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I’ve been pretty open on this blog and social media that I do have a full time remote job where I need to work for 40 hours per week. Being fully remote, it allows me to travel full time, but unusually, I am one of the few people in the company that embraces remote work and digital nomadism.
Most of my colleagues work from their home, especially if they have family, children or other commitments that don’t allow them the freedom to work from anywhere.
For these reasons, I had only met a couple of my colleagues and most people had never met in person. In the last year or so, there had been growing talks about having a company retreat so that all of the people that work for my company could meet in one location and finally meet in person for the first time after years of Zoom calls.
It was teased that the company retreat would be held in Asia. Before it was announced, I guessed that Phuket would be an excellent option to host us.
A few months later, my thoughts were confirmed, the company retreat would indeed be held in Phuket in Thailand!
But why did I think Phuket would be the perfect destination for a company retreat and more importantly, why did my company think the same? If you’re planning on booking a company retreat for a remote team, here are 7 reasons why Phuket is perfect!
The 7 Reasons Why Phuket Is A Great Place for a Company Retreat
1. It has a major international airport
Our team is made up of a variety of people with different travelling experiences from all six continents. Luckily, Phuket International Airport is well served by a variety of international airlines that can reach almost anywhere in the world with one stop, and more remote destinations in a couple.
This is perfect for those that aren’t experienced travellers. Would you want to get internal flights and additional buses, trains or boats in the first few hours of arriving in a foreign country for the first time?
With airlines like Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Emirates, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines all having flights to Phuket airport, it provides connections to literally hundreds of destination all over the world.
From the airport, an airport transfer was provided by the company to easily take workers to our destination in under an hour.
2. Excellent internet
Thailand is a well known and popular destination for digital nomads, with one of the main reasons being the excellent internet speeds.
Unlike other more remote island paradises, Phuket has internet speeds that can regular hit 100mb/s, fast enough for all digital nomads. Hotels, cafes and coworking spaces all have excellent internet and there is 5G signal around most of the island if you get a sim card.
There will be no excuse not to get work done!
3. Not many countries need visas
Fortunately, Thailand has an extremely generous visa free/ visa on arrival regime for passport holders of many countries. With 27 nationalities arriving from all over the world with a wide array of passports, getting visas would have been a logistical nightmare. Luckily, nobody had to get a visa in advance and everyone got a visa on arrival that lasts for 30 days. With the event being only a week long, it was more than enough for those that returned home after but also allowed enough time for those (including me!) that wanted to travel after.
4. It’s tourist friendly for first timers
Some team members had never left their home country before.
Travelling half way across the world to a different culture can be daunting. Luckily, Phuket is very tourist friendly and makes a great introduction for those first time travellers.
At the airport, everything is clearly signposted in English, Thai, Chinese and Russian. There are an abundance of taxis around to take you to your accommodation.
There are plenty of events and activities going on such as visiting an elephant sanctuary and boat trips that can easily be booked and hotel pick ups are normally included.
And if you’re feeling more adventurous and want to get out of your hotel and explore different food and drink options, Phuket is an extremely safe place to visit and it is easy to walk to get cheap and tasty streetfood.
5. It has adventurous activities for experienced travellers
Some team members (including myself!) are very well travelled and would like to do something a bit more adventurous that just sit by a pool all day. Luckily Phuket caters to that as well.
It’s possible to hire a moped and scoot your way around the island exploring local restaurants where menus are only in Thai. There are ziplining and other adventurous activities.
I normally prefer staying away from tourist resorts so I also visited Phuket old town that has a fantastic mix of old style Chinese shop houses, local craft stalls, the Sunday night market and the Phuket vegetarian festival going on. There is also the Soi Dog foundation if you would like to volunteer with pets, plenty of golf courses around and water sport activities on nearlyevery beach.
It blew away my preconceptions and really showed me that Phuket is much more than resorts and partying.
6. It’s affordable
With most of the team getting paid in US dollars, Phuket is an affordbale destination not just for the company, but for when the team members arrive as well.
With limited connecting flights as mentioned, as well as budget airlines for team members already located in south east Asia, it keeps the travel budget low.
We stayed in a 4 star hotel with conference and business facilities and from having a sneak peak on the hotel website, the rooms only cost $50USD per night. The value of that is amazing compared to what you would pay in other countries. (I don’t actually know how much my company paid or if they got a bulk discount so please don’t ask!).
When outside the resort and spending your free time, Thailand and Phuket offers excellent value for money. A massage in the hotel costs 1800THB or you could walk 5 minutes and have one whilst lying on the beach for only 300THB. Close to where we were staying for the retreat, street food options started at 80-100THB for a simple pad thai but in Phuket old town, night markets had noodle dishes for 30THB, less than $1!
7. It has a wide variety of accommodation options
Many team members stayed on in Phuket for some time after the retreat and some got there beforehand.
Fortunately, with Phuket so geared to tourism, there is an abundance of accommodation options all over the island. I know of people that stayed on in resorts with their family, others that decided to stay in a hostel and others still that went to guesthouses or other budget hotels.
Even if your first destination isn’t quite what you liked at first, it is so easy to move to other beaches, to the old town or even right across the island using Grab. One team member stayed at a resort, hated it, then came to stay close to me in the old town after just two days.
Phuket as a company retreat destination
As this was the first time that my company ran a company retreat, there was a lot to learn from it but also many many positives to take away. I learned to love the island of Phuket because of the diversity that it has, from local festivals to high quality resorts and everything in between.
If a future company retreat takes place in Phuket, I will be more than happy to attend as I know that it has something for everyone. As the first destination that a fully remote company has got together to meet everyone in person, I think it is the perfect place to go and would recommend it to any other remote companies that are hoping to see each other in real life.
Dan is an avid traveller from London. His first big adventure was in 2010 living in Malaysia for 3 months and becoming a divemaster. He has been on the road almost constantly since 2015 travelling to destinations that aren’t on the mainstream tourist trail.