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“Mixed feelings”

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The Sanctuary Thailand
Ranked #22 of 91 Hotels in Ko Pha Ngan
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed March 5, 2014

I would agree with the disappointed reviews a bit further down. Generally the place is nice but I don't think it's as 'magical' or as outstanding as I'd hoped. As it's been said, there are a couple of people working there that are particularly helpful but the restaurant staff do need to make more of an effort and the place needs some work.

My main issue is that this place is just too overpriced for what it is. It's not a luxury place, it's a hippy, rough round the edges place which is absolutely fine and what many are looking for, but then you cannot charge double for everything as if you are a top end resort. To be honest I just preferred to go elsewhere for my food and drink. There are sooo many great restaurants between the 3 bays and if I went back I would stay somewhere else too as the bungalows are way overpriced for what they are.

My bungalow was completely open as the bathroom was all open which is fine but then there was only a curtain to the room so essentially completely open to mossies, ant attack, critters and noise from all around. This didn't feel secure at all either. When I got moved to a private Zorba room for the same price, I definitely preferred the room but felt it was cheeky to charge nearly the same when I had to share the bathroom and shower with around 15 others and the toilet was not kept clean.

I'd prefer to take a nicer room or bungalow elsewhere, eat and drink elsewhere and just come for the yoga and workshops here, but not the spa where again they charge 2-3 times what others are charging for the same massages, manicures etc. just 5 mins away.

  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled solo
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3  Thank bgreen2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SanctuaryThailand, Guest Relations Manager at The Sanctuary Thailand, responded to this reviewResponded March 9, 2014

Thank you for taking the time to leave your review, and for giving us an opportunity to respond to your comments.
We strive to give comfort and convenience whilst giving the ambience of a rustic bungalow resort. The costs incurred in this remote place without roads or electricity lines, water or shops, are considerable as I am sure you can imagine. We provide power by generators 24 hours a day, fresh produce is sourced from the mainland and we use imported goods whenever we feel quality is required. We offer something quite different from the surrounding resorts and restaurants, and how wonderful that everything is here to be enjoyed within our 3 bays, from cheap dorm beds and pad thais to luxury houses and smoked salmon!
While our prices are higher than the basic budget bungalows nearby, we are a far cry from fancy resort prices where a room nowadays is priced at 5-12,000 bt a night.
Having said that, it’s also true that we are constantly having to refurbish and update our accomodation – things deteriorate much faster in tropical conditions, and as we are so busy for much of the year, we don’t always update our rooms as fast as we would like, as there are only brief moments in the year when this kind of work is possible.
Ultimately we are very lucky to be surrounded by many other great restaurants and accommodation options within the 3 bays to suit all styles and budgets, and wherever you are staying, everyone is welcome to enjoy The Sanctuary’s services.
Hope to see you again some time,
Best wishes
Tasha

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235 - 241 of 554 reviews

Reviewed March 5, 2014

The Sanctuary gets under your skin. Forever.
I spent a week nestled in heaven and did a 3,5 days detox programme. Everything was absolutely perfect. Each and every single detail I can think of made me feel really special. The warm team, the healers, the spa treatments, the ambiance, the safe environment, the thought-provoking talks, the special people I met, the energising yoga, acroyoga and pilates classes, the soothing meditation sessions, the fabulous Mung and his wellness team, the sweet Chard in the bar, the 2 restaurants serving excellent food, the spectacular beach, and the list is endless.

I just had a magic time in no small part thanks to the Sanctuary's team best efforts to make me feel great. This experience will be with me with me forever and I will certainly be back again. I am so happy to have found this incredible place on earth. My only regret is not to have found it earlier!

Time simply stops as soon as you jump out of the long tail boat at the Sanctuary shores. My body clock resets and life flows in pure simplicity.

The detox programme is brilliant, simple, and I do feel revitalised and with a clarity of thought that I had never experienced before (the few kgs lost also helped :)!).

Landing back to reality after being in such a bubble for a week did hurt but these days in paradise will always be my secret garden when I next need an escape mental route.

Congratulations on an amazing job.
Keep up the good work!

Room Tip: Ladies dorm close to the Welness Center is perfect. Don't miss their homemade Iced Ginger Tea...
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  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled solo
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1  Thank Sam H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SanctuaryThailand, Food and Beverages Manager at The Sanctuary Thailand, responded to this reviewResponded March 5, 2014

Thank you for sharing your experiences with us Sam !
We love nestling in the ambience and safe environment that has been allowed to grow here. The magic created is really testament to the wonderful returning guests and healers sharing their experiences through talks, meditations and classes. The detox programme is indeed brilliant in its simplicity and leaves many feeling energized, clear and ready to set fire to the world!
Best wishes,
Nolan
Ps: we found your lost few kgs, you can collect them on your return…….

