As someone said in an earlier review, take care on which Centara the reviews appertain to. This hotel, the Centara Grand, is the only hotel with direct beach access in Karon. It's located about 1km away from Karon Circle, (about 10 minutes walk or 200 baht taxi ride). The first part of this walk is on a busy road so take care. It soon goes onto a pavement so the walk is generally ok. The taxi and tuk tuk (small open vans not motor cycle driven) rates here are more expensive than Bangkok by some way. It'll cost you 300B to Patong, but having done so, I'd have happily paid ten times that to get away from the place! There is a shuttle from the hotel leaving at 2 and 5, but the 5 o clock one doesn't have a return. Not sure if this is chargeable as we didn't use it. For local journeys the Hotel cars are about 100B more than the taxis at the top of the entrance ramp.
The staff are in the most part very polite and friendly, but I think that dealing with the huge amount of Russians, some of whom can be arrogant and impolite, sometimes affects the demeanour of the staff. One particular diminutive waiter at the Beachcomber bar definitely needs a course in customer relations. Maybe we caught him after a row with the wife!
We stayed in block 3 and although its a bit of a trek to get around, it was quiet, comfortable and clean. The balcony furniture was nice and there's also a fan on the balcony which is useful for the evenings.
The breakfast is ok, if a bit manic and often things run out without immediate replacement, but sitting outside rather than in the air conditioned dining room, does make the experience quite pleasant. There is the occasional wait for a table, but no more than a couple of minutes. It would also be handy if the "please wait to be seated" sign was translated into Russian.
I read that a lot of people don't agree that this is a 5 star hotel and although its very nice, I can understand why, because it does fall short in some areas, but one thing that is unquestionably 5 stars is the price of food and drink!
We came towards the end of April and we had no problem getting a sunbed. It can be more difficult if you leave it late in the morning, but even then, there seems to be plenty around the pools.
We're beach people and here it was clean, totally sandy and the sea nice to swim in. There is an undertow here, not something we experienced, but the swimming flag was always half red, half yellow. Depending on your likes, there are various water sports available. Another plus with the beach is that there are vendors where you can get reasonably priced drinks snacks and massage. A special mention here for the vigilance of the lifeguard. Apart from keeping a constant eye on swimmers, when the Hobie cats were out, he was watching through binoculars for any problems. Please don't think it's dangerous, it's not, but just be aware of the possible hazards.
The swimming pool is good, excellent for children. There's a lazy river plus some water slides that even us oldies enjoyed.
I was initially disappointed that Internet access in the room was chargeable albeit not exorbitant, but these days its not common for 5 star hotels to charge. However there is free access in the lobby and two other bar areas, one of which is the Beachcomber bar whose signal spreads to the beach, so we didn't bother paying any extra, especially as many bars in town also have free access.
At the time of writing Centara are running a promotion whereby if you pay 10000B you get 13000B of services, food and drink. There is a scale that gives greater savings with higher deposits. It's not something we took up, but it might suit some larger parties who can share the cost. Some people have mentioned spurious additions to their bill, we had no such issues.
As a couple nearing retirement age, overall, we enjoyed our stay here. We are so glad we selected Karon Beach rather than Patong, but having stayed in Phuket 15 years ago and having subsequently been to Koh Samui including after this visit to Phuket, I think this will sadly be our last visit to this part of Thailand.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket is a modern five-star luxury resort built directly on the foreshores of Karon Beach. Designed with distinct Phuket colonial Sino-Portuguese architecture, the luxury accommodation comprises of 262 guestrooms and villas. All guestrooms have a balcony and are ocean facing. Room types consist of spa suites, pool suites, deluxe suites and one and two bedroom villas. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket Hotel Karon
- Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket Karon