I was glad we stayed five days at Samui Yacht Club over the New Year. If we had only stayed a day or two, this review would be extremely critical. As it is, the place grew on us, but we still have serious concerns before being willing to recommend it.
To set the stage, you need to understand that we arrived at the Samui Yacht Club a couple of days after Christmas in less than ideal condition. We’d had a grueling eight-hour bus ride from Phuket in an old bus with struggling AC where the driver kept stopping and stuffing people on the bus to the point where people were sitting on the aisle floor. Then, we sat in the streets of Sumat Thani for nearly two hours waiting for a van to take us to the ferry. The ferry ride itself was nice enough, but then when we got off the boat we were attacked by taxi drivers demanding insane prices to take us to our hotel.
TIP: When you get off the ferry, don’t even talk to the guys who are there at the landing. Walk past them, and find taxis closer to the street, and negotiate. Better yet, wait until most people have left, and then get one of the leftover taxi drivers, as they’ll be much more likely to offer more reasonable rates.
When we finally arrived at the Samui Yacht Club, it was dark, and to say we were wiped out would be putting it lightly. The hotel staff didn’t offer to help us get our bags from the taxi, and they seemed more bothered to see us than glad. It would have been nice if they’d greeted us with a smile, offered us a drink (at least water!), and given at least the appearance that they were pleased we would be staying with them.
We’d arranged for a superior sea view room, but the room they’d reserved for us didn’t have a sofa, and we needed it for one of our children. This caused a bit of confusion, and so we asked if we could see the rooms. I’d booked this hotel specifically because of the pictures from the website, and we wanted to see if the reality matched the images. They took us to one of the sea view rooms with an extra bed, and when they opened the door, we were immediately disappointed. The room looked like it was designed in the 1980’s, and hadn’t been updated since. It was such a shame, because the bungalow structures are actually quite lovely, and the view to the sea is breathtaking.
The beachfront bungalows cost about 1500 baht a night more, and so we asked if we could see one of those. We were surprised that the décor wasn’t much better than the superior sea view. Finally, the receptionist offered to show us a garden bungalow. When he opened the door and turned on the light, the room was already occupied… by a snake on the bed. A snake!
At that point, if we hadn’t been wiped out, and the hour so late, we would have hit the road. I was amazed that, even after the snake, the hotel didn’t seem the least bit interested in if we stayed or left. I halfway expected them to tell us that a room with a snake would be an extra charge! But we were so tired that we just agreed to take the superior sea view, and we went to settle in for the night.
The seduction started the next morning, when we opened the curtains and saw the view. We had an amazing unobstructed view of Crystal Bay, and I was floored. This is why the hotel stays open, because of location, which is phenomenal.
The hotel is located in one of the more quiet corners of the island, which we liked. The little village of Lamui is a quick ride away (take the trucks where you sit in the back – it’s much cheaper. The taxi drivers of Koh Samui charge way more than anywhere else we’ve visited, but I suppose that’s the free market system at work!). We highly recommend the little night market that comes to Lamui on Sunday nights with inexpensive goods, amazing food, and lots of culture and color.
The day after we met the snake, my wife wanted to go check out the other hotels on Crystal Bay to see if we had any other options. We were very impressed by the Crystal Bay Resort at the other end of the beach. The rooms had fantastic design, and sea view rooms even closer to the sea. The rates seemed to be cheaper, too. If they hadn’t been booked up for the holiday, we would have moved in a heartbeat!
But as I said, the place grew on us, but all because of the location, and a handful of better staff. By the time New Years rolled around, we were pretty happy being at the place, having adjusted to some of the quirkier sides to the Samui Yacht Club (for example, there absolutely no boats to been anywhere near the yacht club). The breakfasts were not the best we’d had in Thailand, but it was fine. The staff worked hard to put on a good New Years celebration, and they were somewhat stymied by the torrential rainfall that threatened to derail the entire evening. However, the food was great, and we enjoyed the entertainment. The midnight fireworks display was spectacular, but that wasn’t so much because of our hotel, but because the entire island erupted at midnight.
1. The location, and the view. We were happy to be away from the more active parts of the island, which we could still hear from several kilometers away, bass thumping across the waters directly to our room. I was glad we weren’t closer to all that. And any discomfort with noise was eradicated the moment we woke up and opened the curtains to see the amazing sea view.
2. The landscaping. The hotel had a small army of people working on the grounds each day. The result was an amazing array of flowers all over the place. You could also walk up a small pathway to a point where the entire bay opened up. Again, fantastic setting.
3. The breakfast crew, especially Phung, the young lady who prepared the eggs. She was extremely pleasant and helpful, making French toast for my daughter each morning. They should promote her to the front desk, as she was wonderful, and good with customers.
1. The room design. They need to scrap all the old wicker furniture, which is falling apart, get rid of the Miami Vice era curtains and cushions, toss out the orange bed coverings, and burn the cheap and wholly inadequate blankets.
2. Clean the beach! The other hotels worked hard to keep the area in front of their hotel clean of debris, at least at the start of the day. The beach in front of Samui Yacht Club was rarely cleaned. Also, the little sitting areas in front of the beach were extremely neglected, with the wind guards not working, and all kinds of trash all around. Just get one of your staff to go down every couple of hours and pick up trash that washes up! It will make it much more pleasant.
3. The night we checked in, the room’s phone didn’t work. I went to desk to tell them, and they said they’d get it fixed in the morning. The next day, it wasn’t fixed, so I went and told reception again. After that, I gave up, and the phone was never fixed, and there was no apology when we told them as we checked out. This leads me to the next point…
4. Customer service. Location doesn’t mean that tourists are a given, and bad service will keep people from coming back. I realize that the hotel is not five star, but they should go above and beyond to make their clients feel as if they are in a five star. Things like the greeting we received the night we arrived, the lack of concern that customers had seen a snake in a room, the consistent mess on the beach, all give what could be an amazing place a basic feel of shabbiness. Having worked in customer service, I can tell you the importance of making your clients feel special and well taken care of. Samui Yacht Club could improve in this area.
5. Put modern televisions in the room! We travel with a collection of movies for the evenings, and we had to all scrunch around the laptop to watch.
At the end, we were sorry to have to leave, because it meant that we were heading back from God’s paradise to reality. Would I recommend the Samui Yacht Club? I would as long as your expectations for everything except the setting and view are kept low. As other reviewers have commented, the place is three star, and apparently the hotel is fine with staying at that rating. If you go into it with that understanding, you’ll enjoy it just fine. Personally, I think the place has an enormous amount of potential, and I’d love for it to succeed! But to be honest, if we return to Crystal Bay, we’ll probably try for the Crystal Bay Resort next time.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Crystal Bay Yacht Club sits on a small but perfect beach on the Island of Koh Samui in Thailand. The calm warm crystal clear sea, powder soft white sand and beautiful tropical gardens make this location truly special. The resort consists of 43 bungalows all set in over 12,000 square meters of lush tropical gardens. Many species of birds and butterflies can be seen enjoying the natural surroundings. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Samui Yacht Club Hotel Lamai Beach
- Samui Yacht Hotel
- Crystal Bay Yacht Club Ko Samui/Lamai Beach