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Reviewed March 2, 2014

I have just returned from travels to Cambodia and Koh Phangan and had a four night stay at the Sanctuary. I am normally passive when it comes to Tripadvisor but my experience at the Sanctuary has prompted me to feel compelled to share my thoughts.

My impression of the Sanctuary is overridingly positive: from the moment I enquired about making a booking to the point I stepped onto the dinghy when it was time to leave.

I travelled as a group of three friends. We didn’t actually choose the venue for the vast array of treatments and activities: for us it was more to do with finding a place which we thought would have the kind of atmosphere we like when travelling in Thailand. It didn’t disappoint.

The place has been beautifully put together, in what seems to be a very organic way over the years, sensitively and beautifully nestled into its corner of Had Thien. The beach is serene and the perfect place to reflect, hang out or to just sunbathe. The restaurant and bar area lends itself well to social interaction. Open mic night was particularly fun, but I enjoyed chatting to all kinds of different people each night (and day) I was there. The atmosphere is accepting and friendly.

The accommodation I found to be beautiful. I stayed in Ocean View. It provided me with many different facets: its stunning view of the bay, a place to watch the sun rise in the morning on the deck, a place to sleep listening to the sounds of the sea and the jungle or to host a gathering with friends. The craftsmanship of this place was outstanding.

Food and drink: another important part of my holiday and a big tick in this box. The menu is extensive to say the least and, as a carnivore, the vegetarian / fish options kept me very happy indeed. I stuck mostly with the Thai options (excellent Massaman) but there really is something for everyone here. I loved the brunch menu on Sunday and had a delicious red snapper / potato croquette / spinach dish! Service was relaxed and very much with a smile.

There are some stand out people who made the holiday as special as it was: Nolan with his charisma and energy; Tasha for her warmth and support and Chard for his friendliness and taking me under his wing.

It is true to say that the Sanctuary has got under my skin. The regret of our group is that we only stayed for four nights: we wished our schedule had not been so rigid and could have stayed longer. We’re already planning our return!

Stayed: February 2014, traveled with friends
Thank Postipanki
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SanctuaryThailand, Food and Beverages Manager at The Sanctuary Thailand, responded to this reviewResponded March 4, 2014

Hello Postipanki, thank you for taking the time to leave a lovely review.

We have worked jolly hard over the years to create a unique, blissful experience in our corner of Had Thien. Our jungle dwellings do provide stunning views and a wonderful space to relax and experience all the pleasures that nature can offer.

We’re thrilled you enjoyed our food and hospitality and yes Open Mic is indeed a highlight of many people’s stay here, as are the wonderful diverse folk you meet. It’s under their skin and they keep coming back! Hope to see you soon,
Best Wishes
Nolan

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Reviewed February 19, 2014 via mobile

We stayed at The Sanctaury while attending a 5 day Thai massage course with Sebastian Bruno. The facilities are top notch and so wonderfully unique, every day was a treat to be here. The people are an extremely eclectic mix here so people watching was one of the main activities! The food was excellent and one of the highlights although a bit pricey for Thailand, but not unexpected. There are other options close-by as well that are also excellent...Whynam Beach, Bamboo restaurant, Haad Tien Resort. The service at The Sanctaury was lacking a bit, mostly confused looking, detached servers walking around with food trying to find the right table. Rarely did we get a smile out of any of the restaurant staff, and table service was a bit of a crapshoot. But the food did make up for some of the service shortcomings. We recommend looking at a menu and just ordering up at the bar, especially breakfast. Overall we had an excellent stay and enjoyed this place very much!

  • Stayed: January 2014
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Thank Prairiedrifter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SanctuaryThailand, Guest Relations Manager at The Sanctuary Thailand, responded to this reviewResponded February 21, 2014

Hi PrairieDrifter and thanks for your review - we're really glad you enjoyed the unique experience that is The Sanctuary!
Sorry you were let down by our service: we're always working on making it better and we know we have some way to go.
We were a bit surprised to hear however that you didn't see many smiles from our staff: their service might be poor at times but they are generally a pretty smiley, friendly lot - so sorry if you caught them in a bad week!
Hope to see you again some time -
Best Wishes,
Tasha

