No Buffet for Thanksgiving This Year

For the past several years we have had Thanksgiving dinner at Old Country Buffet. I know that it appears at times that I don't like OCB, but we have more buffet meals at OCB than any other. The reason is that OCB is the only "American" buffet in this area and any other involves leaving the state.

This year we decided that we would make Thanksgiving dinner at home. There are somethings about a

Aleenta Resort near Phuket

There are tourists who like to be in the middle of the action, like to be within easy walking distance of shops, bars, restaurants, tailors and tour agents .. and for you there is Patong and other main beach areas. Other visitors to Phuket are looking for a bit of seclusion and maybe a hint of luxury too, and Phuket has plenty of quiet beaches with very nice resorts in a different world to the crowds of Patong. The Aleenta Resort advertises itself as being in Phuket, but actually it's just off Phuket over the bridge and turn left. It's in Phang Nga province, far less developed that Phuket, and an area that we have explored a lot in recent years (check out blog posts about Phang Nga Bay, Bang Riang Temple and Tha Sai Seafood for example).

Aleenta is certainly a "getaway". I recommend you have transport if you stay here, hire a car to get around and explore. Or just spend a few days relaxing at the resort. Most of the rooms are private villas, ranging from one to four bedroom villas. The four bedroom place is HUGE, with 1,000 square meters of space! Some villas are beachfront and some are just behind the beachfront ones. Want a quieter place to stay? Here it is ... but don't moan that it's too far from the shops or nightlife!

Aleenta Resort Beach Aleenta Resort - Room

(above) Beach at the Aleenta and view from a room

There are several restaurants and bars on site. Maybe you can wander up the beach and find a local place, but otherwise it's a bit of a drive to find other dining options. I can recommend Thanoon Seafood right by the bridge on the Phang Nga side. There's a spa at the hotel and yoga, and they do weddings too. Yeh, I would stay here if I was about 10 times richer :)

Aleenta Resort - Beachfront Room Aleenta Resort - Spa

Aleenta Resort - Booking & Information Links

Aleenta Resort - Info, Rates and Reservations
Aleenta Resort - Reviews

Phuket Hotels - More Info & Online Booking

Jamie's Phuket Hotel Recommendations
Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2016
Book Phuket Hotels at Agoda.com

Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant and Smorgasbord, Bird-In-Hand, PA

It has been about a year and a half since I have been to the Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant and Smorgasbord in Lancaster County in the town of Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania. This buffet has not been one of the buffets in this area on my short list of where to go because it has been higher priced and at times has been inconsistent. We were in Pennsylvania recently and we discovered a coupon for $2.00

Mandarava Resort (Karon Beach)

Another new hotel in the Karon beach area, Mandarava opened earlier this year (2013) on the hillside towards the north end of the beach, near the well known Pacific Club resort. Seems like a lot of newer hotels in Phuket are being built away from the beach. I guess there is no beachfront left or, if there is, the land is just too expensive. Mandarava has quickly become popular, looks very nice and the owners seen to understand the power of TripAdvisor reviews (too much power if you ask me!). We've had several customers in the dive shop this week staying at Mandarava, and so I've heard a few things about the resort. It's in the hills, so not by the beach. Probably about 10 minute walk to the beach. Lots of hills to climb to get to the resort, or to your room, as the rooms are on different levels. For sure they have a shuttle bus and hotel car, but will it always be there exactly when you need it?! It's all very green, jungly ("lush" would be a word you could use, but not a word I like) and there are several pools and little waterfalls built into the resort. I can imagine it's very relaxing.

Mandarava Resort Pool Mandarava Resort - Panoramic Deluxe Room

(above) Mandarava is in the hills, so you get some great views from the pool and from some of the rooms

There are 130 rooms, built into villas with split levels - the upper floor rooms mostly have some kind of seaview ("it's over there between the land and the sky"), while ground floor rooms either face a pool or the green jungle. The hotel has it's restaurants and bars of course, or you can walk to the main street at the north end of Karon in about 10 minutes. The location up the hill and just *slightly* out of the main strip would appeal to some, not to others. When I look at the reviews (see link below) it's the location that brings the overall score down. I'd say if you are unable to walk up hills, find a place to stay by the beach! Otherwise, the hillside is nice, you get views and can catch any breeze that's blowing.

