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Hotel Review: The Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

For first timers to Thailand like us, the Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort is a great place to stay. The 4-star resort is a short walk from Surin Beach, a quiet beach area about 25 minutes from Phuket airport.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

The resort is large without feeling overwhelmingly huge – it’s big enough to have a lot of great facilities, but small enough to get to know the staff and for them to learn our names.

The 254 rooms, ranging from standard rooms to two-bedroom suites, are airy and light, with polished wooden floorboards, tea and coffee making equipment, mini fridges, flat-screens and free WiFi.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

We arrive after a long flight from Sydney, extremely tired and ready to lie down. The staff meet us at the lobby with friendly, welcoming smiles, a special welcome drink and the sweetest smelling flower bracelets. It’s clear from the start that the caring staff at the Surin Beach Resort will do anything they can to make our stay happy and memorable.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

In our rooms await surprises that make us forget our exhaustion. Adorable towel animals on the beds, pastries to revive us and a little surprise for Cheese to excite her about the activities that await her the following day.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

Our room is huge – so much space for our luggage, and then even more for us to all spread out. We have a poolside terrace suite that has direct pool access and a sitting area that doubles as a second bedroom. It’s light and bright and has very powerful air conditioning.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort
Photo © Matt Burns http://www.southeastasiaimages.com S.E.A Images Co Ltd

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

While we have the option of dining at one of the hotel restaurants, we order from the 24-hour room service menu because we are too tired leave our room.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

We are up before sunrise the next morning and are the first to the breakfast buffet. It’s an incredible spread that includes food of various ethnicities – something to make everyone feel at home.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

We sample dishes from every table. The “Popcake” mini pancake machine is a favourite with my daughter, while I love the fresh fruit, yoghurt and eggs. Alec tries the Asian breakfast options and loves the noodle soup, and we all try the donuts (who can resist?!).

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

Since we’re done with breakfast by 7:30am, the pool is the next stop. We spend almost five hours straight in the various pools, swimming, playing and enjoying the slides. The pools are just gorgeous – large enough to accomodate lots of people without feeling crowded, and of varying depths so kids of all ages can find an area suitable for them and their swimming abilities. While there is no actual shade cover, the plants surrounding the pools throw plenty of shade so we never feel too hot.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

We are supremely waterlogged after the morning and we take Cheese in the afternoon to the kids’ club, called Kids’ World, for activities that don’t involve getting wet. The staff are delightful, incredibly sweet ladies who are very accomodating and help us find fun things to do.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

There are scheduled activities hourly every day for kids to enjoy, and we try nail painting (Cheese gets cupcakes painted on her nails) and then painting on what I think was rice paper, which was our favourite.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

The facilities include an area with computers and games, a TV room with bean bags to relax in, and a large upstairs section with a ball room, soft play area and craft tables. Kids can be dropped off at the kids’ club, or parents can accompany their kids to play and relax together.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

While Cheese and her dad continue to play games at the kids’ club, I take a well-earned break at Breathe, the spa facilities at the resort. I choose a 90 minute relaxation massage that is such heaven that the time just races by (900TBH or $33 AUD). It’s completely affordable bliss and I wish it would last forever!

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

We stay three nights in total at the Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort, and during our stay we enjoy dining at their main restaurant, Asia Alive. The head chef, Jason, is a friendly American who is happy to chat about the local dishes, and is especially accomodating to vegetarians, which I highly appreciated.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

On our last night we enjoy delicious two-for-one Mai Tais at happy hour while Cheese watches a Barbie movie in the kids’ entertainment area next to the bar, followed by divine local dishes at the restaurant – spring rolls, deep fried corn fritters, Pad Thai and a beef and asparagus dish that had my husband swooning.
Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

Cheese chooses a Pokemon-themed dish that was a cleverly disguised plain pasta noodles and tomato sauce with parmesan cheese on the side, and was presented with an incredible dessert that looks like a monkey.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

Other dining options include the Champion Bar & Grill (which serves American-style food like burgers and has a pool table that we can’t keep Cheese away from), and the Board Walk Pool Bar, which has a great range of light meal options great for lunch and afternoon hunger attacks.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

