Koh Samui, as ever, delivered everything it promised, but Rocky's was a huge disappointment from start to finish.
It is difficult to know where to start, but we had two principal complaints: the quality of the room and the quality of the service.
We had booked a Deluxe Ocean View Junior Suite, so we were within our rights to expect a deluxe (no!) suite (no!) with an ocean view (WRONG!). The room (807) was standard size with standard furnishings, albeit with a large and comfortable bed.
We had requested a room high up on the hill (as recommended in previous tripadvisor reviews) but found ourselves were on the raised ground floor which meant that our ocean view comprised the back walls of two beachfront villas and a thin sliver of ocean (see photo). We had had visions of sitting on our balcony taking in the sunsets, but this was not to be.
On arriving, we immediately told the staff at reception that we were not happy with the room and would like to change. We were told that nothing could be done until the morning. We heard nothing more of this and, with limited time in Samui, decided to stick with our room (but it would have been nice if someone had followed up on our complaint).
We travel to Thailand often and are always struck by the outstanding friendliness and high quality of Thai service. Rocky's must be the exception that proves the rule, because the standard of service was APPALLING.
The breakfast service was a prime example – it was shambolic and the owners and management should be embarrassed. Not once in the four times that we had breakfast were we provided with a full complement of cutlery, plates, menus, napkins etc.. It became a running joke between us to guess what would be missing before we arrived at the table.
The waiting staff themselves (with a few exceptions) were slow, very bad-mannered and clearly hacked off about something (maybe it is the cancellation of all of their days off, as mentioned by the hotel manager in response to an earlier complaint). Each morning we saw staff openly bickering amongst each other in the restaurant. This is not exactly "boutique" behaviour. What was more surprising is that each morning the hotel manager Martin was in the restaurant but took no action to sort out what was really quite obviously dismal service. One of the owners was also present on most mornings, but clearly took no interest in the chaos behind her.
Service elsewhere (at reception, the bar and the bistro restaurant) was also very slow, even where there were no other guests waiting.
Previous reviews have mentioned that the hotel was ill-equipped to deal with busy periods, but surely the level of business at Christmas, new year and Chinese new year should not come as a surprise to the management?! You can't expect guests to forgo a relaxing experience, just because the hotel is near capacity.
Overall, the resort just is not a boutique resort. It has none of the charm or personal service of a true boutique hotel, perhaps because it has too many rooms for the size of the common facilities such as restaurants and beach space, perhaps because the owners and management have become lazy and complacent given its previous success or are too focussed on the lucrative wedding market to ensure that all guests experience a high level of service.
Amusingly, the brochure in the room states the following:
Rocky's is not a five star resort or a four star resort. We don't offer the level of service we offer in stars. We are a family. And, we consider all of our guests as part of our family.
They are right, Rocky's is a three star resort let down by one star service. We were pleased to leave Rocky's and its dysfunctional "family" behind.
A full list of issues (by way of "constructive feedback") relating to our stay:
- Airport pick-up was late and we had to ask another driver to contact the hotel to find out where our driver was.
- Room was not as described – "deluxe" and "junior suite" are subjective terms I guess, but "ocean view" implies a lot more than what we received.
- Unavailability of staff to deal with complaints on arrival.
- Insufficient seating room at breakfast (due to slow turnaround of vacated tables).
- Bickering and surly waiting staff at breakfast, in spite of the owner and hotel manager being present.
- Breakfast items served incomplete (e.g. poached eggs on toast, without the toast).
- The usable beach space is tiny, with room for a maximum of 8 – 10 people.
- There were a lot of children – not a problem in itself, but Rocky's feels more like a Club Med kids club than a boutique hotel, which is not how it markets itself.
- VERY slow service in the bar and the bistro restaurant.
- Not once during our 4 day stay did anyone ask if we were enjoying our stay or if we were ok. The Rocky's "family" is clearly not one for talking.
Others obviously find something to love about Rocky's, but we couldn't see it - maybe blood is thicker than water as we were clearly not welcome in the Rocky's family.