Back in September we realised that my partner would almost certainly be away working for Christmas with the way his leave and rostering system works, so he decided to bid for a trip that we might both like to go on, rather than lose any sleep over it (it’s the airline industry-so it goes with the territory). It was my sons year to visit their father for Christmas, so if I had been unable to go I would have been home alone with our daughter which wasn’t a prospect I relished 11 months after losing Dad. We were amazed when he got our first choice on the bid list which was a 6 day trip to Phuket in Thailand (pronounced Poo-ket by locals as opposed to “Foo-cket” by some tourists)… But go ahead and have a little chuckle and play with the various mispronunciations any way 😉
It was great for many reasons; firstly it was a longer trip for his airline and also it’s a destination that I really have wanted to visit for years (my uncle lives out there) and being Christmas, it would mean that I could spend Christmas day with him and have a family Christmas against the odds! WONDERFUL! I couldn’t travel with my partner’s airline on staff travel because they do it as a sub-charter for another part of the company in Scandinavia, so I booked with Air Asia X instead. BIG MISTAKE!
That whole saga is too long and tedious to bore you with, but suffice to say, I would rather stick rusty pins into my eyeballs than fly with them again-our connecting flight at their crummy Malaysian, Kuala Lumpur Budget hub (aka ‘the cow shed’) took off without me and three other passengers (without calling for us, despite announcing a delay 10 minutes before we realised)-but still took our luggage to the destination! Highly illegal and potentially extremely dangerous, if for example I had been a terrorist who packed a bomb and deliberately missed the flight! And that was just one of a long catalogue of crap I experienced with them including: food poisoning, paying to check in, finding that they don’t DO in-flight entertainment on 14 hour flights, etc. Just AWFUL. ANY WAY! …We got there eventually and I wasn’t about to let it ruin the rest of my holiday.
My uncle recommended Evason & Bon Island/Evason Six Senses Spa Hotel at Ruwai which has it’s own private island just off the coast. I checked it out on Tripadvisor before I left, and the reviews were good, but saying it was a little tired, so my expectations were not massive, especially as I managed to secure an awesome discount through my uncle (I went in high-peak season).
I was blown away despite the so-so Trip Advisor reviews. It is an eco-friendly hotel chain with a strong focus on sustainability, and I fell in love with it. There were no crummy plastic bottles of shampoo that you wouldn’t bathe a rabid dog in, like you get with a lot of hotel chains… It was all ceramic pottery dispensers and bowls filled with divine smelling spa products that invited me to inhale the fragrant spices and fruits of Thailand at every opportunity.
The tiredness that people describe was actually in my humble opinion part of the Evason’s charm, and didn’t detract from the fact that the hotel was simply stunning! …During my trip to the Island I also stayed at one of the 5* crew hotels (The Novotel by Kalim beach near Patong) and it wasn’t a PATCH on the Evason… You could quite literally have transplanted the Euro-bland Novotel to any other sunny destination and not really have noticed much difference.
At the Evason, the panoramic views out over all the little islets (Hoh hae (Coral Island), Raya Yai, Bon Island, Kaew Yai Island and Lone Island) off the south coast of Phuket was breath-takingly beautiful and exactly what I associated with Thailand (something you miss at the likes of Patong) and the food was pricey (by Thai standards) but very good. As a useful tip if you are planning to go to Phuket yourself, my uncle recommended staying on the West Coast for it’s nice beaches as they are sandy (unlike the ones on the East Coast which are muddy). I stayed both here in Ruwai, and later in Patong, and trust me when I say that Paton is like all the worst bits of Ibiza or Benidorm rolled into one and multiplied by 10. It’s a fun place to visit, but if you want to see a really pretty area of unspoilt Thailand I’d recommend the Evason and Ruwai, and Karon looked rather lovely too-though not as nice as this to be honest!
There is a beautiful beach to the right of the hotel, and it was not part of the Evason Resort as such, but there was a little gate entrance to it, behind the pier jetty, and this became my favourite place to eat lunch… The beach was only small, but was very private and not swarmed even at high season like the other public beaches I visited. It had one very basic, beach shack that served the most incredible food for next to nothing. My daughter and I were eating a meal each with drinks and tips for about 150 baht (about £3)! This was my favourite meal from the shack (seafood noodle soup-not sure of it’s Thai name).
