As a fan of the Le Club Accor programme, I was keen to find a good Accor option in Phuket for a four night stay in August. I’d previously visited the island before, and headed to the Novotel Kamala Beach, and had been very impressed. This time, I thought it might be nice to head somewhere new, but ended up being somewhat disappointed.
The Novotel Kata Avista Resort has the potential to be a good option, but suffered from lacklustre facilities, poor food, and not so great service. Indeed, it fell far below its advertised five star rating, and I wouldn’t really recommend the resort, especially when Phuket is so well served with hotels at this level.
Novotel Phuket Kata Avista Resort is located on a hilltop, which affords it some good views of Kata Beach below. On the downside, the hill is steep, and as such, the hotel wouldn’t be an accessible or suitable location for anyone with reduced mobility, unless you relied solely on taxi’s to and from the hotel when heading out. If the location isn’t an issue, the beach can be reached in little over ten minutes, and some bar and restaurants in a similar time. We weren’t so impressed with Kata, and probably wouldn’t rush to head back – indeed, we weren’t great fans of Phuket, and if you’re travelling to Thailand I’d recommend heading to Krabi instead. Kata beach is large, but unfortunately, it wasn’t so clean and we didn’t feel enticed to spend a great deal of time there.
We travelled to Phuket from Phi Phi, and purchased a ferry ticket which included shuttle transportation to the Novotel for 300 baht (€7.80) each. It took around an hour from the ferry port to reach the hotel, although this was in large part because the shuttle was full, and we were the last hotel. Still, if you’re not time constrained, it represents a good value way of getting from place to place. On our return, we opted for a private transfer over the shuttle (and as it was, this was a rather fortunate decision, after we hugely overslept and had to be woken up by the frontdesk…) and paid 800 baht (€20.74) purchasing from a tour company in Kata town (a shared shuttle would have been 300 baht (€7.80) each). The hotel, in contrast, wanted 1500 baht (€38.90) to use their ‘private’ car transfer – we politely declined.
Having Le Club Accor Platinum Status, we were excited to see what extra perks we might enjoy during our stay, having been spoilt at our previous hotels in Thailand. Whilst certain perks aren’t guaranteed, recognition tends to be quite good in Thailand – indeed, even staying at Ibis in Bangkok I’ve been sent up a complimentary fruit plate. We arrived two hours prior to check-in, but were told our room wasn’t available. This wasn’t a huge problem, and we were informed that our room would be available within an hour and we would be upgraded. After an hour, we still hadn’t been shown to our room, and I enquired how long it might be until this was possible, and after a further ten minutes, we were presented with our key-card.
In the end, we were allocated an Executive Room, the main feature of which appeared to be the seaview – which was very good. The room was of a good size, modern, and well fitted out, with a nice seating area. The bathroom in particular was very nice, and the bed was excellent. The lighting system, which could be controlled from a panel next to the bed was particularly intuitive, and allowed for a number of different settings. Shortly after arriving in the room, we were given a welcome gift of three chocolates.
The hotel has two pool areas – a main pool, and then a a shallow pool below, at the same level as the bar/restaurant. The main pool has a swim up bar, which was a nice additional feature. We were visiting off peak, but there were plenty of sun loungers, although I can see at the height of the season that it could feel crowded. This is something to factor in, since the hotel doesn’t have direct beach access, and so if you’re looking to spend time relaxing by the water, the pool is likely to be your best option. The hotel also has a spa, although the prices were at the steep end, and we didn’t consider the options available to be particularly good value.
Bars, Restaurants and Lounges
Unlike most of Accor’s other Five Star properties in Thailand, the Novotel Phuket Kata Avista doesn’t feature an Executive Lounge. Indeed, its only food and drinks facility is a joint restaurant and bar area. If you’re a platinum member of Le Club Accor you’re given some vouchers at check-in for an Afternoon Tea, and then a complimentary cocktail in the early evening. In practice, this sounded very good, however, the staff didn’t seem to know what these vouchers meant, which led to a lot of awkward confusion when trying to use, although we did successfully get the afternoon tea and cocktails eventually. The afternoon tea was disappointing, and not very substantial. On the other hand, the cocktails were fine, although a little sweet.
During our stay at the hotel, we were advised that the 28th August was ‘Le Club Accor Day’, which is essentially an Accor-wide day to promote their loyalty scheme. To do this, Accor Hotels across the world appear to host special events – and we were quite keen to see what this would entail. At the Novotel Phuket Kata Avista we were invited to a drinks function in the evening, which we attended. The event itself was a little on the awkward side, but we were lucky to meet another guest with whom we became friends and had a very good couple of nights out with in Kata! At the event, a raffle was held, during which guests were awarded prizes – the best of which was a complimentary three night stay, but others included things like a free treatment at the spa. In the end, our prize ended up being a complimentary meal at the restaurant – and initially we were quite excited by our prize.
Sadly, the meal turned out to be a comedy of errors, and we were left wishing we had gone elsewhere and paid for our meal. Upon arriving at the completely empty restaurant, the staff were completely confused about why we there and the fact the meal was supposed to be complimentary (this, I am at pains to point out, wasn’t their fault, but clearly management hadn’t communicated anything to them) and so after multiple phone calls, and being made to feel highly awkward, eventually our order was taken. At this point, I attempted to use our complimentary drinks voucher, which is given to all Le Club Accor Members Silver and above. The voucher clearly stated all drinks were valid, excluding champagne and spirits, as such I asked for a glass of wine.
This has never been anything other than an ordinary request at any other Accor hotel I have stayed at anywhere in the world, including extensive stays at Accor properties in Thailand. On this occasion, it wasn’t to be. Initially I was told it wasn’t possible, when I pointed out the voucher didn’t list it as an exclusion I was told it was fine, then a few minutes later I was again told it wasn’t – and on this went at least 3 times. Eventually, after multiple phone calls, and a huge deal of confusion and awkwardness, I was told I could have a glass of wine. I’m not entirely sure it was worth the effort or stress.
The meal itself was awful – I’m a great fan of Thai food, and have very rarely been disappointed by any food I’ve had travelling in Thailand. I ordered a Thai Red Curry, which usually I am a huge fan of. The curry I was presented with, however, was incredibly over spiced, to the point of being inedible (and I’m a huge fan of hot food). In the end, after a couple of mouthfuls I decided I’d had enough, and although the ‘free’ meal was supposed to be three courses, we decided to cut our losses and call it a night. Perhaps we were unlucky, but basic interactions just seemed stressful, and it was clear that management was very poor at communicating anything to the wider staff network. I did complain, and was told, by the frontdesk manager (and I quote) ‘Thank you for your feedback, and we both need to work to collaborate better together’. I’m still not quite sure what this meant, but anyway.
Breakfast was the standard buffet affair, and it was extensive. It was to a lower quality than other Novotel properties in Thailand, but it wasn’t bad, and there was certainly plenty of choice. It was also possible to order a wide range of different coffees, including cappuccino, which I thought was a nice additional touch.
I don’t want to have come across as overly negative – because this could be a nice hotel, and perhaps we were just unlucky during our stay, but the overall impression wasn’t good. There are so many options in Phuket, and for what is supposed to be a five star option, this hotel was far below par, and it’s one of only two or three hotel stays where I’ve ever felt it necessary to make a complaint during my stay. The name ‘Avista Resort and Spa’ gave us the impression this would be somewhere to come and relax for a few nights, but the most basic of interactions quickly became stressful, and the experience was far from relaxing. I wouldn’t return.