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Reviewed February 14, 2014

Like others have said, we picked this place out specially from England for the ideal mix of yoga, calm and peace added to the good food that was well reviewed. We had planned to be there for a week but we, along with others in the boat, left early
We were disappointed with the delivery of the experience.
The food , while good, was not fantastic - the service was very slow and unprofessional. The yoga and pilates classes were good and yet nothing really special. The beach was only a small part of a not very lovely bay - the next bay was much more attractive and a lot cleaner.
Many things about The Sanctuary were out of date - the place was not clean enough, the 'free filtered" water available was fine but the tap was next to the toilets in a grubby area, the "shop" was also next to toilets and very unloved. The front desk was a tiny apology for a space.The beds were very hard. The so -called cool vibe was spoiled especially in the evening by everyone using their devices and by music that was consistently too loud and insufficiently attuned to the beautiful jungle and sea environment. Again the little bars and restaurants in the next bay did a better, and cheaper, job.
Some of the people were outstanding - Simon and Naimh the teachers, Shard in the restaurant and Kaswa at the front desk but we felt that they were up against it.
It is in short a place that needs to catch up - no doubt amazing 10 years ago …..

Room Tip: The garden rooms were lovely but beds very hard.
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank tony b
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SanctuaryThailand, Guest Relations Manager at The Sanctuary Thailand, responded to this reviewResponded February 17, 2014

Hi Tony and thanks for your review.
Of course this is a very disappointing review for us to read, and we are really sorry your stay with us was not what you were hoping for.
On inspection we agree that the mattresses are too hard and have already ordered new ones for these rooms, and initiated a full mattress check on all our rooms - so thanks for inspiring us to bring this annual procedure forward. We have also now started previously planned renovation work on our shop, which we agree could do with some loving.
Service is certainly an area we sometimes struggle with in the very busy season when you visited. Many of our staff are fantastic, but we know we still have some way to go on this one.
Finally, to respond to your sense that the place is tired and grubby – we agree it can appear so, and of course it’s a constant work in progress to keep things from decaying fast in these jungle elements. However, we have also found that one man’s tired and grubby is another man’s cosy and comfortable – we try to keep a balance between the two!
Best wishes,
Tasha

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Reviewed February 12, 2014

I really wanted to love this place, especially after hearing great reviews but there were some things that fell a bit short for me.
My friends and I stayed in the "bookable Accommodations", so we paid a bit of money. The room itself was great, overlooking the palm trees and the sea. The trek to get up there was like a workout because it was way up in the hill - but it was good to be away from the bustle. Each morning we experienced no water till about 10 am! Which was a bit of a nuisance.

The customer service at the restaurant was sub par, it was quicker to just order at the counter. And considering its not was not a cheap place to eat, it was a bit disappointing. I'd recommend The Chiang Mai open spring roll, it was delish! But don't get the coconut shake- it was like blended coconut in coconut cream.

My friends and I met great people! The yoga was very relaxing, and I took the beginners class which was a good experience. I didn't book a workshop, but heard great things about it from others. I dabbled in programs throughout the day and they were good. I recommend the guided meditations at 6pm too, I left feeling refreshed :)
I planned to stay for a week however left after a few nights. I think I would consider The Sanctuary again if there was a workshop that really drew me. Then, I might have a better experience.

  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled with friends
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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1  Thank Jujutraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SanctuaryThailand, Guest Relations Manager at The Sanctuary Thailand, responded to this reviewResponded February 13, 2014

Hi JujuTraveller and thanks for your mixed review of pros and cons.
As ever, we are always glad to hear about the things our guests did enjoy at The Sanctuary, and we are always striving to improve the things our guests didn't enjoy so much.
Hope you make it back for a workshop sometime -
Best wishes
Tasha

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Reviewed February 12, 2014

I went to the sanctuary on my own for a 3-day yoga retreat. It wasn't the easiest place to get to, at least when the water is so rough some of the usual boats can't travel there, but it was absolutely worth it. The surroundings are just beautiful and I have never felt so peaceful and utterly relaxed.

The yoga was good - the teachers are very knowledgable and have a different approach than current standard classes. The spa treatments were just amazing - I highly recommend the hot stone massage ... Heavenly. The food was also excellent - some have complained about the slow service. It is slow but where do you need to be?

I would highly recommend it and hope to return someday not too far from now.

Stayed: January 2014, traveled solo
Thank Becky K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SanctuaryThailand, Guest Relations Manager at The Sanctuary Thailand, responded to this reviewResponded February 13, 2014

Thanks Becky - we're really glad you enjoyed your Sanctuary experience! Hope to see you again some time -
Best wishes
Tasha

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Additional Information about 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:
#9 Spa Hotel in Ko Pha Ngan
#15 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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