With over 30 years’ experience, we bring together the world’s most fascinating destinations, finest hotels and imaginative itineraries. With first-hand knowledge of the destinations we sell, travel is our passion.
With an All Inclusive called Unlimited-Luxury® you would be right to expect better than average inclusions, but just what is it that sets Secrets apart from regular hotels?
Being adult-only certainly helps create a more intimate air and the locations are always amongst the best in each tropical destination – Secrets Royal Beach is beside the beautiful palm-studded sugar white beach Playa Bavaro, Secrets Cap Cana is within the exclusive enclave of Cap Cana, Secrets Maroma has the enviable location beside fabulous Maroma Beach which has been recognised as one of the world’s best and turtles frequent the turquoise sea near Secrets Akumal, akumal looks a strange name until you realise the word akumal translates as “the place of the turtles” in Mayan.
Limitless access to a la carte restaurants with an easy ‘no reservation required’ policy, several bars with top shelf spirits, daily refreshed mini bar, 24-hour room service, plus poolside & beach wait service are all standard amenities. There are no wristbands in use either!
The Secrets Spas by Pevonia also ticks all the boxes of a full service spa facility (additional charges apply) so the hotel can be a great choice for a bit of pampering or rejuvenating, and there is also a decent gym and fitness area if you want to work off any excesses.
Why not go Preferred Club?
Then for an even more superior experience Secrets Resorts offer the Preferred Club upgrade which can include prime position accommodation, access to exclusive swimming pools, restaurants, reserved ares of beach, a private lounge and dedicated concierge teams eager to personalise and enhance your stay. The Preferred Club status really does deliver a first rate option for a memorable occasion, often it can feel like you’re within a special club.
Sip, Savour & See
In order to make the most of your time in the Caribbean or Mexico you’ll be considering getting out and about at some point and Secrets have created a fun exchange dine system called ‘Sip, Savour & See’ dining experience which allows you to visit sister hotels in the same area to eat, drink and enjoy the entertainment that evening at the other property, in some destinations this gives guests access to several other hotels!
The final thing to mention, as many other guests will agree, is the people at Secrets that play such a huge part in making everything so special, from the staff member that greets you on arrival with a chilled glass of bubbly and refreshing cold towel to your dedicated concierge with their oh so welcoming smile.
Luaus, leis and coconut cocktails. Welcome to island life in Hawaii, where you can be as laidback or active as you like. With secluded beaches, active volcanoes and lava flows and lush green jungles filled with hidden waterfalls, Hawaii’s scenery is nothing if not diverse. From the thrilling volcanic hikes of Island of Hawaii and dramatic coastlines of Maui to the deep canyons of Kauai and the famous surfing beaches of Oahu – Hawaii has something for everyone. So whether you fancy a jaw-dropping adventure or a relaxed beach break, we’ve got just the Hawaiian island for you…
KAUAI – THE GARDEN ISLE
For: Nature walks, waterfalls and beautiful scenery
Meet Kauai, Hawaii’s oldest island and one of the largest. Lovingly known as the Garden Isle and the “Isle of Discovery”, Kauai has been shaped by millions of years of erosion and is filled with spectacular landscapes from tropical rainforest to cascading waterfalls, rugged cliffs, white sandy beaches, emerald valleys and deep mountains. Take time to discover the jewels of the Napali Coast – proudly one of the most photographed landscapes in the world – a dramatic landscape accessible by boat, hiking or with a breath-taking helicopter tour. There are plenty of outdoorsy activities to enjoy on this scenic island whether you prefer to keep active along the Kalalau Trail or simply kick back and relax on the quiet sand of Kalapaki Beach – a local favourite. Discover the crescent shaped Hanalei Bay where palm trees sway in the breeze and crystal-clear waters beg you to linger a little longer or go snorkelling at Lydgate Beach Park or Ha’ena Beach Park. During the day, admire the stunning valley and mountain views from the Kuilau Ridge Trail and the roaring Wailua Falls and when evening falls, admire one of the most beautiful sunsets on earth at Polihale Beach Park.
Visiting the Kilohana Plantation, home to Kauai’s only rum distillery.
Exploring the Waimea Canyon (The Grand Canyon of the Pacific) and Fern Grotto.
Oahu is the heart of Hawaii and lovingly known as the “birthplace of surfing”. An impressive total of no less than 15 surf spots await water lovers on this island, including the more famous spots of Ehukai Beach Park and the Backyards on the North Shore. It’s also the liveliest of the Hawaiian islands with an incredible nightlife and music scene, particularly in Honolulu and Waikiki. Mingle with trend-setters at M Nightclub, soak up some live music at RumFire or head to the beachfront with its high rises and trendy bars for some exotic cocktails with a stunning sea view. The Windward Coast is where the adventure happens – don your walking shoes for a thrilling hike up to Diamond Head, one of Hawaii’s most recognisable icons. This extinct volcano offers panoramic views of Waikiki and the south shore of Oahu. Or dabble in a new watersport from wind surfing to kite surfing in Kailua. For those who enjoy mixing their adventure with leisure time, the beaches of Hanauma Bay are perfect for sunbathing and snorkelling.
