Editor’s note: Review of Thistle Port Dickson Resort is contributed by Ms Teddy Liew, one of our website visitors. If you will like to contribute to limsimi.com as well, do visit the following page here.
One of my New Year resolution made for 2011 was to take time off my hectic work schedule and bring my whole family out for a nice vacation. Time always passes in a rush and besides the occasional weekend dinner with my parents, the interaction between me and my siblings seemed to stop after every Chinese New Year, as is the interactions between my children and their cousins.
So I took it upon myself to organise a family trip where all of us can have some real quality bonding and fun. Together with my siblings, we listed down possible options – trip to a nearby country which is “child friendly” like Hong Kong and Taiwan, cruise on Superstar Virgo or a weekend getaway at Sentosa. Budget and safety are key concerns and at the end of it, it appears that most of my siblings are inclined towards going to Sentosa for a weekend stay.
Sentosa does not sound appealing to me so after doing more research on the internet, I thought I found an interesting and fun alternative. Just a 4 hours drive away from Singapore, Port Dickson offers a beautiful coastline which I thought might excite the kids. In addition to that, Thistle Port Dickson Resort offers plenty of facilities which might appeal to the rest of my siblings – golf, spa, massage, swimming pools and plenty of dining. None of my family had driven on the infamous North-South Highway before so it a sense, a road-trip of sorts is exciting.
With time running out, I convinced my extended family to head to Port Dickson and they trusted me (more like arrowed me) to do all the booking and planning. I proceed to book 4 Deluxe Rooms at Thistle Port Dickson Resort- at rates definitely much cheaper compared those in Sentosa Singapore. Having 2 infants traveling with us, I requested for baby cots as part of my booking which Thistle promptly replied “OK” and “no additional charges”. I started planning out the route we will travel from Google map and confirmed the vehicle convey order – there will be 4 cars in all with my brother taking the lead in front. He has a GPS too and while not familiar with Port Dickson, he is quite familiar with Johor Bahru. Good enough!
In the weeks leading to the family trip, there were more interactions against my extended family. It’s good to see everyone getting excited and giving comments, suggestions etc.. “go in to JB early to avoid the jam!”, “bring IPads to entertain the kids!”, “bring plenty of water”, “lock the car when in Malaysia!”, “pump extra 5 PSI to your tyres for the long drive”…!!
And finally, the day where everyone is looking for came.
Despite agreeing to meet at 7am at near Woodlands Causeway Point (my siblings all promised to wake up the kids at all cost to avoid the jam), it seems like someone will always be late whenever it’s a group outing. Nevertheless, everyone was present at 7.40am and we did a quick roll call.
3/4 petrol tank – check! Water – check! Ringgit – Check! Even the kids seem to be well prepped, with all of them cheering on: “We are going to the beach! We are going to the beach!” Thus, we set off towards Woodlands Custom at 7.55am and thankfully, there was no jam at all and by 8.45am, we are all at our next rendezvous point – the Shell station outside the Johor Bahru custom. I did a quick count and confirmed that all 16 of us (9 adults, 5 kids and 2 infants) were still around. Quickly topping up our petrol tank to the super max and ensuring all the kids had their toilet break, we formed our convoy and started our journey to Thistle Port Dickson Resort.
Drive to Port Dickson
Despite all the horror stories about the North-South Highway, our journey is a safe and comfortable one. We made an effort to keep to safe speed limits (we were going at about 125km/hr). We also made an effort to shuffle the kids amongst their cousins and kept them occupied by getting them to sing children songs together. From their voices, it is clear that the children are happy. Halfway through the journey, we made a brief stop at the KFC bridge at Ayer Keroh just outside Malacca for an early lunch. From then on, we drove without stopping to Thistle Port Dickson Resort. Surprising, the travel a very straightforward route and all in all, it took us 4 hours and 30 minutes to reach Thistle Port Dickson Resort from Johor Bahru (including the break at KFC).
Arrival at Thistle Port Dickson Resort
All 4 vehicles stopped at the porch at Thistle Port Dickson Resort and with the boot open, the porters were very fast in loading our barang barang onto wheelers. As the kids stepped out of the car, all 5 of them immediately made a dash towards the reception area. No wonder why – there was a clown (whom we later knew is called Bo-Bo) distributing balloons in the form of various animal figurines to children. A very good first impression and we felt very welcomed already.
Check-in was smooth and fuss-free. With a friendly smile, the receptionist handed the access cards to us and showed us the way to our rooms. All 4 families were to stay at the same level, a very thoughtful arrangement.
Room at Thistle Port Dickson Resort
Slotted the access card into the card reader and opened the door to my hotel room. The deluxe room is surprising big. Even with the king size bed as well as an additional baby cot, there was plenty of walking space. In addition, there was also a proper working desk with internet connection (I needed this to clear my emails at night) and a large LCD TV with a suites of channels to choose from including CNN, HBO and ESPN sports. There’s also Nickelodeon which can entertain my 3 years old daughter. There was a pool facing balcony which also offers you the view towards the Port Dickson beach. Going back to my usual habit, toilet inspection next.. big, spacious and clean, with a granite solid surface dressing area and makes you wish you had a similar setup at home.
This is going to be a cozy stay for sure!
Day 1 (Saturday)
No time to waste. Immediately after settling down, we left the infants under our parent’s charge and headed to the beach, which is just 3 minutes walk from our hotel room. While the beach is not exclusive to Thistle, it is clean, non-crowded and mostly litter free. There is also a sports booth setup by Thistle which rents out canoes.
