Having spent 3 months in Sweden, during an unusually warm and pleasant summer, it was in September 2021 time for me to return home to Thailand. With memories from last year’s quarantine in a hotel room in Bangkok still fresh in my mind, I was curious to try the Phuket sandbox this time.
I had heard and read much about Phuket sandbox program, unfortunately negative things, but it did not deter me.
There are many official documents you must collect and fill out before you can book your flight and hotel. This time everything had to be done online, not really my specialty. I was happy to have two girlfriends helping me out and relatively soon I received my COE (Certificate of Entry) from the Thai embassy in Stockholm.
I decided to return with Qatar Airlines, since the last trip was with a Thai Airways repatriation flight and it wasn’t one of the most pleasant journeys. I have used Qatar several times and always have been satisfied. I left Gothenburg on a windy and rainy morning, boarded a propeller plane to Oslo and from there to Doha and finally to my destination Phuket.
It was quite a trip, all in all 21 hours, but everything went smoothly and I was happy when we touched down at the Phuket International Airport.
Remembering my arrival last time at Suvarnabuhmi airport in Bangkok, I did expect the worst. So I was very surprised to find everything so well organized and efficient at the Phuket International Airport. If you had all your documents in order, you were soon at the last step, the PCR test. I had heard stories about this PCR test. It was supposed to be so unpleasant, but it turned out to be nothing to worry about, a bit tickling, that was all.
I was ready to go. The hotel had sent a car to pick me up and the drive to the hotel, Twinpalms Phuket adjacent to Surin Beach, and the journey took no longer than 25 minutes. The blue sky and the sunshine made me feel happy. I had heard a lot from Swedish friends about this hotel, with everybody praising the place.
Not in my dreams did I expect such a beautiful, welcoming hotel. The staff greeted me cordially in the outdoor lobby and served me a welcome cocktail while checking in. It went very efficiently and soon I was shown to my room.
As a member of the Swedish Organization SWEA (Swedish Women Educational Association) we have a very advantageous agreement with the hotel. I got a beautiful spacious room (the Lagoon Deluxe) with pool connection, a terrace, complimentary cocktails and two massages of my choice. I very soon realized I would have no problems spending a fortnight here!
Twinpalms Phuket resort is owned by Swedes and the hotel opened in 2004. In the beginning there were 76 rooms, but during the ensuing years this has increased to 97 rooms and suites with an additional building developed featuring 21 spacious duplexes and penthouses, all with private pools.
If you visit with family, the Penthouses are recommended. It’s like moving to a contemporary, spacious apartment with everything you can wish for. You also have your own butler taking care of you.
The hotel was designed by the Argentinian architect Mr. Martin Palleros, who also was very precise in how the plants were supposed to be placed. The pool is 50 meters and edged with tall palm trees showing the architect’s great interest for landscape architecture.
In every room, there is an oil painting, or more, made by two Chinese sisters Ning Ning and Bin Bin, who went to Sweden to attend the Swedish Academy of Art in Stockholm. Their oil paintings depict the different plants around the resort and are painted in lustrous colors and every painting is unique. It says, it took the artists more than a year to finish all the paintings on location.
There are several things that are important when you spend time at each venue or place, as e.g. the breakfast area. I have spent vacations in many luxury hotels, but never had the pleasure of finding a breakfast buffet like this one. I will start with the coffee which to me tasted like my favorite coffee in Sweden, with a strong, rich aroma. How come such an excellent coffee could be served? The answer is, the owners have made their own coffee blend at their coffee roastery ARTIS, sourcing the best local beans and by using their own developed coffee roaster.
What also impressed me, were the many sorts of dark bread. Normally you will find toast bread, croissants sometimes the choice of sweet pastries. Many times I have wondered why the hotels don’t serve healthier, dark bread. I also got the answer for that; the owners started their own bakery, BAKE.
You were offered everything you could ask for, the classic egg dishes, bacon, cold cuts, delicious yogurt, different cheeses, fruits and of course the warm Thai breakfast dishes. You could choose to sit inside at the ORIENTAL SPOON or on its terrace where you can see the sea through the trees.
Let us keep on talking about food. On Sundays, a delicious brunch is served at the CATCH BEACH CLUB. I had the luck to have several Swedish friends staying at Twinpalms Phuket at the same time and we all enjoyed the brunch together. There were delicious Sashimi and Sushi, Oysters, pan-fried Foie Gras, pasta made the Italian way, beautiful meat, fish, seafood, and sweets, simply everything was there. To sit with friends listening to the waves while eating and chatting, could life be more pleasant?
