Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hotel Review: JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa Stop 3

The JW Marriott Phuket resort is my favorite resort I’ve stayed in.  So far we’ve been there 3 times.  Several things factor into why I love this resort, but the top reason has to be the staff and Thai people in general.

The JW Marriott in Phuket is a short 10-minute drive from the airport and is fairly isolated from the busyness in other parts of Phuket.  It sits on Mai Khoa Beach, which is a gorgeous wide white sand beach that stretches for miles.  We have spent afternoons on the beach and only seen a handful of other beachgoers.  The water is an aqua color and feels like a warm bath.  When the ocean is smooth, you can kayak several hundred meters from shore and still the sandy ocean bottom 30 feet below.    

You can’t help but feel relaxed immediately upon entering the resort.  You approach this resort from a long driveway lined with water features.  The staff greets you with a wonderful smelling lei and a virgin mojito.  The open-air lobby looks out over an infinity edge reflection pool and the ocean.  Some nights, performers dance and play traditional Thai music on platforms over this reflecting pool.

We’ve stayed in both the standard hotel rooms and the Marriott Timeshare units.  The hotel rooms are fairly standard but have beautiful hardwood floors.  There is a lounge area in the room next to a large window that overlooks the beautifully landscaped property.  The bathrooms have both a large shower and tub.  A couple times during our stay we came back to our room to find the bath drawn with fresh orchid petals floating in the water.  The timeshare rooms are 2 bedroom condo style rooms with a gorgeous master bathroom and granite tops in the kitchen.  The timeshare unit was perfect for our family. 

The grounds of the resort are amazing with tons of palms and wild flowers everywhere.  The staff was constantly landscaping with hand tools, which helped keep the ambiance peaceful. 

There are several places to eat on the resort.  You can find cheaper places to eat, but the food on the resort is delicious.  We loved the Thai restaurant.  There is great deli that serves awesome sticky buns.  The Marriott CafĂ© changes out its dinner menu each night and has some awesome buffets. 

The work out area is great.  They often have fresh bananas or exotic fruits lying out to eat.  The locker rooms had awesome steam rooms and hot tubs.  The gym is also where you can book the tennis courts, rent a bike or trade books at the book exchange.

The property has AWESOME pools including one with a waterfall swim up bar.  The beach area has many “toys” you can use for free including kayaks.  Along the beach is a boardwalk with rain showers to rinse off after a swim in the ocean.  But probably the best part of the resort is the hut staffed with a dozen Thai ladies that will give you a 30-minute massage for about $8. 

We love Phuket.  We always do a trip out to the Phi Phi Islands to snorkel and just see the beautiful scenery.  I’ve play golf at Blue Canyon Country Club, which has been home to the Johnny Walker Classic and rated the #1 course in Asia.  Gwen and Katie did a Thai cooking class at the resort and visited local farmers markets to find their ingredients.  We also head down to Patong Beach to haggle at the markets and for Katie to find some cool knock off bags and jeans.  Gwen loved the FantaSea Show.  We’ve also ridden elephants through the jungle. 

If you’re ever looking for a great vacation and the best resort, go to Phuket and stay at the JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa.
Scott and Gwen on Mai Khoa Beach

Mai Khoa Beach

Scott, Katie and Gwen at Patong Beach

Gwen enjoying Patong sunset

Perfect swimming water

Some of the thousands of fish seen snorkeling

Gwen on the beach

Beautiful Phuket Beach

Gwen riding Jumbo


  1. Dear Scott, We love your blog. We also enjoy traveling with our kids and are planning a trip to Asia this summer. We're staying at the JW Marriott in HK and then traveling to Bangkok, then Chiang Mai, then Phuket. We read the reviews on trip advisor and booked the JW Marriott in Phuket. Question - I saw on your review that you stayed in the Vacation Club villas, as well as the hotel. We just booked one of the villas as we have two children, and were wondering where on the property the villas are located. Also, do you know if any of the villas are more preferable than others. We have big kids - 11 and 14 - so walking distances isn't an issue - however we stayed in Costa Rica a couple years back, at a similar resort, and there were definitely differences in the villas. Thanks for any help you can provide - and once again - we love your blog - and your philosophy of traveling, especially traveling with kids.

    1. Thank you so much for the encouraging words. You'll have to let us know how your trip goes. A large reason for putting this blog together was to hopefully get us in touch with other families that enjoy travel so we could share ideas.

