And to think that it all came from a tin-mining waste site that the government once deemed worthless. I have to confess though, as an expat who’s called Phuket home for many years, it dawned on me that I hadn’t actually seen the forest for the trees, in that I’d never fully experienced Laguna –at least not like tens of thousands of visitors from far-away lands do every year... until recently that is.
When I learned that Angsana was running a campaign targeting families with kids, I jumped at the opportunity. Now, I know there’s a plethora of properties on Phuket who market themselves as “Kids Friendly” or “Family Friendly”, but so often as I’ve seen, it simply entails a basic kids’ club, and perhaps a basic water slide at their pool.
So what makes Angsana stand out as a family friendly resort?
First of all, kids under 12 stay for free. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gotten annoyed on a hotel booking app, when clicking the terms and conditions, only to read that my kid will be charged “extra” as per hotel policy – regardless if you need an extra cot or not.
Operations managers, if you’re going to position yourself as a kids or family friendly property, offer an all-inclusive package, in which the kid is part of the package. Angsana gets it, and it’s no surprise then, upon arrival that most of the guests in the lobby are happy families with their kids.
And the kids were certainly in good spirits – a good sign – with two happy and, energetic Chinese kid girl guests greeting me as I entered the open air lobby. “How are you? This is my friend Sandy. We come from China.” Personally, I don’t know what all the hype is about Chinese tourists, the ones here all seemed happy and friendly anyway.
The lobby is always a great starting point to gauge where a hotel stands, as initial impressions are everything. A week prior, I stayed in another popular hotel on Phuket’s west coast, but was turned off from the start. The front desk there was just too “busy”, the staff ineffectively multitasking and over-occupied, trying to juggle this with that – answering the phone, checking that document, hurrying in and out of the back office all the while trying to check in a guest. Meanwhile I’m standing in what I think is the queue, trying to be patient as I wait for someone to simply look up and acknowledge my presence.
None of that anxiety at Angsana though. Sure the lobby was busy and full of guests, but the staff were clearly more attentive, better trained and focused on their task at hand.
I wasn’t there for more than 20 seconds, before I was acknowledged by a smiling check-in staff who told me she’d be with me in a few short moments, her sincere and paced manner all but extinguished any budding apprehension I might have developed standing around idly.
The next positive impression was the journey to our room. Majestically hovering over waterways, many of the suites have some kind of water view, be it the lagoon, sea or pool. Isn’t that why we all came to Phuket, water? All 4 and 5 star resorts on the island tend to have well-maintained gardens and greenery lining the footpaths, but few can offer much on the water front, beyond their swimming pool.
Speaking of swimming pools, Angsana boasts the longest in Phuket; it’s not just one big pool in the middle of everything, but rather a network of pools – private and open – spread out throughout the resort, connected by a canal-like channel, with foot bridges intersecting throughout.
Indeed, the atmosphere is truly unique and just being there, taking in the peaceful surroundings and fresh oxygen puts one at ease. I was further awed by the view from our room – a double blessing, the lagoon and the sea! Nothing to complain about in these spacious quarters. Fresh apples welcomed us, prompting me to throw my legs up on the comfy sofa as my wife and son each took turns freshening up in the royal-worthy bathroom.
On to dinner at the nearby Xana Beach Club for the seaside BBQ seafood buffet. If the sunset sea-view doesn’t set you right, then the generous offerings of fresh crab, prawns, mantis shrimps, steak, beef and chicken hot off the grill should do the trick.
There’s also salad, sushi and select Thai favourites like Yum and Laab for those like me who need a little spice to stir up the taste buds. And boy, did it all wash down fantastically with an ice cream milk shake with that cliché cherry on top!
As the sun set and the sky darkened, the fun had only just begun. A fire show! All the guests – young and elder ones alike – formed a half circle crowd around the performer, who does not fail to impress with his acrobatic, pyrotechnic talents. A spectacular end to the evening for early birds like us, who are looking forward to the 7am breakfast at the Market Place.
And it was everything you could want to get the day going on a good start. Fantastic latte, a minimal wait at the busy omelette station, and whipped cream and chocolate sauce on waffles were among the morning’s highlights for me. But I had to be sure not to overdue it, for my son and I were scheduled for some Stand Up Paddling that morning at the water recreation area, where you can also choose to kayak, wind surf or sail on a hobbie cat – all in the relative safety of the lagoon.
And most of the activities are free for guests too! Thumbs up Angsana and Laguna for that integrated approach.
The best things always come to an end. The worst part about any decent hotel stay is, without question, is checking out. And soon it came to that dreaded time for us to pack our belongings. In conclusion, my family stay and experience at Angsuna was wonderful, but not perfect – for that would have required at least two days to really lay back and soak it all in. Though, no complaints, for I shall return soon.