The Dusit Laguna Resort has been consistently wowing visitors for more than 20 years and is situated on Bang Tao Beach on Phuket’s west coast. Part of the six-hotel Laguna Group, Dusit effortlessly exudes a Thai touch through its well-trained staff, its classic décor and its discernable relaxed atmosphere.
One of the resort’s greatest assets is its beautiful beachside location and it is difficult to imagine that these lush, rolling and verdant grounds were once ravaged by tin mining and given up for wasteland. The Laguna is a triumph of ingenuous land reclaiming and Dusit is, without doubt, an extremely attractive resort.
The high-ceilinged lobby is classic in décor and classy in execution. Large statues of Kinaree birds from Buddhist and Hindu mythology perch poolside while goldfish lazily swim through rushes in several indoor ‘ponds’.
Fans waft overhead and in the corner by the lobby bar stands a baby grand piano; a waterfall cascading outside provides a constant audible backdrop. Several sets of rattan chairs and sofas with bright silk cushions are placed throughout the lobby and newspaper racks offer the day’s news.
W. Somerset Maugham wouldn’t look out of place here, gin tonic and International Herald Tribune in hand. From 00:11 to 16:00 daily the lobby is imbued with the soothing tones of a ‘kim’ – Southeast Asia’s answer to the dulcimer.
Reception, in an adjoining air-conditioned room, is also quite impressive, with lots of highly varnished wood, sumptuous carpets, Thai puppets and artifacts, attractive potted plants and soft sofas to sink into. Silk-clad and elegant staff members greet guests in commendable English.
The centrally located freeform pool has a gentle gradient up to chest height at its western (sea) side and eventually goes to a two-metre depth but most of this large and feature-filled pool is 1.2 to 2 metres deep.
There is a separate part that offers water polo and water basketball facilities and often these games get gloriously mixed up as youngsters splash around and balls fly through the air.
A poolside café serves light refreshments and drinks and the perimeter is lined with sun loungers.
We stayed in one of the Deluxe Sea View rooms. As we entered, kim music was playing on the 22” television and after a staff member had showed us the various features we were able to take the entire 32 sqm room in.
As to be expected, there is a strong Thai leitmotif running throughout with teakwood and pastel shades adding to the oriental feel. There are two bedside lamps and cotton, elephant-themed, textiles above the king-sized bed’s headboard. A half-length mirror hangs by the window and a lattice-framed balcony with two teak chairs and a table is accessible through a self-closing door.
Two pastel rugs keep things warm underfoot and the tiled floor extends into the bathroom where complimentary coffee and tea-making accessories sit next to a long, overhead-lit mirror. There are cakes of free ‘natural’ soap, a free shaving kit (Schick, no less…) toothbrushes and toothpaste, cotton buds, a shower cap and ceramic shampoo and shower gel holders.
The bath itself has a rain shower nozzle and non-slip strips with a double shower curtain. Dusit also offers Oceanfront Deluxe rooms, Deluxe Lagoon View rooms, Land Mark Suites, a Princess Suite, Dusit Club Rooms, and two Dusit Suite double rooms.
There are several food outlets in this resort. Ruen Thai features traditional Thai cuisine in an extraordinary setting. This elegant wood-and-glass restaurant sits lakeside next to a jetty where a boat plying the waters between Laguna’s hotels docks and the scene at nighttime strongly resembles an atmospheric Bangkok riverside eatery.
Italian specialties are the order of the day at La Trattoria, a fabulous and glittering all-white eatery while beachside dining and live entertainment feature at Casuarina Beach Restaurant and Pub.
A 200-seater ballroom handles formal functions and the Horizon Lounge is the place to sip a cocktail and listen to some easy going live music from Monday to Friday from 19:30 on.
Particular mention should be made of the breakfast buffet at Laguna Café; the local myna birds as well as sparrows and an occasional house crow flitter and strut between tables in a perfectly tame manner and the effect is charming. Breakfast a la carte is served at La Trattoria.
Dusit doesn’t disappoint those who value the needs of their little ones. The Busy Bee Kids Club, open 09:00 to 18:00, stands almost beachside and features soft, absorbent flooring, giant Lego bricks and jigsaws as well as colouring materials.
Each day activities vary and range from batik painting to candy hunts to yoga (for over eight-year olds). There is a sand pit with a playground outside and the Busy Bee has experienced and caring staff as well as a babysitter.
Things to Do
The Fitness Center, situated right next to the Busy Bee, is state of the art, free to use and is spanking new. With its pine floors, air conditioning and continuous Sports Channel it is a perfect place in which to work out.
Right next to the Fitness Center there is a small library as well as a large collection of DVD’s for all ages. Some rooms do not feature a DVD player and in that case guests can hire one from the library.
The two tennis courts are also complimentary, as are putting facilities and non-motorised watersports. Guests can windsurf or sail at either the beach or in the complex’s lagoons. Laguna also offers an 18-hole golf course and horseback riding while Dusit boasts a well-equipped games room. The Angsana Spa features eight types of massages and various therapies in eight private pavilions and guests can also enjoy a more informal outdoor massage near the pool.
For those seeking souvenirs, snacks and Thai memorabilia there are three outlets in Dusit to choose from and Canal Village, Laguna’s well-appointed shopping arcade, is close by.
You will find many personal and warming touches throughout Dusit’s grounds. Vivid orchids in coconut husks are strapped to trees, a lone ‘sala’ or gazebo over a fish-filled pond – everywhere there is a pleasing continuity of soothing green and pastel shades while the continuous breaking of waves on the beach pleases the ear.
The Andaman Sea provides a beautiful backdrop to these carefully thought out grounds and beach snack and drinks vendors offer local colour. Because of the wide range of in-house activities and Dusit’s easy going ambiance, some guests are perfectly happy to stay in the resort for the whole of their stay but for the more adventurous an assortment of restaurants and bars is a 15-minute stroll away in Tinlay Place.
A complimentary bus service links all six hotels in the Laguna complex and guests are welcome to use the other hotels’ restaurants and facilities; expenses incurred will be charged to their room. By car, Dusit is 30-minutes from Patong’s nightlife and for those who do not wish to drive there is a shuttle bus service.
The resort aims to present guests with a complete package with no need to leave the grounds and in this it largely succeeds.
Service is professional, genial and friendly but with Dusit’s 226 rooms it would be pushing it to say that it was ‘intimate’ although it’s not for want of trying.
Dusit Laguna has wonderful grounds staff – one only has to look around to appreciate that fact – and of course there’s the beautiful beach mere steps away.