Part of the same group as Anantara Hotels, a name that might be more familiar to TLFL readers, Avani Plus (stylised in marketing as Avani+) claims to offer ‘style-savvy hotels for the modern traveller’. But what does this actually mean? And should you stay at their property in Khao Lak? Here’s what you can expect on a visit.
A note: Avani provided a total of four nights of accommodation across their properties in Siem Reap, Cambodia (FCC Angkor) and Khao Lak, Thailand (Avani+) in return for a review on each. Neither article received copy approval or editing rights from the hotel operator and their UK agency. Revisions will only be made if there are factual inaccuracies and not in the writer’s opinion.
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Your likely landing point to Khao Lak will be via Phuket International Airport, which is readily served by all the major Middle Eastern and Asian connecting airlines, as well as Finnair and Turkish Airlines.
Khao Lak is quite a trek from Phuket International Airport, the likely landing point if you’re coming straight from the UK. With a 90km journey spanning 90 minutes, it’s not quite as accessible as hotels on Phuket, with the additional cost taken into account. For some, this distance does have the benefit of getting away from the crowds of some of Phuket island – for others, it may be too remote.
While South East Asia’s ride-hailing app Grab may be available at Phuket Airport, there are no Grab taxis available in Khao Lak, meaning you’ll be better to pre-book with your hotel.
Despite being part of the same group of Avani hotels, FCC Angkor, Siem Reap and Avani+, Khao Lak couldn’t be further apart. The former could easily be branded as an independent, boutique hotel city break, while the latter is clearly appealing to longer vacations at a large resort where it has everything you will need.
While from the roadside the building didn’t look too aesthetically pleasing, this gladly changed once through into the spacious lobby featuring plentiful seating, a coffee shop and calming design features.
Check-in took around ten minutes due to the desks being busy during our arrival time, with all formalities, including cold towels, provided swiftly.
We did take a walk around the vast property both on arrival (in darkness) and the following morning – the first word that comes to mind is ‘vast’. With more than 300 rooms, a section of beach and a running track, the size comes with opportunities for activities but the odd case of getting lost.
We stayed in a Deluxe Room – the most common room type at the property and broadly reflective of the experience most people will have when visiting.
The rooms are a decent size at 35sqm and spacious enough not to make it feel cramped with multiple pieces of luggage. Divided into the bath/dressing room and sleeping area, the space is well designed for a couple spending a longer visit here.
Finishings in the bathroom were good, while the shower itself had excellent pressure and temperature. Avani+ Khao Lak uses Malin+Goetz amenities for their shower gel, shampoo, soap and conditioner – a brand that feels quite upmarket, considering it retails at £30 a bottle. While the formula is good, i.e. it doesn’t itch and was probably better than what I use at home, the ‘rum’ and peppermint fragrances didn’t really appeal to me.
An open plan wardrobe has sufficient space to hang up clothes as well as providing an ironing board with iron. They could be a bit more generous on the number of hangers, though, considering many people will be staying at the hotel for a week or two at a time.
Heading into the small hallway before the main bedroom, there’s a unit provided for beverages. Bottled local water, tea and coffee in sachets are free of charge and replenished daily, although no Nespresso-esque machine is provided, while all minibar items are chargeable. The minibar sits inside the cabinet and, due to a snug fit, can be a pain to open. Deal breaker? No, but it does strike me as a poor design choice when it’s designed to generate revenue…
Onto the bedroom area, and there’s a soft king-sized bed against a rear wall adorned with some tasteful decorations. Connectivity-wise, both sides of the bed feature international plug sockets and USB ports, while the in-room WiFi provides speedy internet access. A large television sits opposite the bed with dozens of Thai and international channels.
A slightly uncomfortable armchair is located next to the windows, which are covered in excellent blackout curtains for peaceful rest. This leads onto the balcony with a view of the ground floor pools and a jungle-like area with ponds, which made sitting out here quite relaxing.
In all, the room is comfortable and spacious enough for a visit – even if there are a few changes I would want them to make to this standard room type.
Food and amenities
Breakfast is served in the Elements restaurant at the hotel, one floor below the reception level. With a large buffet-based breakfast, the space gets extremely busy with hotel guests, especially families with children.
Queues were never too long for freshly prepared items, such as eggs benedict or noodles, but they did form quite often. The quality of the food was decent, too, with Thai, other Asian and Western dishes available to self-serve from the buffet.
Outside of Elements, there are two other key food restaurants, including a la carte dining at The Beach House and Italian at Mi Scusi.
Being a destination resort, Avani+ Khao Lak has lots to offer – particularly for families with children. While I can’t really comment on quality, there were separate splash pools with slides for children and those more for adults, which is great. Avani also provides indoor children’s facilities with activities.
More to my taste was the Avani Fit gym facilities, which were excellent. A large space with a boxing/Muay Thai ring, excellent machines and a good choice of free weights – this hotel makes it impossible to have an excuse not to exercise on holiday.
Finally, the beachfront area has sufficient loungers available for use and is strictly policed by hotel staff to prevent unnecessary hogging of beds. The beach itself is well maintained and clean for patrons, although it was slightly tainted by uncooperative weather in the late afternoons.
Avani hotels, along with its sister properties, including Anantara in the Minor Hotel Group, all use Global Hotels Alliance, GHA’s Discovery programme. It’s quite eclectic and not particularly discussed in UK circles, but effectively, you earn a rebate in Discovery Dollars on every stay at hotels in the programme (which also includes many other brands such as Capella). One Discovery Dollar is equivalent to USD 1 and can be spent like cash on stays, but also food, add-ons and more at properties including Avani+. It’s certainly interesting, and I recommend reading this article from Singapore-based Milelion for more.
Avani+ Khao Lak has a lot to offer for family visitors on a longer holiday – from the extensive breakfast and spacious rooms to the excellent facilities. The location can also be very good for those wanting to visit lesser-known tourist spots in the region or to go on quieter island hopping tours than Phuket.
However, if you’re like me and travelling as a young(ish) couple – the property wasn’t for me. While I loved the gym and liked the room, outside the hotel was very quiet, with little to do without taking a fifteen-minute taxi somewhere, while the resort vibe, along with many children, was not as pleasant as a smaller boutique property.
In short, this property is going to be a great option for some people with good rooms, amenities and features – it’s just not my kind of holiday.