Booking a Jurassic Park Adventure at Kualoa Ranch or a historic Pearl Harbour tour.
A trip to the Valley of the Temples to see the replica of the Japanese temple, Byodo-In.
For: Colourful beaches, snorkelling and whale watching
Maui is the quieter alternative with quaint villages, stunning national parks and a relaxed “no news, no shoes” atmosphere. The scenery is about as tropical as it gets with endless rainforest jungles, volcanic landscapes and more than 80 beautiful red, black and white sandy beaches to discover. For those who wish to be a bit more active during their time on Maui, there is plenty of adventure to be had from zip lining through rainforests and the West Hawaiian Mountains to snorkelling with sea turtles in an underwater crater. Not to mention hiking volcanoes and surfing big breaks. But if you prefer to take it down a notch and relax then take to the palm-lined country roads and enjoy some of the best shore-based whale watching in the world on the stretch of Highway 30 between Ma’alaea and Lahaina. Or venture into the valley of Maui with a guide who will reveal ancient secrets about the fascinating Hawaiian culture and life on the island of Maui.
Exploring the hidden allures of Haleakala National Park and experiencing an unforgettable sunrise at Maui’s highest peak.
Booking a helicopter ride over Maui at sunset or during the day to see volcanoes, waterfalls and the rainforest from above.
Taking a drive along the Road to Hana – one of the most spectacular and slowest drives in the world. It starts in Kahului and snakes along 54 miles of coastline past lush vegetation and waterfalls, ending in the quaint town of Hana
The Island of Hawaii needs no further explanation. It’s Hawaii’s largest island as well as its youngest, home to the Hawaiian monarchy and great coffee. It’s an island of mountainous wonders, home to Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world; Mauna Kea, the world’s highest sea mountain where skiing can be enjoyed all year round; and Mauna Loa, the tallest volcano on earth. It’s here that you can look forward to hiking some exceptional volcanic scenery from black lava fields to the glowing lava streams of the Kilauea volcano – over 150 miles of hiking trails traverse Island of Hawaii. And with volcanoes come exceptional volcanic beaches: relax on the island’s beautiful black sandy beaches surrounded by snow-capped mountains and tropical greenery. Snorkel with manta rays or go horse riding to see the fauna and flora in Waimea or tee off on one of the world’s best golf courses. Coffee lovers will love the chance to visit a coffee farm in the heart of Island of Hawaii’s famous Coffee Country. And when darkness descends, you’ll get to experience some of the most spectacular star gazing on the planet…
Booking a Twilight Volcano Adventure and spending the day visiting Island of Hawaii’s impressive volcanoes
Enjoying a star gazing tour or helicopter flight over Mauna Kea
Did you know that the warm Indian Ocean waters around Sri Lanka’s coastline are home to five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles – six of which are in serious danger of extinction? The southern beaches of Sri Lanka have long been a source of retreat for Green, Leatherback, Hawksbill, Loggerhead and the Olive Ridley turtle that come onto the warm sands of the beaches to lay their eggs. Once the eggs hatch, they toddle their way towards the waters of the ocean and can return to the same beach some 20 or even 30 years later to lay their own eggs – but most of them don’t survive long enough to reproduce.
In aid of these turtles whose numbers are dwindling around the world, the Fortress Resort & Spa has launched a turtle conservation project aiming to ensure as many of these turtles are able to reproduce and get their hatchlings to the water safely.
About the Turtle Conservation Project
Marine turtles have been around longer than the dinosaurs but in recent years, due to poor fishing practises and poaching, the population of marine turtles have decreased alarmingly from millions down to just seven remaining species. The Turtle Conservation Project run by the Fortress Resort & Spa aims to help build up the numbers in the following ways:
Purchasing eggs from the local fishermen at a higher price than they’d receive at the market
Building enclosures to protect the nests from stray dogs and monitor lizards
Helping the newly hatched baby turtles reach the safety of the waters
How can you help?
Guests staying at the Fortress Resort & Spa are invited to visit the turtle hatchery and contribute to the welfare and protection of these unusual sea creatures. You can help by:
Volunteering to return the hatchlings to the water by hand at night-time.
Purchasing Relax and Release (R&R) merchandise – proceeds go towards the project
Book your trip during the breeding season (September through to mid-April on the west coast and February to June on the east coast) and contribute to this worthy cause. Browse our offers online or chat to one of our Sri Lanka experts on 0203 131 7722.
