Before I begin, I want to say that I find it extremely off-putting that negative reviews are met with such hostile responses by the owner. A simple "Please accept my apologies for any discomfort you experienced; we always want to have happy customers" would be far more appreciated by TripAdvisor readers. That way, he would look like he cared while letting all the positive reviews just speak for themselves. It's not personal, it's a service business. When we stayed at your hotel, a lot of the guests were complaining about how it looked nothing like your website, and we were all joking - actually joking - about how if we said anything about it on TripAdvisor, the owner would probably retaliate by claiming we "just don't get it" or "didn't look at the website closely enough" or "don't understand it's an island." So I'm prepared for a similar response.
And speaking of the Owner, I am convinced that when he is present on the property, it is a completely different experience than when he is not. This must explain why some people are writing quite negative reviews and others are glowing. I note that many of them either mention the fact that the owner was not there, or was. The problem is that when you book, you will not know what you're going to get. I will give the place the benefit of the doubt and hope that the problems we encountered were because, as we were informed on a note in our room, he was with his family in Bangkok.
The good part is the view. It really has a wonderful view of the ocean, which you can enjoy while eating breakfast or dipping in the pool. And the breakfast, though veeeeery slow in arriving (problem if you've got an excursion booked), is tasty.
Although the view is important and it was great, the rest is bad I'm afraid:
1) No safe in the rooms, despite what Booking.com states. I complained to the hotel, and they said that Booking.com is just wrong, and it's not their fault - but the problem is that Booking.com is the only way to book! It's your only source of information. Not having a safe in the room is bad enough (when you're traveling with passports, cash, etc.) but it was made worse by the fact that when you check in, you're forced to sign a paper stating that the hotel bears no responsibility for theft. As an attorney, I understand this kind of waiver, but then you've got to provide a safe.
2) There is no guard or security of any sort at night. There is a main door if you want to go through the lobby, but all of the rooms and grounds are also accessible from the street via an unguarded and unsecured pathway. We know this because one night we came back and lobby door was locked, so we just walked onto the property from the street. The path is not lit. Another night the lobby door wasn't locked, and the teenager who was working there had made a "fort" (like we did when we were kids) with all the lobby sofa pillows and was sleeping in the pillow fort on the middle of the floor. The lobby is small, so we had to tiptoe around him, squeezed against the walls, and he did not acknowledge us. It was only about 11:30.
3) Speaking of the teenager in the fort, the owner seemed to leave several very young people in charge of the hotel while he was gone. One was a girl whom other reviewers have pointed out is not only rude, but even aggressive. Perhaps she has been fired since then. The other two were very young men who seemed to mean well but got very flustered. At one point, only one of them was working there and he looked close to tears when multiple people were waiting for help/cabs before dinner. He was muttering and rubbing his face in frustration. I really felt awful for him.
The two young men served us breakfast one morning, one of them wearing a t-shirt that said "Suck My Fajitas" and the other in a t-shirt that said "T*ts and Tacos." I've got a sense of humor, but there were little kids around. Come on.
4) Our room was the cheapest one, but not dirt cheap at $70 a night (not sure why the owner keeps telling people who complain that they only paid XYZ. For Thailand and even the islands, that's not so cheap). Gosh, I really, really hate to say this, but it was not clean. I don't mean insects, which ARE part of island life. I mean mold around the sink and rings in the toilet that a simple brushing before our arrival would have taken care of. The shower head was totally broken and there were exposed wires everywhere. We had to ask for some shampoo; there wasn't any in the room. Basic housekeeping checklist. Remember, this is advertised as a "resort."
5) This has probably been fixed by now, but one of the pools was completely out of service, and the other one was so tiny that only two people could use it at a time. We felt like others were waiting in line every time we wanted to take a dip. And the pool that was out of service wasn't cleaned (ever?) and was full of mold, mildew, dirt, and leaves (as a French reviewer pointed out from August).
As I said, I'm sure this has been fixed by now, so here's the point: WE WERE NOT WARNED ABOUT THE POOL SITUATION BEFORE WE CAME, NOR WAS IT EXPLAINED ON THE SITE. If you can't trust what you're going to get, you can't trust what you're going to get. If the pool problem (he will say it was a drought, but we went and used the pools at other hotels. No drought there)? But that's not the issue. The issue is the bad surprise.
The rest of the "resort" grounds was a construction zone. Again, probably resolved by now, but the issue remains the misrepresentation on the website/booking.
As for the rest, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
There are a lot of places to stay in Koh Tao. Unless this is truly the only one available, keep looking.
If you MUST stay at this hotel, avoid the "garden view" rooms. See pics. Ours shared a wal...
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
November 1, 2012
Report response as inappropriate
We have had certainly had our issues in August and in fact most of the "bad reviews" we have received the last 10 months are from this two week period alone. I am pleased to say that all the issues you have brought up in your review have already been addressed and our resort has been upgraded in all aspects, from facilities to staff and more.
Having said that, considering the issues we experience during this brief period I completely understand your review and I fully accept the consequences - and also apologize for the bad experience you had here. Still I wish that your review would have come in in August, as just posting it now, makes us feel as if all that work will be overlooked. We have done a lot since August to improve and address issues we faced during that period, which I also believe our recent record proves.
Next I would like to address each of the issues you bring up:
1) The garden room does not have a safe. The is correct. Unfortunately booking.com did not correctly represent that on the website unbeknownst to us. Thank you for bringing up the "waiver" part as I do agree with you in that respect and we will certainly look at that.
2. Again you are not incorrect and this issue has already been addressed including better lighting at night.
3. The person you are referring to was 24 years of age and had experience from another resort on the island, but she was indeed let go after a two week period and after which we have not had one bad review. The dress code has also been addressed long since you stayed here.
4. All rooms are being upgraded and we accept your complaints during this period. However, and this is not to diminish your comment regarding your particular room, but we have never charged 70 USD or approximately 2100 THB for this room type. The rate on booking.com was between 1200 and 1500 in August.
5. The "drought" issue has already been addressed in another review, but again: regardless of the fact that other resorts had pools with water in them, we had been forced in early august to fix our main pool and once we wanted to fill it up, water was a huge issue on the island. If one of the resorts you mentioned had taken their water out, they would not have been able to fill them again either. If you look at reviews of other small properties and villas from August, a lot of them will raise similar issues.
Next, I do feel that your comments regarding the way we answer guests here on Tripadvisor is a bit unfair. Quite a few guests that have been here have mentioned that they found we cared and answered both negative and positive reviews in a respectful manner. Certainly, I do not understand what you refer to as retaliating. There has been a couple of reviews I have found very unfair and have said so.
Finally I would like to address the comment regarding where guests can book our resort: you can book it easily on our website. We answer questions quickly and honestly and offer the best rates directly. RIght now we are putting the last effort into a new restaurant, pool and rooms + general upgrading of facilities and our website and facebook page will be regularly updated with the progress.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.