It was the holiday to end all holidays. That’s not to say we won’t go on holiday again, or that the next one won’t be any good. But there was something special about this trip, our honeymoon, and that’s no bad thing given that the hope is neither of us need to book a repeat ritual any time soon. It wasn’t just special because of the ten days spent in Thailand itself, the run up was also incredibly efficient and exciting – a process I so often find stressful when contemplating long flights and the unknown quality of the looming destination.
Enter Outofoffice.com – a fantastic start-up founded by our friend Darren Burn. I gave Darren the unenviable task of finding us a dream honeymoon, within budget, with one week’s notice. He may have cursed me at the time (in fact I’m sure he did) but my goodness did he deliver. Outofoffice.com specialises in tailor-made travel for all, with the added benefit that everything they do is gay-friendly which no other company can say. Ok, so it helps if you’re friends with the CEO. But, his staff (nod to sales assistant Luke here) was brilliantly professional and tireless in seeking out the very best deal to match our specific criteria – top of the list being a private pool, which I’ve since learned is a MUST for any naked Welshman and his (slightly disturbed) spouse.
There’s another good reason for booking through outofoffice.com with its inherent drive to find tolerant and safe holiday destinations for its customers. We had the luxury of being able to pick any global (hot) destination. You could say that the world was our oyster. And, Thailand turned out to be one of the most tolerant, accepting and respectful oysters out there (ooh oysters… possibly the only seafood I didn’t eat during my meat-free vaca!)
The travel specifics of our trip were further enhanced by the wonderful team at Thai Airways London, led by the ever charming marketing manager, Arthorn. The warm welcomes at the Soho office, ear-to-ear smiles and professionalism were matched every step of the way – at Heathrow T2, the United Airlines lounge and the Thai Airways crew from London to Bangkok and back again. I could go on and on about the magic of every aspect of the trip. But, I think it’s more straightforward to simply list recommendations. From personal experience of trawling blogs and online reviews, this seems the most helpful format. So, here goes…
Reasons to go to Thailand:
Food – fish, fruit, seafood, lemongrass and coconut broths, exquisite eggs for breakfast.
Weather – average temp for us was 32 celsius. Just the occasional, refreshing and spectacular thunderstorm.
Hospitality – cannot be matched. The country is, quite rightly, very proud of the warm welcome it offers visitors.
Luxury – quality without pretentiousness.
Reasons to fly Thai Airways:
Comfort – from the lounge to the A380.
Schedule – daily flights from Heathrow to Bangkok at very reasonable times (no crack of dawn check ins!).
Safety & Efficiency – from check-in, to boarding, to onboard.
Food and drink – mouthwateringly good selection. The seabass was sensational!
Staff & Crew – polite, professional and attentive.
Entertainment – good film selection; Black Mass, The Program, The Martian, Gravity, Notting Hill (an oldie, but a goodie!).
Where to stay:
Zeavola, Koh Phi Phi Don – barefoot tropical luxury. Hillside vila with a private infinity pool.
Paresa, Phuket – modern, minimalist decor balanced with southern Thai architecture and glamour. Cliff View Villa with private infinity pool hanging over The Andaman Sea. Honestly, this place was so ridiculous we both laughed and walked around in stunned silence for an hour on arrival.
What to do:
Island boat tour – Krabi Islands; Maya Bay (from the Leonardo Di Caprio film, The Beach!), Monkey Beach.
Snorkelling – turtles (we swam with three!) and the endless quest to find Nemo and his many millions of cousins.
Spa treatments – Thai/Swedish/Aromatic massages, After Sun Body Wraps, Pomegranate Body Scrubs, Seaweed Body Wraps.
Jet skiing – expensive but so much fun. We did this on Phuket. I think there is a ban on jet skis on Koh Phi Phi, possibly because they are annoyingly loud.
What not to do:
Simon Cabaret – a famous Ladyboy show in Patong, Phuket. We went with an open mind, expecting some seriously good entertainment. However, as a musical theatre enthusiast, I was sorely disappointed. The performers mimed every song, could barely dance, most of them had fake grins fixed on an overly botoxed face. Needless to say, we left after an hour! (three shows a day, seven days a week.. I mean, how??!)
We’ve now been home just under a week, and i’m still jet lagged (hence tapping at the laptop at 5am on a Wednesday). I could not recommend Thailand more highly or thank its people enough for the rejuvenating and relaxing honeymoon we spent there. Thai Airways ensured the long journey there and back again was a part of the holiday, and not merely and endurance test to top and tail it. Finally, the team at outofoffice.com turned my dream into reality. Sorry Darren, you’ve now secured your place as a fixture of every future Vaughan Jones holiday! Maybe next time we’ll give you more than a week’s notice.