Can i haz my own island plz?


March 2011 – Sugar Palm Grand – Kata Beach, Phuket

Well you can’t really blame a hotel for being “budget boutique” when that is their marketing strategy. This hotel is not a spa. It is not fancy. You do not get a cold towel on arrival, and they do not bring you cocktails to your room. All these things are usually fine – except our visit was smack bang in the middle of our honeymoon (also known as “we are living in a spa fantasy land tour of 2011”). So it was like we had entered a camping site and they told us there were no tents or bathrooms.

The rooms are minimalist/modern, and appeal to the younger generation judging by the token Apple branded tech products in the room. Large and spacious, the rooms are cooled by the exposed concrete floors and bathroom, which suits the balmy summer climate. A large bath is a treat for the budget traveller, and a glass wall makes it easy to watch tv from the comfort of your bubble bath.

Things I love about Sugar Palm Grand

– Value for money: we paid $95AU a night for a large room with a balcony that leads out on to a pool. You really can’t complain (but we still did. Again, “spa tour” disclaimer.)

Things I dislike about the Sugar Palm Grand

– No turndown service (ok, I will get over it now).

Sugar Palm Grand

1 Khoktanod soi 3, Kata Beach, Muang, Phuket 83100 Thailand

March 2011 – Aleenta Resort And Spa, Phang Nga

From the moment we got picked up from a hotel car at the airport, we were in love with this hotel experience. Aleenta is like entering a very calm and relaxed slice of paradise. Attentive staff take care of every need from the moment you walk in, your bags are shuffled away and replaced with cooling tea and face towels, and there is a sense of floating to our beachside room.  Hello relaxation, nice to see you again.

The location cannot be beat – secluded from the tourist traps of Phuket, Aleenta is located on Natai Beach, a long and quiet stretch of beach just outside Phuket. A short drive from the airport (get the hotel car, an air-conditioned BMW – absolutely worth it)

There is a good mix of rooms – from beach view rooms with a balcony to palatial apartments equipped with private pools and living spaces all the mod cons. We were lucky enough to have a beachfront villa with a shared private pool. With glass doors allowing the whole villa to be opened up, the beauty of watching the sun set while sitting in your own pool drinking a cocktail is not lost on this traveller. All light wood interiors, the wardrobes were oversized and luxurious, the outdoor shower our own little oasis, and a giant bathroom complete with oversized spa.

The rooms are so good we didn’t want to leave, so we continued the laziness by having all our meals delivered to our room. The kitchen provided a great mix of classic thai dishes – there really was no limit to how much Pad Thai we could eat. The room service staff were lovely, concerned one evening when we ordered a late dinner as they were wondering if everything was ok. Yes, we are creatures of habit, even on holiday.

Happy hour at the bar was a little quiet, probably due to other guests being similarly lazy and getting their drinks delivered to the pool/beach/bedside.  The bar staff were great – personalised attention due to the lack of customers worked out great for us, and resulted in a never ending supply of awesome bar snacks.

The resort has a scheduled list of activities for those who are after some entertainment. Getting any activities in before the rain sets in at sundown is important – we focussed on taking the hotel bicycles out to explore the local area (and buy beer).

After a few days at Aleenta, you really can’t remember how long you have been there for. It is just one long, happy day full of sunshine, cocktails, pad thai and relaxation. I really cannot recommend this place enough. I will definitely go back. As soon as I can. Now, please?

Things I love about Aleenta Resort And Spa

–        Daily bookmarks left on our bed with the turndown service. Can you get any cuter?

–        Ordering anything to the room. A novelty for us, mainly as room service is usually a no-no due to the expense. However, when your cigarettes are delivered to your door with a wrapped packet including a quote from Oscar Wilde on Smoking you know you have hit the laziness jackpot.

– the winner of the cheesiest honeymoon package extra – a towel swan and a heart shaped box of chocolates. Surprisingly the chocolates were awesome and we smashed all of them thank you very much.

Things I dislike about the Aleenta Resort And Spa

–       It is far from tourist zones so you have to commit to living the spa experience. Which was no problem for us.

Aleenta Resort And Spa,

Natai Beach, Phang Nga

March 2011 – The Westin Kuala Lumpur

The great thing about travelling in Asian cities is that you can pick up a great quality hotel room for next to nothing – and much cheaper than their sister hotels in Europe and Australia.

I could not pass up the opportunity to stay at the Westin KL for about a third of the price of their Sydney hotel. After a not-so-long-haul flight we were buzzed and ready to get to the hotel. However, following a harrowing train, monorail, walk through the streets we finally made it to the hotel a little worse for wear, and definitely looking forward to a good sleep. I was very keen to experience the comfort and luxury of the highly marketed “heavenly bed”. While the Tall Man was not that impressed, I found it to be a great night’s sleep. But it could have just been from the upgraded King size, as opposed to its famed custom designed mattress. Nevertheless we did have a great sleep and that is what was promised! Not sure I would fork out the extra cash for it in the future though – or maybe just in Asia where I can afford the room?

The hotel definitely has a corporate feel, given its location I can understand that they would want to maximise their business guests. It is not too polarising – more people using the business centre than the outdoor pool works for me! The hotel staff ensure that our cocktail needs are met, and with not many people around the leisure areas we feel like we are the lucky recipients of our own private giant pool.

Things I love about The Westin Kuala Lumpur

– Giant bathrooms

– The most interesting mini bar selections I have seen in a long time. They really do make you prepared for anything.

– Location – the hotel is on the busy Jalan Bukit Bintang and is located across the road from one of the fancier shopping centres in KL, The Pavillion where one can spend either a lot of money or a lot of time window-shopping. We did the latter.

– The small flower arrangement to welcome us as newlyweds. Sweet.

Things I dislike about The Westin Kuala Lumpur

– We really enjoyed our stay, so it is hard to think of what could have been better. But if I had to whinge about something it would be the  limited tv channels – including the most ridiculous hotel promotional video on loop. Drove me CRAZY.

The Westin Kuala Lumpur

199, Jalan Bukit Bintang

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

February 2011 – The Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney

A very considerate gift of a night’s accommodation at the Four Seasons meant we could spend our wedding night in the height of luxury. Literally. Turning up to a hotel in your wedding dress GUARENTEES a room upgrade, and we got moved up to the 33rd floor of the hotel.

The Harbour view executive suite was a luxury we do not come across everyday. My work would never be able to put me up in such a hotel, but I dream about using the sitting room & office desk to do some work as opposed to planning and ordering our room service. Huge living space, king sized bed with cloud like pillows, and a knockout view of the harbour.

The best thing about a fancy business/touristy hotel is that they know guests will rock up at any hour – and can provide 24-hour service. The meal we ordered at 2am? Fine dining all the way.

And the view when you wake up is nothing short of sensational. I may be biased as a Sydneysider, but watching a Sydney harbour morning unfold is just blissful. The glistening harbour beckons you to come out and explore, but as we are locals we know that the best thing to do is watch the Simpsons marathon in bed and stay in the room as long as possible.

And after a quick scan of the bathroom to check we had all those lovely L’occitane products (I’m no fool), we bid the fanciest room of our travelling lives adieu.

The Four Seasons Hotel

199 George Street

Sydney, NSW 2000