We stayed at The Khaolak Bhandari resort at the end of February into the first week of March and I think I can honestly say that this is probably one of the best Hotels we have stayed at in our 30 years of travelling the world. We had room 314, initially disappointed because generally we like first floor rooms, but after just a few hours we realised that the peace and quiet of the corner position looking out over the Relaxation Pavillion and Lily Pond was actually superb!
Our stay just got better and better as the days went by, breakfast in the restaurant was excellent, plenty of everything and a very good selection to suit all tastes, even proper bacon for us British who, despite being abroad, do enjoy our Bacon & Eggs!
Staff at the Hotel were without exception, brilliant, always happy to help, always smiling and with a very good command of English, rooms were cleaned / serviced twice a day and were immaculately clean, veranda's or balconies are spacious and comfortable. Gardens in The Bhandari Resort are immaculately groomed and maintained adding a really enjoyable feeling to walking around the Hotel. The Hotel has an excellent pool with plenty of sunbeds and a Poolside Bar that serves very good food at lunchtime at very reasonable prices.
The Big Tree Restaurant sited at the entrance to the Hotel grounds offers truly excellent food at reasonable prices, perfect if you don't want to walk to the main street, the bar is comfortable and the staff, as everywhere else in this Hotel, are extremely courteous, friendly and helpful.
Venturing out of the Hotel, turning left and then left again will lead to the main street with a huge variety of restaurants, shops and supermarkets, we tried somewhere different most nights, but felt drawn back to a couple in particular, MoJo's (Roast Duck in Orange Sauce - Fabulous!) again service was excellent and although it is not really fair to single out any staff, Kook Kai was our server and was really lovely, she also serves in one of our other favourites Khaolak Seafood, the third favourite, Sala Restaurant, sometimes service can be a bit slow, but the food was excellent. Throughout our stay we only had one poor meal at one of the main street restaurants, sadly I can't remember the name of it to warn others, but it sported plastic chequered table cloths and plastic patio type chairs, that should have been a hint really!
Our other let down was Indigo Restaurant, nicely situated on the beach but with prices starting at around 1500TBH (£30) per person for a main course, there are other hostelries on the beach front like Nangthong Beach Resort where prices are much more sensible. At Indigo be prepared to pay £70 - £80 per couple with drinks.
We took a couple of trips, one to the Phi Phi Islands with our tour operator and one to The Similan Islands with a local tour operator and of the two the local operator was without question the better run and operated, they leave earlier in the morning and tend to miss the huge volume of tour boats at the popular beaches where Thomson leave later, take 90 minutes to get to the Marina in Phuket and consequently arrive at the various Islands at the same time as every other boat resulting in overcrowding and limited space in which to swim because of the number of boats taking up mooring space on a relatively small beach. Having said that, the actual locations are beautiful, with white sand and crystal clear water. Our other criticism of the Thomson run Phi Phi Islands trip was the number of stops and getting on and off the boat, often into water and via a thin rung ladder, quite difficult if you have any health issues.
Our trip the the Similan Islands was a really well run experience, we went with Khao Lak Land Discovery, and would recommend this operator they are really well organised.
We also visited the Orchid & Butterfly Farm, bit of a waste of time really, very few Orchids in bloom and only about 5 or 6 different types of butterfly, perhaps this improves later in the year, I don't really know but wouldn't bother again.
Our holiday in Khaolak was without question one of the best we have ever had, certainly made all the better by our fabulous Hotel, The Bhandari Resort, when we go back to Thailand we will certainly be staying there again.