As I discovered this week, travelling with a baby is a huge undertaking. Packing light is near-impossible, you have to compromise your itinerary to negotiate sleeps and feed times, and some activities just aren't practical when you have a small one in tow.
Even accommodation choices needs to be carefully considered. I don't mind roughing it if I'm travelling solo - but I shudder to think how I would have coped with some of my more rustic beds if I was concerned for the comfort of a child.
On our first "inter-generational" family holiday, my daughter, son-in-law, grand-daughter and myself stayed at Sunwing Kamala Beach. This large, beachfront resort is not just your standard family resort - its main focus is young kids, specifically babies. As well as spacious two-bedroom family suites, it also features 30 Happy Baby Studios which come with everything you could possibly need for your little one - a cot, high chair, Bumbo, play mat, change mat, baby bath and potty. There are clean tiled floors for baby to crawl on, kitchen facilities for heating up bottles and washing dishes, and a fenced play area with a locking gate to prevent wayward toddlers from stumbling into the pool area. There are even thoughtful touches such as protectors on the edge of the coffee table to save baby from bumping her chin.
|Ellie enjoying her Bumbo|
Best of all was the use of a pram - and not just a cheap, fold-up stroller either, but a proper pram with shade-cover, adjustable seating, seatbelts and brakes. The pram is yours for the duration of your stay and can be taken off the premises during family outings.
|Ellie, Jo and Nic with a Happy Baby Studio pram|
Sunwing's Happy Baby Studios easily accommodate a couple and bubs; adding granny was a bit of a squeeze, but the lounge doubles as a comfy single bed if you don't mind living in clutter.
While there is an active kids' club at the resort, it's more suitable for older children who enjoy time away from their parents. The resort mascots Lollo and Bernie (oddly enough a giraffe and bear ... not exactly Thai, though the children trailing along behind them didn't seem to care!) make twice-daily appearances. The playroom seemed adequately equipped (if slightly soul-less), while outside there is a sandpit area as well as seven (yes, count them!) pools, four of which have water slides.
|Ellie looks a little unimpressed with the resort mascot|
On check-in, families are given a sheet listing children's (and adults) activities. Unfortunately, none of these reflected Thai culture whatsoever - it would have been nice to see activities such as Thai dance, martial arts or even cooking on the agenda. Even their evening program seemed more about pandering to the largely Scandinavian clientele, with an Abba tribute show and some thankfully brief caterwauling resembling bad Scandi rock ... best avoided.
|Kids' entertainment at Sunwing Kamala|
The Thai staff at the resort, however, were simply delightful, and treated our 11-month-old like a princess. She had cuddles galore, and was greeted daily with cries of "Ellie! Ellie!" The ladies in the massage sala were particularly smitten, taking Ellie off our hands while Jo and I indulged in some much appreciated relaxation.
|Massage staffer looking after Ellie. Pics: Julie Miller|
Other ticks for this resort include an expansive breakfast buffet and its family-friendly beachside restaurant Fino, which provides complimentary main meals for under 12s.
While we seemed to be the only Aussies staying at Sunwing Kamala during our visit (which fell outside of school holidays), this resort should certainly be on the radar for Australians travelling to Phuket with small children.
For more information, visit www.sunwingkamala.com
*NB - the writer travelled as a guest of Sunwing Kamala.