The Merlin Beach Hotel,Patong/Phuket.I have just returned from a 10 day stay here (Feb 2011) and would not return, even for free.
The Hotel is very large, well laid out, and clean, but the up side stops there.
With exception of the room maids, all staff are lazy,slow,and seem unwilling to help or assist.
As an example: the pool towel boy ( only one outlet for ALL pools) makes you sign in all your details yourself, then sign out yourself (he won't get off his backside) but if you are a minute late in returning it, or can't find your signature out of the hundreds in the book (who carries reading glasses in a pool?) then be prepared for him to push his face into yours, and scream abuse at you. My Wife apologised four times to try and calm him down, but in the end had to just walk away before my response got physical, and we had only been there three hours. This experience set the scene for the rest of the stay.
The first evening meal was at the fish restaurant. My Wife had a type of fish pie, at an exorbitant price,( but we was on holiday) and I had a kebab style fish skewer.
After waiting for just under an hour, she was presented with a "Betty's Hot pot" style dish, with pastry topping. The pastry was uneadible,but the filling was just a half bowl of soup mixture with no visible signs of any fish, she couldn't eat it. Mine was 50% unidentified veg,it was a culinary disaster and a complete rip off.
The second meal at the Thai restaurant took nearly two hours to be served, and was stone cold, ,(as was ALL meals here) she started to eat,then nearly choked on some small ,but very potent seed spice, and as they do not supply any free water, meant another meal was not eaten due to a coughing bout. It took the same staff at this eatery over twenty minutes to get a Bacardi and Coke for me, and it took four waiters to decipher what it was I wanted, then on the second drink, got it wrong again.
We tried a third time ,after a day trip,and decdided on a good old meat pie,bad move,after over an hour waiting again,I was given a stone cold pie with stone cold gravy,but why bother to complain,they just stare at you,and do nothing.
All restaurants in the evening had no more than 5/6 couples in them, so that says it all I think, plus the food in town is a quarter of the price, and is very good, but 300 baht fare either way.
The only other meal we had there was a Valentines dinner (Feb 14th) on the beach. A surprise I thought, for my Wife, And it was: but for all the wrong reasons. It cost about 4000 baht in total, for a set 6 course meal.
The first five courses were all very small,and were ALL stone cold, and we could not tell what they were, the main fish course was all that could be eaten, the chairs stood on sand and sunk so low that your elbows were in line with your ears, and it took nearly three hours to complete the meal serving,( not surprising as they had to go all the way across "Camp" each trip,with each course,which was alway for the wrong couple), not a very nice experiance.Of the three couples within my immediate view, two of them left without finishing,( one woman actually RAN from the table with a napkin to her mouth) and one couple complained that they could not possibly eat ANY of the dishes they had been given, and tried to negotiate a refund, but as the staff "did not understand" they were wasting their time.(You will possibly find they complained somewhere on this site,I hope)
Breakfasts was slightly better, but that's because you served yourself. However,the food was inside the building, yet the egg station was outside, so no matter which way round you did it, it was ALWAYS cold. The toaster was so slow and had to go through three times to brown,so that was always cold, and when left at the table to get the rest of the food, was often taken away ,as was the knife and folk, which was the same for fruit as was for Bacon,so if you left it on the fruit plate.....they took it. To try and get replacements, or cups,milk,or even tea once you had a cup, was always difficult because the staff always seemed to be elsewhere, and even when you did find one, they would give you the thumbs up, then not come back. I got fed up with goowy,pre half cooked fried eggs after a few days, so I asked for a poached one. She cracked an egg into a pan of hot water( Not boiling) then proceeded to scoop it back out ,and dumped it all over my Bacon and tomato's with all the water and scum that was floating in the saucpan,my plate was swimming and uneadable.The staff seem completely untrained for the job, and don't seem to care that delay means cold food.
Other problems were: telephone ringing at two in the morning (I was in bed at Ten because there is no entertainment) asking if I wanted to watch TV, and no apology or reason why. Trying to get along the "Private Beach" without wellington boots (The very tiny "Beach" is fringed/covered with dead coral and it is razor sharp,dont try it without good strong flip flops, or let your kids on it.) Attempting to get my feet wet in the sea,(again don't try it, look at the terrain at low tide, and you will see why) and trying to get a drink by a pool before dying of thirst.
This Hotel is isolated from anything else, and is too far, and too dangerous to leave on foot after dark,3 foot x3 foot x 6 foot deep manholes without covers litter the "pavements", just waiting with open arms for you step into, packs of dogs living wild, just up the hill,(who bite) and litter and obstacles waiting to trip you up in the dark, and the management know it, so they seem to rack up the prices outragously.......as an example in the foyer, two Baileys that just covered the bottom of a tumbler,( and I do mean "just") cost £9,in town the glass was full.
This is the worst hotel for value and service that I have ever been in, and while I think of it.....if you are disabled,or in a chair, take your own horse with you, you will need it, but take one that can climb if you want to get to razor beach, it's a three foot drop over a stone retaining wall.
Am I fussy??? no I am not, but a holiday is hard earnt,and should be relaxing, this hotel does NOT fit the bill.
On the other hand,if you stop off in Bangkok,stay at the Bel Air (opp the "Landmark Hotel") and see what a service should be like (Merlin,take note)
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.