If you desperately need something light or sweet to keep you going, there is also the food store in the lobby, which serves pastries, salads and other take away food, plus has a variety of toiletries for sale that travellers usually forget to pack.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

The Novotel hotels pride themselves on being family-friendly, and this Novotel was no exception. For 299THB per child per day ($11AUD), kids at the resort can enjoy an all-inclusive kids’ menu, smoothies and soft drinks, a welcome surprise and daily treats (we found milk and cookies to wish us sweet dreams one night!), kids’ club and in-room kids’ movies and daily kids’ activities at the hotel including handkerchief batik painting, jelly candle making, photo frame making, hair braiding and bracelet making.

While a lot of guests enjoy staying at the resort and don’t feel the need to go anywhere else, the resort offers a free daily shuttle to Patong, the largest area for dining, shopping and entertainment – one round trip per day with pick up at 11am and return at 4pm (Advance reservation is recommended).

Surin Beach, Phuket

If you want to get some beach action, Surin Beach, across the road from the resort, is a very quiet spot with stunning clear water and soft sand. It’s too dangerous to swim while we are there, unfortunately, due to the large waves, but it’s still a gorgeous, quiet spot.

If you’re after a quiet taste of Thailand, with plenty of amenities and at an affordable price, then the Novotel Phuket Surin Resort can’t be beat.

Our stay was over far too quickly, and we were sad to leave such a friendly and welcoming resort.

When to visit Thailand:
We visited Phuket at the end of monsoon season (early October), and did experience quite a lot of rain. The rain was mostly in the mornings and late afternoon/evening, however, so there was still enough of the day that was try to get out and enjoy.

What to pack:
Mosquito repellant
Sunscreen
Loose, light layers that offer additional sun protection and also cover knees and shoulders if you are planning on visiting any of the temples.
Hat, swimmers, sunglasses, goggles

Thinking of visiting the Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort? See their current promotional offers here.

Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort
106/27 Moo 3, Cherngtalay, Talang, Surin Beach, 83100 Phuket, Thailand
PHONE +66 76 303 300 FAX +66 76 300 303
E-mail : info@novotelphuketsurin.com
novotelphuketsurin.com

Thank you to the Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort for hosting our stay. All opinions are my own. Additional images thanks to the Novotel.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Phuket Day Trips: Kayaking in Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

Phang Nga is a shallow bay spanning 400 km² in the Strait of Malacca, between the island of Phuket and the mainland of the Malay peninsula of southern Thailand. A large section of the bay has been protected as the Ao Phang Nga National Park since 1981.

Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

While many visitors know this area as “the place with the James Bond Island” there are actually 42 islands in the bay, many of which are more spectacular than the movie set location and well-worth visiting.

Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

We discovered geological formations that awe awe inspiring: soaring limestone cliffs, secret caves, forested wetlands, mangroves and wildlife galore. Mudskippers, fruit bats, fiddler crabs, monkeys, kingfishers and sea eagles were just some of the wildlife we encountered during our day at sea.

Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

In order to see this beautiful part of the world, a boat is obviously required. We chose the highly rated tour group Two Sea Tours – a company unique in this particular tour with their extremely early departure time. The majority of tour groups leave mid morning and all arrive at the same locations at the same time, making them crowded. In contrast, we were picked up at our hotel at 5:30am. By 6:30am we were speeding through the emerald-green waters, watching the sun rise.

Two Sea Tour owners Mam and Philippe both have extensive experience in the travel industry – which is evident in their very-well thought out tour of Phang Nga Bay. While the boat is registered for 55 passengers, the maximium they will take out at a time is 16, so the boat and also the stops on the way, are never crowded.

Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

Our first stop was Panak Island, where we canoed with our guide, Suk, a local Thai national, through caves filled with fruit bats to an internal lagoon. The silence in the lagoon hung like a mist on us – to say you could hear a pin drop would be an understatement.

Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

In hushed awe we paddled through the lagoon, each wondering, “Are we on a film set? A new Jurassic Park movie, perhaps? How was it possible that such a stunning and solitary place on Earth existed?”. With mud skippers flapping in the shallow water around us, and a brightly coloured fiddler crap marching among them, it felt like we had jumped back into a time from long ago.

Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

The second stop on our sea kayaking adventure was Hong Island, kayaking past the spectacular limestone karsts that jut vertically out of the water into another private lagoon. Our private paradise was occasionally disturbed by the odd person or two with a private boat, but we pretty much had the bay to ourselves.

Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

Stop number three was Khao Ping Gan, also known as “James Bond Island”. The famous rock, Koh Tapu, only briefly featured in the 1974 film, The Man with the Golden Gun, but it was long enough to attract a steady influx of daily visitors ever since.

Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

A quick walk around the island is long enough to spend there, and within half an hour we are speeding off again on our boat, enjoying a delicious, freshly cooked Thai buffet lunch, on the way to our last stop for the day, Lawa Island.

Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

Lawa Island is a tiny, remote island jutting out in the bay with a private sandy beach for us. We spend a peaceful hour swimming, canoeing and watching a wild monkey stalk his way up and down the beach in search of snacks.

Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

We are back at our hotel at around 2:30pm, tired from our early start, but with eyes full of the breathtaking scenery we witnessed during our day.

What memories to be made, indeed.

This is Thailand as we had hoped to find it – a small slice of paradise leaving us speechless with wonder.

Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

More info:
We booked our tour directly through Two Sea Tours twoseatour.com.

Fresh fruits, snacks, pastries, cookies, soft drinks and water were provided (free) all day.

If giving a tip (and we recommend that you do), the suggested amount is around 200 to 500 baht with a minimum of 100 baht.

Tour price: for 2 adults and one child in one canoe, 10,400 TBH ($390AUD)

Where to stay:
In Phuket we stayed at the Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort for three nights, and the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa for three nights. The tour picks up from both hotels.

Thanks to Two Sea Tours for use of the additional pics.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

When choosing a Phuket hotel to relax and indulge with the family, the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa is an ideal choice.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

This beautiful Phuket resort has a fantastic location for travellers wanting to be close to tourist attractions such as the Big Buddha, but far enough away to feel like you’re staying in a small village. Really, it’s the best of both worlds.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

The Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa is about an hours drive from Phuket airport, 10 minutes from Patong, and directly across the road from gorgeous Karon Beach. The low-rise resort sprawls around three pools, with a distinctly jungle-feel to it thanks to all of the gorgeous plant life.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

Our Plunge Pool Suite was just divine. We had a main bedroom with a king bed plus tent for the little one to play in, overlooking our own private plunge pool. Swoon.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

The connecting living area had a rollaway bed for the kiddo to sleep in, but she often ended up sleeping in the big bed with us.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

The little details told us loud and clear that families were incredibly welcome at the resort. The tent in our bedroom was filled with toys for our daughter to play with, she found a little treat on arrival and discovered a scavenger hunt trail to get her busy around the resort.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

Phuket is crazy hot when we visited, so the powerful air conditioning was very welcome! Our room also featured a massive bathtub, rain shower, free wifi and tea and coffee making facilities.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

Each morning of our three-night stay we enjoyed breakfast at the Horizon Cafe, where a buffet served up Asian and international cuisine.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

My fave was the omelette station, but I also couldn’t resist the pancake machine. There was a wide variety of food to try: pastries, bread, brioche, muffins, yogurts, cereals, fruits, salad, cheese, pancakes, crepes, sushis, congee, stir fried noodles, fried rice … there wasn’t enough time to try it all.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

The resort has five restaurants including the Horizon Cafe. During the day, we enjoyed lunch at Joe Kool’s Poolside Grill, where our choices include traditional Asian cuisine or more Western fare – perfect for fussy little eaters like our daughter.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

One evening, we indulged in a fancy dinner at TAi restaurant, where we were served upmarket, traditional Thai cuisine.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

While the husband and I love all the Thai food our fussy daughter is happy to dine on fish and chips, pasta and very cheesy pizza.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

We dined almost every meal at the resort and thought the prices were extremely reasonable. An average adult meal would cost around 250THB (around $10AUD), and we were extremely happy with the quality of the food, as well as of the resort itself.

