I will start by qualifying my and other views. In brief: 'Ones mans trash is another man's treasure' or 'Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder', so these tripadvisor reports need to be taken with the same caution. Work out what you expect or want, and make sure that's what is there. I have lived in Asia 17 years and travel a lot so I was looking for a place with a little exotic design included, that could accommodate a family (2 kiddies). I probably underestimated the cost as I figure paying over $400 / day would deliver something special.
We stayed 9 nights at the BFS August 3rd-12th 2011. We have 2 kiddies just about to turn 2 & 4 so I booked the Beach Front Suite (Room 416 - see their website) which has the large living room where the kids could sleep + own TV/DVD during hot sun time and sleep time. It also has a nice large balcony with large day bed though not that appealing with a dull greyish sheet over it.
The price seemed high enough, so I expected this room to be quite special. I must say I was a little deflated when we got to the room as it was dated and unimaginative. There are no open air showers at the Banana Fansea and the place was designed by a guy with a ruler. This place is no Banyan Tree ! I hope this part is clear as that is end of the down side.
I did encounter difficulty with the in room internet wireless connection (there was none) and I was furious as I had to cover work most days (a burden of the times) so the idea was to stay with the kids during afternoon sleep time and work, and wifey could go shopping, Spa or get the beach Massages. With no internet, this plan was doomed. I let management know I was not happy at all and would need to move if not fixed as this screwed up my vacation plans and I was not prepared to run back and FWD to reception to download mail for 9 days (not at $400/day). Within 24 hours they had installed a brand new wireless router right outside my room. From her on in, I have nothing but praise as this is probably one of the best run resorts on the beach. They also offered to discount the kiddies bed which was appreciated.
The staff are discreetly attentive and professional, all excellent and wonderful with our kids. Room cleaning and turn down service excellent. They could upgrade the shampoo and bath Gel to larger more user friendly types. We ended up buying our own. Minor point maybe but the 'little things' do count. I am well passed the $5 a night Bungalow on the beach days which is what I paid on my first trip to Thailand. My how things have changed..
The location is superb with easy access to the shopping street. It is completely quiet which was one of the things I needed. The beach is pristine here though there is no shade at all except the beach chair / umbrellas provided by the resort. The sand and water is the best on the island though it is deeper here than further north (where we stayed out second week as the BFS was booked out). This is good for swimmers as you can get in for a decent swim but more supervision requied for little guys. There are very small waves so our little ones need more encouragement to get in the water as they are new to the water.
They do NOT have a kiddies pool as I read in one review. There are 2 Spa pools attached to the main pool but they are both 1m deep so not for kiddies under 1.1m unless they can swim. (But with a perfect beach 2m away, why go in the pool ??)
The breakfast was buffet style and covered most desires - mine being mountains of fresh red papaya which they had, so that was more than adequate and the restaurant is very pleasant and serviced with excellent staff. They could upgrade the breakfast music as Acker Bilk just doesn't do it I'm sorry. (another small thing but ...)
The grounds are tight as the place has squeezed as many bungalows in as they could, but with mature and well kept tropical gardens, it is a very pleasant place ( though as I mentioned : no Architecture or Garden Design awards were acheived).
After I got over the initial disappointments, I started to really like the place and was sad to leave and would have extended had our room been available. The rates were inclusive of Tax and internet so watch out if you don' t know about the added costs as some places stick you for a further 17% + and very high hourly internet charges. BFS rates were all inclusive.
The GM, Supit is 1st class as is Mas (Front Office), Dom (Kids favorite) and Wam and the others at breakfast and the maintenance and housekeeping crew - all top marks. Ms Pop who arranged our car and gave accurate travel advice also deserves commendation for her great work and is totally trustworthy and will get you the good deal.
So, in closing, this is a very well run place. You are in Thailand so some things don't work on a fast schedule, and internet can be patchy, but it is a safe, very friendly and pleasant place. I would have prefered a little more 'Style' in the rooms and the layout of the place which is really the only downside of the Banana Fansea.
While I may look for a more stylish place next visit I would have no qualms to stay here here again.
POST SCRIPT ABOUT Koh Samui with small families.
