29 May 2015

Port Dickson April 2015 (Part II) - Food at Thistle and elsewhere

Continued from Part I - Thistle resort

When it comes to food/dining during vacation with the little rascal, there are many more factors to consider, like whether the food is suitable, whether he likes the food, whether the place is crowded (incessant nagging from hungry kid can spoil the entire meal!). If it was just the two of us, we could go places and eat ANYTHING we like.

For our first night at Port Dickson, we decided to stay in and dine at one of the restaurants because all of us were tired from the swimming, and the little rascal was hungry as well.

There's a Chinese restaurant, Italian restaurant and an all-day dining restaurant that serves ala-carte and buffet. We opted for the Italian.

The restaurant was rather quiet so we were served promptly.

Caesar salad to share. The little rascal only had interest in the croutons. Nothing to rave about since this is a very common and easy to make salad.

Bruschetta which was quite nice. Bread was crispy and tomato salsa juicy and tangy.

The little rascal ordered his very own "choose your own toppings" pizza with mushroom, pineapple and cheese. Pizza dough was handmade and baked in a brick oven, very crispy and yummy!

Hubby ordered a ravioli, the creamy sauce with truffle oil was not bad.

What blew us away was the Pan-fried salmon that I ordered. The salmon was pan-fried to perfection and the meat was so tender and juicy. It was so delicious that the little rascal ate a third of it! The creamy potato, sauce and side vegetables were also very nicely done. We were quite surprised that we were able to enjoy such a well-made dish here.

The little rascal insisted on ordering a homemade strawberry ice-cream which was not bad.

All in all, a very worthy dinner!

Breakfast was included in the room rate and served buffet-style at Fresh restaurant. Luckily it was a weekday and restaurant wasn't crowded. During vacations, I prefer peaceful, relaxing and quiet atmosphere, that's the whole idea. But then again, with the little rascal it's a different story.

Quite a reasonable spread. The usual suspects, bakery section, salad station, fruits, local cakes/pastries.

Local fare - roti canai with curries, nasi lemak, porridge and the usual breakfast items like baked beans, grilled tomato, sausages etc.

Cereal and juices.

"Live" stations serving cooked-to-order noodles, waffles, eggs.

On the second night, we decided to dine in again and this time, we ordered from the room service menu. The little rascal loves room service, I guess to him there's something fancy about having food delivered directly to the door-step and enjoying it in the comfort of the room?

The little rascal's fish and chips. On hindsight, I should have ordered something light and share this with him as the portion was big and he could only finish one piece of the fish.

I was craving for nasi goreng kampung which like I said a mistake as the portion was too big too and I couldn't finish it at all!

Hubby's beef burger looked yums!

Would say that the room service was quite efficient, food quality quite good and portion certainly generous.

During our second day at Port Dickson, we ventured out for lunch. Before the trip, I searched the internet for recommended places for seafood and decided on Weng Yin Seafood which was very near to the resort.

As it was a weekday afternoon, the restaurant was empty.

This three-flavour deep fried fish is supposedly the signature dish of the restaurant. Fish was fried perfectly to a crispy with tender meat. Sauce was spicy, tangy and sweet but I found it a tad too heavy and sweet.

Tofu dish for the little rascal who couldn't eat the rest of the dishes. (that's the problem when dining with young kids).

Sambal kang kong. Not bad.

Sambal clams with basil. It was so-so, I found the clams not very fresh.

Creamy butter prawns. The prawns weren't fresh so this dish was out.

Overall, I thought the food standard was so-so only. The only saving dish was the three-flavour fish, but it wasn't the best we've eaten. If we were to return to Port Dickson again, we would probably try other restaurants.

After our lunch, we drove to a nearby beach area where kayaks, canoes, jet skis are available for rental. The whole place was quiet since it was a weekday.

Many stalls selling swimwear, beachwear, sand toys and floats.

It was freaking hot, so we decided to drop by a stall to have some coconut shake and cendol.

This is the PD Famous Coconut Shake Power, RM3. Power indeed, the shake was creamy, thick and very sweet.

The iced cendol was very fragrant with gula melaka and coconut milk.

In a nutshell, we enjoyed our short getaway to Port Dickson, and with the positive experience this time, Port Dickson is once again back as one of our beach vacation choices.

28 May 2015

Port Dickson April 2015 (Part I) - Thistle Resort

Back in early April this year, our family made a short getaway to Malaysia, the first leg was to Genting Highlands for two nights with another two families, and the second leg on our own to Port Dickson for two nights.

