If you’re feeling slightly behind the curve when it comes to travel, you’re not alone. A lot has happened over the last 18 months, with plenty of new resorts coming online despite the pandemic. Whet your holiday appetite with these family-friendly offerings in sunny Thailand.
Into the blue! Thailand is now open to holidaymakers.
The beautiful islands of Phuket and Koh Samui and nearby Khao Lak are now open quarantine-free as part of Thailand’s 'sandbox' scheme. This means you will need is a negative PCR departure test taken within 72 hours of travel, a proof of vaccination and be able to show that you have spent the previous 21 days in an approved country. You must also have a booking for the first seven days of your trip at a government approved hotel, which includes all the fabulous new openings listed here.
Outrigger Khao Lak Beach Resort
Poolside at Outrigger Khao Lak Beach Resort.
A string of villages alongside stunning beaches in Phang Nga Province, Khao Lak is perhaps the Thai destination du jour with several fabulous new resort openings over the winter. To access this beautiful stretch of coastline, * fly into Phuket International Airport and head north.
Outrigger Khao Lak Beach Resort opened this winter boasting an absolute beachfront property with 158 rooms spilling onto an unspoiled stretch of Bangsak Beach.
The property was acquired by international hospitality group Outrigger Hotels & Resorts last year (the group already owns properties in Hawai’i and Fiji) and completely refurbished.
In Asia, Outrigger Khao Lak Beach Resort is one of a hatrick of new openings, following in the footsteps of the new Outrigger Surin Beach Resort which opened in Phuket last December, and preceding Outrigger Koh Samui Beach Resort which is scheduled to open in July this year.
All rooms, suites and villas at Outrigger Khao Lak Beach Resort come with a balcony or terrace and further amenities include the Edgewater beachfront bar and grill, a resort pool, a fitness centre - and magnificent views of the Andaman Sea.
Outrigger Khao Lak Beach Resort is SHA+ certified and all of the staff are vaccinated. Under Thailand’s quarantine-free sandbox scheme, arrivals must book their first seven nights in Khao Lak at an SHA+ certified hotel or resort.
Avani+ Khao Lak Resort
Lazy days by Bangsak Beach at Avani+ Khao Lak Resort.
Also hanging out in Phang Nga Province is Avani+ Khao Lak Resort, which just opened further along beautiful Bangsak Beach.
Avani+ Khao Lak Resort is the hospitality group’s largest Thai resort with 327 rooms and will also serve as the launchpad for Avani’s brand new lifestyle concept, AvaniFit.
The beachside, family-friendly resort boasts pools, child-friendly amenities and dining spaces, all overlooking the shimmering Andaman Sea.
Room categories at Avani+ Khao Lak Resort run from Deluxe Lagoon Pool Rooms to Family Pool Suites with separate living and dining areas, king and twin beds and a balcony.
The two-storey AvaniKids Club is Khao Lak’s largest children’s club and offers play zones, playgrounds, plenty of board games and a PlayStation corner. Outdoors, there’s a splash park, beach activities and a skate-park with pump track, ramps and fun boxes.
Parents have access to AvaniFit which is open 24 hours a day and with a wide range of fitness offerings, including resistance training, aerobics and high-intensity interval training. There are also classes in boxing, tennis and hanging yoga and there’s an indoor or outdoor climbing wall. More opportunities to get active include beach assault courses, pool workouts, kayaking, PADI dive lessons and surfing.
Further on-site family activities at Avani+ Khao Lak Resort include cooking classes and sunrise yoga, or guests can grab a bike for a relaxed ride along the coast to Bang Niang market. There are more challenging cycle routes in the terrain around Khao Lak. Or take an excursion to Similan Islands, Phang Nga Bay or Koh Phi Phi; trips are also possible to Takuapa Old Town or rafting through the bamboo forests.
Head back to the resort for a relaxing treatment at AvaniSpa, which also offers express and kids’ spa treatments.
Avani+ Khao Lak Resort is located 90kms north of Phuket International Airport, a drive of around one-and-a-half-hours.
Grand Mercure Khao Lak Bangsak Resort
Channelling a riverside vibe at Grand Mercure Khao Lak Bangsak.
Sticking with those miles of tranquil sandy beaches, Grand Mercure Khao Lak Bangsak is a stunning new property that takes its cue from southern Thai culture.
The beachside property channels the traditional riverside villages of Thailand with a canal that flows right through the resort, connecting guest rooms with public areas. The rooms and suites all feature private terraces with views over the canal, pool and gardens.
Families are well-catered for at Grand Mercure Khao Lak Bangsak Resort; youngsters can take part in the many daily activities at Kids Corner and there’s a dedicated children’s pool.