Sitting very quietly in the landrover, the lionesses primed their cubs on how to hunt; the target was a couple of young warthogs that were lazily grazing nearby. Almost with military precision, the cubs rose, crouched and then darted off in search of their prey. Unfortunately for them, due to their over-exuberance and lack of stealth, the warthogs had advance warning and hurtled off in different directions, tails straight up in the air. As the chase unfolded, a couple of extremely large buffalo were disturbed (never a good thing) but they did spare the warthogs from being chased, as they charged the lion pride. Seeing what you would normally consider to be the king of the plains turn and flee was quite something. Still annoyed, the buffalo spotted us and we had to make a very hasty retreat in reverse to avoid incurring their wrath.
The Masaai Mara is full of varied game viewing, and you will see plenty on your Kenyan safari. Everyone focuses on the Wildebeest Migration when thousands cross the perilous Mara River, but for the rest of the year there is still plenty to see.
Here are a few things to look forward to:
Waterholes are a delight, seeing the pecking order in the wild is quite something, as the animals vie for their time to drink. From elephants wallowing in the mud, to giraffes suddenly becoming completely ungainly as they realign to reach the water, it is easy to while away the time watching nature at its best.
Seeing dung beetles manoeuvre their dung balls across the uneven ground, a baboon kill and rip apart a young springbok, a leopard sleeping up high in a tree, a cheetah crouched ready to sprint into action and being in the midst of the migration moving across the plains, the Masaai Mara never disappoints.
And you can top all of that off with a Hot Air Ballooning ride, gently gliding over the plains, seeing the animals beneath you and a gorgeous African sunrise. And at the end, a champagne breakfast in the bush – memorable, special and once in a lifetime!
Want to plan the ultimate safari holiday in Kenya? Browse our holidays online or chat to our expert sales staff who can tailor-make your holiday to suit you on 0203 131 8384.
Some things will never change in Havana, like some of the city’s landmark hotels full of history and character such as the Nacional (favoured by the celebs back in the day) or the authentic Sevilla (basic in parts but its 9th floor restaurant boasts amazing views and the patio bar serves a mean mojito). The array of vintage vehicles lovingly maintained and showcasing the most incredible range of colours – many are in use as taxis and some are available for a memorable guided tour of Old Havana (Habana Vieja) including a drive along the famous Malecon which is an 8km sea drive best experienced as the sun sets. Pot holes and derelict buildings within the bustling streets of Old Havana are also still common so you need to watch your step when strolling through this extraordinary labyrinth, fortunately protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Of course the sound of salsa and the scent of cigars are very much still part of the scene…
In recent years there have been some subtle reforms that make Cuba an even more enticing holiday destination. Along with a significant increase in the value of tourism, there has also been a much wider availability of some foreign goods such as a cool, crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc from Chile which comes in very welcome after a hot day of sightseeing. Modern cars are plentiful so if you prefer a Mercedes for your taxi, you could be in luck although let’s face it ‘when in Rome’ a Lada suffices! Wi-Fi is readily available nowadays in some public areas or hotel reception for a small fee.
Private enterprise is allowed and locals have been able to run their own restaurants and even open up their homes as B&B accommodation known as Casas Particulares. Many are wonderfully preserved colonial buildings and provide an intimate boutique hotel experience – behind large front doors, tucked away off simple streets and often accessed up steep staircases are some archetypal Deluxe casas, notably Casa Vitrales & Casa El Madero, with interiors from a bygone era. The multi-tasking owners are on hand to help carry your luggage to your room, serve your breakfast and give expert advice on making the most of your time in the city. Expect fascinating views from simple roof terraces across nearby roof tops and neighbours’ laundry! Casas offer a genuine insight in to the real Cuba, ideal for those looking for a sociable ‘homestay’ experience and are classed as either Standard, Superior or Deluxe. They have en-suite facilities – the bathrooms are adequate with a decent shower but don’t expect a hand towel or bath tub.
If that’s not your thing and you expect to stay in the lap of luxury then finally Havana has an option for you – the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski recently opened its sophisticated doors and it is the place to stay! A distinct step above the other quality hotels in the city, the building originally was a stylish shopping arcade built in the late 19th Century. After a mesmerising day in this enthralling city there is nowhere better to dine and relax in refined surroundings and the rooftop restaurant, bar and pool offer one of the best views of the old city and, in particular, of the grandiose Capitol building (Captitolio Nacional). The spa is also laudable and the breakfast is splendid; you could forget you’re in Cuba within these contemporary designer walls with brand new fixtures and fittings!
There has never been a better choice of where to stay in Havana and the city now boasts a vibrant restaurant & bar scene adding to the diverse experiences available in this shabby but imposing place with the current revolution taking place being a culinary focused one!
Chat to our Cuba experts today about planning your holiday. Browse our website or give us a call on 0203 131 8447.
