Outdoor activities with a healthy dose of curiosity, brought to you by Laure Latham
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For the swimming pool lover, The Waters Khao Lak is an irresistible destination in southern Thailand. Located in the eponymous coastal city of Khao Lak, The Waters Khao Lak is no more no less than a gigantic swimming pool resort with swim-in bedrooms and lush gardens in between. We picked this hotel for our first night in Thailand as I feared that we might be jetlagged and what better way to pass the time at 3am than to swim from your hotel room?
We only stayed one night but this hotel made a very good impression on our family. Here is a full review discussing reception and checking in, family-friendliness, location, dining options, swimming pools and more.
We arrived at The Waters Khao Lak after a very long trip and were eager to check in fast. While we waited for the check-in process, we were offered fruit mocktails that were most welcome. It made us feel welcome and minutes later, we were on our way to our room. Overall, the reception staff was very helpful and responsive.
The Waters Khao Lak offers 5 types of rooms: Bay Romance, Bay Room, Bay Grand Suite, Waters Pool Access and Upper Pool Access. As you can see on the picture, some rooms have direct access to the pool (out the bedroom), others are a (short) flight of stairs away. Since we were traveling as a family, we booked two Upper Pool access rooms for our daughters and us.
Both rooms were large and clean, with nice beds and in a location (at the back of the resort) that promised a quiet night. I bet that rooms on the main pool by the reception desk are noisier. Once we got over the fact that the wall was a glass wall with a curtain for privacy, we thought it was a wonderful view and wished we could have stayed longer but the Surin Islands were calling the next day.
Obviously, the main draw of this resort is the abundance of shallow blue swimming pools arranged through the resort, some being connected in L-shape while others are independent. Oh my, to be able to get out of bed and go swimming, uninterrupted, from pool to pool, would be a swimmer’s dream.
I haven’t counted exactly but judging by Google Maps, The Waters Khao Lak features 400m of swimming pool distance over 6 different pools. Is this heaven for swimmers or what?
The Waters Khao Lak advertises itself as an adult-friendly hotel and the small print on booking platforms says that guests under 13 years of age are not allowed in the swimming pool or fitness facility. Also, the resort has several pool bars and drinking areas, which make it more appropriate for an adult clientele.
That said, we didn’t have any problems staying with our girls (ages 11 and 13) and saw quite a few poolside rooms with kid inflatables. Overall, our girls loved the wow factor of huge swimming pools (Instagram, baby!) as well as the spacious bedrooms. The only thing I would say is that none of the swimming areas are secured for children and that there is no dedicated kiddie pool, slides or pool toys. So yes, in that way, it’s not a place for young children who want to run around and scream, or for kids who are not good swimmers. However, it’s a fantastic place for tweens and teens.
The Waters Khao Lak features an Italian restaurant on-site but we didn’t travel 10,000km from the UK to eat Italian! Fortunately, we found quite a few cute restaurants on the street 300m out towards the main road. The night market isn’t far either, and you can find delicious Thai food there. What you see on this picture is my absolute favorite “welcome home” Thai meal–larb moo and mai tai. That restaurant was opposite the last dive shop before the main road and was a relaxing dining spot for tired travelers like us.
Breakfast at The Waters Khao Lak the following morning was uneventful. Thailand counts some of the most beautiful breakfast buffets I’ve ever seen and this one was probably mid-range for a luxury hotel–neither really good nor bad. It included eggs, fresh fruit, fruit juice (out of a can), cereals, cold cuts, yogurt and toasts.
Unlike many big Khao Lak resorts, The Waters Khao Lak is not on the beach but a 500m walk to the beach. I did not see that as an inconvenience, as we were only staying one night and the hotel’s pools more than make up for a beach. Also, and I hate to write this, Khao Lak was one of the hardest hit areas by the 2004 Tsunami in Thailand. Fortunately, the coast is now equipped with an early tsunami warning system, but I’m a bit superstitious and prefer to stay inland. Sorry, I hope this hasn’t spooked you. Today, Khao Lak is totally safe and one of the nicest coastal areas in Thailand, without the Phuket crowds.
When we left The Waters Khao Lak, we needed to leave behind two big pieces of luggage and the dive shop that we were traveling with refused to store our bags. Wouldn’t you know, the staff at The Waters Khao Lak graciously accepted to store it until our return three days later. When we did return to pick it up, it was right where we had left it and it only took minutes to retrieve it. In our experience, service at The Waters Khao Lak was great and efficient.
For 2 upper pool access rooms including breakfast, the 7% VAT and 10% service charge, we paid THB 7,920 (roughly $220). For Thailand, it’s on the pricey side but for two rooms during the high season (weekend before Christmas), it was one of the cheapest deals we found from abroad. I’m sure that we could have gotten better rates locally but we needed a convenient online solution with a relaxed cancellation policy so went with booking.com. Is the hotel worth the money? For the swimming pools, I’d say yes. If you can get a better deal, by all means enjoy it.
The Waters Khao Lak is 1 hour drive from Phuket International Airport and a little over 2 hours from Surat Thani International Airport. Either way, you’ll need a car or a taxi to reach The Waters Khao Lak. Once you’re there though, you’re free to enjoy the swimming pools at will and relax.
Enjoy your vacations in the south of Thailand!