We stayed at the Merlin Khaolak from 13th March until 23rd March. We had a lovely room overlooking pool 2. The hotel has many different pools dotted around the grounds of the resort. There is a wonderful jungle atmosphere with large trees, plants and flowers all through the resort. There are a lot of steps and slopes to get from the top of the resort to the bottom and this may be difficult for those with mobility difficulties, we found it a blessing as this was the only exercise we got whilst staying at the resort. The beach is one of the nicest we have seen in Thailand and the sea is simply gorgeous, very clear and very warm.
We only ate twice in the hotel and this was at lunch at the beach bar. The food is adequate, a mixture of thai ,burgers and pizzas but I would recommend taking a short stroll along the beach(out of the hotel and right) to eat cheaper and nicer traditional thai food, we also walked into the area outside the hotel that I liked to refer to as the village where all the restaurants were happy to serve a lunch as small or large as you liked.
There is approx. 12 restaurants in the village and about 6 different bars, we found this more than adequate to cater to all our needs. The food is all of a similar quality and very tasty, but the service does vary. We particularly liked 999kitchen, which was just out of the village on the main road and Mali which serves both Thai and indian food and is just past the 4 tailors shops.
Our favourite bar was The Blackjack bar which did cocktails for 100baht., but the service was also good at the tiger bar,just a the bottom of the slope opposite the entrance to the emerald hotel.
We did get a taxi into Khaolak centre for a change of scenery this will cost you 150baht. There are many restaurants, shops/stalls and supermarkets in the centre and its well worth well worth a trip in. We also visited Bang Niang market, 250baht in a taxi, it gives you a real local feel, with stalls selling meat,Fish,veg as well as the requisite tourist items. There are also a myriad of cooked food stalls selling very cheap satay chicken,squid etc.
All taxis can be picked up in the village and all are set prices.
All in all we loved this hotel and would return, the only downside that I could find was that British tourists don't seem to have found this hotel unlike the Germans and the Swedish.
Oh and weather was superb throughout our stay.