“Some people think the opposite of luxury is poverty. It's not. The opposite of luxury is vulgarity.”
- Coco Chanel
“Someone should do a study of the human brain and how quickly it can adjust to luxury.”
- Tina Fey
While many will regard our mode of travel as more luxury than budget, I don't always see it the same way. We don't fly business class, we don't always stay in five-star hotels (self-catering accommodation is our preference) and we don't like to spend money for the sake of it. We like to get value for money, no matter how much we spend. Therefore, when we spend more, we expect more. And because we spent quite a bit on accommodation during our recent babymoon in Phuket we hoped for an experience to match the price tag. We definitely got it.
Our babymoon in Phuket, Thailand
We broke the trip into three sections: five nights with friends of ours in an Airbnb villa in Bangtao (a village we lived near when we stayed in Phuket for 2-3 months a few years ago), three nights in The Surin a five-star hotel resort close close to Surin Beach and then three nights in an apartment in a brand new "design resort" called Kata Rocks, already considered the island's number one luxury resort.
I loved each segment for their own reasons.
I loved hanging out with one of my very best friends and her boyfriend with our own space, pool and kitchen. She lives in Singapore so we had lots to catch up on and lots to talk about , but at the same time just lying in neighbouring sun loungers by the pool in silence was equally as therapeutic. I loved how we'd go for dinner as a foursome, always wanting Thai food and despite trying a range of different places, never being disappointed. I loved the sunset swimming on the beach and walks around the night market. I especially loved the evening we hired a local chef to come over and cook for us - seriously the best Thai food I've eaten, possibly ever. I loved how we left our boyfriends for a few hours to get pedicures and we came home finding them playing a game they'd created using a rubber ring and a bouncy ball in the pool.
After all that quality time with friends we had to adjust a bit to being a two again once we checked in to The Surin. Yes, of course it wasn't hard, but it's funny how as a couple who spend a lot of time together (NewMan and I both work from home remember) being "a couple" isn't always second nature to us especially when we feel like we're surrounded by other couples on holiday who are totally winning at this game. While we're pretty good at the meals part of this equation, we both do have slightly different ideas of what's a good time on holiday as a couple (I'd like to spend it on my own, with a book and my iPod; he would like to spend much of it in the sea kayaking or going on a long hot bike ride). But we compromised and alternated beach reading sessions with frisbee, ball-throwing and body surfing the waves. If you'd like to read a full review of the resort at The Surin, here's one I wrote for Travelettes.)
Our final three nights were spent in Kata Rocks which we arguably had the highest set of expectations for. We weren't to be disappointed. The resort is fairly unique in that it's a small complex of high-end apartments that are mostly privately owned, either lived in or used as holiday rentals. Yes, the apartments are new but the biggest wow factor of the resort - the view the apartments offer - can't be denied. Ideally situated for sunsets and with generous balconies and private infinity pools, we didn't want to leave our apartment the whole time we were there, so we didn't. I still had books to read, and NewMan busied himself by photographing a lizard feeding from his perch on top of some pretty orange-red flowers. We spent our evenings watching the sun go down while drinking room service cocktails (or mocktails for me) and watching the last of the daily para-sailing expeditions from Kata Beach go by. (Look at the photo closely and you'll see the Thai guy above the tourist isn't strapped in to the parachute - gulp!). Maybe it was thanks to the ground work I put in at the Airbnb villa and at The Surin but the days we spent at Kata Rocks were by the far the most relaxed, easy, calming hours I've enjoyed in many, many years (and no doubt decades to come!). Yes, the luxurious surroundings helped, but truly it was just the peace and quiet, privacy and pretty views. That was pure luxury to me.
And if you're looking for a family-friendly place to stay in the same area, Kata Noi, then this is a great family-friendly hotel in Phuket you should consider.
Going back to the topic of what makes luxury luxury (or not) personally speaking, luxury is also not about service. I actually don't like the idea of having someone wait on me hand and foot. Truth be told, I think I would hate it. I already get uncomfortable when I have an over-attentive waiter in a restaurant. What's luxurious to me is the opportunity to enjoy things I don't typically enjoy on a day-to-day basis and to also free myself from the things I feel I have to do. Simply abandoning my emails for most of the 11 days we were away was also luxury enough.
So that's it. No more luxury holidays. No more couple's holidays. No more last minute "let's go to Thailand" escapes. Once the kid is here we'll be tied to a routine of eat, sleep, poo, repeat and too frightened to venture out into the wild unknown again. We'll be too afraid of crying fits to take the baby anywhere nice and we'll live in fear of "those looks" as we board a plane. No, that's it now. Goodbye nice holidays. It's been nice knowing you...
And if you believe that, you'll believe anything.
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Disclosure: We received a media discount for staying at The Surin and at Kata Rocks. All opinions are honest and not influenced by this fact because, to be frank, even with a discount they still both cost loadsa money! Thanks for trusting in my little opinion.
Frances M. Thompson
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