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Reviewed May 24, 2008

I really enjyed my stay at the Sanctuary and found the staff and other guests very friendly and supportive to one another! The local area is soo beautiful with a peaceful quality.

There is loads to do! Spa, fasting, yoga , kick boxing plus great food and good company!

I'll definately be returning!

Nick Nicholson

  • Stayed: May 2008
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1  Thank nicholsonn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 12, 2008

We came to The Sanctuary with high expectations, based on recommendations by a backpacking friend and having checked out the website of the Sanctuary. Since it was a well deserved break for us, we decided to book one of the more expensive types of accommodations; to pamper ourselves so to say. Hindsight, that was mistake number 1. We ended up in a large bungalow, way too big for the two of us and it was not clean when we entered the place. Since we arrived late at night, we decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. The next day though, we had a horrible experience. We found a snake in our bedroom. After notifying the manager (his response was very laid back and he asked me what kind of snake...I obviously did not have a clue) he'd sent someone up to have a look. To cut a long story short, three guys had to come to kill our deadly cobra snake! ('5 maybe 10 minutes and then you'll die if the snake would have bitten'). Pretty shaken up, which the manager fortunately understood, we went down for lunch and asked for another type of accommodation. We were offered a choice between two other options; either right next to our 'snake house' or right behind it. Not much of a choice. But since we had our minds set on a 3,5 day detox and doing lots of yoga we picked one of the two options. Trying to relax and continue our holiday that afternoon, we accidenty overheard someone say he'd just seen a snake and he thought it was a cobra. This could not be our dead cobra, this had to be another one. It was also spotted right behind our new bungalow, needless to say we were pretty much done with the whole thing. The manager did not have much time to help us out, but he told us to have a look around for another place to stay. To us this was really vague and we decided to have a look next door at the detox area. This is where we discovered the dormitories; after our adventures we were more than happy to share a room with eight other girls, especially since it was in a airconditioned concrete building. We were very dissapointed though, that the manager of the Sanctuary had not offered this option proactively though.

Overall we are very dissapointed with the Sanctuary since they have not really been proactive in making us feel at home (both before and after the snake incident) and did not offer any refund on costs or anything like that. We paid quite a lot of money there for virtually nothing. After spending the night in the dormitory we did decide to leave the place, since we needed to be away from the whole experience. The manager of the detox area, who had been really nice the day before, suddenly turned to be not such a nice person when he heard we were checking out. He decided to charge us 6 times the previously stated price for staying one night in the dormitory. With the argument that we were not doing the detox programm any more, so therefor he needed to charge differently. Obviously none of this had been mentioned before and his Detox area and dormitory had nothing to do with the accommodations at the Sanctuary. For us very confusing and a very negative experience.
This place is supposively about relaxation, kindness, becoming a better and more healthy person. The management does not have this attitude though, they are surely out there to make money.

  • Stayed: May 2008, traveled with friends
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4  Thank Suus_Ams
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SanctuaryThailand, General Manager at The Sanctuary Thailand, responded to this reviewResponded May 17, 2008

I obviously remember these guests and initially was surprised with this report as I believed we had a good rapport and did not feel this disappointment.

I did feel the distress over their snake experience which was resolved in a clam manner. Unfortunately this calmness did not seem to reassure these guests. In 10 years here I have seen 4 dangerous snakes and have heard or experienced NO physical incidents involving tourists in all that time. We are on a jungle tropical island so I do expect to see nature occasionally but, on reflection though, I must remember that not everyone is ready for a jungle experience and be more reassuring.

Finally I am disappointed that that these guests left feeling this disappointment, I am open and happy to receive feedback and to reach a happy medium with our guests. I am sorry that they had a bad time here because that is not what we wish to offer .

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 19, 2008

The Sanctuary offers a fantasy location with a great coved beach, a surpisingly good (and healthy) restaurant, and an enjoyable fasting center (if there can ever be such a thing). But, just as much as the experience of staying in a great place, there are great people that come here from all over the world to relax and unwind. I've stayed here four times now in the last two years, and on two of those trips, I've met people I expect I will be friends with for life. That doesn't happen often in resorts, but something about the Sanctuary is conducive to new friendships and great talks with fellow travelers.

