Nights at base camp

Jakarta Post/ANN

Perched high on a hill overlooking over Kata Bay, the Eastin Yama Hotel Phuket offers a stunning view of guesthouses and bungalows scattered among coconut palms and an azure blue sea stretching out as far as the eye can see. It's not the view that is drawing Chinese tourists as well as the European long-stayers though, but the price.

That's because the Eastin Yama offers very affordable prices for a comfortable guestroom.

The hotel boasts 104 rooms and suites along with a free-form swimming pool with Jacuzzi. Like many hotels aiming to cash in on the ever-growing Chinese market, Eastin Yama chooses not to focus on fancy dining - the Chinese never eat at the hotel. It does though have an all-day dining venue serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, a themed rooftop restaurant with sky bar and a pool bar for guests wanting to chill over cocktails after a full day at the beach.

My room is a Deluxe Sea View with a sizeable balcony. It's a nice room and brings to mind a Bangkok studio apartment. A mini bar, long table and television set take up one of the walls and a king-sized bed is on the other. It's a typical hotel room layout and the white walls, white sheets, white carpet, grey curtains and light coloured furniture make the room seem bigger than it really is. The living area is furnished with an L-shaped couch.

The Deluxe rooms have rain showers and bathtub, while the Superior - the standard room - comes with rain shower alone.

So all in all, it is a comfortable room and comes with the standard amenities - free Wi-Fi Internet access, coffee and tea maker, safety box and LCD TV with 24-hour local and satellite feed deluxe channels. I could have stayed happily for a week or longer without wanting a change.

What would give me second thoughts about checking into Eastin Yama is the breakfast. Personally, I like to wake up early and read a book or newspaper as I eat my ham, egg and toast. That's just not possible at the Eastin Yama.

The hotel is full of Chinese tourists. One Chinese man sits himself down at my table without caring if the seat might be occupied by a companion at the buffet table. I give him a "be-my-guest" smile, but the man is not amused. He leaves me as soon as he notices my book, and realises that I am not one of them. Chinese tourists don't read through breakfast - they shout.

In many ways, the Eastin Yama Hotel Phuket is more of a service apartment - or at least guests treat it as such. I talk to a European family of three who has been at the Eastin Yama for several weeks. They wake up for breakfast, walk to the beach and spend the whole day exploring different parts of Phuket. They'd rather pay less and stay for longer.

The Eastin Yama is made for young holidaymakers and families who want nothing more than a "base camp" for exploring Phuket - day and night. Those who prefer a boutique hotel with stylish items won't find it here.