As you can’t drink tap water in Thailand, the hotel provides plenty of complimentary bottled water in the rooms every day. If you dine at any of the restaurants, however, and ask for water, you’ll be charged 45THB for it. A small amount, but you can also just carry the bottles from your room around with you for free.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

There are three gorgeous pools to keep visitors cool. The main pool, the Lagoon, has a swim up bar and fun activities during the day such as the “walking on water” blow up balls, or water volleyball.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

The Oasis Pool is quiet, set in a secluded area with a jacuzzi.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

Lastly there is the Kids’ Pool, where a twisting waterslide and mushroom shower have been built to entertain the little ones. The slide is sadly closed for renovation, but the pool is so shallow that it’s still a fave.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

When the heat gets too much, there is the fantastic kids’ club, Kids World, to provide entertainment.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

Parents are welcome to join their kids, or drop them off if they are over four years of age.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

Daily scheduled activities run to keep kids amused, such as umbrella painting, fan painting and pop up card making – or kids can just play with the toys, take time out watching a movie and play video games (this was a huge hit with the dads!).

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

Kids who enjoy cooking can try a pizza making class. We’ve been cooking a lot at home so this was a fun activity to try. Cheese made her own pizza from kneading the dough to putting on the toppings, placing it in the oven, and then, of course, eating it when it was done.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

The Novotel hotels pride themselves on being family-friendly, and this Novotel was no exception. For 299THB per child per day ($11AUD), kids at the resort can enjoy an all-inclusive kids’ menu, smoothies and soft drinks, a welcome surprise and daily treats, kids’ club, in-room kids’ movies, and daily kids’ activities at Kids World.

We found this to be a particularly good deal as it would cover our daughter’s lunch and dinner plus any snacks/drinks she wanted during the day.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

It’s not a relaxing holiday without a visit to the spa, and the Novotel’s In Balance Spa was just what I needed. After choosing my oil from one of five “scents” (I went with relaxing lavender) my 90-minute stress relief massage flew by. At 1600 TBH ($60AUD) it’s an incredibly reasonable deal.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

Our stay at the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa was over way too quickly. It’s such a gorgeous spot with so much to do that it’s easy to see why so many families with little kids come to enjoy themselves and never leave the resort! If you do, however, feel like exploring there’s plenty to see.

Places of note nearby:

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Wat Suwan Khirikhet

Karon Night Markets

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa
Karon Beach (with playground)

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa
Karon village

Patong is a short car or shuttle away

Big Buddha, Phuket, Thailand

Big Buddha (depending on traffic, 15-30 minutes drive)

Old Phuket Town, Thailand

Old Phuket Town (30 minute drive)

We rented a car through the hotel to take us to Big Buddha and Old Phuket Town. The cost was 700THB per hour, with a minimum of three hours required for booking, and the fourth hour free.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

When to visit Thailand:
We visited Phuket at the end of monsoon season (early October), and did experience quite a lot of rain. The rain was mostly in the mornings and late afternoon/evening, however, so there was still enough of the day that was try to get out and enjoy.

What to pack:
Mosquito repellant
Sunscreen
Loose, light layers that offer additional sun protection and also cover knees and shoulders if you are planning on visiting any of the temples.
Hat, swimmers, sunglasses, goggles

Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa
568 Patak Road, Karon, Muang Phuket, Phuket 83100
Tel: +66 (0) 76 358 666
Fax +66 (0) 76 358 645
E-mail: H8825-RE@accor.com
Website: novotelphuketkaron.com

Thinking of staying at the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa? They are currently offering this this half board promotion.