The accommodations are for the most part mediocre to kinda nice, nothing fancy, with a few exceptions ... so don't come here for a fantasy hotel room with a great mattress and luxury sheeting with daily maid service. Wrong place! However, despite their lack of amenities, the majority of the rooms are charming huts, with outside decks and hammocks, etc. (but many, if not have outside bathrooms and showers--OK for many, not for others).The room charges are fairly reasonable (cash only), which more than makes up for the lack of grandeur and room decor. But you're not coming to the Sanctuary to find a Five Star Hotel...you're coming for something more than this.

The Sanctuary guests could perhaps be divided into three groups of people, the people coming for the beach and the great vibe of the location, people coming for fasting and colonics and for many, a healing away from the stress of life...or a combination of all three. The fasting/colonics guests have their own center where they go for their bi-hourly juices, etc. and it is very much a social scene and an easy way to meet people. On certain nights you sit around watching the latest pirated movies as you drink your broth. They have fasting and colonics programs from 3 1/2 to 10 days...but they are flexible if you need to vary it to fit your schedule. The colonics are self administered (which you get used to).

For those not fasting, the open air, multi level "Vegetarian and Seafood" restaurant is really terrific...a restaurant I'd go to as a standalone wherever it was in the world (and it has a well stocked bar). The menu is eclectic, and most of it very nutritious but delicious and satisfying nonetheless (not always easy to find). If two of you are traveling and one's a super healthy eater and the other isn't, you'll both be happy with the surprising abundance of menu items that will satisfy most everyone. And the restaurant area is also a great meeting place and each night one table is a community table where solo travelers can meet and dine.

The Sanctuary offers various programs at different times of the year, from yoga trainings to belly dancing, and on belly dance "graduation" nights everyone gathers around the dining room to watch all the new "goddesses" show off their new belly dancing skills. Another night I was there a "circus" showed up to show their fire twirling skills...(they weren't great, but it was entertaining nonetheless). The point is that it's not your typical resort...but a place much different, and if you like "flavor" combined with an unusual and eclectic style, "he Sanctuary has it.

Although they have just put in a "road," guests arrive and leave by boat. The first time we stayed here we came by boat for lunch and....the seas got so bad we had to stay for the night and loved it
so much we stayed four more days. But Koh Phagnan is an island with no airport, so all guests have to ultimately arrive and leave by boat. There is now a direct speedboat that can be arranged to take guests directly from the Sanctuary to Koh Samui (or Samui to the Sanctuary) that takes about 20 to 25 minutes in good weather and is effortless...you're dropped at the beach in front of reception (no dock here!).

The downsides of the Sanctuary for some might be the hit or miss accommodations, a boggy mosquitoey swamp that is not properly cleaned, grounds that could be better cleaned and maintained, long walks up steep paths to some rooms (good luck for those who overpack heavy suitcases and discover there are no "bellmen" here) and a Friday night all night semi rave party at a nearby jungle bar that blares trance music until sunrise on Saturday (as the night goes on, you would swear the music gets louder). Their daytime Internet center has old and super slow computers, but nevertheless, a number of computers are available so there's rarely a wait, and overpriced wireless connections are available in all of the rooms (but not all night). And now...cell phones work (although spottily) in much of the resort, a rather recent event as you used to have to go to the far end of the beach and stand under certain coconut trees to get reception. But if you're fine with all that, it's a great place to go, an amazing place to unwind, at a beautiful beach surrounded by luscious jungles and hills, and it's a great way to meet people to boot... and to do so in a healthy way. I shall return.

  • Stayed: April 2008, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank WorldTravelerAsia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 12, 2008

Great location, good views, excellent food & a friendly bar. Beach life in the day & social at night. Great combination.

  • Stayed: April 2007, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Richspace
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 9, 2008

We have been holidaying at The Sanctuary now for over 10 years
and watched an amazing hide away spot grow without loosing any of its charm. It is still the most relaxing place that we know even after traveling most of Thailand and a large part of the world.

From the idyllic beach to jungle and not far away all amenities needed. Serene gardens to wander and contemplate, incredibly friendly indigenous Thais always ready to help, advice or joke with. Jungle walks for exercise then back to Massage. Meditation, Detox, Yoga, Spa just everything to relax and pamper yourself.

The food is superb vegetarian fusion cooking and plenty to choose from. Fresh fruit and yoghurt mouth watering. Can’t do it justice go there for your self and sample the delights.

The accommodation is varied enough to cater for most. Ingeniously built bungalows nestled in, around and on sculptured rock formations with views to compliment.

Will return in the near future see you there

  • Stayed: January 2007, traveled with family
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2  Thank R-1-bar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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