For the more fortunate among us, when it comes to holidays, after stepping off the plane at our destination of choice, a stay in one of the many 5-star hotels has become a somewhat ritualistic and habitual event; our choice of abode provides a base from which to head to the pool or beach, or from where we can head out to explore the cultural delights on offer, and has great facilities and service around the clock. The room itself, however, is rarely somewhere we are happy to spend much of our long-awaited and hard-earnt time away from home and work; it’s ‘just a bed for the night’, often with camp-like arrangements for the kids, if they are not yet old enough to have a room of their own. Sure, the room may be well appointed, even luxurious, but who, other than perhaps honeymooners, wants to spend any of their limited quality time confined to the bedroom?
There are some great alternatives that can offer more spacious surroundings in which to relax, are more flexible, especially with kids or other friends or relatives, offer greater privacy and allow you to relax in luxury, even when you don’t feel like going out. Private villas are one example but often come at a disproportionate cost more akin to the budget of Russian oligarchs (at least, prior to the recent Rouble crash). Or, if they are within the realms of us mere mortals, they are often lacking in charm or appeal and are merely a ‘functional’ option for accommodating the family but then require another ‘transfer’ to get the beaches or local amenities.
There is a third alternative: Serviced Apartments, such as those found at The Pearl of Naithon, Phuket, Thailand.
We stayed in one of the Super Penthouse apartments at The Pearl, and the experience is inherently different. Whereas hotel rooms tend to be small and functional (just a bed for the night), verging on claustrophobic, our apartment at The Pearl was an enormous 332m² (by comparison, the average new-build is just 76m² in the UK and just over 200m² in the US or Australia)*! And rather than feeling the need to be out of the room for every waking moment of the holiday, when you check into your own apartment, you feel you have your own home where you can live ‘normally’ and you can spread out and unwind without tripping over one-another. In short, you start to relax from the moment you arrive.
Our ‘home’ was an expansive 4 bedroom property split across 2 floors and was luxuriously and tastefully furnished. We had a huge dining room, an ultra modern kitchen and separate lounge. Each of the bedrooms was big and had its own en-suite bathroom and balcony with either pool or sea views. The balconies are a perfect spot for breakfast or to enjoy a drink as the sun sets over the Andaman Sea.
Each of the apartments is slightly different as many of them are privately owned, so have their owners’ own personal touches. All of the ones we saw, however, were simply stunning!
Having your own apartment is ideal for families. It was great to be able to put the children to bed without then having to dim the lights and keep the noise down, which effectively ends your day too. Then in the morning, the kids could get up without disturbing the grandparents, who we had brought along with us. I would strongly recommend this as an alternative to nearby hotels, especially if you have friends or relatives sharing with you. Aside from the space and flexibility, the cost alone is much more reasonable than booking numerous hotel rooms for everyone, making it great value. Stay in and entertain your guests using the fully equipped kitchen – your own private chef could even be arranged for you by guest services at reception, perhaps for a special romantic occasion – or take advantage of the restaurants and bars nearby. Pack your own picnic for day trips but, if you plan to spend the day on the stunning and unspoilt Naithon Beach, you can just pop back for a refreshing drink or lunch, whether ‘at home’, or in the restaurant by the pool; it’s just 50 metres or so from your door to the edge of the soft sand! In my opinion, this kind of flexibility and home from home quality wins hands down over tiny hotel rooms or suites.
The Pearl of Naithon offers beautifully fully-furnished apartments that provide the privacy and comforts of home. Sure, 5-star hotels can be fantastic and have 24-hour services, but how often do you need to order a club sandwich at 5am, especially when you have your own fully equipped kitchen at your disposal whenever you like? Or have the paper delivered to your room each morning when you have wi-fi connection linking you real time to all the publications that you would enjoy at home? You benefit from a housekeeping service a minimum of twice a week, to ensure your apartment is clean and your towels and bedding are fresh. For a small premium, it can be arranged more frequently, if you require; a laundry service can also be provided to make sure your clothes are clean and pressed, so you look your best when you head out for the evening. We put our laundry in just before we returned home so we simply unpacked our cases and hung up our clothes when we got back without the hassle of the holiday washing bringing you back to earth with a bump.
We found that the serviced apartments at The Pearl offered us the perfect arrangement of accommodation, facilities (including the enormous lagoon-style pool) and flexibility. The staff were great too – happy to help in any way they could, from booking restaurants and trips to arranging the laundry service; and they were simply adorable with the kids! More affordable than a comparable 5-star hotel, the value of having your own space is priceless! I liked it so much, I have made it our first feature property at Zouza.
Nick Hughes – Managing Director, Zouza Ltd.
* Sources: CommSec, RBA, UN, US Census
Short or long term rentals at The Pearl are available through Zouza Ltd. A limited number of properties also remain available to buy. Please enquire for further details.