A few steps from the powder-white sands of northern Phi Phi Don and it’s as though you’ve teleported to a jungle somewhere in South America. Leafy green trees provide shelter from the sweltering sun and friendly staff are quick to supply cool, crisp hand towels and a tasty berry-red welcome drink. Kick off your shoes – you won’t need them here. Zeavola Resort seems to have coined the term “barefoot luxury”. It’s an unusual Thai resort, close enough to the beach, yet so enshrouded by the buzz of nature that you could easily forget where exactly you are.
A network of sandy pathways connect the reception area, luxury spa, restaurants and rustic wooden chalets which all have an emphasis on the outdoors – expect open-air bathrooms and outdoor spaces hidden from your neighbours only by the privacy of tall green foliage. While the chalets offer all the mod cons you’d need – king-sized beds, indoor or outdoor bathrooms and air-conditioning, you’ll be spending most of your time outside of your room, cooling off in the resort swimming pool, learning to dive just off-shore or treating yourself to a traditional Thai massage at the award-winning Zeavola Spa.
The resort motto “step back to simplicity” epitomises a stay at this barefoot luxury resort.
It’s a green hotel. Having won the Green Pearl® Award, the hotel practises responsible tourism by recycling grey water, energy-saving lighting, composting, and supporting conservational efforts such as the Green Fins and Coral Freedom projects.
The General Manager, Florian Hallerman, is hands-on and friendly. He’s always around for a chat.
It’s super simple to get around by long-tail boat with drivers waiting 24 hours a day from the beach. It’s like having a water Uber service!
The extremely talented spa therapists are some of the best we have encountered on our travels.
The night dives that can be organised by the resort. The resort is home to the only green five star dive centre on Phi Phi Don Island.
Best at Travel tips
As a resort that focuses on nature as the main attraction, the buildings are minimalistic and you can expect a few insects or two in your room. If you’re icky about insects and don’t like the idea of being so close to nature, then perhaps this resort isn’t the one for you. But for those who enjoy getting back to basics, this barefoot luxury resort doesn’t disappoint.
While the resort has two restaurants of its own, there are also plenty of restaurants located a short walk down the beach so you can try something new every night of your stay.
Organise a speedboat transfer to the resort. It’s much simpler, faster and more comfortable than the ferry. Chat to us about adding a speedboat transfer to your booking.
As the resort has sandy pathways, it is not recommended for wheelchair users or people with mobility issues.
As the island can be humid, there may be mosquitoes. Bring along your own mosquito repellent for night-time dinners on the beach.
Try the Sun Soother Body Wrap – the yoghurt and cucumber remedy is a great way to relieve sunburn after a day on the beach. We’d recommend adding on a facial and foot treatment to complete the pamper package!
As Zeavola Resort is located at the northern point of Phi Phi Don Island, you can only get around by long-tail boat. The exciting shopping and nightlife of Tongsai Bay is approx. 25 minute boat ride away.
Organise a day trip to the surrounding islands, such as Monkey Beach, Bamboo Island and the famous Maya Bay. Long-tail boat drivers are available at the beach right outside the resort 24 hours a day and you can usually barter with them for a good price.
The two Beachfront Suites are located right on the sands of the beach with their own direct beach access. They are also close to the pool.
The Pool Villas are located high up on the hillside away from the beach. Prepare for a bit of a climb to reach your room.
Getting to the resort
Opt for a ferry to Tongsai Bay and a long-tail boat trip to the resort or spend a little more to enjoy the convenience of the resort’s own speedboat transfer service from Royal Phuket Marina. You’ll enjoy the full VIP experience with a pick up from the airport or your previous hotel to the marina where coffee and cake will be served while you wait. You’ll also enjoy bottled water on board and a speedy transfer to the resort so that you have more time to enjoy your holiday. Chat to our travel experts about booking your transfers today!
Want to plan your own stay to Zeavola Resort on Phi Phi Island? Browse our website or chat to our Thailand experts on 02037 977 216 to start planning your holiday today!
Tucked beneath leafy green foliage, the Tubkaak Krabi Boutique Resort & Spa is a quiet barefoot luxury retreat in Krabi. Backed by the Hang Nak Mountain and leading directly onto a private stretch of beach overlooking 13 islands in the Andaman Sea, this blissful resort promises peaceful living and beautiful warm and sheltered waters. During our three night stay at the Tubkaak, which means “home for visitors”, we discovered just how true this name really is. Warmly welcomed by reception staff as well as Sunny, the resident manager, we couldn’t have felt more at home than if we had been back in the UK.
While our stay at the Tubkaak Krabi Boutique Resort & Spa was short and sweet, we managed to pack a lot in. Had we stayed longer, our trip would have perhaps been more leisurely as the sheer volume of things to do at the resort had our brief three days really chock-a-block. From day trips out to the nearby islands, enjoying the resort Happy Hour at sunset to Thai cooking classes and relaxing spa treatments, this is a resort that strikes the perfect balance: do as much or as little as you like.
