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Chanalai Hillside Resort 3.5

Karon, Phuket, Thailand

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • In a tranquil location, a nine-minute walk from the beach
  • Two appealing pools, one with a kiddy section for families
  • Attractive, contemporary rooms with furnished balconies
  • All rooms include minibars, bathrobes, slippers, and kettles
  • Smart open-air dining room serving all meals
  • Bar with a patio area that turns into a mini beer garden
  • Pair of meeting rooms and computer terminals
  • Handful of activities on offer including cooking classes
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout the property

Cons

  • Far for Phuket's Bangla Road and its party scene
  • No wellness facilities on the premises
  • Visiting tour groups can get noisy
  • Breakfast isn't always included in rates

Bottom Line

Set away from the beachside bustle, the upper-middle-range Chanalai Hillside Resort has a solid lineup of features drawing both couples and families with young kids. Its two pools, a larger main pool with a kiddy section and the calmer rooftop one, give plenty of room to take a dip, and the on-site restaurant and bar serve up all meals with alfresco options. Its 211 rooms are warmly decorated in contemporary, streamlined furnishings, and all offer balconies (though only some have bathtubs). On the downside, the Chanalai doesn’t have any wellness facilities, and those looking to be immersed in Phuket’s party scene will be disappointed, though the beach can be reached in a nine-minute walk. Families should also consider the Chanalai Flora Resort, which is particularly geared to vacationing parents and kids.

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Scene

A pleasant, pulled-together resort set away from the area's party scene

Part of the Chanalai chain, a grouping of four hotels in Phuket, this hillside outpost is marketed as a “modern rustic” retreat in the Karon Beach area. The property, opened in 2013, is the least central of the bunch, but that can be a virtue for those looking for a bit more tranquility than the Karon and Kata Beach scenes can allow. 

The resort is on the smaller side, 211 balconied rooms total, which tend to be centered around the property’s main pool, a rectangular pool in a J shape with a swim-up bar. Here, international pop music plays on and a few kids splash around. But overall the pool scene is calm and collected, hardly the party scene of other Phuket properties.

In terms of design, there’s nothing edgy or outstanding about the Chanalai Hillside’s look, but it’s pleasant and pulled-together with an open-air lobby covered in white tiles and furnished with contemporary wicker furniture topped with turquoise pillows. That polished aesthetic continues into the open-air restaurant, that tumbles out onto the pool deck in good weather, with seating here set out under twinkling lights at night.

Guests here are a mix of couples and travelers with kids, with several tourists from China among other nationalities. Several past guests have commented that when tour groups have come, it can get noisy and wreck the Hillside's overall peaceful vibe.

Location

A nine-minute walk from the beach, but removed from nightlife

While the Hilltop is the most removed of the Chanalai properties, it isn’t entirely outside of the tourist zone, and several attractions can still be reached with ease. Karon Beach is a nine-minute walk away, which offers a night market on weekends. A mini market can also be reached in five minutes on foot, as can a few restaurants and a thai massage venue. But the surrounding blocks right next to the property are more residential, and travelers shouldn't expect to find the same thumping party and bar scene that's found elsewhere in Phuket. Bangla Road, for example, the area's throbbing nightlife strip, is a 12-minute drive away. Attractions like the Big Buddha sculpture and Wat Chalong temple also require a car and they're a 32- and 26-minute drive away, respectively. Phuket Airport can be reached in an 56-minute drive. 

Rooms

Contemporary rooms with appealing decor and furnished balconies, some with pool access

Guest rooms reflect a tidy, contemporary design that’s warm while remaining streamlined. Platform beds dressed in white bedding and white lacquered work desks and countertops give a clean and uniform backdrop that’s punched up with boldly colored throw pillows or, in some rooms, cobalt-blue accent walls. Details, like the cute "do not disturb" signs hinged outside each room, add a bit of flair. All rooms offer balconies furnished with white plastic chair-and-table sets. Bathrooms are equally appealing with coffee-colored wall paneling, rectangular sinks, and walk-in showers with square rainfall showerheads. 

The property offers three room categories: Superior, Deluxe, and Deluxe Pool-Access. The latter offer balconies that bump right up to the main pool’s border. These also have their own Wi-Fi directly from their TVs. (Others have shared access.) Deluxe Rooms offer a bit more space and pool views, while Superior Rooms at other levels only have showers (no tubs) and are split between pool or mountain views. Rooms on the sixth and seventh floors have partial ocean views. Standard amenities across all categories include flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, minibars, safes, bathrobes and slippers, and electric kettles with tea/coffee supplies. Rooms are generally quiet, though some past guests have complained of pool noise into the late-night hours and tour groups causing a bit of ruckus when they arrive. 

Features

A pair of pools, restaurant with an open-air dining room, and a handful of activities 

As a resort that leans toward the small side, the Chanalai Hillside checks off quite a lot of features, though it is missing any spa or gym. But the main pool gives a broad stretch of water to take a dip, lined on one side with a set of padded loungers and sun umbrellas. It’s capped at one end with a kiddy pool. A second rooftop pool gives a tinier and quieter spot for a dip. This space can also double as a setting for private events like romantic dinners.

For standard dining, the resort is serviced by one restaurant across from the lobby with an attractive open-air dining room. It serves all meals, including a buffet breakfast (which isn’t always included in room rates). The bar here turns out drinks, in in good weather, the sundeck next to the restaurant, strung up with white lights, becomes a makeshift beer garden. 

Activities tend to be slim to none at smaller resorts, so it’s surprising to see the Chanalai Hillside provides a few fun diversions such as cooking classes or towel origami workshops.

The property has two meeting rooms (one offering pool views). Two computer terminals off the front desk give a pair of workstations as well, and Wi-Fi is free throughout the property. Families can rent cribs and cots for an extra fee or book adjoining rooms as needed.

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Address

10 Patak Road, Soi 24, Karon Beach, Karon 83100, Thailand

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