After searching far and wide for what we considered to be a good value holiday to Thailand, we took a risk and booked 2 weeks at the Alpina. I'd read all the reviews on Trip Advisor and it's fair to say they are a mixed bag, but having paid only 1500 AUD each (discounted from 2500) including flights, we weren't expecting too much. Trip booked via Expedia. Currently headed towards the end of the holiday and thought I'd write this while it's fresh!
As I write, the biggest irritation for me about this hotel continues unabated- the constant looping of the same CD at the Cabana Pool Bar. I think tonight I might buy them a new one! The bar staff do change it when asked, but they have a grand total of 3 different CDs. Perhaps the manager would like to invest in an IPod. The staff just don't seem to recognise the music is constantly repeating, perhaps they're used to it- surely you'd realize even if the lyrics aren't in your first language?
The hotel is in Kata, on Ket Kwan Road, just off Patak Road, not in Karon as stated incorrectly on many websites, including Trip Advisor. It takes about an hour to reach from Phuket airport by taxi. We grabbed one of the red/yellow taxis (turn right out of the arrival hall door, fight your way through all the private drivers who will charge you a fortune and take you via some shop or the like, even if you don't want to go, apparently)- the cost was 600 baht.
We arrived late in the evening and were greeted immediately, given cold towels and a drink and shown to our room. The desk service was polite, but it was obvious most staff had very limited English - though still vastly better than my Thai. I later spoke to the hotel manager, Gino, about this, and he told me he is having the staff take English lessons twice weekly. Other reviews have mentioned staff as being rude and lazy. In fact, we have found the staff incredibly helpful, anything we have asked or requested has been actioned without delay, despite the language barrier.
We booked a double room with pool access. Very clean, but a little dated and in need of a few touch ups here and there, but overall very pleasant. The access into the pool from our balcony is fabulous. We appreciate our balcony being in the shade most of the day (we get enough sun back in Oz) so we have spent most of our pool time there, chilling and people watching. It's definitely worth the few extra dollars per night to book one of these rooms. We asked for cushions for the balcony loungers and these were delivered rapidly, otherwise the loungers would have been rather uncomfortable. The bathroom is huge, fantastic rain shower and double sinks. Beds are indeed hard, as stated by others, but despite this I have slept very well. There is never any noise disturbance at night. Our bed is two singles pushed together, but we haven't found this an issue, though consequently the wall mounted lights in the middle of the headboard are a bit irritating. Other reviews have mentioned poor TV reception, this is correct, but not an issue for us- who sits in their room all day watching TV while on holiday?
There aren't many other native English speaking guests here, mainly Russian and Scandinavians, not an issue for us but might be if you're the type of person who wants to make friends with everyone at the pool.
Breakfast is a buffet affair, with a whole hoard of Western and Thai food to choose from. There's a cook's station where you can have eggs cooked to order. I recommend the omelettes, but not the soft boiled eggs - mine looked like they'd never been near hot water and were inedible. Other reviewers have commented the pans were dirty - this is not the case. We have fueled ourselves so well we rarely need to eat lunch. It is getting a bit repetitive towards then end of the holiday, but that would be the same at any hotel I think. Another guest told us they'd seen a rat run across the breakfast room! We haven't seen any rodents but I'll be keeping my eyes open! During busy times, there is sometimes a brief wait for a table to be cleared, and don't expect the coffee/tea to be brought to you- even though it is clearly meant to be.
The pool are is kept very clean and tidy, there are enough sun loungers to go round, and no irritating reservation of loungers going on, which is a welcome change! The hotel provides pool towels in plentiful supply. The pool bar serves reasonably priced drinks (for a hotel)- 100 Baht plus taxes for a can of Singha. However, and quite bizarrely, it's cheaper to drink the same out of your minibar in your room - 69 plus taxes. (Price in town bar between 60 to 100 baht inc taxes for a small Singha, cheaper during happy hours). Even cheaper if you wander 2 minutes down the road to the local 7/11 store where large bottles of Singha, Tiger and Chang are around 50 Baht each. Between 5 and 6 pm there is a happy hour, 2 for 1 on the same drink. Makes the cocktails become reasonably priced. Also around this time, a large furry elephant (aka person in an elephant suit) wanders around the pool area - kids love it.
Every Thursday evening, the hotel manager Gino holds a cocktail party between 6.30 and 7.30pm - a chance to drink a few (or as many as you can) free drinks and air any grievances with him. I've never experienced this in any hotel I have stayed at before, and I'm impressed, though I'm not sure if any grievances ever get acted upon!
It's a short 10 minute walk into the town, dodging the multiple masseurs, tuk-tuk drivers and tailors hassling you to get your business. After initially being incredibly polite, I have now found ignoring them works quite well. The hotel provides transport to their 'private' section or Kata beach every hour on the hour, and no more frequently. The beach isn't private and we haven't used it, preferring to wander into town at our own pace and explore. Kata Noi beach, just south of Kata Beach, is much quieter and only about a 25 minute walk from the hotel, though those with children or disabilities should note there are often no footpaths. It costs 200 baht for 2 sun beds and an umbrella. Overlooking the hotel, up an incredibly steep bank, is the Rattri Italian Restaurant. Well worth the trek, even though you will be very sweaty by the time you make it up there. Amazing Sunset views over Kata and Karon, and a great happy hour from 6 until 7pm. Delicious food, excellent service and live music from the piano. More expensive than restaurants in town, but in a totally different class.
Overall I have found this hotel to be generally pleasant, and we have enjoyed our stay. I have no major gripes. Probably 3.5 stars by Western standards, and certainly excellent value for money, for what we paid. I would not have felt the same if we had paid the original price, prior to Expedia discount. So I would recommend this hotel if you get a good deal, but don't expect 4 or 5 star luxury - if you do, you'll be disappointed.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Offering an eclectic mix of unrivalled services and facilities, Alpina Phuket Nalina Resort & Spa is the destination of choice for singles, couples and families alike. A combination of charming oriental hospitality showcased by friendly and personalized service and intelligently designed facilities creates a perfect holiday experience with memories to last a lifetime. The resort's peaceful setting fosters a laid-back and relaxed ambience in which guests can completely switch off and enjoy the luxury of the surroundings and the many facilities at their disposal. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Alpina Phuket Nalina Resort And Spa
- Alpina Phuket Nalina Hotel Karon
- Alpina Phuket Nalina Resort & Spa Kata Beach