In April I made that dream a reality and checked-off another destination on my bucket list (I’m on a roll).
After touring Shanghai and Singapore, I needed to relax and recoup from jet lag. My energy was seriously depleted and I had to rest before heading to the congested cities of Bangkok and Hong Kong.
I stayed at the beautiful Wyndham Sea Pearl Resort overlooking the touristy town of Patong. As I entered the warm breezy lobby, I was greeted with a refreshing tropical drink and seated by a babbling coy pond until the room was ready. I had time to kick-back and enjoy the lush grounds, soothing waterfalls and calming streams that create a tranquil, spa-like environment throughout the property.
Our luxurious villa had a canopy bed and large bathroom with deep jetted tub, well lit vanity area and waterfall shower – it felt like we were on a second honeymoon!
The day bed was a nice place to unwind with a glass of wine after dinner and the glass floor with fish swimming underfoot is a nice touch.
The room was romantic, spacious and well decorated, with a slanted wood ceiling and wide skylights to frame the stars.
The best thing about the villa is the private infinity pool and sun deck complete with an outdoor shower and lounge chairs.
The pool is a wonderful place to escape the heat and large enough to swim laps. There is also a jetted section in the corner where my husband and I sipped cocktails while watching the sun set behind the jungle. We appreciated the privacy, peacefulness and serenity of the resort, it was the perfect place to unwind.
The Sea Pearl also has a couple great restaurants with live music. The buffet offered a variety of traditional cuisine like spicy soup served in a hollow coconut and delectable chicken Pad Thai.
I am no stranger to curry but I did discover an addicting dessert - mango sticky rice drizzled in fragrant coconut milk. The slight tartness of the mango balances the sweet milk and creates a wonderful pudding-like treat.
We also had dinner at the other restaurant where I ordered chicken tikka pizza topped with cilantro and veggies (I eat pizza in every country I visit). Instead of traditional marinara sauce, they used a sweet-savory base which I thoroughly enjoyed.
We only had 3 days in Phuket so I spent most of the time relaxing in our room, swimming and hanging out at the beach. Fatigue, flu symptoms and a terrible heat rash forced me to skip most of the activities on my itinerary.
We made use of the resort's free shuttle but Patong Beach lacks the crystal water and powdery white sand associated with Thailand. The town is overrun with tourists (which I didn’t mind since I was one) and although it is a bit grungy, there are many restaurants and specialty shops where you can haggle for custom-made clothing. The night market has an abundance of tasty food and I suggest checking out the supermarket to load-up on unique local snacks and fresh fruit juice.
The hotel also offered us a tour of Phi Phi Islands and Maya Bay in exchange for attending a short presentation on the Wyndham Club. I was not interested in a time-share but it was a great opportunity to score a free day trip. There are booths outside the airport with similar deals but choose wisely and be weary of scams so you don’t waste your time.
The speed boat tour was not the greatest. We didn’t have enough leisure time on the islands and the lunch buffet was terrible, but we made the most of it.
We stopped at Monkey Island (the name is self explanatory) and the cave where bird’s nest soup is harvested (the birds make their nests from saliva which is then used to make soup).
Maya Bay rarely received visitors until it became the filming location of The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Now thousands of tourists flock to it's picturesque shores and swim in the sparkling turquoise water. The beach is more breathtaking than any postcard can depict but it was also very crowded and teeming with tour boats.
To protect visitors, the beach is sectioned into swimming and non-swimming (where the boats dock) but this leads to over-crowding in the water. I witnessed a woman get seriously injured when a heavy anvil whacked her in the leg. The situation is not conducive to preserving nature and I read that Maya Bay will now be closed during certain seasons.
The rocky cliffs that ascend from the sea provide much needed shade and the clear water is perfect for snorkeling so bring your gear!