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Family Friendly

Thailand with a toddler? It's child's play!

With a little help from two super hotels, Julian Robinson and his wife enjoy an adventure holiday with their 20-month-old daughter

Trekking through jungles, snorkelling in a lagoon and lounging on the beach with a cocktail - they were all high on our 'things-to-do' list as we set off for Thailand on a chilly English morning.

But as we strapped ourselves into our plane seats, along with our 20-month-old daughter, the thought did cross my mind - maybe I should have done all this as a teenage backpacker rather than a first-time parent?

Could we really enjoy the best this fabulous South East Asian country has to offer with our toddler in tow? The answer, it turned out, was an unequivocal 'yes' - and it was far easier than we thought thanks to memorable stays at the Nai Harn in Phuket and the dusitD2 in Krabi.

The Nai Harn pool with stunning views out to the Andaman Sea

The Nai Harn, Phuket's only member of the elite Leading Hotels of the World group, overlooks a sweeping bay of the same name.

Any pangs of regret my wife and I had about not doing Thailand on the cheap as students were quickly swept away as we explored our Grand Ocean View Room and walked out onto a private terrace with what must surely be one of the finest views in Phuket. 

But with the luxury comes an extremely family friendly atmosphere. Staff go out of their way to make sure parents with young children have what they need for a comfortable stay. 

They are happy to set up a parasol on the glorious sandy beach below and provide towels for the day while the swimming pool features a shallow section for toddlers.

Our little one spent hours splashing around in the pool and in the evening, with conditions a little cooler, we moved to the beach - fresh fruit smoothies in hand - to watch the sun go down.

Rock Salt restaurant at the Nai Harn serves delicious seafood and Thai delicacies

The hotel also features magnificent restaurants, including the Rock Salt where we enjoyed cocktails, a beautiful seafood platter and Thai delicacies all just yards away from the beach.

Chefs at the hotel cure their own meats and make their own cheese while the wine list is drawn up by international expert James Suckling. Breakfast is an event in itself, with a dizzying area of options and plenty of space meaning there was no undignified scramble for the buffet.

For a dreamy sundowner, guests head to the Nai Harn's sprawling infinity-edged rooftop bar, Reflections. As well as cocktails, the area also features the Han-Sha sushi bar where dishes are prepared in front of you.  

After an unforgettable stay at the Nai Harn, it was time for our second destination - Krabi to the south.

Rather than brave public transport or sea transport, we opted for the comfort of a taxi transfer. Before long we had arrived at our next hotel, the dusitD2 in the coastal tourist hotspot of Ao Nang.

The 173-room hotel is under 20 miles from Krabi International Airport, tucked away in lush jungle greenery on a hillside, yet within easy walking distance to the sweeping town beach and close to shops and restaurants.

It has been entirely refurbished and updated and is a rebrand of the previous Vogue Resort and Spa.

Our room on the top floor had superb views looking out over the towering, craggy limestone cliffs that define the area.

The newly-opened hotel has everything you need for a comfortable family stay - a great restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool with a separate children's pool, a fitness centre, a spa and a children's playground.

But the trump card for this well-run and friendly hotel is its location. Within ten minutes, you can find yourself setting sail on an adventure to tropical islands, looking for monkeys along forest trails, kayaking over turquoise seas or even rock climbing on some of the jagged cliffs.

Only accessible by sea, glorious Railay Beach is the ideal excursion in an iconic long-tail boat

On one day, we zoomed around the coast to glorious Railay beach  - accessible only by boat - and spent a day lounging on the pristine crescent of sand in the bay.

We also hired one of the area's iconic long-tail boats and took a day trip to Hong Island - a tiny paradise island with a blissful lagoon, ample shade, great snorkelling and a nature trail.

Back on the mainland, the hotel's in-house tour desk also arranged for us to visit local hot springs - a cascading network of waterfalls leading to pools with bath-like temperatures hidden in dense jungle.

Mesmerising Emerald Pools hidden amongst a towering tropical forest

Another day trip took us to the stunning Emerald Pools. Our little girl was mesmerised as we explored the huge web of turquoise pools and towering tropical trees along the jungle path.

Our trip may not have been a backpacking odyssey - but as a family adventure, it was unbeatable.  

First published in the Mail Online - February 2020

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