Novotel Phuket Resort Review – Surin or Karon?

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.

But first…

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

Novotel Phuket Karon Entrance Sign
Welcome to Karon

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.

Novotel Phuket Karon Breakfast Car
We had an assortment of pastries and drinks in our car ride 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.

Novotel Phuket Karon Room Bed
A very large bedroom
Novotel Phuket Karon Room Bed Welcome
I love towel elephants and a cheery welcome
Novotel Phuket Karon Room Living
The living room and couch that can be converted into more bedspace
Novotel Phuket Karon Room Plunge Deck
Peeking out from the bedroom to the personal plunge pool (with jacuzzi! but the water isn’t heated though…) and the lounge deck. The plunge pools at the suites aren’t particularly private as you can see people walking by in the main corridors, but there are rooms where the pools are more enclosed
Novotel Phuket Karon Room Plunge Fruit
View from the pool – we were given complimentary fruits and macarons as part of the turndown service
Novotel Phuket Karon Room Toilet
The toilet was absolutely ginormous – there’s a large shower stall to the right side of the bathtub

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.

Novotel Phuket Karon Pool Beer
Enjoying a beer at the pool bar.
Novotel Phuket Karon Pool Bar Calamari
Yum yum calamri from Joe Kool’s
Novotel Phuket Karon Pool Spiderman
Staff dressed as superhero characters pop up around the hotel ever so often to entertain the kids, and this one took kids on a paddle around the pool
Novotel Phuket Karon Pool Oasis
The quieter Oasis Pool near the sports bar
Novotel Phuket Karon Pool Kids
Fun slide at the kid’s pool area as well as a mushroom fountain

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!

Novotel Phuket Karon Dinner Fire Burger
Flame on! The truffle mayo sauce was EXCELLENT

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.

Novotel Phuket Karon Spa Room
Sorry for the crappy pic but it was very pleasantly dim

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. 

Karon Beach Sunset
Sunset on Karon Beach which had great sand and was quite clean
Karon Beach Sunset Jumpshot
Gotta get that jumpshot

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.

Karon Town Street
Patak Road is lined with restaurants on both sides. If you keep walking down, you’ll reach the famous Temple Market which is where I snacked on silkworms once upon a time
Karon Town Wanna Crab
We randomly popped into this place called Wanna Seafood Restaurant and had some excellent local seafood. It’s a pretty small place and we had a pretty late lunch around 3pmish, and the place was perpetually full of people.
Karon Town Up Seafood
Up Seafood is along the Patak Road stretch as well and has a hipster vibe with the ‘distressed’ furniture and decor, but the seafood here was pretty good as well.

Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

Novotel Phuket Surin Entrance
Novotel Phuket Surin Entrance

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.  

Novotel Phuket Surin Room Coconuts
A sweet welcome with fresh coconuts and chocolate covered marshmallows
Novotel Phuket Surin Room Living
The spacious living room with a sofa bed
Novotel Phuket Surin Room Deckchairs
Our personal deckchairs
Novotel Phuket Surin Room Bed
The very spacious bedroom
Novotel Phuket Surin Room Bed Towels
More cute towel elephants welcoming us to our room
Novotel Phuket Surin Room Toilet
The toilet was quite compact, but it had a drying line which was useful for hanging up wet clothes

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.

Novotel Phuket Surin Pool Me
Me wading around in the pool. Not for laps but great for a casual dip
Novotel Phuket Surin Pool Slide
There are 2 slides that both adults and children can go down. I zipped down this one very quickly!
Novotel Phuket Surin Pool Night Slide
Love how it’s all lit up at night
Novotel Phuket Surin Pool Foam Party
There was a foam party happening on the weekend that we were there
Novotel Phuket Surin Pool Restaurant Night
Ocean’s Italian Restaurant is a lovely place for a pool side dinner at night. It looks perfect for a romantic date night

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.

Novotel Phuket Surin Ice Cream Shop
Wow Cow serves ice cream, milkshakes and other yummy desserts
Novotel Phuket Surin Pool Ice Cream
Had to get this shot quick because the ice cream was starting to melt so quickly!
Novotel Phuket Surin Bar Pool Table
We had dinner here at the bar one night, and this pool table was especially popular

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 .

Novotel Phuket Surin Siam Adventure Club
There always seemed to be some sort of activity happening here

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.

Novotel Phuket Surin Spa Room

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. 

Surin Beach Sand
Gleaming white sand
Surin Beach Shacks
There are a bunch of these shacks set up along the beach so you can grab a bite

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.

This trip and hotel stay was sponsored by Novotel Phuket Resort

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. In the meantime, check out more Phuket posts here:

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