Thank you to the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa for hosting our stay. All opinions are my own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at Epcot’s Royal Sommerhus

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

The brand new Royal Sommerhus has opened at Epcot in Walt Disney World as a permanent home for the Anna and Elsa meet and greet.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

We visited the Royal Sommerhus five days after it opened, and perhaps because it hadn’t been advertised or promoted anywhere that we saw, it was really quiet, especially compared to the Mickey and Friends character meet and greet, which had a very long line and a 25 minute wait.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

Expecting a long line like we found in Disneyland on our last visit, we bolted to the Royal Sommerhus as soon as the gates opened, and found … a 10 minute wait at 9:15 am. We walked past the house several times during the day and the wait time was never over 10 minutes, making it officially the fastest place to meet Anna and Elsa out of Disneyland, Walt Disney World and Disney Cruises.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

The Royal Sommerhus is located between Mexico and Norway in the World Showcase section at Epcot in WDW, just before the new ride, Frozen Ever After. The house is set up to appear like Anna and Elsa’s home. The queue to meet the characters winds through the house, past their bookshelves, lounge, fireplace and staircase. The attention to detail is amazing.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

The meet and greet takes place at the end of the walk through the house, with seperate sections to meet each character.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

Anna was first when we visited, and then Elsa.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

Each character spoke with Cheese briefly and then posted for pictures, both for the Disney official photographer, and also for me. While there is no pressure to buy the photos and you can absolutely take your own, I like to take photos on my own camera and also have the photographer take a few, so at the end of the day if mine don’t work out I have a back up in the Disney photographer’s images so I always get a great pic.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

At the end of the meet and greet guests are ushered into the very well stocked gift shop, filled with Frozen merchandise.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Our time at Disneyland was magical! My almost five-year-old and I spent a wonderful day-and-a-half at the park and it just wasn’t enough time. While we loved pretty much everything about the experience, we had to have our favourite rides and experiences, right? Here they are, through a mix of photos from our last trip as well as our time at Disneyland in 2014:

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland ride: Mad Tea Party
So much fun we went on it over and over and over again.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Kind Arthur’s Carousel
It’s a gorgeous carousel and rarely has a queue.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Dumbo The Flying Elephant
This is just fun. Best to visit in the morning when the lines are short.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Character meet and greets
Ask at guest services for a schedule of character meet and greets so you’re always the first one there.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Tomorrow land: Jedi training: The Trials of the Temple
My daughter still talks about defeating Darth Vader. Read about our experience here.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Tomorrow land: Buzz Lightyear ride
We went on this ride so many times. My daughter loved the laser gun that you use to shoot targets.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Absolutely favourite of my daughter’s. Read about our experience here.

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Mickey’s Toontown photo opps
While there are cool rides in Toontown, my daughter loved all of the pretend “toon” things she could climb on.

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Fantasyland: Cinderella’s castle
Enchanting – an absolute must to walk through.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Tomorrowland rides: Star Tours and Space Mountain
A bit scary for little ones perhaps, but we did them anyway and survived to tell the tale.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Frontierland: Jungle Cruise & Tarzan’s Tree House
Easy fun for little ones.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Minnie & Friends Character Breakfast at the Plaza Inn
The only place to meet characters like Winnie The Pooh, Chip & Dale and Eeyore. Book in advance.

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Fantasyland: Meet princesses at the Royal Hall
A must for any princess-lovers! Meet four princess in the one hall.

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Must-see – Mickey’s Soundsational Parade
See all your fave Disney characters.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Meet Tinkerbell in Pixie Hollow
Walk through a replica of Pixie Hollow, meeting Tinkerbell and friends.

Get tips on planning the perfect Disneyland trip here.

What are your Disneyland highlights?

 

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

The hot ticket at Disney California Adventure Park this year is the brand new stage show, Frozen – Live at the Hyperion.

The show is exactly what you would imagine it to be: a very closely followed adaptation of the movie Frozen, performed live on stage by excellent performers on some seriously stunning staging.

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The show is one hour in duration (the movie is 1 hr 49 minutes) and as a result there are small cuts in places – a few minor characters are either missing or have their parts shortened significantly, but the changes I noticed the most were to take away anything remotely “scary”.

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As a result, the show is billed as “suitable for all ages” – and I have to agree, it was extremely mild and even my scaredy cat Cheese who refuses to see the movie at the moment because she deems it “too scary”, didn’t find a single moment of the show anything other than thoroughly entertaining.

