The Mandalai is a beautiful building (by Stem Architects, I believe) with clever little design motifs peppered throughout. The rooms surround a small but elegant plunge pool in the courtyard.
We booked a Beach View Suite (although the term "suite" is misleading though because there is no separate seating area). Terminology aside, the room itself was very well appointed with a jacuzzi, and separate shower and toilet. However, the quality of workmanship was little uneven throughout (squeaking doors, bath paneling not quite flush) which lends an overall sense that the architectural concept outstripped the capability of the builders and fitters that delivered the project.
The view was very beautiful but unfortunately opening the windows invited a strong stench of drying fish. Chaloklum is a working fishing village so this should perhaps not be unexpected but equally the Mandalai was the only place along the beach where we could smell it.
The inclusive breakfast was taken at the sister restaurant Sheesha next door to the Mandalai. The continental breakfast was very good; the American breakfast was slightly unsettling.
The Thai staff were very friendly but slightly inexperienced and gawkish; the reception was staffed sporadically which would be out of keeping for a true 4-star hotel.
Chaloklum itself is charming and unspoiled with a small, chilled crew of mostly French visitors. We came from Bo Phut, Ko Samui, a former fishing village destroyed by an influx of foreign package tourists. I suspect Chaloklum will ultimately go the same way. The Mandalai is the first of what will probably be a slow trickle and then a steady stream of boutique hotels.
Go soon if you want to catch it before it slides.
Would I recommend the Mandalai? Sadly, probably not. It was very beautiful and comfortable but the hotel is really a 3-star with 4-star prices; and ultimately the smell of fish really detracted from our enjoyment.
I have three specific issues that require management attention if anybody from the Mandalai wishes to act on this review.
- The windows were covered in bird droppings and this was not cleaned during the 3 days that we stayed.
- The safe was broken in our room (Room 7) which was not a problem for us because we carry a travel safe but it will probably be a problem for future guests.
- Describing the rooms as Suites is misleading and this should be corrected on advertising literature.
- Also Known As:
- Mandalai Hotel Ko Phangan
- Mandalai Boutique Hotel
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Mandalai is the first hip boutique hotel on the Island. The hotel is located in the heart of Koh Phangan's fisherman village in Chaloklum Bay. Superbly situated on the beach front enjoying spectacular sea views and surrounded by the necklace of mountains. ... more less
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