I find I have a love/hate relationship with Bangkok. It’s a city that catapults you to somewhere entirely unique, yet after a few days you get the sense you have overstayed your welcome. After a gruelling long haul flight from the UK to Thailand, overtired hot and moany visitors arrive in their throngs but in reality once past security moods lighten and it’s time to throw yourself into the culture and infectious magic of the city.
I have previously had the pleasure of visiting Koh Phangan, and more specifically the tiny beach of Thong Nai Pan Noi on numerous occasions however never to this particular resort. With only a small cluster of hotels on a tranquil beach, it is the
A refreshing, tiki-style Mid Century Modern vibe hits you the second you walk into The Laylow. Fun and retro, stylish and whimsical — this hotel brings plenty of unique, personal touches and a casual, “at home” feel that instantly envelope you.
The Laylow is slightly off the beaten path, yet in the midst of everything Waikiki has to offer. Waikiki Beach is a five-minute walk, and all the shopping, dining and entertainment of the area can be found within a short walk (or ride the complimentary cruiser bikes that the hotel provides!)
Style and personality virtually ooze from every pore of The Laylow. The design aesthetic incorporates the clean, classic lines of the mid century era, while putting a 1970s, Don Ho, Hawaiian tiki-bar spin on it. The second-floor open-air lanai serves as reception, lobby, concierge and bar/restaurant area, with cool ocean breezes flowing through. A collection of classic hula dancer dolls greets you at check-in, and The Laylow’s striking blue and pink palm tree signature motif is placed strategically among the whites, warm natural textiles, and pops of orange throughout the hotel.
Service & facilities 9/10
Staff are engaging, casual, and attentive. Everything feels like team spirit here, in a low-key way. The main common area on the second floor serves as the lobby, with casual settees and wicker swing chairs for lounging. On one side are the coffee and cocktail bars and restaurant; and on the other side you’ll find the swimming pool, surrounded by cabanas and large lounging chairs. Adjoining the pool is a fully-equiped fitness room. Cruiser bicycles are available on loan, and fun touches like daily shave ice and poolside drink samplers are served. Regular cultural events also take place, including free ukulele lessons three times a week — just bring your own personal ukulele from your room and join!
Each of the 251 guest rooms welcomes with calming white walls and neutral flooring as the perfect backdrop for the furniture, made of warm woods, rattan, industrial metal and rich textiles. The Laylow signature tropical motif adorns some walls, while pops of original art and vintage photography are on others. The gorgeous shelving units are filled with books about Hawaiian living and style, along with high-tech, pairing entertainment systems. Bathrooms are well-stocked with fantastic-smelling lemongrass and ginger toiletries, thick bathrobes and towels, and deep-brown faux-wood walled showers with multi-function rain showerheads. The daily destination fee of $29 (£23) includes a nice “E Como Mai” welcome basket with local snacks and two pairs of Laylow rubber sandals.
Food & drink 9/10
The Hideout at The Laylow continues the retro-modern décor in a restaurant and bar space. The menu starts with modern Hawaiian breakfast featuring omelettes, benedicts, pancakes and a la carte items, with the coffee bar serving Stumptown products. The lunch and dinner menus offer everything from burgers and tacos (with Chef Bryan Byard’s Hawaiian spin on ingredients, such as squid, pineapple and local seafood), to classic Hawaiian staples including Kalua pork and Ahi poke. A full pupu (appetizer) menu delights with guacamame dip (a combination of avocado and edamame), chicken satay, Kalua egg rolls and poke tacos. A slightly limited menu is available in-room, poolside, and as takeaway picnics. Nightly live music happens in the open-air Hideout every night, as well as during weekend brunch.
Value for money 10/10
Double rooms from $319 (£250) in low season; and from $349 (£274) in high. The hotel welcomes one dog guest per room weighing up to a maximum of 50 pounds (25 kilograms), with a one-time, non-refundable fee of $150 (£118). The hotel offers valet parking at $39 (£30) per day. Breakfast is not included but available at the restaurant from $10 (£7) and up.
Access for guests with disabilities?
Yes, with elevator access to all floors and rooms that are mobility accessible and roll-in showers. Hearing accessible rooms are also available, with visual alarms and notifications for door and phone.
Yes, the hotel accepts all guests. Cribs are available upon request, and many rooms have daybeds that would work for children. The hotel offers free ukulele lessons and lei making and these activities are also open to children; and the concierge can set up family activity packages and suggestions.
White sun-washed sand stretches for miles, against a backdrop of brilliant aquamarine ocean. You might think this is the Caribbean, but the Gulf Coast shore of Florida has some incredibly beautiful beaches that can give Caribbean ones a run for their money.
