I'll start by stating that I would give this place 3 and 1/2 stars but option was not available. I researched alot before choosing this resort for my family and must say I was disappointed overall - not a 5 star hotel but trying...
We stayed in January for 7 nights in a a deluxe room (twin) for 2 adults and 2 children(8 and 6). Check in was efficient with a welcome drink and we got as requested a room near the pools which was a great start.
The room was fine - no issues there what so ever - not much of a sea view because of the trees in the way, didn't bother us but may disappoint others. Housekeeping was quick to deliver enough towels and extra pillows to the room. Sand does get everywhere from the pools and the beach so expect sand in your bed - housekeeping does do a great job in cleaning up though. Shame this resort has too soft pillows! I needed about 3 of them..
I wouldn't really recommend the pool suites as they really have a lack of privacy and they are on the lowest floor of each building.
The kids absolutely loved the pool areas! Slides, lazy river and the water hole jump. Kids club was also popular for them both as a respite from the heat. A lot of the guests felt it was alright for their children to be running around stark naked - a cultural thing perhaps? Staff around the pools for drinks and food were very efficient.
Breakfast at The Cove had a massive choice - banana roti pancakes! Stay away from the orange juice if you prefer the taste of freshly squeezed, a sugary awful concoction is served here! There is something for everyone here. Staff were very good here also.
The beach was really nice - the waves were safe at this time of year and the hotel had beach chairs reserved only for guests of the hotel. There are 2 restaurants off to the side of the beach for cheaper dining options or a 10 minute stroll up the beach to Karon is definitely not too taxing for a bit of shopping - why people complained about the walk is a mystery to me...my kids did it without much complaint.
I'll bring up the dreaded topic of gastro. My eldest son got it day 3 of our stay, husband was next and my youngest got it 12 hours before having to fly home. I will say only that we were Thailand for 10 days previously and had been totally fine elsewhere and that I am totally aware that these things happen. I work as a microbiologist. Something in the pool water,the food or other guests - who knows - we weren't the only family suffering during our stay. A doctor came and gave my son a magic shot that allowed him to take the 2 flights we needed to get home - don't hesitate to call the doctor if you need help for gastro.
Due to the dreaded gastro we had to make use of room service and it arrived as ordered and very promptly - no problems there.
If you are using the complimentary mytime bonus of a spa credit to your room - don't bother. My husband used ours for a supposed 45min free massage and still got charged.This came back to haunt us upon checkout.
Our transport to the airport was to arrive at 1055 and my husband very wisely went to check out at 10am. Official check out time was 12pm so he was early.He had a 35min wait before being attended to and upon querying the spa charge it had taken 3 staff members to call the spa (3 times) and my husband felt like the criminal for trying to get a complimentary massage we were entitled to.
Eventually they waived the spa charge and my husband paid the account. Hooray! Thank you.
By this time our transport arrived and I had bundled 2 children and myself into the car to wait
for my husband and he came out - I thought he was done - nope, they needed to see our travel documents to copy something - arrgghhhh!!!! I had a sick child in the van, two flights to catch and they wouldn't let us go. Even the porter was flitting around urging the reception staff to get a move on. Very frustrating and poorly managed. It left a very negative impression. Have more staff at reception that can handle issues with billing and roster more staff for peak check out times
The Centara Grand is a lovely family resort, we loved the pools and the gardens - just small things had left a negative impression upon us. Would we come back? Hmmm ... not sure is all I'd say for now - other places to visit in this world.