later she called and said that she managed to get us reservations at a resort. The cost would be around ~160,000 Thai Bhat per night, she said. I am horrible at currency conversion and thought it’d be fine until I remembered that J – while a total sweetheart – is also one of those local zillionaires and thus decided to Google the currency conversion to be safe. $4700 a night?? I started freaking out on the phone. “Oh yes, but I promise you’ll like it, it’s one of my favorites,” she cooed. She then helpfully added: “And if you’re lucky, you’ll get to play with some local monkeys.”
Even though these monkeys sounded pretty sweet, Mr. Feather and I were unwilling to sell our organs to finance this adventure and thus started over. At this point we were mere weeks out from landing in Phuket and I was seriously worried that we’d either be homeless or vacationing at the type of local Thai hotel where they’d film crime scenes in the future TV hit CSI: Thailand. Luckily at the last minute I was able to find a spot at a random resort I found on Tripadvisor – Baray Villa.
We were a little nervous when we landed in Phuket, but Baray Villa ended up being pretty amazing. The price we paid was literally 15% of what similar size accommodations would have been at Aman, and the villas were huge. I wasn’t able to get good photos so snagged some from the website to show you all – above is exactly what ours looked like, and you can also the at night a view of all the villas next to each other. The pools were especially amazing – all the villas shared one long giant pool, and each had their own private wading area and sun deck as well.
Wow, I am pale. As you can see there was also a little pool bar that was empty though fully staffed most of the time. I’m not really a pool eater or drinker, it’s a little weird to me to be scarfing down cheeseburgers while sitting in water. Plus when I want to eat, I’d prefer for my stomach not to be visible to others, please. The pool area was pretty private most of the time which was nice. To be honest we spent most of our time in Phuket at our resort – the beach was really crowded, and the water was just as nice here. Massages were right next door and there was no reason to leave except to duck out to 7-11 for more Magnum ice cream bars.
A quick tip that most hotel/resort pools in Phuket we heard aren’t heated – including hot tubs. A little strange coming from an American standpoint but it is so hot there that I understand. But I think it could be surprising to anybody booking a room with a pool for the first time, so just a note.
I loved all the animals and insects we saw around our room – here are two that Mr. Feather snapped, both on our sun deck when we went out in the morning. Beautiful huh?
Something that I wasn’t a fan of but that’s pretty much par for the course among all the Thai island resorts (high and low end) was a “mandatory” New Year’s Eve dinner that was charged by our hotel when we booked the room. Basically another way to make money, but I would have preferred that they just jack up the room price instead. You don’t have to go to the dinner…but you do have to pay…and the reviews typically aren’t that great for the price. But since it was a sunk cost we decided to check it out and our hotel actually had a pretty good buffet set up. Plus whenever I see a suckling pig, I cannot resist doing this:
Attractive huh? Afterwards I felt a bit of kinship to this poor animal and couldn’t even eat any. I named him Wilbur!
Overall I really enjoyed our time at Baray Villa and I’d recommend it to most. It was the quintessential “local” Thai experience in that we felt we got really beautiful accommodations, services and experiences for a relatively low price. I do have a few friends who are super duper picky about their luxury hotel/resort stays which is why I’d say that I only recommend Baray to most. Baray didn’t have Bvlgari toiletries or Pratesi sheets, the breakfast spread was mediocre at best, and occasionally you’d come across a grungy pool towel (easily replaced). Those things can be a big deal to certain travelers, which I totally understand – in which case I’d recommend Trisara or the like. But otherwise Baray would be a strong contender and a good value.
We spent five days in Phuket and it was absolutely fabulous – nothing can beat lots of water, sun and reading time for me. I really want to return to Thailand and try out more islands and resorts so if you have any recommendations, please let me know! Thank you for reading along and look out for my next post where I’ll show you my last bits of Bangkok and Hong Kong. Have a nice weekend!