Despite being an intimate boutique resort, the Tubkaak still manages to provide a wide choice of room types. The Superior (ground floor) and Deluxe Rooms (second floor) are set around the pool area, the Garden Rooms are slightly more private while the Sea View Rooms are larger and offer views of the ocean. Premier Pool Villas are set at the back of the resort with their own pool while the Beach Pool Villas have pools with direct access to the beach. For those looking for something a little more spacious and private, opt for a Suite – the Laurel Suite with sea views, the Haven Suite built around a tree which brings the outside inside or the beachfront Tubkaak Suite – the top room category with a private infinity pool overlooking the ocean.
Our favourite room?
The Premier Pool Villa – We may be slightly biased because this was the room category we stayed in, but we found it the most private with a spacious indoor area and private pool. The hidden pool and bathtub is perfect for couples and honeymooners.
What we love
Yoga facing the ocean. Classes are available nearly every day of the week. Towels, chilled water and bug spray are provided.
The wide variety of books available for light holiday reading at the Library.
The Thai cooking classes that allow you to take a taste of Thailand home with you to share with your friends and family members. You’ll cook with fresh ingredients and learn simple and traditional Thai cooking methods.
The complimentary first stocked minibar. The first selection of Coca Cola, sparkling water and beer are free.
The quiet and peaceful atmosphere of the resort. As the hotel is suited for older kids only, it has the feel of an adults-only resort.
Unlike other resorts, the Tubkaak doesn’t allow long-tail boats to dock at the resort ensuring the noisy motors don’t disturb the peace and privacy of the beach. Instead, long-tail boats are ordered from a local contact as and when they are needed.
The complimentary beach bag filled with towels, sandals and Thai fans.
The sheltered sea is perfect for swimming and snorkelling. The archipelago of 13 islands shelters the bay from any strong waves.
Best at Travel Tips
The resort has a barefoot etiquette: shoes should be removed when you enter your room or hotel spaces. Buckets of water are located around the resort for you to wash the sand off your feet when stepping off the beach or entering you room.
Try the caramelised rice served in a leaf at breakfast.
Experience the spa with its unusual cocoon-like pods. We recommend booking a night-time spa treatment when you can enjoy the incredible effects of the lighting against the wicker walls.
Don’t miss the daily Happy Hour available at the Arundina at sunset every evening. Some evenings, there is even live entertainment
Enjoy the poolside and beachfront service – order a cocktail while sunning yourself with a view of the ocean.
Hire one of the resort’s four free bicycles and explore the surrounding area at your own leisure.
Book your transfers in advance. Your Best at Travel consultant can book your road transfers and ferries in advance to save you the hassle.
Opt for Thai food over Italian. The Thai food is much better and can even be ordered in from the comfort of your room (great for those rainy days!)
Stay here for at least a week to experience everything the Tubkaak has to offer – as well as allow plenty of time to relax!
Day Trips from the Resort
There are plenty of day trips available from the resort which can all be organised with the local long-tail boat drivers by reception.
Half Day Krabi 4 Islands: 09h00 – 14h00
You’ll be picked up from the hotel in the morning and transported to Noppharat Thara Pier by shared minivan. Here, you will jump onto a speedboat for a trip to Chicken, Tup and Moore Islands where you can swim and snorkel in the crystal-clear waters, have a picnic lunch at Poda Island and stop off at Phra Nang Cave on the way back to the resort, stopping off for sunbathing at the famous Railay Beach. Tour includes transfers, entrance fees, lunch, snorkel gear and more.
James Bond and Beyond Day Trip: 06h35 – 16h00
In the morning you will be picked up by minibus and driven to Aonang Beach where you will enjoy coffee and tea before departing for James Bond Island. Visit the Naga Cave with its stalagmites and stalactites, canoe through a mangrove swamp, have lunch at an authentic Thai lunch in Panyee Village, go sightseeing at Koh Hong and explore the Mangrove Cave by torchlight. Tour includes transfer, tour guide, national park fee, lunch and gear.
Phi Phi Island Early Bird: 06h20 – 16h30
Early morning pick up from the resort and transferred to Aonang pier where you will depart for Phi Phi Island by speedboat (40 min). Stop off at Maya Bay, the famous bay from the movie The Beach, explore Pileh Bay’s Emerald Green lagoon at high tide, visit the Viking Cave, Monkey Beach and stop for snorkelling in Loh Samah or Nui Bay. Stop at Bamboo Island for a picnic lunch before visiting Mosquito Island or Bamboo Cape for snorkelling a coral reef. Tour includes transfers, tour guide, national park fee, lunch and snorkelling gear.
We recommend:Half Day Hong Islands: 08h00 – 14h00
The half day tour to Hong Islands located about 15 minutes’ by boat from the resort. You’ll be picked up from the beachfront in a private long-tail boat and driven by a local Thai boat driver (English is minimal) where you can snorkel the bay at Hong Island and see the limestone formations of these incredible volcanic islands including Lading Island and Pakbia Island. We saw a baby reef shark and plenty of colourful fish! Make sure you go early as Hong Island gets busier towards the middle of the day. Tour includes private long-tail boat and snorkel gear.
