Never did I imagine myself anytime soon checking into an all-inclusive and luxurious 5 star resort for 8 days. But, thanks to Luxury Escapes, I was able to settle in the one place for a lot longer than I usually do while travelling, all while pamper myself and my mum! After venturing around Myanmar for two weeks and constantly being on the go (which was amazing, don’t get me wrong), it was so nice to sleep in, visit the spa, relax in the sun and consume copious amounts of food. After leaving the resort-life bubble behind, I wondered just how ever could I adjust to normal life again… But, in all seriousness, my experience at the JW Marriott Khao Lak was amazing in every single way, so keep reading on to find out why:
Located in Thailand’s Khao Lak National Park, to get to this little piece of paradise, you’ll most likely be flying into Phuket’s airport. Don’t be scared like I was momentarily before locating Khao Lak on a map – I can assure you it is far enough away from Phuket’s famous nightlife scene. About an hour North from Phuket resides the JW Marriott in an area that is quite the opposite.
The hotel is situated right on the pristine Khuk Khak beach, where only the ocean, sand and trees are in sight. I never really imagined to find myself on a beach so clean and quiet in Thailand, that’s for sure. Mum and I wandered along the strip of sand every afternoon as the sun set, and couldn’t resist bringing an ice cold beer to top off the moment. If you want a peaceful beach getaway, this is where you can find it!
The JW Marriott in Khao Lak opened in 2010 and has been accommodating all kinds of travellers since. From families to couples honeymooning, anyone and everyone can and will fall in love with this pristinely kept resort. The spacious rooms are located in Thai-inspired buildings, gardens are consistently looking lush and clean and more often than not, the sun is shining! In each room, quality amenities can be found, while dining options are aplenty. All of these factors add to its five-star rating.
Upon arrival and check-in we quickly came to realise just how beautiful and sophisticated the resort was. As we sipped our welcome drink and chatted to the lovely staff members, mum and I immediately felt comfortable and cared for. The next day, after wandering around the resort, I realised that while it is quite large and can accommodate hundreds of people, you still felt as though you had your own space. That’s really just want you want when you’re on a relaxing, tropical holiday!
I was genuinely SO surprised at how luxurious and spacious our room Premium Lagoon Pool View Room was. After travelling all day and arriving to the resort at about midnight, nothing made me happier than the massive, plush bed (and of course room service). The next morning, I stepped out onto the balcony as the sun rose, perched myself on the couch protruding out over the pool and couldn’t believe how beautiful the resort really was. The bathroom is fitted with what is basically another room for a shower, a double vanity and deep, marble bathtub – uber luxurious! Some mornings it was a struggle to get out bed, let alone the room, as it was so relaxing and comfortable.
The view from Olive Italian Restaurant
Food & Drink
As someone who passionately loves and adores all things food, three massive meals a day was just too much for my stomach to handle in the end. First up in the morning, the buffet breakfast is really something else. From juice, pancake and egg stations to just about every fruit, vegetable, bread and condiment you could imagine, it’s all here to start your morning. I had to control myself though, as a massive lunch menu awaited us in the middle of the day that consisted of curries, burgers, Thai food and pizzas. After a few cocktails or beers at the beach as the sun set, we then would dine at either the Sakura (Japanese), Olive (Italian) or Ta-Krai (Thai) restaurants for a three course dinner.
On top of all that, there is a Deli loaded with ice-creams and coffee, swim up pool bar and waterfront dining. Not to mention, the holy food delivery system in the form of room service is available 24-7. Surrounding the resort, you’ll also find local restaurants and pubs for something different.
To be totally honest, I had a high expectation for the food here as the resort in its entirety is supposed to be very luxurious. Sadly, I was quite disappointed. None of the restaurants served up food authentic to the cuisine. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I felt as though I’d left Thailand without trying the amazing Thai food everyone raves about!
Facilities & Activities
I would say it’s just about impossible to be bored or without things to do at this resort. The JW Marriott Khao Lak is actually very well-known for it’s lengthy pool that spans several kilometres and wraps around the entire resort! Aside from floating around the resort all day and swimming up to sip on cocktails at the pool bar, there are many other activities available.
From bike and hiking tours led by the gym staff to kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, surfing, sailing, tennis or volleyball, you’ll have so much to do. The hotel has a well-kept gym too if you wanna keep fit while travelling.
You can book an array of activities through the hotel such as day trips to nearby islands, hikes and tours. Please, just please, whatever you do, DON’T even think about heading to the elephant camp. I don’t wanna know you if you would want to take part in something so cruel like that.
Quan Spa: As the Thai Tourism Board’s winner of a “Spa of the Year” award, I was super keen to relax and be pampered here. As a part of my Luxury Escapes package, each person received a rejuvenating facial, Thai massage, foot reflexology massage and aromatherapy massage. Admittedly, I’d never had a massage at all before visiting the resort, though now I’m hooked. From the natural products used to the caring and kind staff, the Quan Spa is super indulgent!
Ton Chongfa Waterfall: From looking at the map of the local area, Ton Chongfa Waterfall really didn’t look like it was going to be a long bike ride away at all. Oh, how wrong I was – so. very. wrong. Mum and I hired some bikes from the hotel, followed some rough directions and ended up riding up and down hills in the blistering Thai heat for about an hour and a half to reach this waterfall. Once we got off the main road, I must admit that the countryside area in Khao Lak was absolutely breathtaking in more ways than one (I’m not the best bike rider when it comes to hills, okay!) Finally, it was nice to dip our toes in the freezing water and admire Thailand’s natural beauty before venturing back to the hotel. Luckily some Thai massages were awaiting us!
Similan Islands: We all see those picture perfect photographs of tropical waters where the colours are just so incredibly blue and clear, but it’s always hard to believe it actually appears the same way in real life… The Similan Island waters were so saturated and bright, it was honestly hard to believe our eyes getting off the boat for the first stop. I can guarantee the water looked exactly like that photo in person!
I knew going to Thailand, I couldn’t just sit around at the resort for the whole 8 days. The ultimate day trip was in order, in the form of snorkelling, hiking, eating and exploring the Similan Islands. We booked through the Khao Lak Explorer and chose the early morning tour to avoid the crowds, which ended up being a great decision. We were picked up from our hotel, driven to the dock and served breakfast before boarding our speedboat for the day. After stopping at the first beach, we snorkelled for a while, spotted some clown fish and then had a little sea sickness vomit before dining on the beach and snorkelling some more! The sea sickness and sunburn in the end was all worth it.
I left the JW Marriott with a completely different outlook on all-inclusive travels – kinda can’t believe I never considered checking in to a resort before! If I ever could recommend the perfect family, best friend or couples getaway where you can arrive at a destination and not have to worry for a second about costs or travel, the JW Marriott is perfect. Just about everything you need is in the one places, though I do suggest getting out and exploring the local area once in a while, too! I only managed to experience a teeny tiny portion of what Thailand has to offer in Khao Lak. I am now longing for the day I can return to venture around the whole country, sample traditional food, meet more of its friendly people and witness the natural beauty it has to offer.