Visions of palm trees swaying gently on an island oasis had frequented my dreams in the weeks preceding our holiday to Phuket, Thailand’s largest Island. This picture however was shattered, when on arrival the monsoonal trade winds buffeted us onboard our Jetstar A320 taking us for a complimentary circuit around the island. Eventually, our flight landed safely and we made our way from the airport to the island’s west coast and The Surin Phuket – our home for the ensuing week.
After a very warm welcome by our hosts we were gifted flowers and escorted to our beach suite. Set amongst coconut palms the cottages of The Surin cascade down a hillside overlooking the private sands of Pansea Beach. The 16 spacious beach suites are set far enough apart to afford guests enough privacy and are decorated with local fabrics and artworks. Our private sun deck led directly onto the beach but what really impressed me was the attention to detail. Apart from the normal luxuries found in a room of this calibre we were provided complimentary flip-flops and sun hats to use for the duration of our stay. Every evening edible treats were left for us to try and our tropical flowers were refreshed.
The Hotel itself fits in beautifully with the environment and is well managed with immaculately kept facilities . We spent many enjoyable hours by the swimming pool and lying around on sun lounges drinking cocktails from the beach bar. The breakfast was amazing – bircher muesli was in fact the best I have ever tasted and my son would polish off pancakes, eggs benedict and more pancakes at each sitting. The library had a great selection of books and a pool table which was put to good use. Complimentary activities were offered each day such as the fruit and vegetable carving course which I attended and failed at dismally. Who would think it would be so difficult to make butterflies out of carrots!
During the week Management held a cocktail party for guests by the pool which we attended and were delighted with the tasty canapés and selection of drinks available. All the staff we met were personable and seemed happy. The Hotel is on Pansea Beach but Surin beach itself is a 5 minute walk once you leave the Hotel grounds and is host to a number of restaurants and bars. Many of these were actually more expensive than eating at The Surin but is always good to have a variety and occasional change of environment.
We are explorers at heart and so we hired a car and drove to Patong which with its bars and subsequent massive drain on electricity might be doing its bit for tourism but is certainly not contributing to the environment. We visited Tigerland and wish we hadn’t – separate post to come on that one, and visited Old Phuket Town which we found very interesting and a delight to photograph and experience the atmosphere.
Totally enjoyed visiting Phang Nga Bay with John Gray Sea Canoes. The Hong by Starlight Tour was well run and we thoroughly enjoyed the scenery, delicious Thai food, and the experience of canoeing through some very tight rock formations into caverns.
Unfortunately every night of our stay in Phuket the Andaman Sea was unrelenting – spewing forth flotsam and jetsam onto our stretch of island paradise. The Surin staff cleaned the beach every morning (sometimes for hours) but the fact remained all that rubbish is floating out there in the water. I have travelled extensively but Thailand was where I almost stepped on a syringe nestled in the sand. Of course the Hotel is not responsible for the filth in the sea , however it did impact on our stay.
I would like to make it absolutely clear that I found The Surin to be a superb hotel and would recommend staying there in a heartbeat but Phuket in general – I think you either love it or not – I am sure glad we visited but wouldn’t be in a hurry to return.