Travelling first time to the east was indeed an adventure when myself and my wife started thinking about it, especially when we got a 5 months old baby to carry with us.
Thailand was chosen as a destination to start with (hopefully one of many others to come in our future travels), which proved itself to be a great choice! We decided to 'play it cool' in our first trip and go with the 'relaxed path' as we're traveling with a baby, so we planned our 2 weeks of vacation to visit the island of Phuket, the Marriott resort in Rayong and Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, itself.Most of you insiders already know me a bit, being an opportunity catcher and also a massive user of the LNF rates (new here? see this guide I wrote). As I said many times in the past: my moto is to pay minimum and get maximum (new here? see this guide I wrote). So when I had the owner exchange opportunity several months ago for the Marriott Vacation Club in Phuket I just grabbed it! It may sound crazy to you, but to be honest this trip was booked even before my 5 months old daughter was born Somehow I knew it's going to be great!!
For those of you who may think I'm a Marriott timeshare owner I'm proud to say "you must be nuts!". I still didn't fall on my head to pay extreme annual maintenance fees (starting at $1700 and going only up if I recall correctly). I just own another unit in another place (had no initial investment), which has a VERY low maintenance fees, and use 'Interval International' (the exchange company which works with Marriott) for exchanging it to Marriott Vacation Clubs all around the globe. So there I was, booking this wonderful resort in Phuket for 7 nights in a fully equipped 2 bedroom unit and paying a calculated total amount of only $440. I'm not showing off (well... maybe just a bit), but I'm telling you this so all you Marriott timeshare owners or future owners in potential will know you have made\about to make one of your biggest mistakes... Always happy to help!
This Vacation Club in Phuket is actually integrated with the JW Marriott, so all facilities are shared and available for all guests, regardless in which of the two you're staying.
For our baby we were provided with all essentials, such as bottle sterilizer, baby bathtub, baby soap and baby cot. Complimentary large bottles of water were provided in the room on a daily basis! The lower photo of the two above is of the JW pool which is an adults only pool.
Having a couple of friends with us maximized this stay to a complete fun and good time.
After those 7 nights were over we had to spend the next 3 nights in the magnificent resort of Marriott in Rayong, so we took a domestic flight to U-Tapao airport (UTP) which is the airport serving the cities of Pattaya and Rayong. Since this airport is quite in the middle between these two cities it takes about 1.5 hours of driving\taxi to reach the resort.
What can I say... this was a pure experience of tranquillity. Of course, although this resort was quite isolated from the city, there was no need to go outside as they got everything you need. I was also surprised that prices were cheaper than in the VC in Phuket.
Service quality was good: I was upgraded to a one bedroom suite, breakfast was amazing and despite the fact this is a resort it is included for platinum members (!) and I got a late 4pm checkout with no problems.
The only problem I had is letting the cloudy weather cheat me by making me think I don't need to use a sun block, so I now look like a lobster... You all must be very curious what rate I managed to get... there you go: only $75/night (75 USD with taxes inclusive)! LNF rate of course!!
Moving to Bangkok (for our last 4 nights) from Rayong is driving\taxi for about 3 hours. The problem in this city is the non-stop traffic, so don't even think of renting a car. They got this 'Sky Train' which is a street elevated light train - quite good to use inside the city.
We stayed in the Marriott Sukhumvit hotel, which turned out to be a great choice! It appears to have one of the attractions in Bangkok - its rooftop bar at the 49th floor overlooking the city in 360 degrees!!!
Service quality was superb: I was upgraded to a one bedroom suite, great breakfast included, full complimentary dinner of the executive lounge was provided for us in the lobby bar (as babies are not allowed in the lounge during dinner hours), platinum members get 2 complimentary laundry items daily and pressing of 3 items daily and 20% discount on food & beverages.
That was really a WOW! I'm still wondering why is the service level significantly much higher in eastern hotels comparing to the rest of the world?...
I felt almost like a king staying there, and again: all this for only $75/night (75 USD with taxes inclusive) with the LNF rate!!
All in all, we had a great time. The entire trip was cost efficient and another proof to my moto: pay minimum and get maximum! (if you guys were wondering what's the headline referring to - this is indeed my little Thai secret) ;)