After BFS, we moved to a place at the Northern end of Chawern and while the water was not as clean, it was perfect for the little guys. THey could alway get up if they fell over so built their confidence in the water (Age just 2 and just 4). They would swim from 8.30 am till about 10 and then again 5pm till 6.30 and there was shade from trees and the beach is narrower so we could sit back in a bamboo hut and watch the kids and relax.
We rented a car fro the stay. I advise get a decent Toyota as the little Suzukis which appear fun are terrible, unsafe, underpowered etc. As we have 2 little kiddies, i found an upholsterer about 10km South along the main road and bought 2 large hard foam blocks, which we covered in a beach towel and these became excellent child seats. They worked like a charm.
We took the kids on the Elepant ride. Waterfall #2 no good for little guys. # 1 OK. Tiger and Seal Park, all OK. The Paradise Zoo (if you can find it) was a bit naff and I wanted to Tazer a group of ugly HK tourists tormenting the animals.
We drove aorund the island a couple of times and I visited tons of other resorts. We liked Bophut Fishing Village though the novelty wore off by the second visit. They close the roads off every Friday for a Street Market which is worth a visit from 5pm.
We stopped a couple of times for lunch as little local places with 3-4 tables by the coast and had some great food at a fraction of the price in Chawern and BPhut.
Food wise, there are lots of adverts for the trendy places and some are OK but most tend to charge the big bucks for average fare piled up in a 'stack'. You pay for the view or to be part of the set. Personally I'm over it and also with kids, these places can be difficult. We had a very nice lunch at the Six Sense Resort and prices were OK. Generally we would spend 1000 - 2200 per meal for 2 adults and 2 kiddies which is far more than I expected, but that was normal. We did only eat Seafood and veges though. You could do it much cheaper eating at the smaller places slightly off the main beaches or shopping streets where the food is just as good
The Andaman Steak/Seafood places all along Chewern beach road have fixed price tourist menus which are OK value though their service can be patchy.
The Seafood restaurants near the local open markets (there are a few) tend to be very good value with great food at very cheap prices though they are rough with placky chairs and dogs sleeping under your table. Ninja Pancakes was similar but usually far too crowded and v. small portions.
Eat Sense, next door to the BFS is a lovely place to eat in the evening. Food was 'good' and they do charge the upper end. Service varied. Nice place for couples.
We had nice food at Kama Sutra Cafe at the main T intersection at Bophut Fishing Village. It s a groovy cafe type eatery (No High chairs) but good food though again at the higher end price wise.
Happy Elephant Restaurant won the award for venue service and kiddie freindly complete with Hello Kitty cups plates and cutlery. Food was OK to good. I never thought I would be writing this but now with kids, things change and these touches make life so much easier so everyone can relax a little. Unlike the tosser owner of 'Ying Yang' further along the beach street on BoPhut with a groovy new place who guaranteed they had kiddie chairs and once we were in only offered a useless pillow for 2 kiddies to sit on. (Right ....) I hate that, and hence no return business in that direction. All smiles and back slaps up front, then only focus on your wallet once you're. They also state 'all inclusive' on their menu, then stick you the 10% +7%. I hate being ripped off and especially by expats living there to exploit the people and the place.
While we didn't have any really bad meals, we found the simpler the better so whole fish steamed or grilled with some lemon or garlic butter was best. Prawns selected youself and BBQed or grilled or fried in curry were best. Grilled Squid was usually superb too. Best to select the fresh seafood yourself. They don't get thermidore or Mornay well so Lobster best steamed of Grilled with garlic butter. Veges were chinese style and all good. The steaks 'looked' good so meat lovers should be happy on KS. Most salads we had were very good.
Shopping: You can get good quality : hats, thongs, shoes sandals, board shorts, swimwear, shorts and shirts all over - but they bargain hard. Most outlets are now run by Indians and they know how to trade harder than the Thai people.
Most CD's are poor reprodcutions and don't work past the first 10 tracks if at all. They are ch ch ch ch ch cheap bu bu bu bu but .. (get ge ge get my drift ;o).
Hope these tips help. Koh Samui is a nice place and a good desination to relax.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.