Just got back after two weeks here for my honeymoon.
Before I start, let me address the two apparently 'controversial' items about this resort- the monkey trail, and the floating pontoon.
The Monkey Trail: one reviewer went as far as to say: "...with many narrow steps to climb up and down for 20 minutes + in excruciating heat and humidity with danger of being attacked by monkeys or robbed by thieves".
It took me and my wife (and then later another two couples) a whole 8 minutes to go up and down. We aren't particularly fit. The trail has lots of wooden boards to use to go up, along, then down. The boards are wider spaced in places, but at no point is it dangerous. Yes it's hot and humid, but...shock...it's like it everywhere in that area, not just the trail.
The monkeys themselves are totally chilled. As we aren't used to being so close to monkeys, the first time we had to walk past one sat on the hand rail, we weren't sure what to expect. They just look, then get bored. At about half three/ four PM, they all head down to the bottom of the trail and relax, grooming each other or just trying to eat coconuts. As for getting robbed by thieves- lol. There is a security guard shack at either end of the trail, and they keep an eye on who uses it. We only passed commuting workers at Centara, either going to or from Ao Nang or other tourists.
You do need to be able bodied, and kids will need to be told to walk slowly and surely, but it is no big deal at all.
Secondly, the pontoon- it's perfectly safe, and it looks worse than it is. It does roll up and down with the waves, but we used it a lot, and watched others use it and there is no issue. The Thais are very happy to help if you look like you're in trouble.
As for people not being told about the Monkey Trail and then complaining they feel isolated....really? They clearly use TripAdvisor, but don't bother reading about the resort they are spending £1000+ going to? Come on, pull the other one.
OK, so on with the review.
As has been mentioned, the resort is indeed isolated to a point. You can either walk out using the Monkey Trail, or if the tide is out, you can just walk around the outcropping and save time/effort. Also, a free shuttle boat is available that takes you to Nopparathara Pier, which is basically the other side of Ao Nang. You can then get a cheap (£1) tuktuk (motorbike with sidecar) back into Ao Nang. All very easy and no hassles. Personally, we never bothered with the boat as the Monkey Trail was so easy.
We arrived after sunset, and reception was busy but we only waited 10 mins for our room, and were given refreshments while we waited.
We stayed in one of the Villas next to the pool, with a sea view, and as such we had a slightly bigger residence than some of the other buildings. They knew we were on a honeymoon, so they had laid on some champagne, a cake and fruit as a nice welcome. Very nice touch! The villa had lots of space, a large living room with sofas and TV (which we never used so can't comment on the channels etc) and a large bedroom also.
The bedroom came with a king-size bed, which was very comfortable. Nice to see four heavy pillows supplied also. There was, like the lounge, a TV in the room which we didn't use, and also a desk in one corner which was great if you wanted to do emails etc. The villa has it's own dedicated wifi router, which is chargeable unless, like us, you sign up to their 'Club' service- more on that in a minute.
You get a well stocked (but expectedly expensive) minibar, but tea/coffee and bottled water is plentiful and free (as the tap water isn't drinkable)
The villa has 2 seperate aircon controls, one for the lounge area, one for the bedroom, and ceiling fans. Aircon was very good, no problem keeping cool.
When we arrived, we got a free Spa treatment for both of us, which was amazingly good! I don't normally care one way or the other for massages, but the whole environment of the Spa was brilliant and was very relaxing (we both went for the Aromatherapy massage).
I would *highly* recommend going for the Club upgrade, which was very much worth it. You basically upgrade before you go, and you get: free internet, turn-down service daily, free papers, 10% off at the Spa, complimentary laundry service (one piece each per day) and access to the Club Lounge. This was the real highlight for me of the Club Service, as it's a very comfortable building where you are treated so well by the attentive staff who always have a smile and you get to know (hello to Cha and Pat!).
The Club Lounge is open all day, and they serve Breakfast, Mid-day snacks, Afternoon Tea, Pre-dinner cocktails and Evening cordials- all free of charge. They don't skimp on the alcohol servings either, so beware!
Ao Nang itself is worth heading into, some great places to eat if you fancy escaping the resort (and the resort prices)- all cheap and very good. Also, if you fancy some nightlife, Centrepoint is a good place to start, you can enjoy cheap drinks and shisha pipes there.
OK, what else- the pools are unheated, but heating them is really unnecessary anyway. The sea is much more preferable anyway and is a stones throw from the pool.
Due to the sudden rain downpours, there are umbrellas everywhere for use on the resort, which is a nice touch.
There are 3 restaurants and 2 bars in the hotel, all of which are lovely. As we went in low season, I don't know if them being very quiet is a result of this, or people just not being that interested in eating/drinking in the resort.
You can also book trips in the resort, as they have a travel desk in the Library (where you can also get free wifi). I felt they were very reasonably priced (for instance, an all day Phi Phi trip was £35 each)
OK, so to the things that weren't so good.
Clearly the resort was undergoing refurbishment in the empty rooms, and they were beavering away to complete this before high season kicks off. This didn't cause any noise issues, but did take away from the serenity of the place. My point was really that some of the rooms (ours included) were due this refurbishment, and there were things that were starting to fray around the edges.
For instance- we had an outside door with a bolt that can be slid into the upper frame, and this would secure the door. Unfortunately, this whole bolt mechanism had fallen out (no screws holding it in!). Why the previous residents had't reported it is beyond me, but maybe there should've been checks in-between checkout of one couple and check in of the next?
Also, our balcony lights didn't work- this wasn't a simple 'change the bulbs' job either.
Finally, our bathroom sink wasn't draining properly.
Now, in each instance, a quick call to reception yielded a member of engineering coming out within 20 minutes to rectify the problem. Lets face it, things to wrong in any establishment- it's how, and how quickly they deal with it, that earns them the respect. I was very impressed with the speed of putting these things right (the lights issue was reported at about 9pm).
But, refurbishments are needed, it's little things that you barely notice but all stack up.
Also, a shout out to Sara and Jan, who were the ceaselessly working managers running around making sure everyone was happy. We met them officially when we were invited to 'meet the management' over drinks and canapes in the Rim Sai restaurant. It's nice that they care enough to get direct feedback, although only 6 guests were there (don't know how many were invited).
So, in summary- we had a fantastic time, the resort, the staff, even the unpredictable weather were all great. We'd love to come back soon!
PS. Those who complain about the staff not speaking English....really???!
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- Also Known As:
- Centara Grand Beach Resort And Villas
- Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hotel Ao Nang
- Centara Grand Beach Hotel
- Centara Grand Beach Krabi
- Central Krabi Hotel
- Central Krabi Bay Resort
- Central Bay Resort Krabi
- Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi Ao Nang