It's fair to have the very highest expectations of the famous Banyan Tree: The reputation is second to none and the price tag matches.
We spent three days in a private pool villa and were not disappointed. The accommodation is wonderfully designed. Spacious living areas and a beautifully maintained secluded garden and generous size pool, with plenty of places to sunbathe or to relax in the shade in glorious privacy.
A bonus was the setting in Laguna Phuket, which we had not appreciated before arrival, with free road or water shuttles regularly available to take you to shop, drink or dine at several other resort hotels. That being said, our best meal was at Saffron at the Banyan Tree itself.
The breakfast had the widest selection of fruits and juices i have ever experienced and offered a massive range of Thai, German, British, American and Japanese options in a wonderful setting. The other communal areas were of little concern to us as we wanted to spend most of our time in our luxurious pool villa, but the main pool looked good as did the various cafes and bars (though the prices were predictably exorbitant), and the local beach, which is a few hundred yards away from the resort's centre.
So, why doesn't it get a five rating? It was no single big thing, just simply too many little details in the room that for the price it's fair to expect not to have to contend with. To be fair, with the extensive features of the villa, there's a lot to go wrong. The issues don't fall to housekeeping (who already have a huge job on their hands), rather I think there's a need for the management to appoint staff to undertake an additional layer of maintenance checks.
The various little wrinkles included:
- shower temperature unstable
- various light bulbs blown
- electric mosquito repeller broken
- DVD player not connected to TV and no easy access to resolve myself
- coffee machine produced undrinkable liquid (would have preferred instant coffee sachet)
- outside bath plug hole leaking, yet very slow draining, and elaborate filler system had dubious black pellets (bird or lizard droppings maybe?) in it that threatened to accompany our bathing
- double doors warped preventing easy closure
Maybe my expectations were unrealistically high in the end, but if so, I blame it on the BT's own prices and press.