Sometimes, it is interesting to ponder how urban we had become, as none of the 5 kids (aged between 3-5 years old) dared to sit on the sand initially. This initial “fear” was easily lost as the adults starting building the sand castles with the toy tools we brought along, which included the plastic shovels and pails. In no time, all kids had their butt on the sand, even if the sand castles they created were as-is when inverted from the pails. No form of fortress, gates nor towers at all and they were gleefully doing it again and again.
Once they are bored of the castles, we held their hands and led them nearer to the sea. Again, none of them dared to even come near the water! With a little bit of coaxing, their legs got wet and soon, they were splashing around and things were going on fine until my daughter gave a shriek – “Ant! Ant!” At this point in time, the adults were shaking their heads. The “Ant” is actually a very small crab making its way out from the sand (there are literally hundreds of them actually) – so we took the chance to give them an educational tour of what’s on the beach – crabs, shells, sea etc etc..
Feeling a little adventurous, my brother-in-law pointed to a pencil shaped float on the sea and made an enquiry to one of Thistle’s staff nearby on what the activity was. Upon clarification, he came running back and asked if any of us wanted to try the “banana boat”. He managed to convince my husband and brother to join and soon, they were riding onto the banana boat, tugged by a speedboat at fast speed. It seemed very fun and relaxing to just sit on it and enjoy the sea breeze until they were somehow thrown off the boat into the sea!
I started running closer towards the sea and relaxed a little after I see all 3 of them smiling at distance. Apparently, the “capsize” is part of the deal in the banana boat ride and they now have to take up the challenge of getting back onto the boat, unaided by the staff. Guess not all of them passed their chin-ups at IPPT but at least, they worked as a team to get back onto the banana boat, howbeit with much effort! In no time, the banana boat was tugged back to the beach and I see 3 men running back towards us, laughing at the fun they had. Later after the trip, my brother-in-law actually commented that this experience was the best part of the Port Dickson trip which brought back memories of his secondary school days.
Already wet, my husband and I decided to have another go at sea sports before heading back to the hotel. So for the next 15 minutes, we rode on separate jet skis while the rest of my family simply watched. No license required (the only license you really need is an adventurous spirit and desire for some excitement) and it seemed fairly easy to operate. More importantly, the staff in charge of sea sports at Thistle Port Dickson Resort had been patient to explain and gave us plenty of time to familiarise with the jet skis. 5 minutes later, we were on full throttle coasting along the sea.
Great sea sports facilities at Thistle Port Dickson Resort!
All of us took a quick shower and proceeded to the restaurant called Glass for our dinner. We were already hungry from the early lunch and beach activities. This Italian restaurant offers great Italian specialties in a soothing alfresco-or-indoor ambiance overlooking the swimming pool. We ordered steak, cod fish, pastas, pizzas (for sharing) which was served in a decent time. You can also see “LIVE” on how the chef prepared your food. While waiting, our family had great fun detailing to each other the activities done for the day, and planning for the next. The pictures below should give some idea on what Glass has to offer. I feel hungry watching these pictures again.
After a very fulfilling dinner, we headed back to our rooms. The kids are already very tired at this point in time and we quickly settle them to sleep. I slumped onto my King-size bed and within seconds, I dozed off.
Day 2 (Sunday)
We woke up with the greeting from the morning sun. Our bodies must had burnt off more calories than usual from last night sleep as we felt hungry again. We headed to Fresh, a buffet style restaurant for our breakfast (included in our package).
Talking about breakfast buffet, I was expecting a very normal American style breakfast which includes scrambled eggs, hash brown, sausages and maybe some bacon and cheese. How wrong I was – for as I made a tour around the buffet line, it features American buffet and plenty of other local fares as well. You have Nasi Lemak on hot steamy rice, porridge, Roti Jala (cooked on the spot) with thick chicken curry, waffles, egg station (sunny side up, scrambled eggs, egged mixed with tomato, onions, mushrooms, capsicum..), toast and pastries, Bee Hoon and a wide selection of fruit juices. For the more health conscious, there’s fresh milk to go with cereal and oat.
It is fun to see both adults and children walking several rounds before deciding on what they want for breakfast. For my husband with a big appetite, it’s not difficult as he settled upon the Nasi Lemak first, pursuing the rest of the items on subsequent rounds. I had my morning coffee and the roti jala. The curry goes perfect with it and I could not resist having a second serving. I’ll give the breakfast an A+ for both the variety and quality of the food.
Touring the resort
After a very heavy breakfast, we took a stroll along the resort. Near the swimming pool, there is an activity room for children where you can play educational games with your kids and also send them to a “ball-room”, literally filled with thousands of inflated rubber balls for some bouncing around.
For adults, there’s a game corner for table tennis and pools. There is also a beach volleyball court.
There is also a well maintained outdoor park (owned entirely by Thistle) for a leisure stroll. Naturally, the kids made their choice and my brother and his wife volunteered to stay with the kids at the children room. I took a stroll with my husband along the outdoor park – this is interesting enough as I soon learnt that the fruits grown in this park can be plucked right off the tress by guests. You have coconut, mangoes, limes.. you will need someone whom knows how to choose a fruit from a tree instead of picking off the basket.
Halfway through the walk, we came across a large open area cleared labeled: “S.W.A.T camp”
1 comment September 3rd, 2011