Private speedboats are also available to hire for exploring the surrounding islands at your own pace.
Depending on where you are coming from, we would suggest taking a road transfer from your previous hotel to the Tubkaak Krabi Boutique Resort & Spa as it’s the fastest, most comfortable and most scenic route. We can arrange your transfers for you in advance and your driver will pick you up directly from the resort reception and drop you door to door. Should you wish to arrive by ferry, your Best at Travel consultant can also arrange this for you in advance.
We know how confusing it can be to pick a hotel with the wealth of options that exist out there. That’s why we’re constantly sending out our staff to do the hard work for you. We’ve also tried and tested Kata Rocks and Avista Hideaway and Aleenta Resort in Phuket and Zeavola Resort in Phi Phi Island. Read our reviews!
Want to plan your own stay at the Tubkaak Krabi Boutique Resort & Spa? Browse the hotel online or call our Thailand experts on 02037 977 216 to start planning your holiday today!
This was a hosted media stay, though all views expressed are my own.
Kata Rocks’ stunning photos on our website spoke volumes of its elegance before we’d even started planning our trip to Thailand, so naturally staying here was at the very top of our list. Perched on a hilltop, Kata Rocks stands out as one of few ultra-modern hotels in the area – perfect for those who appreciate plenty of glass, metal and mod cons – a sleek white interior, floor to ceiling walls that open onto a private pool and an iPad with state of the art VDA automation software that controls everything in your private villa, from the lighting to the blinds to the television and hotel services. While we felt this modern hotel lacked a bit of Thailand’s typical “homey” personality, it certainly packed a punch with its exciting modern conveniences and stunning vistas.
From the moment we left the airport to the time we stepped foot in the door of the hotel (about an hour’s drive from the airport by air-conditioned private transfer), Kata Rocks staff had already transported us from grimy travellers to feeling like VIP guests with crisp, cool hand towels and much-needed bottles of water, served with a warm smile we became rather accustomed to in Thailand. Along the way, a video is screened (particularly helpful if you have arrived late at night like we did and cannot admire the views from the windows) which provides some handy tips about the hotel and the activities to be enjoyed in the local area.
As its set high up on a hilltop, each room at Kata Rocks offers a view of the Andaman Sea. Guests get around by chauffeured golf cart and you can order up a ride to breakfast or down to the beach that we’d, having done it ourselves, not entirely recommend doing by foot in the scorching heat without plenty of water. Kata Beach is just around the corner – a 10 minute walk away – as are a variety of great little tourist shops, spa and massage parlours and tour desks where you can book your day trips out to the islands.
Those little extras
We were really spoilt during our stay at Kata Rocks and arrived to a complimentary cocktail bar set up upon arrival – fresh lime and mint, a chilled ice bucket and a bottle of the Kata Rocks’ specially packaged local spirit called Chalong Bay which we enjoyed from the pool at sunset. Throughout our stay, fresh fruit was paraded through the villa, from pears to the oddly-shaped pink dragonfruit and we tasted some complimentary butterfly pea juice for the first time – a surprisingly blue drink widely available throughout Thailand, revered for its health properties that are known to be particularly good for the hair.
Best at Travel tips:
As the resort is located on a hill, guests are transported around by golf cart. While the hotel staff do go out of their way for you, if you are very concerned about your mobility, Kata Rocks is perhaps not the best choice for you.
The Sky Villas have fully-fitted kitchens and are perfect for families and groups who prefer to cook for themselves. Larger villas with extra bedrooms are available for families and groups.
The Ocean Pool Villa is perfect for honeymooners with spectacular ocean views from anywhere inside – even from the bath! These rooms are not recommended for kids as they have open stairwells.
Test out the one-of-a-kind treatments available at the Spa (winner of Best Boutique Luxury Spa Asia and Best Luxury Emerging Spa Thailand from the World Luxury Spa Awards 2016) with a water massage bed (great for back problems), a chromotherapy room for coloured light therapy and a sleeping pod room with a Metronap rest pod great for those who struggle getting their 8 hours of sleep a night.
Need a little TLC? Book the One Bedroom Spa Pool Villa which comes with your very own spa treatment room!
Take a dip in the main infinity pool and ask a friend to take a photo of you through the window in the bottom of the pool that looks down towards the kids’ club.
Taste the OHLA burger – while not strictly Thai, it has been awarded Phuket’s best burger – a tasty mix of Australian beef, pork belly, Spanish ham and French brie cheese. Plus, it’s also available on the room service menu!
Try a wine tasting master class in the cellar beneath the swimming pool.
Along the beachfront (10 min away), there are various market stalls offering all sorts of treats, from fresh juice (a choice of dragonfuit, mango, coconut and more) as well as souvenirs and beachwear.