Mandarava Resort - Standard Room Mandarava Resort - Sunset

Mandarava Resort - Booking & Information Links

Mandarava Resort - Rates and Reservations @ Agoda.com
Mandarava Resort - Reviews

Phuket Hotels - More Info & Online Booking

Jamie's Phuket Hotel Recommendations
Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2016
Book Phuket Hotels at Agoda.com

Buffets, Inc. Changes Its Name

During the last week in October, 2013, Buffets, Inc. the parent corporation of Old Country Buffet, Ryans, Country Buffet, Fire Mountain, and Hometown Buffet changed its corporate name to Ovation Brands, Inc. A new logo was unveiled at corporate headquarters in Greer, South Carolina at the same time. The new logo is white and blue showing a plate and spoon.

The company claims that the name was

Centara Grand Beach Resort (Karon Beach)

I find it hard to keep up with new hotels in Phuket! Every year there are new resorts, or renovated resorts with new owners. In the first few years of this Phuket blog, I wrote lots of hotel pages, with suggested hotels all over the island. More recently I have added pages with Top 10 lists - best hotels, best romantic or family hotels etc. But it's been a long time since a hotel "review" - about time for a new one. Now, the hotels that are recommended here are normally recommended due to reputation, or "what I've heard" as a resident, or comments from customers at the dive shop, or top marks when I look at reviews on Agoda. I don't work for a big online travel company or anything like that, don't get free hotel stays .. last hotels I stayed in with the family were in Khao Lak and Hua Hin on our holidays. Here in Phuket, we have a house, so why stay in a hotel?!

The Centara Grand Beach Resort is right at the north end of Karon Beach. It opened a couple of years ago and does get great reviews, and to me it looks like a great place for a family holiday hotel. It's quite a big hotel, run by the Centara group who also have the Centara Karon, Centara Villas, Centara Kata and Centara West Sands resorts in Phuket! The facilities look to be very good including a kind of water park (well, a slide and a 'lazy river' at least)

Centara Grand Centara Grand Beach Resort

(above) It's all about water ... pools and the beach nearby too.

Centara Grand is right by the sea, so you have beach access, but actually you have to walk about 1km to the main center of Karon with lots of restaurants, bars and a few shops. Or take a taxi which will be 200 Baht each way. Karon beach is much much quieter than Patong to the north. I'd imagine the Centara Grand as ideal for families or couples who might book some tours for the day, and then have an evening with dinner, a few drinks and enjoy the resort for a couple of hours. For sure Phuket has a lot to do, but it's nice to have a resort to come back to after a day out and relax in the pool or have a massage!

Centara Grand - Family Fun Centara Grand - Spa and Massage

Centara Grand Beach Resort - Booking & Information Links

Centara Grand Beach Resort - Rates and Reservations @ Agoda.com
Centara Grand Beach Resort - Reviews

Phuket Hotels - More Info & Online Booking

Jamie's Phuket Hotel Recommendations
Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2016
Book Phuket Hotels at Agoda.com

An Open Letter to Anthony Wedo, CEO and President of Buffets, Inc.

Dear Mr. Wedo:

A week ago I published an article on this website in review and reaction to your appearance on the television show, Undercover Boss. One could look at why you decided to go on television on this "Reality Show" as either a publicity "stunt" for your restauants or to actually show your sincerity about helping a business that has seen two bankruptcies in managing several chains of

The Boss of Buffets, Inc. Goes Undercover To Find Out What We Already Knew

A week before the airing of the CBS television show, Undercover Boss, on which Anthony Wedo, CEO and President of Buffets, Inc. corporate owners of Old Country Buffet, Ryans, Hometown Buffet and Country Buffet, we told you here that this show was coming. This is a reality show in which a boss of a corporation is disguised and put into the retail outlets of his own company to discover first hand