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June 1, 2017 – 08:34 am
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The verdict from travel experts is in: Phuket in Thailand has never been a hotter destination for Aussie tourists.

Direct flights, a plethora of resorts, some of Asia’s best beaches and the holy grail of family breaks — the kids’ club — beckon, especially at this time of year.

Grant Colquhoun, senior director Asia Pacific at TripAdvisor, says Bali may be the perennial favourite but Phuket has inched up, ranked No. 2 in the 2016 Travellers’ Choice Awards for islands.

“Phuket’s a great alternative that offers something similar to Bali, ” Mr Colquhoun says. “It’s got lovely people, great culture, wonderful food, pretty spectacular beaches … Kata Noi, for example, ranks as No. 3 in Asia based on our Travellers’ Choice Awards for beaches.”

“If you’re Bali’d out and you’re wanting beach, Phuket is your next journey, ” he says.

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According to a recent Wotif.com survey, more than a third of people (35 per cent) admit to escaping winter for a summer holiday overseas, and Thailand is the third most-popular choice — ahead of Europe and the US.

“Like Bali, Phuket is an island which offers something for everyone, ” says TravelManagers area representative for Carrara, Queensland, Aileen Collins. “However, hotel rates have been rising the past few years in Bali during school holidays, while this is the time many Phuket hotels offer their two-for-one and bonus-night stays.”

Similarly, Hoot Holidays consultants have found Phuket has remained strong while other South-East Asian destinations spike and dive in the popularity stakes.

“(Phuket is) still really popular for us, ” one says. “It always has really good deals and they haven’t had too many political issues. People don’t worry about travelling there.”


If you’ve ever been to Patong, perhaps as a penny-pinching backpacker, your memories of Phuket might not err towards aspirational.

“The once-perennial favourites of Australians were in Patong ... such as Patong Merlin, the Banthai and Gracelands, but over recent years many clients have decided to stay away from the hustle and bustle — particularly families and honeymooners, ” Collins says.

“Either a resort that caters for everyone, such as the JW Marriott, or (they’re) opting for the ability to self-cater at Chava Apartments at Surin or the Outrigger Villas near the Laguna enclave.”

“I compare it to Surfers Paradise, ” says TravelManagers area representative for Cleveland, Queensland, Richard Le Comte.

“You’ve got the shopping. It’s loud, it’s noisy, which suits the younger ones, but those who don’t really want that all the time can stay in Karon or Kamala, about 10 minutes north. That’s becoming more popular now.”


If the words “kids’ club” are as seductive as Pokemon Go, you’re spoiled for choice in Phuket.

The strongest performing resort for Hoot Holiday consultants is Centara Karon. “There are so many activities for the kids — kids’ club, slides — it’s a one-stop shop for everyone, ” a consultant says.

Wotif.com travel expert Kim Stockham prefers to stay out of the “hustle and bustle” of Phuket. “A great option is the Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort located on Karon Beach, ” she says.

“This luxe resort caters well to families, with the recently updated kids’ club, five restaurants on offer and activities for all ages.

“The Chanalai Garden Resort Kata Beach is also a good alternative for those who want a relaxed vibe, just a minute’s walk to the beach and not far from the Dino Park Mini Golf, which is great family fun.”

Infinity Holidays consultant Fiona Williams says Movenpick Resort & Spa in Karon Beach would be one of her top choices. “The Movenpick’s Play Zone for kids is one of the largest in Phuket, ” she says.


“We find many Aussies are eager for luxe romantic stays in Thailand, ” says lastminute.com.au blog editor Nicole Redfern. “Whether it’s celebrating an anniversary, honeymoon, special birthday or just a spontaneous getaway to keep the spark alive, Phuket has fabulous options for couples, from luxe villas, to adult-only resorts.”

The chic Indigo Pearl (soon to be renamed The Slate) is a personal favourite of Redfern’s (and just about every consultant we spoke to).

“If you’re after something extra special, I recommend going all out and staying in one of the resort’s luxurious private villas, which includes your very own pool, sun lounges to laze the day away and butlers at your service, ” she says.

For Hoot Holidays consultants, The Shore at Katathani “is probably the most luxurious, set on a crazy steep hillside with private bungalows among the gardens.”

Fiona Williams, from Infinity Holidays, agrees with the luxury pool villa property being a top choice, but also recommends sister property Katathani Phuket Beach Resort.

“It’s on a huge beach area along Kata Noi … (and) all the rooms are beautiful, ” she says.

Perched on the cliffs of Kamala Bay, Paresa, is Mr and Mrs Smith’s pick for couples.

“The Dima spa pool suite is seriously impressive, ” a consultant says, “with a private outdoor sala (pavilion) for spa treatments, a steam room and a freestanding island bath tub with wraparound pool. Plus, each guest gets a free daily massage treatment.”


A dose of namaste is only about nine hours away.

“Work out the kinks from the flight and wind down at Point Yamu by COMO’s Shambhala Retreat, where yogis run group and private classes, ” suggests Expedia Australia travel expert and blog editor Lisa Perkovic.

If yoga is not your thing, you can also join Thai kickboxing classes, village bike tours, pilates classes, or learn the art of flower arrangement.

“Amanpuri, Phuket’s ‘place of peace’ is the stay for those seeking serious relaxation, ” argues Mr and Mrs Smith’s James Lohan.

“This was one of the original Aman properties, and 20 years on, it’s still amazing, ” Lohan says.

“A secluded coconut-plantation setting, private beach and glamorous pavilion homes. It’s hard to find a more restful island retreat.

“We loved the resort’s restfully low-tech approach too.

“You’re a long way from a TV screen, in the best possible way.”


With a Sanskrit translation that means, “the garden in third heaven”, it’s not surprising The Trisara Phuket is TripAdvisor’s No. 1 hotel in Thailand. “It’s very luxurious but very affordable, ” TripAdvisor’s Grant Colquhoun says.

Source: www.escape.com.au
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