Luxe for Less: A Review of the Hyatt Regency Phuket in Thailand
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While I've seen a lot of the world, I'd never been to Thailand before a recent trip to the Southeast Asian nation. After the trip, I can say with confidence that it's my new favorite country -- there are so many things to do, it's very inexpensive and it has some of the world's best food. When I determined that I'd be visiting Phuket, a popular beach destination, I was intrigued by the Hyatt Regency there. Built on the side of a jungle mountain, the resort was taken over by Hyatt and then given a full renovation about five years ago, but it still feels very fresh. Its 201 rooms all have different layouts, and each one has a balcony or a terrace, and the majority of them have unobstructed, cascading views of the Andaman Sea and its spectacular tropical sunsets.
High season in Phuket runs from October through April, but unlike the rest of the world, that doesn't seem to affect price or availability. The Hyatt Regency Phuket is a Category 3 World of Hyatt Property, requiring just 12,000 points per night. It's easy to amass the points necessary for a stay like this, as Hyatt is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards. You could simply sign up for a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card -- both of which are offering sign up bonuses of 50,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening -- and then you'd already be able to pay for four nights at this resort.
If you prefer to pay cash, you can expect to pay about $155 to $325 per night, with that latter number buying you the biggest suite in the place. I booked my stay using points, and tried using a guaranteed-suite-upgrade certificate, which they wouldn't confirm at the time of booking, unfortunately. As a Lifetime Globalist, I was disappointed, but maintained my faith, and resisted paying for a suite that I would eventually receive as an upgrade without burning a certificate.
It's important to consider just how many room types there are at this property. While every one does indeed have a balcony or terrace, some of these terraces are so massive that they're larger than the room itself -- even with standard-level rooms! There are 40 rooms with outdoor private plunge pools or Jacuzzis, and many feature an unusual amount of privacy.
Phuket is a quick one-hour-ish flight southwest of Bangkok, and the island is comprised of several different towns, each with its own development of resorts and businesses catering to tourists.
Located overlooking Kamala Cove at the southern end of Kamala Beach, the hotel was easily reached by a 35-minute, $24 taxi ride from Phuket International Airport (HKT).
The open air lobby was typical of many tropical resorts, featuring three desks rather than a central counter. We were welcomed with a refreshing (and boozy) cocktail, followed by a swift and cheerful check-in. Our luggage was loaded onto a golf cart and we were driven up the steep, winding hill accompanied by our check-in hostess, a driver and a bellman. This was certainly more attention than I've received at other Regency properties.
Our suite was located at the very top of the property, and the last 50 feet or so required lightening the load and pushing the cart the remaining distance up the hill. The whole journey lasted less than two minutes.
We were upgraded to a premium hillside one-bedroom suite, which had two balconies and a gorgeous bathroom.
The living room wasn't huge, but it was certainly big enough and stylishly decorated and furnished with a very comfortable couch, ottoman, coffee table and a couple of chairs. There was also a wall-mounted flat screen TV, credenza and floor lamps. Large patio doors led to a glass railed balcony with two chairs, a table and a spectacular view of the resort and the sea beyond.
The bedroom featured a king-sized bed with crisp white linens and a good assortment of light fixtures as well as conveniently placed international plugs. There were tables on either side of the bed and a long desk behind the headboard with more international and USB plugs, as well as a little bluetooth speaker that you could connect to your phone for music. Another set of patio doors led to a second balcony similar to the first.
The amazing marble bathroom featured a mirrored wall with dual vanities and a view of the resort. Toiletries were basic, but the towels were soft and fluffy. There was a separate WC with a sink adjacent to the bathroom. The best part was the massive glassed shower suite which was as big as the rest of the bathroom and included a large oval soaking tub against a huge picture window overlooking the bay. The overhead rainfall shower head and separate handheld wand would definitely pass the TPG shower test, although the water pressure was a bit uneven -- it sort of felt like it was having trouble getting up the steepest part of the hill, like we experienced with our golf cart at check-in.
Some rooms featured huge wraparound terraces larger than the rooms themselves and include outdoor Jacuzzis.
The standard rooms were really nice as well, with some even having their own private pools.
