The Shells Resort, Phu Quoc - Quick, Before the Tourists Ruin it!
How on Earth Did I Choose Phu Quoc?
I remember it like it was yesterday. I somehow honed in on Phu Quoc Island, a Vietnamese island off the coast of Thailand, for no other reason than that it seemed to have the nicest weather for the time of year I'd be visiting.
After reading about the island, there didn't seem to be a lot to do there, but it seemed relatively untouched by the outside world. I imagined a nice hotel and that vibe seemed just right.
The Hotel Search - the Depths of my Cray Shine Through
After doing some hotels.com searching, The Shells Resort seemed like the nicest option for a reasonable price (under $300 CAD per night or $225 USD).
This happened to be during the week that I was in the throes of price matching. (Sometimes I get a bit obsessive about things). I wanted a fancy hotel, but I didn't want to pay for a fancy hotel. And as always, I wanted those hotels.com points.
After hours of scouring the internet, with no luck, I had the brilliant idea of checking out the hotel's social media pages. I went back several months looking for a discount code and found one, that they seemingly had forgotten to cancel! And suddenly found myself with a rate of $145 CAD ($110 USD) per night.
But, we've come to a conundrum, haven't we? Hotels.com only price matches listed rates, they do not match discount codes! So I booked a few work hotels to pad my account, piled on my nicest manners, acted oblivious and called their 1-800 number. AND BAM! Hotels.com customer service comes through once again! The agent acknowledged that the price match was outside their regulations, but said he would do it anyway! Hotels.com for the win!
We landed and a complimentary shuttle came to get us. There are still only a few flights into the island a day, so everyone comes on the same flights. So I suppose it's relatively easy to run a free shuttle.
It looks like they are working to expand the airport. I expect they'll want larger planes to be able to land. The island itself looked quite underdeveloped and mostly non-touristy as we drove to our resort. We drove though some completely undeveloped areas and an old abandoned airport runway when on the way to the resort. At times, it was like we were off roading.
You can see some restaurants and bars establishing themselves. All week, when I posted photos on Instagram, local posh bars and restaurants would comment and add me, telling me about their brand new openings. An article I read described the island as Phuket, Thailand 25 years ago.
The Hotel Room
Look, I'm a little ashamed, but I didn't leave the resort. Shame, shame.
The hotel was beautiful! Guests are welcomed with a fruit basket set up in a nice lounging area in the room. Each room faced the ocean, with a beautiful balcony, a giant bed and a nice soaker tub in the middle of the room!
Even though my friend had just contracted dengue fever on our Bali weekend, I foolishly was not deterred and left my balcony door open each night to listen to the ocean.
The room was equipped with some very reasonably priced mini bar booze and snacks. AND the shower amenities were so nice, that I tucked them into my suitcase each day, which I rarely do!
Blew me out of the water (figuratively, of course). The Asian cuisine was delightful, and there were so many fresh seafood options on the menu. Presentation was spectacular and the service was quite nice. If you like squid, you'd be in paradise here! Yum!
At least half of the menu was western options, for you non adventurous types!
I suspect in a few years, the experience on this island and at this property will be quite different. It's as if they haven't quite realized their economic potential. There was usually one bartender that would make all the drinks for the beach, pool and restaurant. And if you were at the pool or on the beach, flagging down a waiter could be tough. You'd have to go up to the bar. The demand from guests wasn't overwhelming, but service wasn't the fastest either.
All of this is to say that if they hired at least 2 or 3 bartenders at a time, had at least one wait staff at the beach and one at the pool at all times, they would have made much more money! I would definitely have bought at least 3x the drinks and ordered food to munch on! I think we cleaned out our minibar beer selection each day!
Similarly, if you wanted a snack, some sunscreen or a souvenir, you were out of luck. A small shop or even a little kiosk near the check-in desk with the snack and beach essentials, along with some postcards and magnets would have been great! Although, it did give me an excuse to raid my father's minibar, so not all was lost!
The Spa, was lovely and reasonably priced, but I would have seriously bought some of that soap and conditioner had they been selling it!
With that being said, it was so refreshing to be at a resort where no one tried to sell you anything, not once. It was genuinely relaxing.
The hotel that I'm currently at in Hoi An is quite the opposite and I find myself trying to not make eye contact with the staff who are selling things.
Would I stay here again? Hells, yes! Although, I have a feeling that I got here while the gettin' was good. I suspect the island will change. I do need to come back and actually see the island!
Champagnes on the Luximetre:
*The Luximetre is FooteOuttheDoor's 5 point scale to measure the degree of luxury felt by the hotel guest