Air New Zealand Economy Class, Wellington to Auckland
Air New Zealand International Koru Club Lounge, Auckland
Thai Airways Business Class, Auckland to Bangkok
Thai Airways Royal Silk Lounge (Domestic), Bangkok
Thai Airways Business Class, Bangkok to Phuket
Mövenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach, Phuket
After our very late arrival into Phuket, we exited the airport with our trolleys full of bags to the shuttle provided by the resort, who was parked prominently near the front entrance, amongst the many taxis obviously looking to earn a fare from one of the many travellers arriving off our flight.
When we first confirmed our booking by phone with the resort, we advised them of our flight details and of the need for the shuttle to pick us up from the airport, but as my parents and brother had already been at the resort for the past few days, they also reminded the staff at reception of our arrival earlier that day.
Our shuttle driver assisted us with loading our baggage into the rear of the shuttle van, and after this, I returned our trolleys back to the airport before setting off. Somewhere along the way I must have misplaced my phone without noticing, but just as I was climbing into the shuttle to leave one of the taxi drivers waved me down to hand me my phone, which I thought was very nice and honest of him – It was a positive start to our stay here in Phuket, and the beginning of the long, approx. 1 hour drive to the resort.
As fascinating as it is being in a new country, and as much as I would have liked to look out the window and take in some of Phuket along the drive, I was just exhausted after all the flying and spent most of the journey taking a nap, waking up just before we arrived.
Upon arrival at the Mövenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach, we were greeted at the stairs by two of the staff who assisted us with getting our bags from the shuttle and presented us with some handmade flower bracelets, which, considering it was almost 2:30 in the morning, was a nice touch, as I would have expected the hotel to pass with such formalities.
At the top of the stairs was a large lobby area with lighted columns, a feature area with surrounding seating and orchids growing above.
Th staff member at the check in desk was friendly and processed our check in quickly. After presentation of our booking and the usual requirements such as credit card for incidentals, we were provided some cold tea and refreshing towels, which was very welcome – especially as I was dressed like I was still back in Winter in New Zealand!
After everything had been confirmed, we were given a small cardboard wallet co-branded with Deals.com.au (where the accommodation voucher was purchased) and Mövenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach, Phuket and a short explanation of its contents. Inside were two keys to our room, two cards to swap for towels when using the pool, two complimentary drink coupons, four single scoop Mövenpick ice cream vouchers, and two 15 minute massage vouchers (all for use during our stay), as well as a hotel and resort map.
The staff at the check in counter advised that due to our late check in, there was no availability in any of the king bedrooms. Subsequently, they assigned us a twin-bedroom for the night. As we were staying at the resort for a reasonable amount of time (10 nights) I queried if it would be possible to change to a King bedroom, and they said that they would add a note to our stay and to check with reception in the morning and they should be able to accommodate our request.
The room was physically quite nice, with ‘earthy tones’. The bedding was European style. but there are some Asian and Thai influences throughout – Such as the paintings and curtains.
Shortly after we arrived at our room there was a knock on the door, and we opened it to find the porter with our bags.
Something that I thought was a bit *different* was the sliding window mirrors allowing for people to see into the bathroom.. In case you just can’t wait to carry on your conversation after your business?
The room had two comfortable king single beds, a couch and coffee table, a long side table with chair and television mounted on it.
On the coffee was a fruit bowl with a selection of fresh fruit, including dragon fruit, rambutan and an apple.
As the tap water in Phuket is not recommended for drinking, it is standard for many hotels and resorts to provide bottled drinking water, and the Mövenpick is no exception, with 2 bottles of complimentary water provided in the minibar area.
The tiled bathroom featured a single sink and vanity unit, toilet and shower over bath, along with the sliding mirror ‘windows’.
The toiletries were unbranded, but were quite nice – They were presented on a plate with the small towels folded into an arrangement.
Other in-room amenities included two pairs of bathroom robes, jandals and an umbrella. Plenty of coat hangers were provided for clothing and there was also a small electronic in-room safe and an emergency torch.
The room was located in the main building on the first floor, above the atrium. A balcony area is located off the rear of the room accessible through a sliding veranda door, giving a view of the pool and some of the restaurant dining and bar area, although not much of this was viewable in the early hours of the morning.
A reasonable amount of furniture is provided on the balcony, including a multi-seater bench, a single chair and a small table, ideal for enjoying the outdoors from the comfort of your own room.
After a comfortable and refreshing sleep, we awoke a little later around 9am to have breakfast at Pacifica Restaurant, which is the main restaurant at the resort, just off the lobby and located near the main swimming pool.
For those wondering, these photos of breakfast in the restaurant have been taken from another day of our stay.