One of the most fun and relaxing Gulf Coast Florida getaways is Marco Island. This six-by-four mile island is the largest of Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands, stretching south from Naples through the Everglades and to the Florida Keys. Situated along the white sand beach is the island’s premier resort, the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort. This large, full service resort has everything from amazing pools, the beach, top-notch dining, a full wedding and event location, private golf course and spa. The Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort is the place to come for romantic getaways, family vacations, friend get-togethers or a special event. It’s one of those places that has something for everyone, and enough variety that you may never feel the need to leave! Guest Rooms There is space for everyone in the resort’s 726 guest rooms including 63 suites. Most have private terraces with amazing ocean and/or pool views, and the décor is inspired by South Pacific style. Plush, sink-into-them beds, spacious bathrooms and state-of-the-art technology make relaxing in the rooms a pleasure. Suites treat guests to an exceptional experience, offering awe-inspiring Gulf Coast views in a luxurious tropical oasis. Junior Suites range from 800-2080 square feet, and Presidential Suites are 1800-3000 square feet of sanctuaries in the sky, bathed in natural light. The Presidential Suites were fully renovated in 2013. Onsite Facilities The pools are pretty amazing here. There are two, and both are outdoor, large and heated. In particular, the Tiki Fantasy pool is a wonderland for kids, with a grotto, splash zones and a water slide. A poolside bar with basic food offerings such as burgers and sandwiches at both pools makes hanging out for hours enjoyable, and there seem to be plenty of lounge chairs even at peak times. Towels are provided at the poolside cabanas. Speaking of kids, the Tiki Tribe is the Marco Island Marriott’s supervised children’s program, available for ages five to 12. The fee is $70 per day. For golf aficionados, look no further than the Rookery at Marco, an award-winning private golf course just a 15-minute drive from the Marriott (which offers a complimentary shuttle). Designed to embrace the native surroundings of Naples, the prestigious course offers a driving range and putting green, clubhouse and restaurant, lessons and rentals, and a Kids Golf-4-Free program. The course is set to undergo a $4 million dollar renovation soon. On the beach just in front of the resort, a host of activities are available (most at an extra fee) including volleyball, tennis, sailing, kayaking, jet-skiing and boating. The Spa at Marco Island Marriott offers a relaxing environment with a Balinese style, with a full menu of treatments available. There are also plunge pools, therapy baths, a steam room and fitness classes here. The spa is adults-only, so if you tire of too much commotion at the outdoor pools you can always buy a $35 day pass and enjoy the spa facilities. Other facilities include:
A video arcade is sure to make the kids happy and keep them entertained
A small but reasonably equipped fitness center
Full service business center
The lobby is home to many boutiques, stores, a coffee shop, and beauty shop.
Dining As you would expect with a resort of this size, there are a lot of options that range from poolside casual to upscale gourmet. The informal Tropiks offers a sumptuous, expansive breakfast buffet ($26). 400 Pazzis is casual, serving pizza and paninis for lunch and dinner. Tiki Bar & Grill is light fare set poolside, open at lunch and dinner. Also open for lunch and dinner, Quinn’s on the Beach specializes in Caribbean dishes and inventive tropical cocktails; a tradition is to watch the sunset here and toast it with a Green Flash drink. A highlight of my dinner at Quinn’s was the fire dancing that occurred just outside on the beach, and easily viewable from most tables in the restaurant. Korals just off the lobby provides a place to grab some sushi and a drink in a very nice, lounge-like atmosphere. For me, the sushi was a bit hit-and-miss; but some other dishes – such as the lobster rigatoni – were amazing. Kurrents is the most upscale restaurant at the Marriott, with prime steak entrees and seafood dishes such as a Chilean Sea Bass. At the golf club, you will find the Rookery Grill and Hammock Bay Grill serving casual breakfast and lunch. Area/Nearby Attractions One of the perhaps most surprising facts about Marco Island is that it contains one of the largest prehistoric archaeological site in the Eastern United States, just south of the main island on Key Marco. Long before tourists arrived, the Calusa Indians established a highly developed society which left more than a thousand wooden artifacts discovered to date The area also features highways over large shell mounds over 40 feet high from the period of the Calusa Indians. The area is also a prime spot for frolicking dolphins and fascinating sea turtles. In fact, during the turtle nesting season the Marriott Resort imposes a light blackout ban at 9 pm; if your guest room lights are left on without your blackout drapes drawn, staff will go in and close them. The minimal lighting is to protect the nesting turtles and their eggs. Other local wildlife includes many species of birds, and Everglades National Park is very nearby, which makes a wonderful day excursion. Fishing and other water sports are top draws here, and if your tastes run more to shopping or sophisticated city life, spend a day or evening in nearby Naples. Good to Know At this time, there are no adult-only floors. During my stay, I was next door to a family with several loud children who woke up very early, and I could hear them clearly. Definitely a slight dent in my aura of relaxation. This was over Fourth of July weekend, a prime family time and outside summer, there are generally far fewer children at the resort. However, I would highly recommend that the Marriott implement a simple policy of guest room floors for families and separate ones for adults only. Internet in the guest rooms is not provided as a courtesy, which I believe should be standard in all hotels. Expect to pay $9.95 a day for it, or $16.95 daily if you want enhanced high-speed wi-fi access. All public areas of the hotel do provide complimentary wireless connection. The onsite parking fee is a reasonable $12 per day, or $22 for valet parking. Details: Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort 400 South Collier Boulevard Marco Island, FL 34145 Phone: (239) 394-2511 Rates: $189-525; Suites $759 and up