Thai bliss

Thailand has reopened to Australian tourists and travel editor Winsor Dobbin reports from poolside with a cocktail in hand.

Phuket is always a delight – and the Melia Hotels group is known for running top-notch establishments. No surprise, then, that the brand-new Meliá Phuket Mai Khao is proving extremely popular after opening in a delightful beachfront setting in January.

The 30-suite and 70-villa resort sits on eight acres of Phuket’s north-western coastline overlooking the Andaman Sea and has very chilled vibe with a focus on wellness.

From yoga and pilates classes to cold-pressed juice making lessons and dawn beach walks, it is hard not to feel good.

Fronting Phuket’s longest stretch of sand, the resort on Mai Khao Beach is close to several attractions such as Sirinat National Park, Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, and Wat Phra Thong temple.

Phuket International Airport is just a 15-minute drive away but there is no aircraft noise.

Launched by Melia Hotels International and owned by residential real estate developer Phuket Villa Group, the five-star resort is part of a roll-out of the Meliá brand in key destinations across Thailand including Koh Samui, Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

The new resort has saltwater swimming pools, private villa pools (perfect for cooling off after a walk), a reflection pond with sunken seating areas, and water gardens.

The Mediterranean-inspired accommodations (Melia is a Spanish company) comprise 30 one-bedroom suites and 70 one-bedroom villas that each cater for up to two adults and two children.

All feature outdoor bathtubs, open-air showers and outdoor terraces.

The 78sqm suites are complemented by cabanas and the 85sqm one-bedroom villas have those delightful private plunge pools.

Fifteen “wellness villas” feature an open-air Vitamin C shower, daily massage, ultrasonic essential oil diffuser, GermGuardian air purifier, Tempur-Pedic pillows, fit ball and yoga mat.

Meliá Phuket Mai Khao features four food and beverage outlets including the Gaia Beach Club eatery – the main dinner destination where the Spain-meets-Thailand menu might feature paella using fresh Thai seafood, or just a simple pizza.

There is also be all-day dining restaurant SASA, specialising in south-east Asian cuisine while Elyxr Café will serve fresh squeezed juices and some locally brewed liquors. There is also be a swim-up pool bar.

Meliá’s signature YHI Spa is home to five treatment rooms. In addition to its extensive menu of massages, facials, body scrubs and wraps, spa therapists also provide poolside and in-villa treatments.

The fitness centre is equipped with treadmills, ellipticals, exercise bikes and weights machines.

“Through our partnership with Spain’s leading hotel group, we are thankful that we can significantly contribute to Phuket’s recovery in the wake of Covid-19 by creating much-needed jobs for the local tourism sector and setting a new benchmark for hospitality on Thailand’s largest island,” said Maetapong Upatising, Phuket Villa Group’s managing director.

The staff here are super efficient and friendly – as is the Thai way – and nothing is to much trouble.

A great destination for couples and families, but too far from the action in Patong for party animals. Which is a good thing.

See www.melia.com/en/hotels/thailand/phuket/melia-phuket-mai-khao/index.htm

# Jetstar flights between Sydney and Phuket operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays (twice per week return services).

Sydney to Phuket fares start from $319 and there are economy and business class options on the comfortable Boeing 787-8 aircraft. See www.jetstar.com.au