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As per all of Disney’s productions, Frozen – Live At The Hyperion is of the highest standard. I was particularly impressed with their Elsa, considering the difficulty of the song Let It Go, (which she nailed, by the way).

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The set design for the show is incredibly impressive, particularly the scenes from the sisters’ childhood, where the props are made larger than usual to make the “child” Anna and Elsa really look small, even though they are played by adults.

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Even with the show significantly shortened from the original movie, it seemed a perfect length, with all the major songs and moments covered beautifully. It was also a great length for all of the small children in the audience, who were happily belting out the lyrics to each number and wiggling joyfully throughout the show.

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Tips on how to see the show:

 

As the show is so popular, I advise getting tickets using the Disney FASTPASS Service, which provides first-come, first-served tickets to same day Frozen – Live at the Hyperion shows.

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Tickets are available when the park opens at the Disney FASTPASS Service machines located to the left of the Hyperion Theater. Tickets are distributed for the first show of the day via the machine until all the tickets run out. After the first show is sold out, tickets for the second show are made available, and so forth. Guests are not able to choose a specific time show.

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At the FASTPASS machine, insert your park admission ticket and you will be given a Disney FASTPASS ticket printed with your Frozen – Live at the Hyperion showtime and recommended arrival time. Pay attention to the suggested time and turn up as early as possible. My ticket suggested I arrive 40 minutes before the show started. We arrived 30 minutes before showtime and we were among the last people seated at the end of the queue.

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If you have a stroller with you, be very aware of where it is parked when you go into the show. Our stroller was taken from us and parked by a Disney cast member and we didn’t see where it was taken. As a result, at the end of the show it took us a very long time to search for our stroller among a sea of about a hundred or so.

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Get more information on Frozen – Live At The Hyperion and the latest show times here

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Meet Anna & Elsa at Disney California Adventure Park

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

The Frozen sisters have found a permanent home in California Adventure Park’s Hollywood Land. The meet and greet isn’t anywhere near as crazy popular as it was when we visited two years ago. Back then, if you didn’t get to the link as soon as the park opened you were in for an all-day wait.

This time, we did the rounds in the morning to get FastPasses for our fave rides and then came back to meet the sisters. Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome is located deep inside the Animation Academy within the Disney California Adventure Park.

From the outside, it’s unclear that this is even the place to meed the Frozen duo as there are no clear signs that say so.  We asked a helpful Disney cast member outside who confirmed that this was the place and pointed where to go.

The Animation Academy has several experiences inside, just one of which is the Anna and Elsa Royal Welcome. it’s a huge space with Disney films playing all over the walls, which makes waiting to meet the sisters much more palatable. The queue wasn’t too bad – maybe 10 people before us, and we waited in total about 30 minutes to meet the pair.

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

Anna and Elsa share an Arandelle-themed room in the Animation Academy for meeting their royal guests. I really think the pair are best as a dual act – they play off each other, make witty jokes, and in general are so much fun when they’re experienced together.

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

The princess and queen really took their time talking to Cheese. They wanted to know all about her kingdom and commented on her beautiful hair.

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

After the meet and greet, with Frozen stars in our eyes, we head off to the new show, Frozen – Live that is now playing at the Hyperion Theatre next door. If you have an avid artist on your hands, drop by the Royal Academy (it’s tucked inside the Animation Academy) where a real-life artist is on hand to teach you how to sketch characters like Olaf and Marshmallow.

Get more information about Frozen experiences at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park here.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

British Virgin Islands: The Baths & Devil’s Bay On Virgin Gorda

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The beautiful Virgin Gorda, second-largest of the British Virgin islands, is a popular day trip for cruise ships stopping in Tortola. The “plump” shape of the island reminded Christopher Columbus of a reclining woman, or a “Fat Virgin,” which inspired the rather interesting name.

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Virgin Gorda has a population of around 3000 people, including celebrities like Morgan Freeman and Richard Branson. A glimpse at the pristine beauty of the island and it’s easy to see why. White sand beaches, crystal blue ocean and a slow way of life are draw cards for those wanting a relaxing vacation or a complete sea change.

