First a disclaimer:
I am not overly picky. I read lots of reviews on TripAdvisor and think "that person must be a real snob or must need thicker skin if that really bothered them!" When I go on vacation, I usually see the glass half full and enjoy wherever I am. With that being said, I write the following review:
Decide what you want out of your Phi Phi experience. There are two main areas to stay: (1) The Tonsai area. Think of this as "town." (2) The Long Beach area. The Holiday Inn is on Long Beach. It is not close to town, and it costs about $30 (American) each way to get to town.
If you want access to several restaurants, excursions to Maya Bay/Ko Phi Phi Le and other islands, shops, boat trips, water sports, etc., then you want to stay IN TOWN. If you want to a nice beach with few services, then Long Beach might be better.
Long Beach is beautiful. There are about 6 hotels, including the Holiday Inn. There are a few restaurants. And there is a gypsy village. Aside from that, you basically feel away from the action.
The beach in town is just as beautiful as Long Beach, if not better. And the beach in town has far more services, restaurants, and water sports.
Determining which beach you want to stay on should be your #1 priority when booking a hotel on Koh Phi Phi Don. I wish I understood this before I booked the Holiday Inn!
THE FRONT DESK STAFF AT THE HOLIDAY INN:
Disappointing. We arrived at the prescheduled check-in time, but our room was not yet ready. No worries. We are on vacation, and we are standing on a beautiful beach! So we just left our suitcases in the lobby and enjoyed the beach. After an hour or so, we inquired again. Our room was still not ready. At this point, it was starting to get ridiculous. Eventually, we were given a key, but when we got to our room, the previous guests' room service had not been cleared.
We went to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Krabi before we went to Phi Phi. In our experience, the service staff knew enough English to do their jobs. Ask the waiter about taxis to the airport, and the waiter would be stumped. But ask the waiter about food, and he could answer your questions just fine. The key was to stick to the service staff's area of expertise and their English would be sufficient. NOT SO AT THE HOLIDAY INN. Here is but one example:
There is only one commercial pier on the island: Tonsai. (There is a smaller pier near the Holiday Inn). I have little doubt that many guests, if not most guests, arrive at Tonsai and take a longtail boat or other shuttle boat to the Holiday Inn. The day before we were to check out, the hotel staff contacted us and asked us how we were planning to leave. I told them that we would be taking a longtail boat from the Holiday Inn to the pier at Tonsai. This is not particularly surprising, and I imagine it is quite common. Yet it took me 35 minutes to convey this plan to the front desk staff. And, as I found out the following day, he got the plan wrong! (He had booked us a longtail boat for the wrong time!) This is analogous to telling the hotel staff in New York City that you need a taxi to get to LaGuardia at 2:00 PM and it taking 35 minutes to convey this thought to the hotel staff who proceeds to book you a cab for 5:00 PM.
THE ACTIVITIES DESK:
The front desk staff members are borderline incompetent. There is a desk in the lobby that says "concierge." Nobody sits at that desk. And when you ask to speak to the concierge, the front desk staff looks clueless and directs you to the activities desk.
The guys are the activities desk seem to work hard. But they are completely overwhelmed because every conceivable activity at the hotel runs through them. And the selection of activities offered was highly disappointing. We wanted to take a boat trip to Koh Phi Phi Le -- as does EVERY OTHER HUMAN BEING WHO TRAVELS TO THE PHI PHI ISLANDS! We were given 3 options: hire a longtail boat for 3 hours; hire a longtail boat for 4 hours; or hire a longtail boat for 5 hours. We picked the 5-hour option and had a lovely time. But later, when we went to Tonsai, we discovered that there are dozens of different tour options on various different types of boats with various different amenities. It is inconceivable that these options are not presented at the activities center at the Holiday Inn!
The rooms and facilities are BADLY in need of an upgrade! We had our own bungalow right on the beach. The location was outstanding. But the building itself was barely adequate. There was a sizable gap between the door and the walls such that bugs could easily crawl in. The mattress might have been 50 years old. The water temperature in the shower varied between lukewarm and slightly warm. At best, it is quaint and rustic. At worst, it is disgusting and should be completely torn down and rebuilt.
I should note that the large deck on the front of the bungalow was quite nice. Perhaps some comfortable chairs would have helped make the deck a nice place to relax at the end of the day.
The wooden deck by the pool and restaurant has numerous loose boards. Beware of breaking through if you are overweight!
These things did not really bother me, but they just contribute to the overall tackiness of the hotel:
-You have to sign out beach towels and then sign them back in.
-The exercise center is locked 24-7 (as the sign on the door readily admits). You need to seek out a staff member and ask for a key.
-The wifi works relatively well as long as you try to use it between 2AM and 6AM. Any other time of day, and the internet is outrageously slow.
Overpriced for Thailand. Everything tasted "ok" but nothing tasted great.
1. Decide where you want to stay. DO NOT stay at the Holiday Inn unless you are SURE you want to be isolated from town.
2. The hotel staff does not speak sufficient English to get by, unlike everywhere else we went in Thailand.
3. The activity desk is overextended and has surprisingly few activities to choose from!
4. The facilities are in desperate need of a major renovation!
5. The beach is very nice. But not any nicer than the beach in town.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Report response as inappropriate
Thank you for sharing your comments about your stay.
I am sorry to hear that you have not enjoyed your honeymoon and that you felt disappointed about the service received.
Please note that we have shared your comments about the room not ready upon arrive and guest room service had not been cleared with our Front office team, Food and Beverage and Housekeeping team, who will take the necessary steps to ensure that we provide a more attentive service.
I am glad to share with you that we have recently training English language for all the staffs. Especially the staffs front of the house.
I am glad to share with you that actually the ferry will stop in front of our resort then we will pick up the guest to the resort by longtail boat. Nevertheless from December until end of February someday front of the resort very windy longtail boat cannot reach to the ferry that why the ferry will stop at the back side of the resort and the guest need to take a truck.
With regards to the service at front desk, your comment has been passes to Front office team to ensure that we provide a more attentive service.
Regarding to the room and facilities in need of an upgrade, your comment has been passed on to the Project to take appropriate action. Also we would have informed you. Our rooms are currently undergoing soft renovations, like the re-tiling of the bathrooms. Decorations and flooring will be done thru 2014.
Regarding to your comments about the water temperature, I have asked our Engineer team to re check it, to ensure other guests are not inconvenienced by it.
I have shared your comments about the food with our new Executive Chef who is currently working on the service issues you have highlighted.
We thank you once again for sharing your experience with us and hope that we will have the opportunity of making things right for you on your next visit.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.