My wife and I stayed at Pimalai a couple of years ago, at the end of October. The resort itself is very nice, great ground care, the staff is friendly and accomodating. Lots of non-US folks - Germans, Aussies, Japanese, French. Different types of rooms - at the time we were there, they were building three new upscale villas, each with individual plunge pool, should be great. We had a week of stay in pavillion suite with garden shower (great feature!). Two units share a joint entrance veranda with a tiny pool with floating lillies - you may rent two units for your family, if money is not an issue. I did not see a big advantage of those pavillions facing the beach directly - more expensive but just about the same (still too far from the water, however, bear in mind that the landscape may've changed after tsunami).
Restaurants - one main and one on the beach - serve good mix of Thai food and "White dudes" (as one of the locals said) food. A bit pricey, but step a 100 yards to your left on the beach - and find yourself in a very cheap, yet almost (!) as good as in Pimalai, local restaurant ("Same, same, but different" - very innovative name, isn't it?).
They have organized boat trips (snorkeling) ranging from 2 to 5 hours, once a day (after breakfast). I am an avid snorkeler myself, and this was our second trip to Andaman Sea (first was to the Andaman Islands) - I have enjoyed immensely those trips, although - once again - they are not cheap, if I remember correctly, they were like 25-40 $ per person. They serve lunch on those trips (included) - simple, but very good (fresh catch, chicken cabobs, etc.). If you would not be happy with 10-15 other fellow passengers (some of them are novice, which might be a drag), you could arrange a longboat trip right from the Resort's beach - I think it was like 50-100 $ for a day, and be more flexible in terms of where to go for snorkeling - boat owners know all the best places. They are really fast and could cover long trips easy.
Pimalai also has an incredible spa (highly recommend!!!), and part of our special package was a 3 hour long treat including facial treatment, body wrap and a full body massage. Beyond anything, seriously! Take advantage of that!
Locals are OK with tourists.
Not too many backpackers, although some of them were. But we barely used resort's beach anyway.
Hard to get there, but well worth it - my motto.
Incredibly powerful and picturesque sunsets...
Do it, guys, you wouldn't regret!!!