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An unmade road in 'Greater Phuket' leads to a romantic remake

'Greater Phuket' Wins a Hidden Pleasure Resort

Friday, December 4, 2009
Take the Tour Photo Album Above

IN PHANG NGA, someone with knowledge of traditional methods will plant lemongrass to prevent rain falling on a grand opening outdoors by the beach.

In Phuket, the usual method is to cover the area in concrete and put a roof over the whole lot as fast as possible.

It's a cheap laugh, of course, but as time pushes the neighboring Andaman provinces in different directions, there seems to be some truth at the joke's heart.

The new JW Marriott Khao Lak held its grand opening this week, and visiting journalists from Europe and Asia were amazed to see what happened when the rain began falling gently.

First, resort staff emerged with large umbrellas. Then they brought towels. Then, when the rain grew heavy, everyone moved inside. Yet when the drops stopped, the party immediately returned to the outdoors.

Water, it seems, continues to play a leading role in the life of this rambling, eternally dramatic resort. Three days after the grand opening of the first version, the 2004 tsunami swept through.

Vast pools, fountains and a swimmer's dream that stretches and curls for three kilometres from foyer to beachfront mark it as a destination with water as the main theme.

Even in the ground floor rooms, the bedroom and living space is sandwiched between a see-through bathroom and a balcony gate that enables guests to jump straight in and begin to drift languidly.

The Andaman coast has some gems, enough to make it a five-star delight. But the promotion of the new JW Marriott Khao Lak as ''a Hidden Treasure'' is no foolish boast.

The people at the Marriott, never ones for keeping treasures a secret for long, have signed up this resort for 30 years.

Greg Allan, an 18-year Marriott veteran, says the Marriott Khao Lak is ''stunningly beautiful and close to nature.''

With a posse of 26 journalists from Britain, Germany, Russia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Phuket imported for the grand opening, the word should spread quickly.

Given that the journalists were going to the Similans, white water rafting and riding elephants, most of the word-spreading should be good for the resort and the region.

Phang Nga Governor Yiamsuriya Palusuk, guest of honor with his wife at the opening, told us that the other five-stars in Phang Nga were at 95 percent capacity for the high season, a good sign for the second-time-around newcomer.

Although there are still a few remote spots on the island, Phuket and Phang Nga, sometimes known as ''Greater Phuket,'' mostly offer vastly different holidays these days.

An hour after turning right from the airport leaves holidaymakers in the midst of an urban environment, even though it's usually a sunny one with great beaches close by.

Eighty minutes after turning left from the airport, visitors are genuinely away from it all. No city sprawl. No jet-skis, no beach vendors. No argumentative tuk-tuk drivers.

It's little wonder that these days, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is encouraging people to spend some time on Phuket, and then a little more in Phang Nga. Visitors can decide whether they prefer Phuket or the ''Greater'' bit.

As for the 298-room Marriott, it certainly deserves consideration. Beneath the elevated foyer is the Late Checkout Centre, a clubroom with lounges and showers that enables people who arrive too early or leave late to continue to enjoy the facilities.

Nearby is the fitness centre, the kids' club and a deli, a combination to make just about everyone feel as though the holiday mood continues even while waiting for the flight home.

Phuketwan was a guest of the JW Marriott for a night.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


"Phang Nga Governor Yiamsuriya Palusuk [...] told us that the other five-stars in Phang Nga were at 95 percent capacity for the high season"

...And nobody laughed at the fiction? I guess he was sharing whatever he was smoking. Next time, try objective investigative journalism instead of merely regurgitating the press releases & speeches.

Editor: Please give us all the benefit of your extensive research. The cliches are tiresome.

Posted by A noun E. Mouse on December 6, 2009 07:46

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