If you have been to the well-known Nikki beach in St.Tropez e.g. you have already an idea how Catch Beach Club looks like. Next to Catch you will find the relaxing LAZY COCONUT. This is the perfect place for an evening drink or a light meal. This must be a most popular place for the young and bold.
If you are longing for some real fresh seafood or fish the Thai style, don’t hesitate to visit PALM SEASIDE, with Thai cooked dishes at its best and next to the sea. When you stay in quarantine, you have time to try them all.
One night, a friend and I decided to try the restaurant SHIMMER at the Twinpalms MontAzure, a newer edition beach hotel to the Twinpalms Phuket, but as excellent and with the same management. The hotel shuttle takes you to the different restaurants and also to Laguna for your three PCR tests.
Is there anything more pleasant than having a meal next to the sea? I don’t think so, but there is one exception.. One evening I and a visiting friend, had the opportunity to embark on the MY Olympia, a seasoned, prestigious lady yacht anchored at the AO PO Grand Marina.
This 23 meters yacht belongs to Twinpalms. She can accommodate 8 persons for overnight and 20 persons for day cruises. From her spacious fly-bridge you have an amazing view. The cabins are tasteful with comfortable beds.
My friend and I were served a delicious light meal in the evening and next morning we woke up to the gentle hum of the engines, while we steered out to a small island, enjoying breakfast and, a bit later, a swim in the beautiful turquoise sea.
We were taken very well care of by the staff that did their best to please us, which was not very difficult. We were happy.
As I am a huge meat lover, I like to introduce you to the WAGYU STEAKHOUSE. You can reach this restaurant either from the hotel or directly from the street. Here you will find the Chef Khun Khanitta Rawangsri, mostly called Chef Nok.
She’s a well-educated, relatively young Chef, dedicated to her job. She proudly let me know that she, without hesitating, could cut a cow into at least 8 different parts. I asked which part of the cow she prefers to prepare and she rapidly answered the Tomahawk.
My Argentinian friend and I were offered a three dishes tasting menu. We went for a Foie Gras and the Tuna Ceviche to start with, to be followed by a piece of Argentinian beef, served with fried garlic, broccoli and some French fries. To finish off, we ordered a small plate of cheese.
There are meats from Argentina, the US, Australia and Spain and as soon as you have ordered your choice of meat, you will be presented with a box of different steak knives from France, America, Japan and Sweden. You pick the one that you think is the best for your choice of meat. The Swedish knife is the biggest and I couldn’t help thinking that must be because our Swedish meat very rarely is tender.
When you have a great piece of meat, you also need a good wine. The hotel is proud of its huge wine collection and in the WINE ROOM, many bottles are on display. A yearly special cuvee of the famous Domus Aurea is made for Twinpalms Phuket yearly with 750 numbered bottles are made by a former hotel guest. M. Jean Pascal Lacaze, this Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon is labelled TEOREMA and its label is designed by the famous artist and sculpture M. Benjamin Lira, as well a hotel guest.
Before I had to say goodbye to Twinpalms Phuket, I was having a very nice chat with its Group General Manager Mr. Olivier Gibaud. Mr. Gibaud from the French part of Switzerland and was fed up with school at the age of sixteen. He decided to quit school and start working. He admitted his father wasn’t very happy when he decided to become a Chef instead of going on with higher studies.
“I was stubborn and knew what I wanted and I started in a restaurant kitchen and worked my way up.”
Later on, he attended the hotel school in Lausanne/Switzerland and became a Chef, he lets me know. He has also many more strings on his bow. During a couple of years, he was managing the Phuket Yacht Club, then a Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
M. Gibaud started as GM at Twinpalms Phuket a year before it opened in 2004. He knows his staff and talks about the employees as relatives. He is proud of them and gives them much positive feedback.
“They have had a decrease in salary during this pandemic, which has hit them, as all of us, very hard, but most of them have stayed on and fill their daily duties with pride, we are family” he lets me know.
I could go on and on writing about my quarantine experience. If you are planning a trip to the island or to do the Phuket sandbox, I can warmly recommend Twinpalms Phuket and Twinpalms MontAzure.
It was my first stay at Twinpalms Phuket, but not the last.
Go for it because you are worth it!