Bon Island Beach was beautiful. The setting was more stunning, though being a private island it lacked local food shacks, Thai clothing pedlars and men selling coconuts for you to drink like the other island. Evason had exclusive rights to you as a customer which meant food, drinks, souvenirs, sarongs etc were about 10-15 times the cost. That said, I loved both beaches or different reasons, and when you compare ‘expensive’ in Thailand with ‘expensive’ in Spain or Greece for example, you can put things back into perspective.
What was most charming about Bon Island for me, was the boat trip to get there. We were taken across in little traditional long tailed boats and dropped at a floating jetty. This tickled me, because at the end of the jetty, we had to step into the sea to reach the beach! Haha! …They might as well have made you get out in the water to start with!
On my last day alone at the Evason with my little girl before my partner flew in, I decided to put her into the kids club that runs at the hotel by the kids pool (which is fab by the way as it had a little mini flume slide that dropped into the pool which you can see to the left here)…
As an aside, I managed to take this cool picture of my daughter taken underwater using my panasonic lumix FT3 which I took all of my holiday snaps with… I’m very proud of it, and love that she managed to keep her eyes open and the visual effect of her little reflection above her on the pool’s surface-what do you think?
Any way-back to my time out! After I dropped my little munchkin off; I was able to enjoy some of the adult only areas of the hotel… I only wish I had used this opportunity more, as I needn’t have worried about the guilt. My daughter had an absolute blast in there and they offered a range of activities including batik, tye-dying, clay painting, arts and crafts, pottery and free play. When I collected her after the few blissful hours I had completely to myself on that holiday, she was begging me to go back again after lunch! If you have children-this is an amazing opportunity to be able to have completely guilt free grown up time to indulge yourself, and it appeared to be very popular and not overly structured or rigid like kids clubs I’ve experienced at other hotels around the world
I used the time to laze by the stunning infinity pool. It was small, but offered amazing panoramic views and the pool itself directly faces Coral Island… I enjoyed the time to drift around dreamily on my inflatable lilo for the most part, but I also managed to strike up conversation with a lovely couple who had also placed their children into the kids club and were enjoying the peace and tranquility!
One major advantage that the Evason had for me was the of being 10 minutes by taxi from where my uncle’s English Tudor Pub, The Green Man is… Yes, you did read that correctly ENGLISH TUDOR COUNTRY PUB IN THAILAND. My uncle is
slightly barking mad (it runs in the family) and decided that a beautiful English Country Tudor Pub was exactly what Phuket needed, and in fairness-at least the beer garden gets sun-soaked 365 days of the year-so who could blame him?
It was stunning, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my uncle. He built it as a labour of love for the quintessential English country Pub. He was even talking about building a micro brewery out in Thailand at one point so that he could brew his own beer!
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but my uncle is a real foodie with a taste for the finer things in life, so although I thought it would probably be nice; I was actually blown away by the attention to detail that he has put into the building. It is absolutely enormous (across 3 floors) and has function rooms upstairs, live jazz on some nights and I even went to Salsa night in the studio behind his beer garden and took a salsa class with my little girl. That happens on a Tuesday night, and is always heaving apparently. Most of the clientelle are British expats and Thais, so they do real Thai food (not dumbed down for the Western palate) and English pub food (a nice range of gastro pub and pub grub to suit your preference, but all cooked with my uncle’s good attention to detail on food). Naturally of course, tourists do find their way there too; though its a shame more don’t because it knocks the socks off any English pub I’ve ever been to in England!
We ate Christmas Lunch there, which was truly magical as Santa actually came to visit, and brought my little girl her Christmas gifts in person!!! She was so thrilled! Christmas dinner was amazing too, home made gravelax and smoked mackerel pate, followed by a crab soup, followed by the most moist turkey I have ever tasted with all the trimmings and then a stunning Christmas pudding (something I normally am not a huge fan of). It was the most quintessentially ‘postcard perfect’ Christmas you could hope to have actually (and I’m not saying that because I’m biased)! If you are a from a Christian country, and you’re ever in Phuket for Christmas, I would seriously recommend booking it, as the Thais don’t really ‘do’ Christmas being Buddhists!
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