JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort & Spa Offers As Much Fun In The Sun As You Can Possibly Handle

In the centre of a sky-blue swimming pool at JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort & Spa, I’m balancing—or attempting to balance—on an aquatic fitness mat, which is tightly tethered so that it rests on the water’s surface. A deceptively nimble yoga instructor instructs our group to go into a downward dog pose and to raise a leg in the air. As the floating mat shivers beneath me, two loud splashes tell me that some of my classmates have gone overboard.

This floating yoga class turns out to be the first of many firsts at JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort & Spa: an impressively large 424-room property that occupies 11 hectares of verdant coconut palm-fringed land. Keen to encourage their international guests to experience a level of Thai hospitality that only a well-managed, efficiently run JW Marriott team can provide, the resort’s roster of daily and weekly activities is, to say the least, commendably extensive.

Reaching JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort & Spa certainly isn’t a trek from Malaysia: one leisurely flight to Phuket and then an hour and 15 minutes northwards by car before the hotel’s gleaming white walls and hipped panya roofs come into view. That leaves plenty of energy to explore the grounds, which house 11 restaurants and bars, an Aqua Play Zone water park, multiple sports and fitness facilities, Quan Spa, and a 2.4-kilometre-long lagoon pool that meanders its way around the resort.

Over several days, I try my fists at Thai boxing as a smiling trainer urges me to jab his forehead, and learn how to extract and ferment coconut oil before being given a scrumptious massage with it. In the JW Garden, where the resort’s talented gardening team have herbs sprouting by the bushel, I gather handfuls of rosemary to make a sparkling Rosemary Spritz, patiently overseen by a senior mixologist. (This isn’t the only opportunity to sample their sustainable, house-sourced produce, as many of the organically grown plants, fruits, and herbs feature in welcome drinks, dishes across the hotel’s menus, and an in-depth garden tour.)

At Ta-Krai, the property’s Thai restaurant, a cooking class has me pounding palm sugar, lime juice, and ferociously hot sliced chillies in a pestle and mortar, in pursuit of the perfect som tam green papaya salad. Over at the Bamboo Shark Nursery & Conservation Center, newly launched in June this year, environmentally mindful guests can learn about how this dedicated marine sanctuary nurtures threatened bamboo sharks from the Andaman Sea. There’s even an adoption programme that guests can participate in, secure in the knowledge that once the sharks are six months old and large enough to survive in the wild, they’re released back into the sea.

A plethora of resort-based activities means that regular culinary refuelling is required, with the question of where to eat being the most pressing issue, given the myriad dining options on offer. The most memorable dinners are to be found at the elegant, pared-back Drift Beach Bar & Grill, which presents a selection of fresh local seafood on ice to be seared and served. There is also Italian restaurant Olive, where Chef de Cuisine Vincenzo Sorrentino—who takes immense pride in his home country’s produce—personally slices up Caciocavallo cheese and hunks of Parma ham for guests to sample during lavishly proportioned buffets.

Private dining experiences can be magically whisked up for a special occasion on the powdery sands of JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort & Spa’s beachfront, beneath a prettily decorated canopy strewn with flowers. At the resort’s three beachfront villas (prices for a one-bedroom villa start from RM4,700 per night, or RM9,400 for a two-bedroom villa), an expansive deck with a prime view of the ocean all but demands an in-villa barbecue or bespoke dinner. Another plus point: residents can roll straight into bed or their private pool afterwards.

Guests who prefer to be hidden away a little more discreetly can turn to adjacent sister property JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort Suites—a luxurious collection of 52 beachfront, two-bedroom suites (prices start from RM1,900 per night). Securing a suite with pool access makes it easier to take full advantage of the resort’s coconut boat as it makes its daily afternoon voyage around the length of Southeast Asia’s longest pool. Just don’t try to get in and paddle it yourself, though (as I did), unless you’re willing to risk the hotel’s entire daily supply of fresh, ice-cold coconuts.

JW Marriott

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