Posted by Cris on | September 14, 2011 | No Comments
If your kid is allergic to fish and nuts, Phuket might not seem like a logical holiday destination. Thai food makes heavy use of both ingredients; there’s fish and nuts in every kitchen in town. But that’s no reason to pass on this otherwise great vacation spot. One safe way to holiday in the land of smiles: get a suite with a kitchenette, so you can cook your child’s food.
My family took our first ‘groupon’ holiday to Serenity Resort & Residences, which is located on the east side of Phuket island, just 20 minutes from Phuket town. I booked the holiday because the deal was great, but then kind of forgot the details. I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived: we had the garden view suite, but it still had decent slice of sea view. The room had a very large living area, a big balcony– and a fully-kitted out kitchen, too.
My son, The Bean, has an egg allergy that we managed by ordering restaurant food that we know is egg free, like rice-based meals or spag bolognaise. But Vicky’s son CJ has nut and fish allergies, and I immediately thought of them both when we checked into the room. You could easily whip up quick meals for the kids in this place, then order your own food from the restaurant and dine al-fresco on the balcony. The hotel’s restaurant is by the sea and overlooks the pool, too – so if your kids are older, you could ‘eat out’ at the restaurant while they swim or play by the sea. And if cooking yourself sounds like too much work for a holiday, Serenity offers a choice of multi-course meals cooked in your suite by one of the chefs. The charge for an in-room cook is around 1,000 baht per meal (SG$42), depending on how long the chef needs to spend in the suite. Well worth it – and a perfect way to relax after a hard day at the beach.
Guests who want to cook for themselves can buy groceries at a small market across the street, or at a shopping centre that’s just 10 minutes away. If guests with severe food allergies call ahead, the hotel can also arrange to provide new plates, cutlery and a pot or pan for their use in the room, to ensure no cross contamination. In the worst event, the hotel is about a 20 minute drive from Phuket International Hospital.
Serenity has accomodated several guests with severe allergies, including nut and fish, before, says Urs Aebi, the hotel’s general manager. The hotel recently catered for a guest with a serious gluten allergy. “We had to run around to buy gluten free products – not easy to find in Phuket, but it can be done!,” says Urs.
Serenity is a small resort that’s quite smart and upscale. I like small: my husband and I get a bit edgy at larger ‘family’ resorts that have that group-package, “National Lampoon vacation” feel.
The pool overlooks the beach, and once the tide starts to ebb, there’s plenty of sand for the kids to play in. The low tide is indeed quite low, leaving a long stretch of puddly sand flats – but I kinda like that. I’m a big fan of mucking through tidal pools, hunting for little sea creatures.
The resort is quite far from Phuket’s main resort areas of Kata, Karon and Patong – which can be a plus or a minus. The downside is there’s none of the ubiquitous street markets that you find in those more developed, touristy places. Frankly, I’ve been there, done that and literally bought all the Thai fisherman pants and t-shirts I need: this was probably my seventh or eighth trip to Phuket. If you’re a newbie, you may want to find something closer to the main tourist drag, so you can shop yourself senseless. Or simply arrange a taxi ride to the street markets, or to some of Phuket’s many strip malls that are well stocked with outlet shops.
We also got some rather fab massages at the hotel’s spa. The spa is open til 11 pm, which makes it easy for parents to ‘trade off’, taking turns once the kids are asleep. One final tip: ask the hotel to arrange a baby seat if you need one. My little one jumped around on my lap during the 45 minute drive from the airport, which is neither safe nor relaxing. We asked for a baby seat on the way back and he snored the entire way.
For more details, see www.serenityphuket.com.