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Just one small part of the Kidsworld kingdom at Courtyard Surin

Courtyard by Marriott Has Come to Play on Phuket

Monday, June 30, 2008
IF KIDS have a say in where they go on holiday (silly question: absolute power usually comes with the first step) then Courtyard by Marriott Phuket at Surin Beach is going to be extremely popular with young visitors.

Kidsworld at the first of the three Courtyards to open on the island in 2008 is enough to make anybody wish they were eight years old again.

A couple of long waterslides curl and curve languidly, then tumble riders into the pool. Indoors, Kidsworld allows those who prefer to stay dry to watch the wet ones go sailing past.

Benches for junior science experiments, an arts and crafts studio, a closet for dressups, and a screening room with giant television set facing huge beanbags . . .

This is a great place to be if you want to come to Phuket to play. And who doesn't want to play?

There's even a deep room, filled with plastic balls, for those who want to make a splash, yet stay dressed as Spiderman or a princess.

The integrated zone for children is central to the resort, where most of the 256 room face onto the pool area, and that means Kidsworld, which is front and centre.

Another innovation is the MoMo Cafe, the restaurant outlet at the resort, where prices are reasonably competitive.

Nearby is Momo2go, a stylish minimart where guests can buy snacks and drinks at prices that are only fractionally higher than at outside convenience stores.

Guests can also order regular replacements delivered to them, or take advantage of the MoMo2you room service.

One surprise is that there is no spa. But then, perhaps this is a legacy of Courtyard's beginnings 25 years ago as a good-value business hotel brand.

Carrying the reputation for good value and efficiency across to resorts does not seem to have proved a problem, with Courtyards today being the most numerous of the 19 brands in the Marriott global portfolio.

There are about 800 Courtyards worldwide, with Phuket catching up fast now.

MoMo and aspects of Kidsworld will reappear at the other two Courtyards at Kamala and Patong when they open, probably in September.

By the time the 2008-2009 high season arrives, Courtyard Surin expects to have about 130 employees.

Staff numbers will not grow much higher than that at any of the Courtyards because the Marriott cluster on the island enables sales, recruitment, marketing and finance to be handled collectively.

For General Manager Theera Kanjana, who has spent 27 years with Marriott, much of it in the US and Guam, looking after a Courtyard is a novel experience.

But he is enjoying the youth and energy of the staff, all chosen because they have the right attitude.

''We want to create this experience together,'' he told Phuketwan. ''A lot of continuous training is involved.''

The Marriott system requires a 15-minute training session each day for most staff, and even the GMs have regular classes to improve their knowledge.

Staff at the Courtyard will be multi-skilled so that, at peak periods, they can cope with a variety of needs.

To help complete development, they are rotated through positions. There is no career bellhop, for example.

Everybody takes a turn as part of the Welcome Team.

While occupancy levels are mostly based on Internet bookings for now, Khun Teera expects the wholesale market to rapidly boost Courtyard to about 70 percent for its first high season.

Design-wise, the Courtyard is simple and logical.

Visitors walk through from the shady foyer, reception and tour desk to MoMo, passing a small deli that stocks takeaway salads and sandwiches.

Then they descend a series of outdoor decking terraces, past the pools and picture windows of the double-storey fitness club, to the guest rooms, around the pools.

Naturally, there's a pool bar for off-duty parents.

Units are spacious and bright, and equipped with tea and coffee making facilities, an iron and an ironing board, and an extra-large Asian standard-size refrigerator.

The bedding and the color scheme are all to highly-regarded Marriott quality.

Surin beach, one of the best on the island, is about 150 metres away. A Courtyard beach club may well be a future project.

The Internet introductory rate for the Courtyard at present is 2999 baht, including breakfast, which will rise to 5500 baht for the high season.

Courtyard by Marriott Phuket at Surin Beach Telephone +66 7630 3300. www.courtyard.com/hktsb

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Look for more of the latest about resorts in the region at Phuketwan

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