Phuket is one of those quintessential Singaporean weekend getaway destinations – just 2 hours away by plane with an abundance of beautiful beaches and yummy Thai food, what’s not to love? The one place I actively stay away from is the touristy and overcrowded Patong area, so when the Novotel Phuket folk invited me up to check out their properties in Surin and Karon for this blog post, I was definitely keen to see what these districts had to offer and show you why they make much better alternatives to Patong.
I stayed first at Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa, and then moved over to Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort and thought I’d give you a lowdown on my experience and recommend which one would suit your needs better.
Where are Surin and Karon located in Phuket?
Both Surin and Karon are on the west side of Phuket (sunsets galore!) and Surin is somewhere in the middle of the island, while Karon is closer to the south from Patong.
From Phuket International Airport (HKT) in the north, it takes about half an hour to drive down to Surin, and about an hour to get to Karon along some hilly roads. Leave yourself some buffer time if you are travelling during peak hours as the roads can get pretty jammed and there aren’t many alternative smaller roads to escape on to.
Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort Review
First I checked out the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and was immediately impressed because I’d taken a rather early flight from Singapore and arrived in Phuket about 10am and the hotel had thoughtfully packed a to-go breakfast for me as we took the hour-long drive to get from the airport to Karon.
The Room – Plunge Pool Suite
I was upgraded to a very comfortable Plunge Pool Suite which came equipped with a large bedroom, living room and a ginormous toilet. There was also a very spacious deck with ample outdoor seating and our very own plunge pool at the doorstep of the bedroom. There’s more than enough space for two people, and can comfortably fit a small family.
I had a really comfortable stay, but the only thing I wished for in this room was somewhere to hang my wet stuff – oddly enough I couldn’t find any washing lines or a rack to hang my bikinis out to dry.
The Resort – family friendly and spacious
The Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort is perfect for pool lovers and those who don’t plan to leave the resort grounds because they have not one, not two, but THREE pools that you can hang out at. The main pool is the busiest of course, while the oasis pool is usually less crowded, and kids have a fun slide up at the kid’s pool which is right outside the kid’s club area.
The resort is great for families from the kids club to the various facilities available around the resort and some really cute rooms with kids furniture, but there’s enough room so you don’t feel like you’re in some sort of kids theme park. Check out the Phuket Family Resort Promotion that they are running for more info.
The hotel food is surprisingly continental – if you’re looking for proper Thai food, there’s a much cheaper and wider selection outside the hotel, but if you rather not leave the resort and have a nice sit-down dinner, there are several options on site. Ocean’s Italian Seafood Restaurant specialises in pastas and Joe Kool’s grill serves up more casual dining. Sports fans can check out Champions Sports Bar to catch up on the latest footie matches at night.
We were treated to the Fire and Ice Dining Experience which was a fusion meal with 4 courses of food that were all lit on fire at some point in the meal. We started with a capirinha complete with burning shot of rum, followed by ‘Molotov sushi’, a row of salmon sushi that was lightly seared in front of us, and then a ‘Flame burger’ that you can pink to your taste, and followed up by a flaming chocolate fondue. We were so stuffed!
We were also treated to a relaxing hour at the resort’s in-house In Balance Spa doing an aromatherapy massage. The spa is tucked away in a quiet corner of the resort and we had a pretty nice room. I was just happy to get a massage after a long time.
Around the Karon area
Karon Beach is right across the road from the resort – there’s a crossing guard to ensure you get across this rather busy road safely – but it’s super convenient and it’s a quieter end of Karon Beach so it’s not as crowded. Come for the sunsets of course, and unlike Mai Khao where the seas tend to be rougher, these waters were pretty good for swimming in.
The resort restaurants cater towards a more western palate, so we wandered around the Karon area in search of Thai food – there are plenty of restaurants and bars within 10-15 mins walk of the resort. There is a seafood shack right in front of the resort along the beach, and there is another stretch of restaurants near the reservoir, but if you are looking to save money, consider walking towards the roundabout and down busy Patak Road instead – the menu prices here are cheaper than those along the beachfront.
Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort
I also spent a little time at the Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort and while many of the property’s facilities are the same (same spa, restaurants…), there is quite a different vibe to the resort because of the way it is laid out. It’s less spread out and feels a lot more compact compared to the Karon Resort, though that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The Room – Suite Poolside Terrace
We were upgraded to a swanky Poolside Terrace Suite room, which had a large bedroom as well as a living room area complete with a balcony and our very own deckchairs. What I liked was that because we were on the first floor, it was very easy for us to walk to the pool area, though I kinda wish the balcony doors had keycard access which would have made it even easier to just pop back into the room.
The resort is built such that there is one large pool right in the center of the resort so practically all the rooms have a pool view of sorts. Recently completed room renovations meant that all the rooms were nice and new.
The Resort – Perfect for families
The main feature is the large snaking pool right in the center of the resort, and there are many different corners of the pool you can soak in so it never does feel too crowded. I like the shady trees right in the center that give it a very tropical feel, and it looks especially magical at night when it is all lit up.
Compared to the Karon Resort, there are less restaurants and shops within easy walking distance here, so there are more shops that you can find in the resort itself. The lobby has a convenience store, toy shop and even an ice cream shop called Wow Cow so you don’t have to leave the resort for the little things.
For families with kids, there are plenty of options available here – you can easily spend most of your holiday in the resort without getting too bored. The Siam Adventure Club has activities for children and teens, and even organises day tours to Phuket’s attractions for when you want to get out of the resort without having to go through the hassle of sourcing your own tours. Also spotted: a small arcade room and a cinema with screenings of popular movies .
And of course for stressed parents – right above the gym is the In Balance Spa where I got myself a relaxing Thai massage to cap off my trip to Phuket.
Around the Surin Area
The Novotel Surin Resort is on a quiet stretch off the busy main road so crossing the road is a little less precarious here, and the beach is right across the road. White sands and blue waters, it’s a perfect suntanning spot.
So which resort is for you? Both resorts are family-oriented and suitable for families and have great locations in less touristy spots, but if you want a bit more space and quiet, I think the Novotel Phuket Resort Karon offers more options by virtue of its larger property area. For those worried about their kids getting bored, Novotel Phuket Resort Surin offers more variety of activities on site to keep them entertained. Check out the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa, and Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort websites for more information.
Which Novotel Phuket Resort sounds more enticing to you? Drop me a note here if you have any questions and I’ll try to answer them.
This trip and hotel stay was sponsored by Novotel Phuket Resort