Sea-green commitment

Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach is on the way to becoming a single-use plastic-free resort

(Photos courtesy of Outrigger Resorts)

Twenty-five minutes from Phuket International and Domestic Airport lies Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort on the serene beach of Bang Tao. Located between the azure Andaman Sea and a tropical lagoon, Outrigger is Laguna Beach's only resort which has three swimming pools, including Phuket's longest water slide, a wedding studio, water sports and beach activities, plus four tennis courts, a squash court, an archery centre, a fitness centre and my favourite, a vegetable and herb garden. And that's not all… room sizes begin at 43m2!

Not just a holiday resort, Outrigger will open a convention centre in January 2020, targeting the Asia-Pacific meeting sector, local business gatherings and destination weddings.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

As you drive into the property, you are immediately aware of how massive the entire resort is. Pulling up to the large old-school lobby, one notices the wood carvings on the top of the entrance, reminding one of yesteryear Thai architecture. The lobby and reception area is wide, bright and open air, allowing the sea breeze to gently waft through as you sip on a cool welcome drink and refresh with a cold towel.

The lobby opens out to a pond filled with blooming lotus, with the swimming pools, beach and sea in front and the tranquil lagoon fringed with coconut palms to the right.

STAYING IN

The highlight of Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort, is the fact that you can holiday without single use plastic. The resort has a strong sustainability game, "Outrigger's Zone", and is in the process of introducing new initiatives in support of the environment.

In 2016, the resort installed its own reverse osmosis water plant, allowing them to bottle their drinking water, which are in refillable glass bottles in each room. There is also a public drinking tap that allows guests to refill their bottles at any time. Should you feel the urge to carry a refillable water bottle, a variety of stainless steel and sports water bottles are available for sale at the Outrigger Trading Co shop. To further the cause and act against climate change, in 2017, the resort introduced the use of stainless-steel straws and you won't find a single plastic straw or plastic bottle around (unless brought in by guests, of course).

But the resort hasn't stopped at that, even their local suppliers of products and produce have been requested to limit the use of single use plastics and all their vegetables and fruits are supplied in reusable containers, even the local ice cream supplier uses stainless steel. Even the resort staff have been given reusable bags so they don't bring plastic onto the property. All these efforts has led to the reduction of approximately 30 to 100 plastic bags per day.

By December, the resort would have replaced all the plastic bathroom amenities with bulk-size dispensers in all 255 guest rooms.

Though the resort has rooms facing the pools and the beach, I chose the club room facing the lagoon for a different experience.

The best thing about staying at Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort is the daybed alcove in all rooms, which is an excellent spot to lie in air-conditioned comfort on a rainy day (or in the afternoon when the sun gets too sharp) with a book. Alternatively, it can also be used as an extra bed.

The Voyager 47 Club Rooms, in which I stayed, was rather spacious and had a separate shower and sunken bathtub, unlike any I've ever seen. The choice of these rooms also gives one access to the exclusive club lounge with a gorgeous view of the lagoon, which serves daily breakfast (should you not want to join the main breakfast buffet), afternoon tea from 2.30-5pm, which has a delightful spread of cakes, pastries and sandwiches, happy hour from 6-7.30pm, where free alcoholic beverages are served along with executive chef Roberto Conrad's personally crafted tasting plates.

Though if you're not in a club room, Outrigger knows how to keep your tummy satisfied. Metzo's, which has garnered quite a reputation in Phuket, serves solid Mediterranean fare. I tried the Lamb shank tagine and wasn't disappointed. The Baklava was one of the best I've had outside the Middle East and Turkey! On Wednesday nights, the resto serves a pasta, salad and cold cuts buffet, including dessert, should a la carte not be your thing.

The main restaurant Locavore serves the best of East and West and on Thursday nights does a splendid buffet where your choice of fresh seafood or meats is grilled a la minute and served at your table. Locavore also hosts the resort's main breakfast buffet and boy, are you spoilt for choice! Japanese, Korean (yes, kimchi for breakfast is a thing!), Thai and Western breakfast items are served along with a wide variety of nuts and cereals for the health-conscious, including fresh juices and smoothies. For lunch do try the fried chicken wings at Locavore, you will be ordering seconds! Everything is made in-house, including the delicious varieties of bread.

Though the resort doesn't have a spa on the premises, it has a small sala that offers a Thai massage and foot massage.

GOING OUT

If you must leave the resort, it should be only for one thing and that is to get a massage at the Deep Relax Spa, which is tied to the resort. A short ride away (you are ferried from point to point, fear not), it is nice to indulge in some pampering from expert hands. I highly recommend the hot stone massage, which also has a spiritual element to it. If you book a massage between 10am-1pm, you get 20% off and if you are two, it gets better -- they offer you a 40% discount.

Though there is much to see and do in Phuket, with so much available at the resort, I chose to stay in and soak in the salty sea air. The resort hosts beach clean activities (every Friday at 4:30 pm) where guests can help clean up the beach. The Koh Kids Club has a daily ozone programme, which includes beach cleaning, using recycled materials to make various arts and crafts and planting trees. Nothing like an educational holiday for the next generation!

If golfing is your thing, an 18-hole course awaits within the Laguna resorts! Kayaking, canoeing and wind surfing in the lagoon and sea are top water sport choices, though at times the sea is off limits due to the strong under currents.

Outrigger guests can enjoy the 30 dining outlets that form part of the Laguna Destination Resort, all just a short ferry ride across the lagoon. There are also tropical songthaews plying between each of the Laguna resorts.

FINAL THOUGHTS

With environment initiatives playing a huge role in choosing holiday destinations, Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort's proactive campaign against single-use plastics makes it a top choice. But of course, the choice of three swimming pools, or swimming in the sea or lagoon, ample of indoor and outdoor sports, ain't bad either!

Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort / 323 Moo 2, Srisoonthorn Road, Cherng Talay, Thalang, Bang Tao Beach / 076-360-600, email reservation.phuketbeach@outrigger.co.th or visit www.outrigger.com.