A Tour of The Baths is a popular way to see one of the area’s must-see sights – The Baths. Many cruise ships, including the Disney Cruise Line’s 7-Night Eastern Caribbean include this as a port of call option for an additional fee.

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To get to The Baths from Tortola, the main port of call where cruise ships dock, it’s possible to go on the cheap and take the local ferry, but I would advise to just pay the bit extra to have the entire trip organised for you so there is zero stress involved. It’s quite a way from where the ferry lands on Virgin Gorda to The Baths and not much in the way of public or private transport options.

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The half-day tour to Virgin Gorda begins with a scenic 40-minute cruise along the Sir Francis Drake Channel to Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda. Open-air safari buses await the cruise boat, ready to take its passengers on the short 20-minute drive through Spanish Town to an outlook over Savannah Bay for a photo stop.

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It’s only a short drive further to the Top of the Baths, where a local tour guide meets the group and leads us down to The Baths. The path is somewhat rocky but doesn’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes, and is easy enough for my 4.5 year old to walk on her own.

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The spectacularly beautiful Baths lies at the bottom of the path. There are waves to swim, boulders to climb and beaches to laze on. Paradise.

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We journey further through narrow caves and water-filled grottos to find the pristine waters of Devil’s Bay on the other side.

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British Virgin Islands: The Baths & Devil's Bay On Virgin Gorda via christineknight.me

This stunning beach is perfect for families with its gentle waves and soft sand.

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The tour ends with a retracing of our steps. Back up to the car park, back on the safari buses, back onto the cruise boat, which speeds us back to our ship, just in time for lunch.

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Tour To Virgin Gorda Tips
*Wear comfortable walking shoes as the path to The Baths is rough and uneven.
*Recommended age for the tour is 5 and up. Our 4.5 year old had no problem with the walk or the climb through the caves.
*Take plenty of drink bottles with water. Food from the ship is not allowed off the boat (such as fruit) so eat a hearty breakfast. We did take packaged crackers that we had taken aboard with us and were very grateful we did when our daughter badly needed food and there was nowhere to buy any.
*While our tour notes said a beverage (water, soda or fruit juice) is included, we were served the beverage on the cruise boat back to the ship at the very end of the tour, so taking lots of water is crucial.
*Additional food and drinks can be purchased at the Top of The Baths restaurant.
*Bathrooms/changing facilities and lockers are available at the beach; however, Guests are encouraged to wear a swimsuit underneath their clothes if wishing to swim at the beach as there are limited bathrooms and a long line to use them.
*Bring credit cards or cash for optional extras such as souvenirs.
*Pack a swim suit, sunscreen, sunglasses, additional clothing, hats, cameras, backpacks and towels.
*After swimming in the salty beach water you’ll want to rinse off – which was a problem when we visited as there was no running tap to use and we had to use the rest of our drinking water.

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More info on the Tour to Virgin Gorda here

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

A Disney Cruise Port of Call: Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure

Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure Caribbean via christineknight.me Castaway Cay is a private island in the Bahamas reserved exclusively for Disney Cruise Line (DCL) guests on Bahamian and Caribbean cruises.

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Because the island is only used by guests debarking from the Disney boats, it’s possible to enjoy a fun-filled day without spending an extra cent.

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Many of the amenities on the island are FOC for DCL guests, such as tram transport to the different parts of the island, a full buffet lunch and beverage station, several gorgeous beaches, character meet and greets, child care for kids aged 3-12 at Scuttle’s Cove and the two water play areas, Pelican Plunge (more below) and Spring-a-leak, which we didn’t find on our day at Castaway Cove. Don’t have kids? Adults can enjoy Serenity Cove, the 18+ area on the island.

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There is so much to do on this island, particularly for families, that many guests say it’s their fave place to stop even on repeat cruises.

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Castaway Cay Stingray Adventure

On our Castaway Cay day we booked into the Castaway Cay Stingray Adventure, suitable for guests aged 5 and up. Despite Cheese being not quite 5, it was fine for her to join us.