Looking for ultimate luxury? Book the Four Bedroom Penthouse Sky Villa which comes with attached butler quarters where you can have your very own live-in butler or bring along your nanny from home.
We know how confusing it can be to pick a hotel with the wealth of options that exist out there. That’s why we’re constantly sending out our staff to do the hard work for you. We’ve also tried and tested Avista Hideaway and Aleenta Resort in Phuket, the Tubkaak Krabi Boutique Resort & Spa in Krabi and Zeavola Resort in Phi Phi Island. Read our reviews!
Want to plan your own trip to Kata Rocks? Browse the hotel online or call our Thailand experts on 02037 977 216 to start planning your holiday today!
This was a hosted media stay, though all views expressed are my own.
The almost palpable aroma of spicy street food, a blur of colourful tuk tuks and the all en-compassing hubbub of vendors and tourists doing the song-and-dance of a typical Thai barter… Thailand is a feast for the senses. There is simply no destination quite like it. This buzzing country promises an adventure around every corner – whether you’re looking for nightlife in Bangla Road or to escape to a secret cove away from the sociable commotion of the city. We spent a whirlwind week discovering the highlights of Phuket, Krabi and Phi Phi Island and uncovered a few fast facts about the incredible “Land of Smiles”…
1. The truth behind the “Spirit Houses”
While travelling through Thailand, you may notice the colourful miniature temples outside just about every building you pass. These are known as “spirit houses” or a “place for the tevoda spirit”. Found throughout Thailand, Cambodia and Burma, these small shrines are typically located in the corner of a house or business and are usually in the form of a small temple mounted on a pedestal and decorated with tiny statues, candles, incense and flowers. The spirit houses you’ll see on your travels may differ in size and ostentation depending on the wealth of the owner. They are intended to provide a shelter to appease evil or mischievous spirits in order to protect the home or the success of a business.
2. Book your transfers in advance
Island hopping through Thailand isn’t simply about booking your flights and hotels and being done with it. There can be many hidden costs involved if you don’t plan your road and water transfers between hotels and islands before you leave home. And unless you prefer the flexibility of travelling where you want, when you want, trying to book a last-minute taxi on your phone late at night adds an extra layer of stress to your holiday that you just don’t need.
Tip: Our Thailand experts can book your ferry, road or water transfers before you leave. Call us today to book your hotel and transport in advance.
3. Enjoy the fresh fruit smoothies
Take advantage of the incredible array of fresh colourful fruit grown in Thailand, from spiky litchis to the unusually shaped dragon fruit. You can pick up a fruit smoothie (you will watch them blend pure fruit pieces of your desired fruit with ice) for just 20 Baht, the equivalent of about 44p.
Tip: If you’re visiting the Wat Chalong Temple in Phuket, we’d recommend picking up a Kiwi soda – it’s slightly more expensive at 50 Baht (£1) but it’s one of the most delicious fresh juices we’ve ever tasted.
4. Always shop around
One thing you will notice when you get to Thailand is the surprising disparity in pricing. For example, you can hire a scooter for the day for just 250 Baht but you can expect to pay 100 Baht for an ice cream. When shopping in the local markets, keep in mind that the Thai are used to tourists and for this reason, some of them will be hesitant to let you barter with them. If that’s the case, move along as you will likely find exactly the same thing at the next store.
Tip: Most vendors will double the price of a garment or item when you first ask. Always try and barter down to half the price. Keep a smile on your face as this is the Thai way. If they try to rip you off, use the term “mi di” (pronounced my die) which means “cannot” and walk away.
5. Learn a bit of Thai
Despite being a popular tourist destination, there are still many places and even high-end hotels in Thailand where they still don’t speak a lot of English. We’d recommend learning a bit of basic Thai before you go. If you don’t have time, buy a phrase book or download a translation app. Most transfers and local tour handlers (such as long tail boat tour drivers) will simply be drivers so don’t expect them to offer any information about the area you are passing.
Tip: The Google Translate app is free of charge and can be used offline by downloading a language pack. Download the app for Android and IOS.
6. Hire a scooter
Getting around Thailand can be expensive. Hiring a scooter is by far the cheapest mode of transport. You can hire a scooter for 250 – 300 Baht for 24 hours (£5.50 for a day!) with a full tank of gas and you simply have to refill the tank when you’re done which will cost you around 40 Baht, less than a pound! The hire price includes a helmet. Don’t be fooled by the locals not wearing them – the driving in Thailand can be erratic.
Tip: Most scooter hire places will ask for your passport as collateral. NEVER give away your passport. Some places will allow a cash deposit instead (3,000 – 5,000 Baht) which will cost much less than the price they could make you pay if the scooter is damaged and they have your passport. Take photos of any scratches on the scooter before you leave – and make sure they see you taking them. You then have proof to show if the scooter was scratched beforehand.
