Beachy but Bland: A Review of the Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa Nai Yang
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To The Point
The Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa, Nai Yang Beach, is your standard Asian beach resort. Pros: nice rooms, low rates, friendly staff, quiet area. Cons: not near the major tourist sights, so-so restaurants.
During a recent trip to Asia, I found myself with two free days to relax on the Thai island of Phuket. There are over a dozen Marriott properties both on the island and in the surrounding region, so I was spoiled for choice when it came to potential accommodation. However, I decided to book the midrange Marriott Resort and Spa, Nai Yang Beach for the cheap room rates and convenience to the airport.
For the two nights I needed, the hotel was selling rooms for as low as $141 per night.
Award rates were available for 25,000 points each.
That was about the same as rates at some of Marriott’s other midrange options around the island including the Westin Siray Bay Beach Resort, the Marriott at Merlin Beach, the JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa and the Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa.
One of the reasons I chose the Marriott at Nai Yang Beach was that the rooms looked newer and fresher — probably because the resort opened in June 2016. I paid with my Chase Sapphire Reserve to earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on top of the 12.5 points per dollar I’d earn as a Marriott Gold elite.
One of the other reasons that I chose this specific Marriott was that I was just on Phuket for a quick turnaround, so its location about a 10-minute drive from the airport seemed like a good idea.
At least, it was better than having to take an hourlong taxi ride in each direction to where more of the major resorts were near Patong to the south, or heading north to a busier part of the island, where several of Marriott’s properties were. Instead, I was looking forward to a quieter beach getaway to relax and work.
I landed in Phuket (HKT) at about 11am after a quick, cheap flight on Bangkok Airways from Bangkok (BKK). There were no taxis waiting at the queue outside the terminal, so I booked a taxi instead from one of the stands just outside the baggage claim. The total for my ride was 500 baht ($15), which seemed all the more ridiculous given how short the ride to the resort was.
We passed through a town and then turned off the main road toward Nai Yang Beach, drove through a small village and arrived the resort gate. In all, it took just under 10 minutes.
A bellman opened my door and offered to take my suitcase, but it was just a carry-on, so I rolled it myself down the walkway to one of the lobby’s open-air seating areas to be checked in.
I was given a scented towel and a cold drink while I handed over my passport and credit card and the agent took them both to the inside office for processing. As I waited, the on-duty manager came over to welcome me and thanked me for my Gold status, though I was not given an upgrade. He said they’d put me in a deluxe garden-view room near the lobby so I’d be away from the noise of the pool. Looking back, I should have asked for a room down toward the main pool or beach, where more of the resort amenities were. But for a quick stay, I didn’t mind, and he walked me over to the room himself.
When we got there, technicians were fixing the lock on the door, but they finished within a minute or two, and I was left to my own devices.
One quick note on the resort design. Like many beach resorts, the lobby was up at the top of the property, and the rest of the buildings were set along the hillside down to the beach. Though there was clear signage, I found the layout confusing, and if you missed a particular turn, you would end up having to walk around a series of buildings to get back on track. There were also some pretty steep hills. If you have any accessibility issues, I would ask before booking this particular resort.
As I mentioned, I booked the starter-category deluxe garden-view king room. It was about 500 square feet.
The overall look was bright and clean. There were pale wood floors.
The king bed was dressed in crisp, white sheets and had a wicker headboard. The nightstand and wall to one side had a clock and phone as well as a universal power outlet and light switches.
There was a marble-topped table that doubled as a desk and had even more outlets and USB ports plus informational brochures on the resort and island activities.
The 48-inch LCD TV was mounted on the wall opposite the bed. Beneath it was the minibar including a drawer with spirits and snacks.
And there was a refrigerator with water, soda and beer.
The wall between the bedroom and the bathroom was mostly a window that you could make private with a drape from inside the bathroom.
There was just a single marble sink and plenty of counter space. The toilet was in the main part of the bathroom rather than set off in a private WC.
There was also a box of amenities, including vanity and dental kits.
The bath and shower were both in a partially glassed-in suite.
As is the standard at Marriott these days, the hotel stocked Thai spa brand THANN bath products.
My balcony had a nice view of the gardens and the sea in the distance.
It was a pleasant place to sit in the evenings and read.
Housekeeping always made sure there was plenty of bottled water in the bedroom and bathroom.
The Wi-Fi was generally fast but could vary wildly.