One great perk of the room was the ample closet space. And, inside the closet was a hotel-branded beach bag to use while on the resort. The hotel also provided some mosquito repellant and an electronic gizmo to ward them off in the room, but I never saw any sign of pests. The only wildlife present outside were the occasional frog and geckos -- they were likely to thank for the lack of insects. There was also a safe, and the staff provided plenty of bottled water daily.
OK, I'm calling it -- best Regency Club ever. It featured a large, comfortable layout and a gorgeous infinity pool overlooking the bay, and was open only to Regency Club guests. The sunset views reflecting off the pool were ridiculously beautiful.
Each morning, the complimentary breakfast included an array of hot and cold international foods and made-to-order eggs and omelets. Dinner was named "evening hors d'oeuvres," and the selection changed daily, but one could easily make a meal out of all the delicious hot food they put out. One night, they served the same outstanding mushroom ravioli that was on the dinner menu at the Sunset Grill restaurant for $25. I thought the food was better in the club than it was in the restaurants. There was also a great spread of complimentary premium spirits, wine and beer. To top it all off, the staff in the Regency Club was plentiful, attentive and helpful. You should definitely spring for a club room with either points or cash -- it's totally worth it.
Food and Beverage
The Sunset Grill and the Pool House are the two on-property restaurants. I found the buffet breakfast at the Pool House to be pretty typical, with a good selection of American and international foods. It was complimentary for Globalists and costs around $20 if you're paying for it.
The coffee and orange juice served at the hotel were among the best I've had anywhere in the world. The oranges that the hotel uses are grown in Thailand and resemble small tangerines. Their flavor was extremely, well, orange-y. Even the local variety of Fanta Orange Soda is made from them -- it tasted markedly different and definitely had an improved flavor profile from what is available in the West.
The Sunset Grill felt like a typical resort restaurant, and it featured an assortment of elegantly prepared beef and fish dishes crafted in an open kitchen. The wine list was extensive, and the desserts were exceptionally tasty.
Drinks and snacks by the pool were excellent, with some beverages being served inside a whole coconut -- how's that for tropical?
The Hyatt Regency boasts the largest pool in all of Phuket -- it was indeed massive, and kept at the perfect temperature. A choice of paved or grass pathways led to a plethora of poolside chaise lounges or comfy cabanas overlooking the sea.
Towels magically appeared as we settled in, and the press of a wireless button summoned a waiter to take your beverage or food order. The button responds to a number transmitted to a smart watch on the wrist of the waiter. Why doesn't every resort with a pool have this?
The Nahm Spa was pleasant and offered the usual array of massage and other services at typical resort prices of $125+. But, in the nearby towns you can get a spectacular Thai massage from any number of places for $10/hour. None are as stylish as the Nahm, but for $10 you could have one every day, and some guests we met did just that. The fitness center was somewhat dated, but had a good amount of equipment that worked fine. The free Wi-Fi was easy to connect multiple devices and was very fast.
There was also a Camp Hyatt Kids Club on site, which offered programs for children 4-12, so you can indulge in adult activities without worrying about the kids.
The hotel provides free or low cost transportation to nearby Kamala and Patong for beach and other activities. Kamala is a quiet little town five minutes away with a nice beach offering beachside massages, jet skis, light shopping and various street food and restaurant choices.
Patong is a larger, party-focused beach town with a huge array of daytime and, of course, nighttime activities.
The Hyatt Regency Phuket is a very nice resort that, in my book, is an absolute steal. There are not a lot of on-site activities, but you'll want to be exploring the local area anyway. Most of the staff was terrific, but the concierge service was only fair and offered only limited choices for activities. We booked one excursion that the hotel offered to James Bond Island, which was excellent, but we also booked a scuba diving trip and an elephant sanctuary visit based on my own research because the concierge's offerings were not so great. All the vendors provide free transportation to all activities and taxis are plentiful and cheap so there's no need to rent a car.
The only downside to the resort was having to occasionally wait a long time for a golf cart to get up or down the steep hill. But, if you figure how long it usually takes in a typical high-rise hotel to walk from your room down a hallway, wait for (and ride) an elevator, then traverse the lobby to your destination, I guess it mostly just seemed like a long time to wait -- the actual golf cart ride isn't very long. While on vacation, though, what's the hurry anyway?