On one of the mornings of our stay, a lady was giving a live demonstration of traditional Thai fruit carving during breakfast – This is one of the bookable activities provided by the resort, and was certainly fascinating to watch – With beautiful results.
After watching her do her work, I was quite keen to book a lesson, but unfortunately we never had time to do so.
The restaurant is quite large, with plenty of seating available both inside and outside for those dining.
There were always plenty of staff working in the restaurant, each doing their own thing: organising seating, clearing tables, restocking food and serving coffee. I found the service friendly, and any requests for service were generally filled quite quickly and without fuss.
The buffet was excellent. In addition to the usual foods offered such as european hot foods (bacon, scrambled eggs, sausages, etc – The bacon, being streaky American style was excellent but depending on how long it was out for, could be dry), there was also a baked goods area with pastries, muffins and cakes, cereals, vegetables and cold meats, yoghurt, cheeses, an asian hot food section and a noodle bar.
In addition to this, there are also two hot food stations with their own chefs cooking eggs (fresh omelettes and fried eggs) and making crepes how you like them – As well as warmers for pancakes and waffles.
For drinks, hot tea and coffee are served by the staff and there are juice fountains offering a variety of fruit juices.
At breakfast I noticed a sign on each of the tables – Feel free to eat as much as you like, but make sure it is only in the restaurant…
After breakfast, I stopped by the reception to enquire with the staff about changing to a room with a king bed instead of a twin, as discussed the night before on our arrival. The lady at the front desk was very polite, and could see some notes on our reservation and could confirm that they would be able to accommodate our request, however the room was in the process of being made up.
I advised that we were looking to go out later that morning to Patong, and she said that she would arrange for our room to be ready by the time we got back later that afternoon. They would arrange for our bags to be transferred to the new room by this time, and said to come back to reception after our day trip to pick up the new keys.
With all this organised, we head back to our room to pack up our luggage and get our things ready before heading off with the family to explore Phuket.
Something that I noticed throughout the resort, located effectively between every second room was a wifi router providing internet access to guests. As a result, wireless coverage was very good across the entire property, making it easy to stay connected.
The wifi access at the resort is both free and paid, with a basic service provided for guest use and appeared to be unlimited. It was however quite slow, and although good for general browsing and Skype calls, for heavy users it is possible to pay for faster access for a certain amount of time.
Other photos leading to the room:
Daytime views of the pool and restaurant from the first floor, which our room was on:
Some photos of the surrounding Karon area from the upper floors of the hotel building:
The resort has round the clock security, with checks being performed on the drivers (and sometimes vehicles) that go in and out of the front entrance:
The resort itself is huge. As well as the main hotel building with just under 250 rooms and suites, some with ocean views, there are also over 100 villas located throughout the property.
They even have a fishpond!
There are numerous meeting and conference rooms for business, including a main ballroom, and a small kiosk where you can purchase small gifts, souvenirs, and other items.
There are a variety of restaurants (four) and bars (three) onsite that will cater for a mix of tastes, from the Pacifica Restaurant (where we had breakfast served daily) to El Gaucho, a Brazilian churrasco restaurant to OrientAsia serving Asian cuisine – Both located on the beach side of the resort where you can enjoy the sea views.
Many of these restaurants and bars have specials on certain days or times for guests to take advantage of – For example, we took advantage of the 50% discount on pizzas from Sand Bar a few times during our stay, on those relaxing days when we didn’t feel like leaving the resort.
One of the benefits of staying at a Mövenpick hotel and resort is the complimentary ice-cream for guests, available at Cafe Studio – Which also serves Mövenpick coffee and freshly baked pastries.
The map below gives you an idea of the enormity of the resort (one of many positioned all throughout the walking paths, to prevent guests from getting lost):
Next to the main building is a large main pool featuring a bar with its own seating area, a paddle pool for children, a water slide, and a fountain ‘spa’ type area with jets.
Something which I thought was very handy and an excellent idea was the manned service ‘hut’ next to the pool where you traded in your “sun+fun” cards (we received two when we checked in) for towels. Once you finished, you traded in your wet towels back to the service area for your cards back, which saved carting wet and dry towels back to the room and made it convenient when wanted to use the pool facilities.
This is also the place to sign up for daily activities run by the resort, from introductory diving, exercise groups and other experiences.
Conveniently located close to the service hut and pool were changing rooms and bathrooms.
Other photos of the main pool area:
Also located near the main pool (between the pool and main building) is a children’s play area – Interestingly, throughout our entire stay I don’t think I ever saw any kids using it – Perhaps they preferred playing in the pool, or playing on their iPhones and iPads…
The resort grounds feature a significant amount of garden area throughout, and I remember thinking that it must take a small army of gardeners and general staff to keep the place looking as it does, as it pretty much looked immaculate all the time.
