"One of the loveliest things about Le Méridien is the air of peace and tranquility that pervades the entire resort.
A 5am start is never a welcome occurrence in my household. Regardless of my unconfined excitement at the prospect of a 5-day break in Thailand to attend the wedding of some very good friends, when the alarm clock does its job I immediately feel the nausea rising in my throat – a palpable sense of reluctance towards leave my cosy nest, regardless of the treasures awaiting me just a short plane ride away. A somewhat unimpressive breakfast at Chep Lap Lok airport – actually the breakfast was fine, I just don’t think humans are designed to eat at that time of day – did little to improve my fatigued, slightly affronted demeanour, which demanded answers as to why we had ever decided to get so early a flight in the first place. My questions were deftly rebuffed by my ever-patient man, whose facial expression suggested I get a grip on myself, pronto, if I wanted to avoid his wrath – fair play really. Three hours of sleep on a half-empty plane later and of course I was a different person, skipping giddily down the umbilical into Phuket airport and gliding into the back seat of the air-conditioned limousine waiting to whisk us off to our destination. This, as I pointed out to my man, is what it’s all about when doing a long weekend – convenience and luxury. No hanging about in the sweltering heat for a bus full of chickens – just a seamless hour-and-a-quarter zoom to Khao Lak whilst sipping chilled mineral water and feeling rather smug. On stepping into the spacious, airy lobby it was instantly clear why our friends had chosen Le Méridien as the venue for their celebration. We were greeted by immaculately turned out, smiling staff who escorted us to a relaxed seating area and gave us some very welcome, cool, lavender compresses for our weary brows and a refreshing, iced fruit drink. Before us lay the property’s beautifully landscaped, lush, tropical grounds, an enormous pool, and the inviting turquoise waters of the Andaman sea beyond.
We had arrived in paradise. The agenda for our trip, besides the wedding of course, was pretty simple – a) lie in sun b) swim in sea c) float in pool d) eat nice food e) drink nice wine f ) get good sleep g) frolic, decadently in luxuriously appointed accommodation. By the end of our first day we had already achieved all of the above, and in grand style. Our Lagoon Villa was simply beautiful, the décor throughout contemporary Thai – plenty of wood and stone, and a natural to neutral colour palette of olive greens, golds, taupes and beiges. A huge wooden bed took centre stage and my goodness, what a bed! After our first night of heavenly slumber, it was clear that this must jump straight to the top two of my “best beds ever slept in” register, (yes, I do have a register and the other bed, by the way, was at Babington House, Somerset, England). The villa boasted a sumptuous mini bar – not ‘mini’ at all, in fact, wi-fi, a plasma screen television and DVD player (very nice but who would watch television when staying somewhere like this?). The roomy wardrobes were complete with white waffle robes and matching slippers, white satin padded coat hangers for her (or his) delicates – a very nice touch – and a stylish wicker beach bag in which to carry your gubbins around the resort. Double doors opened from the sleeping area into the bathroom. A secluded outdoor rainfall shower was simply divine, particularly as it was in addition to the already luxurious indoor shower and separate plunge Jacuzzi, all of which were surrounded by piles of freshly laundered, plump white towels, wicker laundry baskets and aromatherapy toiletries. Plus the bathroom had two basins, one for him and one for her.
There’s many a couple who attribute the success of their relationship to having a basin to call their own. I’d never particularly subscribed to this school of thought, surmising that the couple that brushes (teeth) together, stays together. But, as I scattered my lotions and potions around my basin whilst my boyfriend scattered his stubble shavings and unfathomable quantities of water round his own, I began to see what they were driving at. Doors opened out from the villa onto our own little lagoon-front patio complete with cushion-covered, wooden loungers – a great place for an early evening cocktail, we thought, had it not been for the extremely protective daddy swan patrolling up and down day and night, taking care of his wife and baby signet. Several guests were terrorized by this beautiful yet ferocious beast but we just thought it was cute that he was doing such a good job of being a Dad. Dining is a highlight here. Options include the Bangsak Grill – great for lunch (we loved the parma ham and feta sandwich on toasted pesto focaccia with shoe string fries, complimented by a couple of glasses of crisp, Australian sauvignon blanc); the Baan Thai – home of the finest shrimp cakes we’ve ever tasted and an exceptionally good Thai green curry; Café Lilawadee – the place to be for a fantastic breakfast buffet each morning (the best croissants I’ve tasted outside of Paris) and the beachfront Bamboo Bar, a great venue for grabbing a lunchtime Singha or a few cheeky sun-downers before your evening shower.
Décor, tableware, menus and service throughout were first-class. Water-babies need look no further – the property has two pools, both of which are vast. The Main Pool – the largest one I’ve ever seen at a resort – is well landscaped and the perfect place for bobbing along on a lilo or just gently splashing around. The second, Spa Pool, is for adults only and ideal for a few pre-breakfast l Should you be feeling particularly energetic (some of our party were; I had a date with my i-pod and a stack of trashy mags), a daily programme of events is provided including water polo, kayaking, diving instruction, tennis, volleyball, sailing and tonnes more besides. For those not wishing to participate, rest easy – most activities take place well away from the main lounging areas so you won’t be disturbed… Indeed those looking for nothing but some well-earned rest and relaxation couldn’t choose a better place – adjacent to the second pool and just round the corner from the Bahn Thai lies Le Spa. A range of treatments to pamper both body and mind are administered in private spa villas, surrounded by the lush tropical gardens. Signature treatments include the Crushed Guava Seed Scrub, Lotus Blossom Milk Wrap and 90 minute ‘Nuad’ Thai Pan Boran massage, which involves stretching, yoga techniques and deep pressure along the body’s meridians. The only place I wanted to be after this treatment was back in that fabulous bed for a crafty mid-afternoon snooze. One of the loveliest things about Le Méridien is the air of peace and tranquility that pervades the entire resort; loungers are so plentiful there is never any need for the 7am dash, staff are relaxed and friendly and bars take last orders at 10.30pm, ensuring no disruption for those wishing to hit the hay early before another day on cloud nine. The tables in the Bangsak Grill have coasters which read “I eat well, and I drink well and I sleep well – but that’s all”, a quote from the playwright Thomas Norton. Indeed Le Méridien succeeds in ensuring each guest enjoys the very best of these, life’s simplest pleasures.
" Before us lay the property’s beautifully
landscaped, lush, tropical grounds,
an enormous pool, and the inviting
turquoise waters of the Andaman sea
beyond. We had arrived in paradise."
4th Floor, Muang Mai Building, 9/17 Moo 6, Thepkasattri Road, T. Rasda, A. Muang, Phuket 83000, Thailand Tel 66 76 236-55
Review by Ellie Oreidy