Initially I was quite hesitant about going to Port Dickson because there isn't very much to offer there (we've been there a few times before some years back). But we felt like having a beach holiday so that the little rascal could get some sun and sea and so I started researching on the resorts available, not that there are that many to choose from. We used to stay at Avillion Port Dickson Resort; loved the water villas, but I wanted to try a different resort this time. The choice was between Grand Lexis and Thistle. Apparently Grand Lexis is ranked the number 1 resort in Port Dickson (on Tripadvisor), and all rooms come with its own private plunge pool. But after reading reviews and looking at traveller photos, I wasn't very convinced. With kids, a small private pool doesn't offer much excitement and I don't really like properties that are too big; usually the service level won't be attentive enough, and maintenance/upkeep is often an issue.

Decided to go for Thistle Resort which is ranked number 2. What sold me is the huge free-form pool with water slides which I believe the little rascal would love. Anyways, both hubby and I went with a low expectation but surprisingly the resort actually wowed us over, apart from a few misses here and there.

We reached the resort close to 3pm, just nice for check-in. The lobby area is bright and airy.

There are check-in desks at both left and right side of the lobby but only one side seemed to be in operation. No staff was around to usher guests, we saw 2 queue poles and some guests queuing in between 2 of the check-in desks, so we simply joined the queue. Check-in was pretty slow, the guests in front of us seemed to take forever. Then I noticed an issue, while we were queuing in front of the 2 desks, there is a 3rd check-in desk slightly further away, which is actually closer to the entrance.

Initially the staff was attending to a guest, and after that guest left, she didn't attend to those in the queue, instead she simply let other guests who just walked into the hotel jump queue to check-in. And this happened two times! I was in fact fuming and thought to myself this was a bad choice, this hotel has failed. Talk about first impressions.

Anyways, this is the lounge area where guests could enjoy a free welcome drink.

A mini spa corner where guests could enjoy a shoulder and back massage or foot reflexology. There is a spa that's located near the golf course of the resort but I didn't manage to go there.

With the bad first impression, my expectation fell even lower. Luckily the room was a saving grace. We booked the Deluxe Seaview room and was given a room on the highest level (level 6) which had a very good view. Although this wasn't the best room we had stayed before, I would say it's not bad, clean, cozy and well-maintained. We loved this super king size bed, it's like two queen beds joined into one, very comfortable for the three of us.

The usual desk and a cozy lounge corner which I like. I love rooms that come with cozy lounge couch or daybed so that I can laze and read on it. Well, the rascal actually took over it as his play area!

Flat screen TV, coffee & tea making accessories, mini bar fridge (in the cabinet).

Bathroom is a good size and very clean. Just that there isn't any bathtub which the rascal likes.

The balcony area is a little dirty though. Didn't manage to hang around too much (usually I would for beach resorts).

Love the panoramic view of the pool and the sea.

The pool looked very tempting indeed.

Overlooking the Straits of Malacca.

Lovely sunset.

The resort offers quite a few facilities for family, such as the Lego Room and Children Indoor Playground.

Kids who love lego could be kept occupied in this room.

The indoor playground is suitable for babies and toddlers.

And it comes with a big ball pit which kids love.

Other recreation activities include pool table (chargeable).

Table tennis (free).

There's also a movie room and a games room with three sets of Wii machine (but only one set seemed to be working).

The free form swimming pool! Our family really enjoyed this pool, spending almost 2-3 hours each day we were there.

The pool is divided into a few sections with different depths clearly demarcated. Safety staff/life guards could be seen patrolling tirelessly around the pool all day long, so we could definitely feel assured about safety here.

The kiddy pool and slide area which is very popular among young kids. Pool depth is pretty shallow so it's suitable for toddlers and pre-schoolers.

Upper deck of the kiddy pool is a wading pool for babies.

The pool-side bar. It's quite nice to hang around here for drinks. We ordered a banana split here as well.

The bigger slide which is located at the other side of the pool. The depth here is deeper so kids have to be monitored at all times. Now that he's older, the little rascal actually enjoyed this slide more than the other.

Ample lounge chairs available around the pool.

Kiddy playground which we didn't get to explore since we spent most time at the pool, beach or room.

Leading to the beach area.

Some outdoor games, good for teambuilding.

Leading to Cumulus, the beachside pool bar.

The beachside pool bar seemed to be closed when we were there, probably open only at night? We didn't check.

The beachside pool. We didn't come here since we preferred the bigger free-form pool.

Sea sports centre where guests can rent kayaks or jet ski.

The beach is quite clean and water surprisingly quite clear. The sea bed is gentle sloping so very safe for swimming. We enjoyed playing with sand and swimming here for both days. Watch out for sand flies though because we didn't put any insect repellent (only remembered sunblock) and got a few itchy bites.

Overall, the resort ground is well-maintained and clean; and staff quite friendly with good service quality. Next up, I'll share more on food at the resort which earned it a few more stars. Stay tuned!