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“Perfect no, idillic tropical paradise YES”

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The Sanctuary Thailand
Ranked #20 of 92 Hotels in Ko Pha Ngan
Certificate of Excellence
berlin
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Perfect no, idillic tropical paradise YES”
Reviewed June 28, 2008

I recently heard about trip advisor and love i its great.
I also found the the Sanctuary recently and love it too. I have just finished the most amazing 10 days of my life. I did a detox program , yes it included colonic therapy - strange but wonderful experience. What made it do good was the caring staff there. Every 1 of them wanted me to have the best timne possible, and i did. i will nto tell you about the stuff that came out though.

Before my detox i enjoyed 3 days of food which was so good i almosty didnt do the detox program. The staff here wera also very helpful and friendly. They were really great.

I went to 7 yoga classes when i was there, that was hard but it was good for me too. The teacher really helped me when it got too hard for me, thank you .

Ican understand that some people could be disappointed if they want to have 5 star sertvice but if they want to have 6 star friendly and helpful service then this is what you will get here. I think too that maybe some people do not see what a special place this is, i think they miss out.

We were 16 people detox together and all loved the sanctuary. 5 people will meet here again next year. maybe see you ?

If you like to relax in nice place and have nice peopel around this is good - Anders

  • Liked — Very comfortable
  • Disliked — mosquito
  • Stayed June 2008
    • Value
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1 Thank kinganders
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Santa Cruz
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed June 20, 2008

After looking at their website, I decided to stay at the Sanctuary for two weeks. I knew it was expensive before I left home - especially for the land of 200- 600 baht bungalows located right on a beautiful sandy beach- but I was treating myself . I planned to do yoga and make use of their wonderful spa. It would be the most I had ever spent on not eating, but I was okay with that. I wrote an email to reserve the complete fasting package and a fasters Thai style room with a sea view. I got a reply confirming my reservations, and I was told that I could have an ocean view bungalow. I waited for but never received the email regarding the Paypal deposit instructions. I wrote again but never heard back. Since the email said that my reservation was good to go, I figured all was well.

Upon arrival, I was blandly greeted by the Western manager. I was sent to check in at the seperate Detox Center, but the woman could not find my information. After she talked to the aforementioned manager, I was told that I did not reply to his emails and given the impression that it was basically my fault that I did not have a reservation. I did not like this attitude, especially since I had been the one trying to make contact to give them hundreds of my dollars, but I didn't want to start off this way so I let it go. After quite a bit of back and forth with not much effort on their part, I ended up paying 900 baht a night for my bungalow. Even though it was rediculuosly overpriced and located on the side of a mosquito infested cliff (they have tons of standing water all around in plant pots - combined with the foamy swamp and dark verdure, a steady supply of the biters are being bred) I didn't mind - it had a sea view and was nicer than the faster accommodation with its generator noise, dirt garden - and no view.

Unfortunately, this bungalow was the only slightly nice experience at the Sanctuary. I had a terrible massage for 950 baht, the splash pool was full of sweaty people just out of the steam room - it looked brown and disgusting, and the steam room looked suspect. I decided that the fast was a rip-off, and the yoga was just a means for long-staying partiers to fund their beer and spliff tabs. The service is not friendly, and you are given a number and not referred to by name. I felt as if they were only interested in my wallet. Also, a healing retreat this is not - people party a lot and the place is exteremly noisy every Friday night. The music continues well after sunrise. It seems they are trying to cater to two completely disparate clientele.

Also, don't bother bringing your family -my friends found they are not kid-friendly.

I am not a picky traveler, but the prices they charge are simply not worth the products they provide. After eating a rediculously overpriced salad at the restaurant, I renamed this place the Bankruptuary and decided to move elsewhere.

After walking around and checking out the other accommodation, I decided to pack up and move. I ended up paying 250 baht a night for great bungalow and service, and a great Thai and Burmese style hospitality experience nearby.

