Golden Sands is a good 1-hour drive from the airport but do expect longer travelling time during rush hours as Batu Ferringhi is situated at the opposite end of the island - a good distance away from Georgetown and other touristy spots. This is an area that is catered for tourists and weekenders with a small resident population. There is no airport shuttle transfer, and a taxi ride during day time costs about RM60 (RM90 if travelling at unsociable hours).
It is sited at one end of a long stretch of night hawkers / street stalls that go on for over one mile with a few other hotels along the road. It also has across the road a few restaurants which are catered for tourists (with mediocre quality) and a 3-storey building with KFC, 7-11, a pharmacy and a couple of local eateries.
Also in the vicinity of the hotel is the fairly large Long Beach ‘Restaurant’ (as one exits the hotel compound, this is situated a stone's throw on the right hand side). Basically this is a typical Malaysian hawker eatery with many a food stall, with each of them selling its own specialty at very reasonable price and quality.
This was a breeze. Despite coming with my wife and our 20-month old daughter, our reserved room consisted of two beds instead of a double bed. Much credit must go to the duty manager Kenny who tried to assist us to switch to another room but failed because of the high occupancy during the weekend. In the end, we decided against changing to a smoking room and made do with pushing the two beds together with the housekeeping staff having the beds set up so that there was no gap in between the beds.
The check-in area looks onto the garden and swimming pools, and the beach beyond. There are three swimming pools and a jacuzzi that cater to different age groups with hotel staff available nearby to keep watch and keep order.
There is only one water slide for children but the design of which is such that most swimmers get stuck along the way, which explains why this area is always devoid of children swimmers.
The area ‘reserved’ for toddlers is relatively small at one end of the bigger pool and can get very crowded at times because of the huge overhead canopy.
The beach lies just outside the vicinity of the hotel, marked by a sign and guarded by hotel staff. The area has a few stalls that tout for the patronage of the hotel guests – massages, parachuting, water-skiing, jet-skis, boat trips, etc. Didn’t dare to go into the sea water as there is a sign that warns swimmers of giant jelly fish.
Worth mentioning is the size of the rooms which are comparatively small by resort standards. The garden view ones with balconies are smaller than those ones with mountain view but no balconies. The corridor leading into the bedroom per se is surprisingly narrow even with the doors of the wardrobe closed; little wonder that the bathroom needs a sliding door (see photo).
The condition of our room left much to be desired - the wall papers were peeling, stains were found on the floor tiles, the furniture were chipped, the railings on the balcony were rusted, the paint work on the wooden handle of the railings cracked and the bathtub also showed sign of constant water leakage (see photos).
Breakfast is of the buffet variety and caters to both western and Malaysian palettes. Despite its size, the place was very chaotic when filled and the waiting staff were clearly untrained to handle the numbers on holidays and weekends. With our little daughter in our arms, we were even told to find our own table!!!
Quality-wise, we have had the opportunity to try out the breakfast on everyday of our stay and two lunches – at all times, we found the quality falling short of expectation, compared with other Shangri-La hotels and even with the hawker stalls nearby.
This is actually outside the hotel compound and is managed by another company that charges RM20++ for each child (adults accompanying children are admitted free of charge). Do remember to bring your own socks and long-sleeve shirts.
Par 3 Golf course
This is situated between the Rasa Sayang and Golden Sands, and considering the overall size, it isn’t even an executive 9 course worthy of half-serious play.
Golden Sands sits just next door to Rasa Sayang, another hotel managed by the Shangri-La Group. If one expects a certain standard after staying at other Shangri-La hotels, this one is a far cry from them. In terms of service, the condition of the hotel premises, the hotel gardens and swimming pools, the quality of the restaurants, these two hotels are miles apart. While guests at Golden Sands can cross charge their restaurant bills from Rasa Sayang, the other amenities/facilities are not reciprocal-able. When the price difference is only about 10% between the two, the Rasa Sayang would be a much better choice than this one.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.