Rumbling tums can be filled at the all-day dining space, Patio, with live cooking stations conjuring up a plethora of Asian and international dishes. Meanwhile, the beachside restaurant space, Green Mango, offers southern Thai cuisine using recipes that have been passed down the generations. Signature dishes are served in traditional ‘pinto’ tiffin boxes.
And while the children play, parents having to juggle ‘work from home’ can take advantage of the resort’s Business Corner, with computers, printers and other services.
According to general manager Thomas Reupke, Khao Lak is renowned for its beaches, forests and waterfalls. He also points out that it’s a 90-minute speedboat ride from some of Southeast Asia’s top dive and snorkel hotspots around the Similan Islands.
“Khao Lak is one of Thailand’s most tranquil destinations,” he said. “Grand Mercure Khao Lak Bangsak offers a fresh cultural perspective that encourages guests to immerse themselves in southern Thai culture. The resort is the perfect springboard to explore the pristine Andaman coastline and we’re extremely excited to welcome guests.”
Melia Phuket Mai Khao
New moves in Phuket as Melia Phuket Mai Khao opens up.
Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and enjoys year-round warm temperatures, all the better for enjoying its numerous beaches.
Spanish hospitality group Melia has been making strong inroads into Southeast Asia over the last 18 months and Melia Phuket Mai Khao is its most recent Thai launch.
The doors opened in December to this wellness-inspired resort that fronts Mai Khao Beach, Phuket’s longest stretch of sand. In total, the resort covers eight acres of coastline and drawcards include a chilled-out beach club, private pool villas and plenty of kids club fun to keep the littlies busy.
The resort boasts 30 suites and 70 villas and is just 15 minutes from Phuket International Airport.
In all there are eight accommodation categories and all accommodations offer open-air showers, terraces, Bluetooth speakers and Nespresso coffee makers, while selected suites have cabanas and villas boast private plunge pools.
At the top of the accommodation tree are the 15 wellness villas with open-air vitamin C showers, ultrasonic essential oil diffusers, GermGuardian air purifiers, Tempur-Pedic pillows, bath salts, fit balls and yoga mats. Wellness villa guests can also take advantage of a 60-minute massage during their stay.
Children can enjoy Club Kidsdom, with plenty of workshops to keep them on their toes, and there is also a babysitting service.
Or head outdoors for horseback riding on the beach, scuba diving at Racha Yai, Koh Dok Mai, Phi Phi Island and Shark Point, or tee-off at nearby Blue Canyon Country Club.
Melia Phuket Mao Khao follows hot on the tail of the newly opened Melia Koh Samui and Melia Chiang Mai is slated to open next month (April).
Kimpton Kitalay Samui
Holiday blues at Kimpton Kitalay Samui.
Thailand’s second largest island boasts palm-fringed beaches, coconut groves - and plenty of fabulous hotels.
Kimpton Kitalay Samui opened late last year as part of international hospitality group IHG’s luxury boutique brand, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. The resort’s rather poetic name derives from the Thai words ‘kita’, meaning ‘song’ or ‘singing’, and ‘lay’ which means ‘sea’.
Kimpton Kitalay Samui is located in a quiet cove on tranquil Choengmon Beach in the northeast of Koh Samui and minutes from the international airport.
Thai design agency P49 Deesign has created a contemporary look with traditional accents such as repurposed driftwood and local artwork woven into the design. The resort itself channels a village vibe, standing on double-tiered, stilt-suspended platforms.
The property offers 138 rooms and pool villas, kitted out with handwoven robes, in-room beach picnic baskets and the resort’s signature sea salt and patchouli-scented bath amenities.
Children can take advantage of Junio Kids’ Club while parents might like to take the opportunity to head to the resort spa.
Five dining venues include a lounge serving curated, Thai-origin coffee and artisanal teas, Fish House Restaurant & Bar, a pool bar and a Thai lifestyle café, Boho.
Kimpton Kitalay Samui is SHA++ certified, the highest level of certification, which means at least 70% of staff are fully vaccinated and the hotel is partnered with certified hospitals to provide relevant PCR tests for travellers during their stay.
* Flying to Phuket
Under the sandbox scheme, holidaymakers must fly direct to Phuket and are not permitted to transit through Bangkok. If you cannot fly direct to Phuket, Bangkok Airways now offers two special 'sealed route' flights a day from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Phuket. The first outbound flight leaves Suvarnabhumi Airport at midday and arrives in Phuket at 2.05pm. The second flight departs at 5.10pm and lands at 7.15pm. The Bangkok to Phuket flight must be included in your international flight booking.
Holidaymakers travelling to Koh Samui must transit in Bangkok onto a Bangkok Airways flight bound for Koh Samui International Airport.
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