7. Taxi vs bus vs tuk tuk
If you’re looking to explore, make sure you consider your options. Various companies offer cheap tour travel such as the Baht Bus which travels along specific routes with fares starting at as little as 10 Baht. Beware of tuk tuk drivers wanting to rip you off – we wanted to do a bit of sightseeing (Karon viewpoint, Big Buddha, Wat Chalong Temple and the Upside Down House) and took a walk through Kata to find a good price. We were offered 2,000 Baht for an hour or two by tuk tuk. Instead, we hired a taxi for the day at 1,500 Baht for 5 hours and we could go wherever we wanted. Always make sure you negotiate your route and price beforehand. That being said, a ride in a tuk tuk is a must while you’re in Thailand.
Tip: If you’ve left things to the last minute, you can usually book taxis online just a few hours before your departure. We used www.alextaxiphuket.com and www.krabishuttle.com for door to door transfers and tours.
8. Hang out at 7 Eleven
The 7 Eleven was one of our favourite lunch and late night haunts. It’s a great place to pick up cheap beer for much less than you’d pay at the bars and each shop has toasted sandwich makers – you can get the best ham and cheese toasties for just 25 Baht, around 50p!
Tip: Despite their name, most 7 Elevens stay open all night and it’s a great meeting place at 2am.
9. Maya Bay isn’t all it is cut out to be
You know the famous scene from the movie The Beach? Maya Bay is certainly an attraction you have to visit once but in reality, it’s far less exciting than your imagination would have you believe. Take a long tail boat here early before all the crowds arrive and enjoy the view from your boat. You will have to pay a 400 Baht parking charge if you want to go onto the beach and the view is just as good from the water.
Tip: If you’re adamant about getting onto the beach, boat around behind the island to a small bay where you can swim and climb ashore through a small cave without paying the parking fee. If you’re visiting Maya Bay as part of a tour, this parking fee is usually included in the price.
10. Stick to Thai food
You will pay exorbitant prices for mediocre western food in Thailand. Always stick with the Thai food – it’s really good – and try something different every night. Don’t forget to try mango sticky rice!
11. Ask the locals
Take your time to stop and chat to the locals in Thailand – whether its the ladies checking you into your hotel, your local tuk tuk or longtail boat driver (provided they speak English) or other travellers. They will likely have plenty of great advice to offer you. Here’s a few tips I gleamed during my stay…
Try a banana roti for breakfast and taste the Thai iced tea with condensed milk – Sunny, resident manager at the Tubkaak Boutique Resort Krabi.
Look out for the Jasmine rice with caramel sauce served in a leaf at breakfast. It tastes just like rice pudding! – Kim, a fellow traveller.
Definitely visit the Phuket Town Sunday Market and try the street food there! Beware of the perfumes they sell there – they are not authentic! – Anne, director of sales at Kata Rocks.
12. Visit the Upside Down House
The Upside Down House is not widely publicised in Thailand. Most tour companies don’t advertise it and having been there, I’d definitely recommend it. Located on the main bypass road from the airport in Phuket, it’s great for a fun day out– especially if you have kids. Everything in the house is suspended from the ceiling or turned upside down – even the fish swim upside down in the fish tank!
Tip: There are great photo opportunities to be had here. Ask someone to take a photo of you holding one of the objects hanging from the ceiling. When you turn your phone upside down, you will look as though you are standing on your head!
13. Dress appropriately
There are so many expats and tourists in Thailand that you can usually get away with wearing whatever you want. In most beach towns, people walk around in bikinis through the markets, however make sure you dress appropriately when visiting the religious areas such as the temples and Buddha statues – as a highly religious country, you can offend people by wearing skimpy clothing here. A tip we read was to “cover your sexy” – your shoulders, cleavage and knees.
Tip: Most places such as the Big Buddha will provide free scarves and skirts to those who have forgotten them.
14. Take off your shoes
In Thailand, the head is believed to be the most spiritual part of the body and as such, the feet being the furthest away are regarded as the least spiritual. Temples, spas, tourist attractions, local homes and some hotels will require you to take off your shoes before entering. Some places will have a sign requesting you to take off your shoes but other times it may be less obvious. As a rule of thumb, whenever you see a shoe rack outside the door, always remove your shoes. In some hotels, there will be pots of water where you can rinse the sand or dirt off your feet when you step off the beach or before you enter your bedroom.
15. Religious etiquette
As 95% of Thailand are Buddhists, it’s important you take note of the expected etiquette when visiting a Buddhist site or religious temple. Besides dressing appropriately and removing your shoes, you should also remember to never turn your back on a Buddha statue – always back away from it. Another thing to remember: you are not equal to a monk! Never face your feet towards a monk and women should never touch a monk. For the most part, as long as you are respectful of the way you act and the way you dress, you shouldn’t have any problems in Thailand.
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