Luxurious accommodation and a truly enormous range of amenities facilities right on one of Thailand's most beautiful beaches sounds just too good to be true but in Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort's case it's not a mere advertising ploy – it happens to be spot on correct.
The beach in question is Relax Bay – a 500-metre long palm-lined strand set in between two high, jungle-covered ridges, almost equidistant from Patong and Karon beaches. There is no traffic noise, and apart from the evening hotel entertainment the only sound is the constant and steady pounding of waves breaking on the adjoining beach.
What's It Like?
In a word, peaceful. The 470 rooms and suites each enjoy pool and sea views and the main building resembles a 'U'-shape facing the beach and encompassing the huge swimming pools and the island-like main restaurant and bar.
The lobby is simply massive and hosts a central fan-cooled relaxing and reading area that features Wi-Fi connection with an adjacent air-conditioned room offering more seating, internet work stations and an international library.
The long, almost cathedral-like reception leads to a gentle sweep down into the vehicle reception area and car park and the long, verdant-lined driveway up to the higher main road. This resort is wheelchair friendly, with paths and ramps accessing all ground floor amenities and lifts to all floors.
Where Is It?
Although Le Meridien is a five-minute drive from, and almost halfway between Patong and Karon on Phuket's west coast, its official address is in the Karon Municipality.
In reality it is almost an entity to itself because, apart from a few satellite businesses lining the drive up to the main Patong-Karon road and a few on the upper road itself, Le Meridien stands alone. West-facing, the fabulous sunsets here are an open invitation to have a few sundowners at one of the hotel's beach outlets.
How Many Rooms/Suites?
Le Meridien has 417 Superior rooms and 54 Luxury Suites that break down into 154 Superior Garden Views (38sqm), 168 Superior Pool View Rooms (38sqm), 94 Deluxe Ocean View Rooms (38sqm), 32 Junior Suites (59sqm), six Terrace Suites (105sqm), 10 Superior Suites (128sqm) and six Royal Suites (266sqm).
We book two interconnecting rooms for our family and our fourth-floor Deluxe Ocean View Rooms are predominantly wood-designed, with highly polished floors, teakwood-framed mirrors and plenty of cupboard and wardrobe/storage/work space.
One room has a king-size bed, its neighbour two single beds and a baby cot is brought up on order. The rooms' chairs are brightly upholstered and the whole feel is light and breezy and even more so once the sliding windows are open.
The view from the balcony is magnificent; over one of the large pools and out to the Andaman Sea. The almost electric turquoise hues of the swimming pool contrast sharply with a bright blue sky and deep green flora.
As for the bathroom, it has American Standard equipment, double sinks set in speckled marble below wooden louvered sections with inward-facing mirrors. A step-in reinforced glass shower with jet and rain shower choices does a great job while there is no shortage of towels, robes with slippers, and complimentary toiletries and scales.
The room features coffee and tea-making facilities and a full mini-bar together with a laptop-size safety box, ironing facilities, a central air conditioning and lighting consol, laptop internet connection, 37" Samsung LCD with 46 channels, in-house pay per view movies, radio channels and a DVD player.
Restaurants and Bars
All in all, Le Meridien offers a total of ten restaurants and bars, encompassing daytime beach pizza by the beach, a poolside bar, fine-dining Italian cuisine, themed buffet dinners with live entertainment, Japanese and Thai cuisine and a downstairs pub and 'night club' with live music as well as many more food and drinks outlets.
Pakarang, where the daily differently themed buffet nights take place, also serves a hearty breakfast buffet. The restaurant is open sided, jutting out over a large swimming pool and is the culinary heartbeat of the resort.
For those who enjoy a good sing-a-long, the downstairs Le Patong Pub features a live music duo and an adjacent karaoke room.
With some of the largest swimming pools in the country and an exclusive beach, guests at Le Meridien are spoiled for choice when it comes to water sports, especially as all non-motorised water equipment such as kayaks, windsurfing boards and the catamaran is free of charge.
All the leisure facilities you could dream of are here: Jacuzzi, kid's pool, petanque, archery, minigolf, a driving range, rock climbing wall, two squash courts, four floodlit tennis courts, complimentary steam room and sauna and a state-of-the-art and cutting edge fitness room that offers daily organised workouts.
Expect afternoon beach football and volleyball tournaments and even an outsized chess set. For children with a creative bent, the Penguin's Kid's Club has a full list of activities that change daily as well as several games computers – open daily from 09:00 – 19:00 and available for children aged from four-12 years old.
Le Spa, open from 09:00 – 23:00 daily, is a tastefully designed ten-room ground floor arrangement that is extremely popular with guests. Several boutiques, handicrafts and jewelry shops and a convenience store wait in line for those who do not wish to leave the hotel grounds.
Finally, if all that weren't enough, guests can study the art of Thai cooking each Monday and Thursday.
Le Meridien has so much going for it and is in such an idyllic spot that the combination is plainly a winning one. The sheer size of the property and the wide choice of activities and dining options ensure that no one would be able to sample all of the amenities during the course of one stay. But quantity is nothing without quality and Le Meridien's professional and service-minded staff are proficient, courteous and excellent representatives of Thai hospitality.
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