This is the first time that I have reviewed a hotel but I was compelled to write about the Arinara Bangtao Beach Resort after a recent stay. I have received no money or compensation for this blog post and all opinions are completely my own.
We recently made a last minute decision to spend October half term in Thailand. Having booked our flights, our attention turned to choosing a hotel. We spent hours scanning all the major accommodation websites for a place to stay. With young children, we were looking for a family friendly hotel near to a beach in Phuket. Although Phuket is a very touristy part of Thailand and perhaps does not offer the same soul as other parts of the country, with young children we wanted easy airport access, plenty of amenities and good medical facilities in case of emergency (I barely thought about these things pre-kids). We wanted to avoid the hustle and bustle of busy areas like Patong and so started to look at the quieter beaches on the Island.
The Arinara Bangtao Beach Resort caught our eye early on in our search. It was favourited while we ruled out all other possible options. In the end, the Arinara came out top for the following reasons:
- proximity to the airport. Only half an hour transfer
- located on Bangtao beach
- a very attractive swimming pool complex
- Indoor and outdoor play areas for children
- Fantastic trip advisor reviews
- Value for money
How to get there?
As we touched down at Phuket Airport, my husband realised that the taxi that he had prebooked through an independent transfer company was actually arranged for a completely different date! Cue slight panic! However, we needn’t have worried! There were plenty of taxi ranks as you exited the airport and we had a very pleasant journey to the hotel. You can also arrange a transfer directly through the hotel.
The hotel was roughly 30 minutes from the airport. As we drew up to the hotel, I initially thought that the exterior was a little scruffy. However as soon as we walked into the reception I breathed a sigh of relief. The entrance was fresh and stylish. Once you walk across the bridge towards the accommodation you enter a tropical oasis with low rise buildings situated around inviting swimming pools.
Our arrival was very welcoming with smiling staff and fresh juice. They quickly checked us in and immediately escorted to our room.
During check in, the girls ran to look at the beautiful fish that were situated in a pond which ran under the walk way between the reception area and the main hotel complex. Friendly staff immediately approached them to say hello and asked them if they would like to feed the fish. They told the girls that they could ask for fish food at the reception any time they liked! After an extremely long journey, this was a lovely way to start our stay.
The hotel was laid out in an expansive horse shoe around a large complex of swimming pools. At the end of the pools were the restaurants, bars, play areas and games rooms which then led out directly onto the beach. To access the beach you also had to walk through the Lux Beach Club which included a restaurant, bar and massage area. Although the Lux Beach Club was not run as part of the hotel, it was a chic and stylish area that the hotel guests had easy access to.
There are a range of room types to choose from which you can read more about on the hotel website. The rooms are arranged around the expansive pool with half of them facing inwards toward the pool complex and the other half looking out away from the hotel. All rooms include standard facilities such as air con, fridge, safe and tea and coffee making facilities. Bath and beach towels are provided.
We opted for a pool access and pool view room and this did not disappoint. This meant that we had direct access to a swimming pool from our balcony. While the girls has a mid afternoon nap, we were able to have a quiet dip in the pool.
The room itself was spacious, clean and airy and as the website states has ‘wooden furnishings and Asian inspired touches’. We had two very large double beds that were separated by a wooden partition. This was perfect for us as our children are so young we did not want them in an adjoining room. However we were able to put them to bed and still have our own separate area. We often sat on the balcony playing backgammon once they were asleep. Because we had the pool access room, my husband was able to exit the gate and head to the bar for happy hour to keep us well supplied with cocktails!
Our youngest was provided with a cot and our only gripe was that one side was a bit low and she is a climber! However, we put the cot at the end of her sisters bed so if she did try to escape she didn’t have far to go. Her sisters bed was absolutely huge so it would be no problem to sleep a couple of children together.
When we researched the holiday and looked at reviews for the Arinara Bangtao Beach Resort we found that a few people mentioned that the rooms were very tired. We saw no signs of this in either of the rooms that we stayed in (we changed rooms on our second day as they were painting the exterior wall on the end of our building and the fumes were intense!).
The breakfast buffet was amazing. My oldest daughter had a field day every morning with plate after plate laden with fruit and pastries. I had to put a limit on the amount of cakes she ate, but in her mind croissants and pancakes did not count as part of her cake limit! The hot buffet varied each day with soups, noodles, rices dishes, pasta, cooked vegetables and meat options available. There were omelettes and eggs cooked to order. There was a delicious fresh fruit buffet, as well as cereals, fruit juices and hot drinks.
My favourite part of breakfast time was people watching. Whilst we definitely didn’t hold back, some people were truly glutinous! I saw one man with his plate stacked so high of bacon that he could have fed a small army! Seriously, no one has the need for that much bacon!