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We checked into Ray’s Stingray Hut straight off the boat and were given a very quick run down by the crew on how to put on our gear (lifejackets and snorkel equipment) and told the rules of how to handle the stingrays during the feeding, which was the first part of the adventure.

Into the water, we gathered around platforms thigh-deep in water and held pieces of slimy fish in our fingers for the stingrays to eat. While we waited for the rays to approach the platform a few of the more curious of the stingrays rubbed against our legs. Don’t worry – the stingrays here to not have stingers, making them completely harmless.

The stingrays caught the scent of food and slid themselves onto the platform to slurp up the food from our fingers, tickling out palms with their rubbery mouths. After the food supply ran out, we donned our snorkels and went for a swim to watch these amazing creatures underwater.

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See our Castaway Cay adventures in the video below at 1:42.

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Castaway Cay Beaches

The majority of people who visit Castaway Cay are content to just relax on the beach and paddle in the soft waves.

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We hired a water tube for some serious floating action. There are several beaches to enjoy, all marked clearly on the island’s map, so while the beaches are busy you’d never guess that a few thousand people were there all at the same time.

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The free tram makes it very easy to get between the beaches, and there are also plenty of shaded deck chairs available for lounging.

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Pelican Plunge

After the free buffet lunch we walked to the Pelican Plunge to check out the water play area.

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It looked a bit scary for our little one, so we contented ourselves with squirting the water guns over the side while watching people climb up and slide down the plunge adjacent.

disney-cruise-castway-cay-62 disney-cruise-castway-cay-58 Castaway Cay & Stingray Adventure Caribbean via christineknight.me

Castaway Cay Tips
*No need to bring a towel – there are plenty of towels available on the island.
*Do bring sunscreen, hat, water shoes/thongs and a refillable water bottle to fill at the free beverage station.
*Head to the buffet either at the beginning or end of service when the queues are shorter.
*Bring some cash if you’re planning on shopping.
*There is occasionally sea lice in the water – you may want to buy some Sea Safe just incase. We didn’t have any problems with the sea lice.
*Head back to the ship early to ride the Aquaduck with zero queues!

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Get more info on Castaway Cay here.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Journey To The Top Of Table Mountain, Cape Town

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A journey up the mountain is a must for any visitor to Cape Town. The flat top peak of the mountain reaches 1,086m above sea level, so you’re guaranteed an incredible view of the entire city from up the top.

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Getting up the top is half the fun! Catch the 360° rotating Table Mountain Cableway to the top of one of the oldest mountains in the world. The rotating cable car enables every person inside to see all view points during the ascent and descent – just keep your hands (and camera!) inside the windows.

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Up the top of Table Mountain there are three easy three easy walking trails, or you can go rouge like the majority of people we saw up there, hopping from rock to rock like mountain goats.

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Look for landmarks such as Robben island, Lion’s Head and the southern Cape – all of which are visible from the top.

Journey To The Top Of Table Mountain via christineknight.me

Table Mountain is home to an incredibly diverse range of plant, animal and insect species, with many of the plant species found nowhere else in the world. The mountain’s vegetation types form part of the Cape Floral Region protected areas, which have been classified as a World Heritage Site.

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More info:

Buy tickets online: http://www.tablemountain.net. Seasonal rates apply, kids under 4 are free.
More info:

Getting around
Use a metered taxi or Uber for taking short trips around Cape Town.

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Where to stay:
While in the Cape Town City Centre, I stayed at the Westin Cape Town Hotel. The hotel is extremely modern, secure, and an easy walking distance to the stunning V & A Waterfront district.

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My room was large and comfortable – with an incredible heated floor! I also enjoyed the hotel’s free wifi and helpful staff who gave us a plenty of assistance in getting around the city.

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The daily buffet breakfast at the Westin was excellent, particularly the fresh fruit and yoghurts and omelette station.
More info: westincapetown.com

More info on my stay
I visited South Africa as part of the Australian Society Of Travel Writers’ annual general gathering. While my trip was supported by South Africa Tourism Australia, all opinions are my own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.