Food and Beverage
The hotel had four bars and restaurants. Just on the other side of the lobby from reception, the Lounge was a bar and grill serving signature cocktails like the Isarn, made with Mekhong rice whiskey (really more of a dark rum), mango, fresh-squeezed lime, raw sugar and mint, and standard cocktails like mai tais and margaritas. The food menu consisted mostly of burgers and sandwiches.
The hotel’s all-day restaurant, the Andaman Kitchen, was down one level from the lobby and had both a large outdoor dining area and an indoor dining room.
There was a breakfast buffet in the mornings.
However, I opted to order à la carte instead and got a huge crab omelet, which was delicious.
At dinner, the menu was mostly Thai food. I got fried spring rolls and crab curry. The food was decent but not great. The waitstaff, however, were all fantastic. They were friendly and attentive without being overbearing.
Down by the main pool, Big Fish Restaurant and Big Fish Bar were set off to either side of the walkway to the beach.
Big Fish Bar was the more casual eatery, with the same drinks menu as the Lounge but a menu of simple dishes like salads, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas and a few Thai options like satay and chicken fried rice.
I ate here one night and had the seafood pizza and a Caesar salad, both of which were OK but not particularly remarkable.
Waiters from the bar circulated around the pool area during the day taking orders. There was also a nice lawn with a few beanbag chairs and sculptures in front where you could enjoy your drink with a view of the sea.
Big Fish Restaurant was across the walkway from the bar and was a (slightly) more formal setting. The menu here was mostly fresh-caught grilled fish and seafood and pasta.
As a Marriott Gold elite, I enjoyed a 15% discount on food and beverage (10% for Silver, 20% for Platinum). There were also rotating happy hours at the various restaurants where drinks were half off.
The resort’s pools were the main attraction. Some of the room categories included direct access to various connected swimming pools.
These pools were mostly empty whenever I was walking by.
The main, largest pool was set down toward the beach and had several seating areas.
There were also shallow splash pools for younger children to play in.
The pool area was not busy during my stay, but it wasn’t the high season either, so I wasn’t surprised.
The pool looked out past two of the resort’s restaurants toward the beach.
There was also a kids club set off to one side that offered activities like arts and crafts, batik printing, necklace making and painting beach bags. The beach had sitting areas with loungers shaded by umbrellas to either side of the walkway leading out from the two restaurants.
This was not really a swimming beach, since the tide went so far in and out each day, though you could borrow kayaks and paddleboards at high tide. However, at low tide, you could actually walk for miles to the north toward the airport and go swimming along the shore. There were several day clubs where you could rent chairs, have a simple lunch and just relax if you wanted.
I went for walks both days of my stay and really enjoyed how quiet and calm the area was — a far cry from the party scene at some of Phuket’s other beaches. Back at the resort, I took a quick walk past a lawn with colorful sculptures.
It brought me to the hotel’s Quan Spa.
The reception and waiting areas were tranquil. “Quan” means “spring water,” so the theme of the spa was the cleansing and spiritually healing powers of water. Treatments incorporated products like Phytomer skincare, Bhawá essential oils and coconut oil from Sansi and Phutawan.
The menu included a traditional Thai herbal-compress massage, an Indian head massage, a green-tea body wrap and an after-sun facial. Prices for hourlong and 90-minute treatments ranged from 1,400 to 3,400 baht ($45 to $130).
The hotel gym was on the pool level but closer to the guest rooms. It was small but had a decent collection of cardio and weight equipment.
The resort could help guests book activities like boat charters, diving and fishing trips operated by outside parties. On the property, you could arrange cooking classes, dance classes, yoga and muay Thai, among other options, for a fee. There was also a calendar of complimentary activities that changed daily, such as bike tours through local villages, beginner yoga and beach soccer and volleyball.
The Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa Nai Yang Beach ended up being a nice but unremarkable choice for my trip to Phuket. The resort’s rooms and facilities felt fresh and modern, the service was cheerful and efficient, and the location near the airport was convenient. The hotel did a good job at incorporating Thai elements into the experience with everything from local tours to craft activities and menu items in the restaurants. The food options were OK, if not exciting, though I did appreciate that they were likewise not overpriced, which can be a problem at many self-contained beach resorts. I also appreciated that, because it was slow, I had no problem getting chairs at the pool or beach whenever I wandered down there.
If you’ve never been to Phuket before, however, you might want to stay closer to the major sights and the action around Patong. Or, if you have specific interests like fishing or diving, you might want to select a resort with more of a focus on special excursions.
That said, my stay was relaxing and allowed me both to get work done and unwind, which was all I was looking for, especially at such a good nightly price.
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