      As for the villas, we've stayed at this resort 3 times and it is our absolute favorite resort in the world. Even when we lived in Hawaii, we vacationed in Phuket. There are two villas at the the JW, the Phuket Beach Club and the Mai Khoa Beach Villas. We've only stayed in the Beach Club Villas. They are fully integrated into the JW Resort. You literally are walking past standard hotel rooms, and suddenly you're passing the villas. You are in no way treated like a second class citizen because you're staying in the villas. You get the same excellent treatment that you do if you were a regular hotel guest. Access to the beach, restaurants, shops and just about everything else is as accessible from the villas as from the hotel. If by chance you booked Mai Khoa, they're much newer and very contemporary with private plunge pools. The only downside is that they're not right on the beach and not integrated with a resort and thus lacking restaurants, etc. That said, they are a very short walking distance from the JW and you can use the JW and room charge if staying at Mai Khoa. Do eat at the Thai Restaurant, do get the Thai massage on the beach, do the full day Phi Phi Island tour, do eat some sticky buns at the JW cafe, do get some Thai beef salad poolside, and most important, go out of yourself a little to get to know the staff. Some of our greatest memories of that resort are how great the staff is. It's literally sad for us to leave them after the kindness and love they've shown our kids through the years. I could go on and on...we love this place and hope to go back for Thanksgiving this year. Also, ask for a taxi to take you to a grocery store. There is a very nice and large one by Patong and it's convenient and much cheaper to pick up some items at the store. Plus, it's a real cultural experience to see a grocery store in Thailand with live fish, etc.

      PS, if you have the chance to book the Marriott Apartments in Bangkok, they're very nice!

      Please add yourself as a follower to our site. There are still a lot of locations we're adding. Thanks again for your comments.

  2. Hi Scott-
    I came across your blog from your post on Tripadvisor. Your blog is so informative and helpful. We are an American family of 4 living in London and we love to travel. We are taking our two children (Age 6 and 10) to China and then on to Thailand. We are staying at the JW Marriott Phuket for 6 days of relaxation. I was hoping you could answer a few questions for me. Have you done any tours and if so which companies do you recommend? Also, are there any outings that you would recommend to do on our own? Last question, how do you get from airport to resort (recommended car service)?

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Sounds like an amazing trip you have planned. We have done a couple tours, we do a Phi Phi Island tour every time we go. We've also done a 3 in 1 tour that included riding elephants, going to "James Bond Island" and conoeing. We've also done a seperate elephant riding tour. I really don't remember the names of the tour operators, but we have always just used the conceriege desk. There are generally two employees that just help book tours and we've never been disappointed. They have brochures to show you what each tour does. Phuket is so tourist friendly that the tour companies are very established and first rate. As for outings we do on our own, we usually take a cab into Patong mid afternoon and stay into the evening. I know it sounds strange, but one of our favorite things to do is go to grocery stores in foreign countries because it is such an example of the counrty as a whole. There is a nice one in a shopping center close to Patong that is nice enought that it's not totally shocking but raw enough to see some of the differences. You can shop with street vendors. We just try to leave about an hour after sunset before it gets too wild since we have kids. As to transportation, it's really only about a 10 minute ride from the airport and there are a ton of taxis. Fair is very reasonable and doesn't warrant booking the hotel limo. Have fun and please come back to post anything new that you discovered. We might go back for Thanksgiving.

  3. Thanks for the information Scott. We will book our tours from the hotel and probably do the Phi Phi and the 3 in 1 tour. We will also take your advice and not book the hotel limo for airport transfers. Heading to the market sounds like a good idea and we will probably do that too. Thanks!!

  4. Loved your blog Scott. I think you had a great time at Marriott Phukte resort and spa!

  5. hi dear
    really good research u did on the the best resort and spa i was searching about this and resort and spa finally i got it from you thank you i hope u do like same

  6. Hello - We are trying to decide between booking 2 standard room at the JW Resort in Phuket or a Villa at The Beach. The price for the Villa is around 50% of the 2 rooms (admittedly breakfast is included at the resort). I know you said the facilities are shared etc but surely there is some difference in the offering - does it have it's own reception, will I be bombarded by time share sign up requests. I'm planning for a really terrific break and don't want to make the wrong choice.hope you can help.

    1. Sorry for the really late reply (just got back from a long vacation). I have stayed in both. My answer would be it depends. If you want a little space between you and the other guests, 2 rooms would work fine. If you really like the people you're staying with, the 2 bedroom timeshare unit is my preference. The master bathroom is very nice. If you're renting, you'll still get daily housekeeping. You'll have a washer and dryer. Also, you truly are treated like a normal guest. As for timeshare bombardments, you'll probably get invited once, but we've never experienced that happening more than once during the week we are staying in the unit. Also in regards to a separate check-in, that isn't the case. I hope this helps.

  7. Scott, your travel adventure in Phuket looks awesome, i love all the pictures you took in Mai Khao, you have definitely make the cut for a great travel blog writer, There are a lot of great things to do in Phuketand i am really glad to read your take on it. thank you for sharing this awesome experience with us. reading the rest of your blog now.


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