For those who are picky about their accommodation, I recommed Bamboo Hut overlooking Had Yuan They also have a great restaurant. Love Lip, Beam, and Had Tien Chalet are good for those who want more basic and affordable digs on Had Tien. Also, for a great massage, see May at Bamboo Hut.

  • Liked — Sea view
  • Disliked — The sanctuary
  • Stayed May 2008, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
5 Thank SantaCruzSeasmoke
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SanctuaryThailand, Owner at The Sanctuary Thailand, responded to this review, July 1, 2008

----- Original Message -----
From: The Sanctuary
To: deposits-thailand
Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 11:14 AM
Subject: Trip advisor report


Dear All,



Not quite sure how to answer this as obviously this woman hated everything about us here which me as the owner finds very upsetting.

I have never seen a more negative review with nothing constructive in it I can even work on, as I would love to make it better for her.

I feel sad that she had sucha terrible time here and nothng met up to her expectations.

I wish to comment on afew things but I do not believe I can change her experience here but would love her to come back as a guest for free so we could amend the bad feeling she has took away.

The swamp as she called it is running and we have it full of frogs and catfish to stop any mosquitoes breeding and the gardens around the wellness are beautiful, our staff been nurturing the land for many years…….

The steam room built into the rocks looking suspect, was does that mean? Fresh steam being pumped into the most beautiful round rock room? I do understand her thinking the splash pool looked dirty as we use only river water to fill this, (a sign clearly saying this), as many fasters do not want chemical but it is changed daily.

The last point about my 4 yoga teachers drinking and smoking has upset all the sanctuary. These people have devoted their life to teaching, caring and healthy living and only drink on the odd occasion and NEVER smoke.

I do not know when she came or how long she fasted, as most fasters after the experience despite little ups and downs are on such natural high and positive that they could never write something as negative as this.

Lastly the fast a rip up, rip off for what? The prices are clear on the web site, we use the recommended drugs and 100’s of people go though us and experience life changing results?

Sometimes in my life I have stayed places, not right…then I leave it is that easy…we had no deposit , why did she stay and also took time to explore all the restaurants in the bay fasting, sounds as if she did not stick to our programme of not eating ?

Lastly the families, where did this one come from………did she have a child? My manager has a 3 year old and there are a quite a few happy families in the bay and as guests.

I am sorry that the sanctuary was not right for this lady; I hope she finds what she is looking for some where else.

Gill





--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
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

  • Liked — The food and atmosphere
  • Disliked — mosquitos :-)
  • Stayed May 2008
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
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    • Cleanliness
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    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank nicholsonn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hong Kong
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
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.

  • Liked — the food
  • Disliked — the dirty accommodation and the attitude of the management
  • Stayed May 2008, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
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 review, 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 .
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
Level 6 Contributor
174 reviews
95 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 231 helpful votes
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.

  • Liked — The vibe
  • Disliked — The beds
  • Stayed April 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank WorldTravelerAsia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bali
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed April 12, 2008

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

  • Liked — The view
  • Disliked — The stairs
  • Stayed April 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank Richspace
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
West Sussex
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
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

  • Liked — Restfull and unique
  • Disliked — Leaving
  • Stayed January 2007, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank R-1-bar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Sanctuary Thailand

Property: The Sanctuary Thailand
Address: Had Tien Bay, Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand (Formerly The Sanctuary Island Resort)
Phone Number:
Location: Thailand > Surat Thani Province > Ko Pha Ngan
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Kitchenette Restaurant Spa Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#7 Spa Hotel in Ko Pha Ngan
#13 On the Beach Hotel in Ko Pha Ngan
Number of rooms: 21
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Established in 1991 The Sanctuary is a unique beach front resort offering beautiful houses, comfortable bungalows and budget dorm beds & boasts a 300 + vegetarian and seafood menu & bakery. Offering a diverse Spa menu & Detox fasting center, day trips, Kayaking, snorkelling and our gym to encourage you out of your beach front hammock. An eclectic mix of guests ensures a special beach holiday. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
The Sanctuary Island Hotel Koh Phangan
The Sanctuary Island Spa

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