They are not easy to avoid when you live in Asia with young children. For me, amazing as they can be, they stir up a lot of mixed feelings. It doesn’t matter were you go. All luxury resorts are very much alike.
The first thing I notice when we alight the speedboat on the pristine beach, are the brightly sunburnt tourists strolling on the beach. By the pool, more of them lie on sun loungers, covered in tanning lotion, like lobsters on a grill. They make me want to climb on my soapbox and announce: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, there has been an amazing new invention: sunscreen. It is remarkable, revolutionary!’
If you look a bit further along the pool, under the trees, you can spot the Asian guests, covered by long sleeved swimsuits and wide brimmed hats, rubbing on the whitening lotion.
And us? We search for a spot in the middle, in the half shade. We are expats, off-white enough to distinguish ourselves from the people in our home countries. And, as expats do, we liberally apply factor 50, to avoid painful red shoulders and cancer. Or worse: being mistaken for a tourist.
Finding a spot close enough to the pool to keep an eye on our splashing kids does not prove easy. Not that there are that many people around the pool. No, only a few beds are occupied. Most are merely covered by a towel. A towel spread widely, sometimes to cover two beds in one go. A towel more pristine than the beach. Before breakfast is over, all the good spaces are taken, often by people who do not appear until lunchtime. Why is it that staying in places like this brings out the worst in people? When we stay in small, friendly places we always make many new friends. In large resorts, I make enemies.
We spot one empty bed, by the poolside. Quickly I spread my towel and pile our bags and toys on the floor. Before I can sit down, a lady returns to the bed next to me. She starts swearing in a language I don’t understand, then switches to rudimentary English. I stole her husband’s sunbed. Picking up my towel, I state the bed was clearly empty, and that her husband is nowhere to be seen. She then accuses me of stealing her towel, and rushes to get a new one to cover the reclaimed bed. Later, we spot her husband, playing cards on the terrace, his towel draped on the back of his chair. He does not return poolside that day.
We find some chairs behind the pool, and have a great time swimming and relaxing.
In short, we had a great break. We did what we came to do: absolutely nothing. We lay in the sun, swam, sailed, made a boat trip and ate tasty, albeit bland food, asking for extra chilli on the side. We recharged our batteries. Can I say we have been to Thailand? Hardly. No, we went to resort-land.