Our stay at T-Villa Phuket marked the start of our summer extravaganza. We chose the hotel for its proximity to the airport and a recommendation of Nai Yang by a Thai friend. The hotel also appeared to be very good value for money, at around HKD300 per night, including breakfast. If my memory serves me right, booking through Agoda also gave us a few thousand Asia Miles.
Our AirAsia flight from HKG was hideously delayed, and we arrived at HKT at about 2 a.m. The arrivals hall was teeming with half a dozen flights from mainland China, and it was absolute chaos. It was impossible to tell where the lines started and where they were unofficial ones created by mainlanders. When we landed in DMK at Easter, immigration officials were physically pushing a mob of yelling and pushing mainlanders back, which was a really disturbing sight, and it wasn’t far from that the other night at HKT. It was genuinely disturbing and stressful, and I was so, so glad to finally be out of that bloody airport.
We’d organised airport pickup with T-villa and they were there straight after we called to tell them we’d cleared immigration, and from there we were at the hotel in no time. Check-in was efficient and we were quickly escorted to our pool view room, located on the second floor. The room was exactly as pictured on the internet, spacious and clean. There was even a handwritten welcome card from the MD. What a nice touch. Exhausted from our delayed flight, we slept and slept, missing breakfast. No matter, we ordered delicious savoury Thai dishes for room service.
Not long after we woke up, front desk called and informed us that there would be some noise from maintenance next to our room. I was a little irked, since we’d specifically requested a quiet room because we wanted to sleep and just chill out before meeting up with some Thai friends in the evening. However, I quickly realised I was no longer in Hong Kong, where customer service is often severely lacking, as the front desk staff were genuinely apologetic and offered a room upgrade before I could even register my dissatisfaction. Hope could I be angry about that? Glad they were proactive and didn’t wait to see if anyone would complain, which is definitely the way things are handled in HK!
After a decent but unspectacular Thai massage (800 Baht before the 20% off voucher given to us at check-in), we were shown to a couple of pool access rooms and were invited to choose which one we liked best. The pool access rooms are similar to the pool view rooms, but as the name suggests, open onto a deck and the pool. It really is a beautiful concept. Take a look for yourself:
However, this pool access concept, so popular in resorts across Thailand, only works if guests respect others’ personal space and aren’t boorish or uncivilised. When we were using the pool and deck, there were only two other rooms occupied, and the pool is so big that if everyone stuck to their own area, they couldn’t be seen. It’s like having your own private pool! However, on one occasion a mainland Chinese couple decided to get down and dirty right in front of us, only stopping when they were shooed away, while later an extended family bedecked in floaties swam at least 50 metres to our end of the pool and proceeded to yell, scream and splash as if we weren’t there. We were the only two groups in the pool, which is at least 100 metres in length, but it seemed they weren’t satisfied with their own quiet patch 50 metres or so down their end, and had to encroach and spoil our little slice of fun. So blissfully unaware of their uncouth behaviour were they, that they thought it was cute to wave and yell greetings in poor English. In the grand scheme of things, it’s mild, I admit (and if you read about badly behaved Chinese tourists it’s very mild!), but this is during low occupancy with only two other rooms occupied. If all rooms were occupied by similarly unaware and loud guests, the pool access rooms would definitely lose their appeal.
Not quite private- you better hope your neighbours are considerate!
We had breakfast on the second morning, which is fine if included in the room rate but otherwise not worth bothering with. The restaurant staff are friendly and attentive, and coffee and tea are quickly offered. A group of mainlanders provided some, err, entertainment, as they were clearly unaware of what to do in a restaurant and the role of customer and waiter.
The manager is visible and interacts with guests, and proactively apologised about the maintenance noise issue (it was unplanned and urgent), and it’s clear that T-villa is a well-run hotel with excellent hospitality. It’s an ideal location for a stopover, and while Nai Yang beach isn’t close, the hotel offers a handy free shuttle. Since we caught up with Thai friends, we didn’t see the beach, but the surrounding streets are also well worth a wander, with some temples and massage places.
The one factor which is out of the hotel’s hands is the guest profile – not having been in Phuket for a few years, I’m shocked at how many mainland Chinese tourists there are, an overwhelming majority when it used to be more of a mix of nationalities. It’s well documented how many inexperienced tourists are less than stellar ambassadors for the PRC, and it’s a daily bother in Hong Kong, too. So I’ll be looking further afield next time I plan a holiday in Thailand, or if my final destination necessitates landing in Phuket, I won’t bother with a stopover.
Still, if you’re willing to brave the tourist masses in Phuket and need or want to stay close to the airport, T-villa is a good option. www.t-villa.com