Our family holiday to Phuket began uneventfully; we even managed to an entire cab ride to Changi Airport without incident. But in true family-with-small-opinionated-children-style – and despite rigorous planning – things rapidly deteriorated as we sat down for lunch:
Toddler One: I don’t want to go to Thailand.
Me: You’ll love the beach.
Toddler One: I want to go home.
Me: We’ll go home after the holiday, now eat your rice.
Toddler One: I don’t like rice.
Toddler Two: I like rice.
Me: Good girl.
Toddler Two: I want to go home.
And so on and so forth until we touched down at Phuket International Airport where we were rapidly whisked away by our awaiting driver to Indigo Pearl, just a five-minute car ride away, in the peaceful resort of Nang Rai. The hotel website had promised us something different, and that’s exactly what greeted us when we entered the cavernous, industrial-chic hotel lobby. With a large nod to the tin-mining industry that once dominated the region, metallic sculptures and structures abound here.
We spent two of our four nights in a funky D’Buk suite, which provided more than adequate space for a family of four, and was just a few steps away from the lovely family pool. Our second room, however – and I use the term “room” loosely – was a private pool villa with two pavilions: one for the bedroom and bathroom, the other a lounge-cum-dining area, massage room, steam room and sauna – because let’s face it, no holiday is complete without a private sauna. But it was the large swimming pool that mercifully kept our toddlers amused for several sun-kissed days.
While the hotel staff were friendly and helpful throughout our stay, as villa guests we enjoyed another level of service with our own personal butler who was just a mobile-phone call away. Our request for a baby monitor was met swiftly, allowing the husband and me peace of mind in the evenings when the toddlers were asleep in the next-door pavilion.
Where our holidays might once have included a smattering of culture, the ingredients required for a happy holiday nowadays appear as simple as those featured in a Jamie Oliver 15-minute recipe: swimming pool, beach and, above all else, an iPad – all of which are supplied by Indigo Pearl, right down to the iPad provided in our pool villa.
As beaches in Thailand go, Nang Rai is good one: powdery sand and calm blue waters, and it was, of course, a massive hit with the toddlers. Most impressive of all though were the beach toys supplied by the hotel’s beach club – incidentally, children’s toys are also supplied at the family pool; a little fact we wished we’d been aware of before we packed half of Toys ‘R’ Us into our luggage.
Despite it being high season, the beach wasn’t at all busy, and the vendors, who hover like mosquitoes in other parts of Thailand, were friendly and unobtrusive here. Nang Rai itself has a quaint village feel, with none of Patong’s seediness; and while the hotel offers a great selection of quality food, we also enjoyed dining on the beachfront, which is lined with a number of excellent cafés. Our favourites were the Baan Rai Tree, which we visited daily for its superb curries, and Octupus for its plastic princess cutlery and an owner who demonstrated impressive knowledge of Dora the Explorer.
I find that the true test of a good holiday comes after you’ve packed up and returned home; when, upon reflection, you ask yourself the question: would I visit again? The answer in this case is a resounding Yes! Next time the toddlers may even be old enough to join the kids’ club. Joy!
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