The Arinara Bangtao Beach Resort is definitely a family friendly hotel. The staff were amazing! The service and attention that they gave us was very welcoming. The grounds are well taken care of and kept clean. Although the hotel is advertised as a ‘resort’ it is small enough to still have a personal touch.
We booked on a bed and breakfast basis as we wanted to be free to eat and explore different places. Eating out is not expensive in Thailand. The resort itself offers five different restaurants and bars. We enjoyed a few evening meals in the Rimnahm restaurant and a few lunch time snacks at the Dip Pool Bar.
The swimming pool complex was a big selling point for us when we were choosing a hotel. There is a large pool at the top end of the resort with a sloping entrance and a swim up pool bar. This is where Aqua Zumba took place. You can then access the kids pool with a big wide slide which provided hours of entertainment for our two! Next to this are two shallower pools. One has a mushroom cascade and rain arches and the other has sunshades over the water. Having a shaded pool was a great asset with little ones. There is then another large pool which has a bubble/jacuzzi area on the steps to one side. This is where the family waterpolo took place.
Daily entertainment took place in the pool for all ages. In the mornings there were children’s activities with floats, noodles and water games. The children’s entertainers were fantastic with the kids and made the activities inclusive for everyone. As mentioned above there was also Aqua Zumba and Waterpolo. The energy that went into the Aqua Zumba was infectious and there was always a big crowd joining in!
Around the hotel
The beach offered plenty of choice with restaurants, bars and massage places. At the front of the hotel you walked onto a road which also had shops, restaurants, tourist information and mini-markets where you could easily purchase clothes and souvenirs. Bangtao night market was nearby and a nice place to visit and experience some Thai street food. A little further away at Boat Avenue there is a larger market on a Friday evening. Tuk tuks (or tik taks as our girls called them) were available just outside the hotel.
The first time we took a Tuk Tuk with the girls, I must admit I was questioning my health and safety choices as a mother! However, when in Rome and all that! And the girls loved the experience.
Dining on the beach in the evenings was a delightful experience. On Bangtao Beach there are numerous restaurants with bamboo tables and chairs spread on the sand. There were many lovely places to enjoy a sundowner or evening meal. Many of the restaurants offered a very similar menu, but there was always plenty of choice. Childrens menus were usually available and there were always different international cuisine options to choose from if you did not wish to have Thai food. For us, the food was part of the reason for visiting Thailand so we enjoyed a whole range of curries and noodle dishes, as did our girls.
Our favourite was the Beach Bar & Grill run by the lovely Mimi and her team who were super friendly and fantastic with the children each time we ate there. We also enjoyed the Cafe de Bangtao which was out the front of the hotel, to the right and across the street next door to the prominent Mamma Mia restaurant.
As a family of four, a meal out in the evening cost us about £35. This was roughly the same whether we ate on the beach or out and about. It included all drinks – in fact the highest cost was keeping my husband supplied in Tiger and Singha beer!
Bangtao beach is a 6km long strip of palm fringed white sand and clear shallow waters. Even at the end of the rainy season, the sea was warm and inviting. The beach offers the right amount of restaurants and massage huts without being over crowded. From the hotel you have direct access to the beach through the Lux complex and along a board walk.
There were lots of beach sellers offering different products. However, most were more interested in interacting with the children than pushing their wares on you. They accepted a polite ‘no thank you’ and were not overly pushy.
If you want to see more of Phuket, the Arinara Bangtao Beach Resort is roughly 30-40 minutes away from many of the main tourist attractions, such as the Big Buddha or Phuket Old Town. There is a tourist information centre just outside of the hotel who have lots of information about excursions and will arrange outings for you. We decided that whilst our children were so young, many of these attractions would be wasted on them. Sight-seeing and day trips are something that we will do with them when they are older.
I did a cookery course with my five year old daughter. It was great that we were able to do this onsite and we were the only people that had booked on. I would recommend this course with children, however we had previously done a fantastic course when we visited Chang Mai. The hotel course was enjoyable but basic. If you are looking for a more indepth course with more information about techniques, ingredients and flavours I would research other options.
When choosing a room, it is defiantly worth paying extra for pool access. If you want peace and quiet you can choose pool access without pool view. You will then be on the back side of the horse shoe around the hotel away from the hustle and bustle. However, as this is more treelined I would worry about an increased risk of mosquitos and you do not necessarily know what your view will be.
The Rimnahm restaurant offered 20 % off food between 5pm and 7pm. This worked perfectly for us a few times when eating early with young children.
The massages in the Lux Beach Club were no more expensive than other places nearby and we had some fantastic treatments here. See our blog on What to expect from a Thai Massage for more details.
We were slightly nervous about travelling to Thailand with young children (you can read our blog about Flying long-haul with a toddler here), but staying at the Arinara totally put us at ease. I would highly recommend the Arinara for a family trip to Phuket. Arinara Bangtao Beach Resort – we loved every minute of our stay with you and we will be back.