Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Phuket - Mangosteen and Katathani Hotel Reviews

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Phuket is one of my favorite places. I know some people don't feel the same way because of all the tourists and expensive prices (compared to other parts of Thailand), yet if you know where to go and which hotels to stay at, then Phuket can be an absolute paradise.

I've only been  there twice (so far), but I've found two great hotels there that (in my humble opinion) are affordable yet can even be compared to Shangri-La Boracay (SLB), which I consider one of the best hotels I've ever stayed at (and which I will review in a later blog post). We were at the Shangri-La Borcay after our wedding and it made such an impression on our minds that we have to compare every hotel to it from now on.  These are two of the hotels in Phuket which I believe can nearly match the quality and service of Shangri-La for a fraction of the price.

The Mangosteen is a hidden boutique resort, tucked away on a hilltop with exquisite views of southern Phuket. For as low as US$160 per night (on Agoda.com) you can have your own villa, complete with a private outdoor rain shower. It's a little far from the beach (5 minute drive) but you can take a complimentary shuttle to Nai Harn beach, which has a lagoon and and an amazing area of beach where waves going in different directions crisscross each other--something I hadn't seen before. If you're more adventurous, you can rent a moped for about 300 baht per day.

Why do I think the Mangosteen can compare to Shangri-La Boracay? Here's why.
  • All of the "rooms" are private villas, while at SLB you'll need to fork out at least US$800 to get your own villa.
  • The view - like SLB, the Mangosteen is up on a hill, giving spectacular views of the surrounding area, which includes beaches and mountains
  • Decorations - One of the coolest parts of the Shangri-La Boracay was all the decorations scattered around the hotel. Mangosteen also didn't disappoint in this regard and really feels uniquely Thai.
  • The Pool - I loved the figure-eight pool at the Mangosteen. While not quite on the same level of craziness as SLB lagoon pool, the Mangosteen pool holds its own with cool elephant statues and other decorations around the 24-hour infinity pool that looks off into the horizon.
  • Restaurant and breakfast - not as nice as SLB, but the juice was awesome, especially on days with the banana-milkshakes...mmmmm

Katathani is even more similar to the Shangri-La Borcay than Mangosteen. Prices range from US$140 - $320 on Agoda.com. The resort has six swimming pools, four restaurants, six bars, and amazing rooms that can compete with SLB, but the main attraction is the Kata Noi beach. With only a few other hotels to share the beach front, you practically have it all to yourself, along with one of the most amazing sunsets I've ever seen.

In fact, the first thing we said when we saw SLB's beach was that it reminded us of Kata Noi. The staff are among the friendliest I've ever experienced and ultra-helpful. After we checked out of our room, they let us use an alternate shower and changing room so we could continue to use the beach until our flight in the evening. We were just so blown away by the hotel and the excellent service that we came *this* close to having our wedding there after we learned you can have a baby elephant make an appearance at your ceremony. 

Even more incredible is the Shore at Katathani, which is Katathani's sister hotel that is unbelievably more incredible than what you see in the pictures. Once you step into one of the Shore rooms, the fresh aroma and view of the sea will make you never want to leave. It is extremely spacious and comfortable. It has a freestanding bathtub, a private lounge, and your very own infinity pool looking out over the ocean.  Prices range from US$376-$1300 on Agoda.com but I believe it would be worth every single penny. Carissa and I hope to return there one day and stay in one of the ocean-view villas and swim in the private infinite pool. Maybe when we renew our vows in five years?

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