This was our second visit to the BT and third to the Laguna hotels (last visit 2002) This time we brought the children (10 and 6) for 7 nights. The BT is not necessarily aimed at children (as a "spa" hotel other guests were maybe hoping that there wouldnt be any children!), but we thought they would have a great time there and they did. They were by no means the only children in the resort. All in all we had a fantastic week and would definitely go back.
Our stay didnt get off to a great start as they didnt seem to be expecting us when we arrived, and so our check-in was a bit laborious - not great after a 20 hour journey. Eventually the cold towels, drink, flowers etc arrived. For the rest of our stay the smiling helpful and friendly staff were a highlight.
We had a Pool Villa, which are great. Other reviewers have detailed the facilities, so I just pick out our highlights. Plenty of space, and a good sized private pool and garden. The rooms were in decent condition and hadnt changed much in the last 6 years. Room highlights include excellent coffee machine (although make sure you order plenty of milk), outside sunken bath, great shower, free WiFi, good hifi, aromatherapy oils/candles and josticks with different scents each night. Housekeeping was a little bit hit and miss, and some items took 3 or 4 requests to arrive, but that may have been down to a language issue.
Breakfast was excellent. pretty much everything you would expect in a good 5 star international hotel buffet breakfast, and good Asian selection too. A complimentary champagne cocktail started every day with a kick.
The resort is quite spread out, but buggies arrive promptly to take you wherever you want. Our room happened to be 3 or 4 mins walk from the beach. All beaches are public in Thailand and so there are a couple of non-hotel bars and restaurants (basic Thai beach wooden shacks) on the beach by the hotel. Far from being a draw back, this is one of the reasons why we wanted to go to the BT so that we could eat informally on the beach in the evenings with the children, rather than in hotel restaurants. We ate several times on the beach - at the Lotus (5-10 mins walk south, though they will send a car) or nearer to the BT (the one on the left by the hotel towel kiosk had the best Tod Man Pla and the best Pad Thai we had in Thailand). Food was always excellent, although the Lotus has grown a lot since we first went there in 1998, and is a bit commercialised. The hotel has beds and shades on the beach, and a couple of hotel staff for towels, but not complimentary water / cold towels etc (at least not that we saw). You can order food / drinks from them from the hotel, although most people seemed to get a cold Singha or coconut from one of the beach bars. You can also have a cheap Thai massage on your sunbed. We didnt have any problems finding 4 sunbeds (see other reviews).
The hotel pool area is well laid out, and usually very quiet. The only real complaint we had during our stay related to this area. The pool area staff, and the pool bar/restaurant staff, were not on the ball. Particularly given how quiet it was, with rarely more than a dozen people by the pool (dont forget almost all villas have their own pool too), the service and attention (for pool towels, water, cold towels, trying to order food and drinks, bothering to switch on the various jets and lazy rivers in the pool etc) was not 5 star. We raised this with the v helpful F&B manager when we left and am sure this will have had his attention.
We did a few trips through the Laguna Tours desk at the hotel. We went snorkelling twice, hiring speedboats (2 crew) from one of the sub-contractors, Coral Seekers. They seem quite a small outfit but were excellent, with good boats and great crew. Price was about US$250-300 for a long half day, but if there are 4 of you then it is about the same price as going on a shared "tour" boat and 20 times better. We did the elephant trekking near Ban Pae waterfall. This was very commercialised and disappointing (OK, am glad to have ridden on an elephant) but you might be better off saving the driving time and go on an elephant ride in the Laguna complex near the Canal Village.
One night we had an in-villa barbecue. This was superb. We ordered for 2, but it fed 4. We had a chef and a waiter who brought a barbecue and set up dinner in the garden with table linen, flowers etc. and then cooked and served us all evening.
We used the spa once, which was excellent as expected. Didnt play golf or tennis this time, but have done before.
It is a great hotel. There are probably better hotels in the Far East, but it still must rank as one of the best, and although expensive, a Pool Villa is actually pretty good value for what you get. Compared to any hotel where you "just" get a room, however grand, this is in a different league. A great holiday.
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- Also Known As:
- Banyan Tree Phuket Hotel Thalang
- Hampton Inn Cherngtalay
- Banyan Tree Phuket Cherngtalay
- Banyan Tree Phuket Thailand