Sure enough, on one of the days near the end of our stay, the resort was alive with staff, mowing lawns, pruning hedges and trees, and generally doing garden maintenance.
The gardens even look just as good at night, with lights strung amongst and in between the trees, making it easy to see, but also making it quite picturesque.
It was also good to see that there were plenty of rubbish bins (and in some areas recycling bins) so that guests could help to keep the place tidy.
Centred around the main group of villas at the resort is a private pool for use by villa guests only. It is quite a good size and is called the ‘coconut grove pool’ – There is also a manned ‘service desk hut’ for towels and its close proximity to the villas makes it convenient for guests booked in these accommodations.
The resort offers various facilities for the use of guests, such as a games room and fitness centre.
A special pool called the ‘Saeng Chan Pool’ offers onsite introductory diving lessons to hotel guests at the resort’s own diving centre.
The Mövenpick Resort & Spa at Karon Beach features their own spa facilities, appropriately named “The Spa”. A wide menu of spa treatments, massages, facials, exfoliations and wraps are on offer for both individuals and couples, helping you to relax and rejuvenate.
Next to ‘The Spa’ at the beach side of the Mövenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach, as a beauty salon (part of ‘the Spa’, where manicure, pedicure and hair braiding services are performed) an ATM machine, and Cafe Studio Internet Cafe (serving Mövenpick coffee, ice cream, and fresh baked goods and pastries). Free wifi internet is complimentary for customers.
On our last day at the resort, we decided to relax at Cafe Studio after checking out and waiting for our shuttle to the airport by visiting Cafe Studio and using our complimentary icecream vouchers.
I chose the Swiss Chocolate and the Passionfruit and mango ice creams, which were both delicious, the fruit one being quite refreshing, with small bits of real fruit pieces.
Next to the roadside on the beachside entrance to the resort, there are 3 different restaurants and bars: Sand Bar, El Gaucho and Orient Asia.
As I described earlier, the Mövenpick Resort & Spa is huge, with two entrances – The main entrance is on the Karon beach township side, which is where the reception and main building is.
The other entrance is on the Karon beach side, with just a road to cross to get to the golden sands of the beach.
Panorama of Karon Beach:
Walking down the road from the beach side of the resort will lead you to various shops, selling clothing and general goods, to convenience stores, currency exchange booths, restaurants – and of course plenty of places to get a massage.
On the beach side of the resort, there are also two entrances – The first one is near the restaurants, with the other a secure door near the Mövenpick Residences.
The good thing is though, if you are a guest at the resort/hotel, your RFID keycards will allow you access through this entrance.
Other photos of the resort grounds:
Rooms are serviced up to twice daily, which I found depended on if you were in your room when they did the first service late in the morning – If so they preferred not to disturb you and would come back.
We found the room service to be excellent, with the staff replenishing the amenities in the bathroom and putting everything back into the state it was in such as when we arrived, albeit careful not to disturb any of our personal items where possible.
The staff also restocked the 2x complimentary bottles of water, which I very much appreciated, purified water being more of a precious commodity with the tap water not being recommended to drink. If we returned back to the room after the first service, I made sure to put the new bottles in the fridge – Keeping them cold (nice after being out on a hot day) and ready for the next restock on the second service later that night.
The second service of the room is a night service, where the beds are turned down and made ready to sleep. Every night after we came back to our room, we found a nice little card wishing us goodnight on our pillow along with a small orchid flower, and our duvet folded back, ready to go to bed.
So as you can see, the Mövenpick is a beautiful resort with a wide array of facilities, excellent service, good location and a great place to just relax. I thought that the physical property itself was kept in a good condition, particularly the gardens, but of particular mention should be the service – Throughout our stay, the staff were always very friendly and accommodating, catering to every request without fuss and with a smile.
Something I should mention is that the transfer service provided by the resort is free from the airport (HKT – Phuket International Airport) to the resort only. The return journey is about 1700 baht from the resort to the airport – As such it can be cheaper and easier to arrange your own transport (as we did) which also gives you greater flexibility if you would like to go somewhere along the way as well.
Although I had heard from friends and others that Karon beach is not a great place to stay, I found no issue with the location, with many good local shops and restaurants nearby (Karon beach even has it’s own local market – good for souvenirs) and it being a close, 300-350 baht tuk-tuk ride to Patong Beach for the bigger shopping malls and other services such as tailors.
Overall, I found the Mövenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach in Phuket excellent, and think it would particularly be good for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre and just want to relax on their holiday. It was a good place as a base in Phuket (particularly with the full breakfast) and a pleasure to come back to every night on our long stopover on the beginning of our big trip, and I would recommend it to anyone looking to stay in the Karon Beach/Patong Beach area on their holiday in Phuket in future.