I believe this hotel could have scored a 5 for us but there were a few factors that brought the score down. Firstly the good stuff.
We had a basic deluxe room which was finished beautifully and had lots of detailed well thought out extras in the room. All manner of toiletries (including toothpaste, which we ran out of through the holiday so this was really handy!) Cork screw, wine glasses, drink making facilities, dressing gown, umbrellas. I've been to a few 5 star hotels that don't provide this detail. Room kept wonderfully clean by our lovely house cleaner.
Location - beautiful beach. 10 minute walk to town with some good bars and restaurants.
People - Lovely helpful happy smiley staff. Which is more than can be said about some of the guests! Why can't people smile more - you are on holiday after all!
Comfortable sun beds, nice good clean towels.
Food - We had excellent experience in the Al a Carte, and lunch & the bars. Service and quality of food always good. Bit more expensive than in town - but what a location to eat - that's worth every penny extra (and it is just pennies!). I think the happy hours made the bars busier but we like to have pre dinner drink after we've got ready so quite often we sat at the beach bar on our own about 7pm and what a lovely romantic setting with wonderful service, and once again compared to UK drink prices, we felt it was fantastic value.
New Years Eve - was the best we have both experienced. Unforgettable. We didn't partake of the gala evening, went into town but returned to hotel around 10:30 for a few drinks at the beach bar. The fire works and lanterns on the beach. We loved it.
Some of the negatives I am going to mention now I believe was because we had under estimated how busy the hotel would be over Xmas and New Year.
Sunbeds - everyone has mentioned them and to honest we gave up trying to fight for the best ones - we're not that competitive! There are not enough on the beach for everyone - that can't be helped. I don't really like noisy pool environment either but we did find solace by the pool up near our room - on the higher level - where we spent our time if we weren't on excursions or in town.
Breakfast - we had to be there before 7:30 to have a peaceful time of it otherwise canteen madness broke out! Once again those happy smiley guests filled the place with joy (not!).
So mornings coupled with sunbed choosing and breakfast could be a stressful affair - that's just us though - some people seem to love the competition in the mornings! We arrived one morning at 7am for breakfast and people were already on the sun beds - they didn't budge till 9:25 - when they went for breakfast - we did this once so we could have one day on the beach we didn't bother again - too much like hard work for a holiday!
Lack of understanding of English by staff. Difficult one this as they certainly speak more English than I do Thai... but it could cause minor problems. Our room was not cleaned until after 3pm, we got used to that and worked round it but one day we were getting ready to go to Biang Nang market at 4:30. The house keeper was in the room just before ours so we asked her to wait 5 minutes and we would be out of the room. We thought she understood. When we returned quite late our room was not made up and we walked our long trek down to reception (we could have rung but was not confident the receptionist would understand) We just needed some fresh towels - which to their credit were in the room before we had walked back.
Lighting in room was awful as well, which is okay until you really need it for what ever reason.
Our room looked onto the garden/jungle which because the mosquitos seemed to like me we couldn't sit out on which was a shame for us as we like to sit out on the balcony in the evenings - but there wasn't much to look at.
Any way we want to come back next January when maybe it's not quite so busy. We think all our small gripes can be remedied by upgrading to a beach bungalow, which looked very nice, giving you your own space on the beach and just that added bit of luxury, it seems that Thomson don't offer upgrades past Deluxe rooms for as we've done some investigation - so we aim to contact hotel for that.
All in all a lovely hotel with good management. We can't wait until next year, where I'm sure it will rate 5!