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“Beautiful and relaxt”

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The Sanctuary Thailand
Ranked #21 of 91 Hotels in Ko Pha Ngan
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed February 1, 2010

We red about this place in the lonley planet. It said you wanne namastay forever.. well out of 3 weeks holliday we stayed here 5 days and we loved it.

We did a few good meditations and we enjoyed the beach and the surroundings. The food was brilliant , it is however a very expensive place but really worth it. We would definitly recomend it and we already did as well :)

It's a nice place to relax. Only one day they have a big party that goes on all night but with ear plugs you will have no troubles with it.

  • Stayed: June 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank Janneman28
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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447 - 453 of 550 reviews

Reviewed January 28, 2010

The Sanctuary is not what it promotes itself to be - a friendly retreat where you go to find peace and harmony. It is a badly run, expensive sham, and as a travel journalist and someone who has stayed at numerous resorts of all prices ranges around Thailand, I was hugely disappointed after the (clearly cleverly marketed) hype surrounding the place. It is very expensive for what you get, and a commercial enterprise that trades off the concept of a spiritual 'Sanctuary'. The staff were incredibly unfriendly and unhelpful from the moment I arrived to when I left - which is something I haven't experienced anywhere else in Thailand. Also the restaurant, known for it's wide-ranging menu, is inefficiently run - I had to chase my order at every mealtime, and never waited less than 40 minutes for it to arrive (even when just porridge!) The accommodation is pretty basic and despite travelling for many hours - sometimes days - to get there you are unable to book before you arrive, so you risk being left without a bed. The 'spa' dished up the worst massage I've ever had and is over-priced. As for the people there - there is a lot of kissing and group hugging, but a feeling that unless you are within the 'inner circle' of the egos that dominate the bar area, you are unable to join in friendly banter. I met some nice people there - all of the same opinion as me about the resort, and all planning to leave as soon as possible. I was going to stay for six nights, but cut this short and escaped to another resort where I knew the staff smiled and the vibe was good. Despite the high prices, you are unable to pay by card which means another boat ride just to get cash - something that they should tell you before arrival. If you are here for a detox, then fine - it does what it says on the tin - but again, I found the staff unwilling to answer my questions about the process and impolite when I chose not to take part in a detox. Plus, I thought it was worrying how little concern they showed when guests would tell them they'd fainted or been violently sick during the extreme process. I won't be going back, and it left a bitter taste.....it's all about the money.....so much so I'm considering a feature on the myth perpetuated by places like this.

If you MUST go to detox - then here are my recommendations:

Go to the Thai women at the end of the beach for a massage - much better than any offered at the 'spa'.

Eat elsewhere when you're not fasting - you might actually get served in time to also enjoy the beach.

Go to the beach on the other side of the cliff - up the stairs by the restaurant and over the wooden bridge. Far nicer than the pebbly beach at The Sanctuary - and people smile there.

Look elsewhere for yoga classes - those offered by this resort are expensive and not nearly as good as elsewhere on the island. Ask around for advice.

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled solo
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5  Thank traveljourno007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 24, 2010

Have just left the Sanctuary Resort in Koh Phangan, and what a disappointment. It advertises itself as a place to relax amongst friends and an opportunity to participate in various activities. It is very badly run, the Manager has no concept about customer service/hospitality. The staff, who are predominantly Thai, appear grumpy and overworked. The Community they say exists is there alright... its called 'The Clique' and be under no illusion, you will not be accepted. The place itself looks great, but that's all... there is nothing else going on. They preach Love... Yeah!!!! love of money, it is all about how much money they can get you to part with and its very overpriced. Do yourself a favour, find a nice beach somewhere else, where you can practice yoga and meditation, where you will not be contaminated by the Vibe, they call The Sanctuary

Stayed: January 2010, traveled with friends
4  Thank TeaLady10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 16, 2010

This was the perfect break !! Flew into Koh Samui - very easy transfer to Koh Phangang then mad ( but exhilirating) sea taxi to the Sanctuary. Arrived to find to our surprise is no key for The Star House ( where we stayed) primarily as we found on climbing up to the villa cos there is no wall across the front. The house is lovely - not as spruce as some faceless nameless hotel, but big, unique, beautiful. Sitting in the hammock that night, watching the bats fly in and out, listening to the sounds of the jungle = we felt that we'd arrived in paradise

The restaurant offers and amazing and varied selection of food - all good ( thought tbh the indian curries were not my favourite choice) and no meat - which was fab for us - none of the usual guessing what we could and couldn't eat. There are a couple of other bars/ restaurants etc just along the shore - all of which do good food so there is no chance of getting bored with the cuisine

We started every day with light breakfast and 1 1/2 hours of yoga - nice.. then drifted through the days, managing to fit a massage in somewhere along the line - sometimes at the sanctuary ( which is good but quite expensive) sometimes with other masseurs along the beach

The beach is a bit rough - and the mossies are a nightmare - so come well prepared with lots of serious protection - but neither of these things really bothered us.. We were a bit concerned that it would be a bit holier than thou goody two shoes hippy - but in truth the people there were lovely. All gathered to look after their minds and bodies but without too much california new age bull - perfect for us

We stayed for two weeks, remembered what it is like to feel relaxed and whole again and were gutted to leave. Looking forward to going back again - if you work hard, need to slow down, recharge and remember what the important things in life are - this is the place to do it

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank katzyk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 4, 2010

Getting to the Sanctuary from Koh Samui was kind of a pain and we ended up paying way more for a private boat, than we would've liked. That said, when we finally rocked up to the hotel, we were pleased with what we found. The atmosphere was that of a cool beach hippy hang out. Where one can go to detox or do the exact opposite!!
The restaurant doesn't serve meat, but has a wide selection to choose from.
We stayed in Leela House, which was partly uncovered (without roof). This wasn't a problem, because there was a safe and cupboard (bring a padlock!) to keep our valuables safe.
Be warned! Friday night is a big party on that part of the island. The music gets started around 10pm and goes on through to the next day. It ended around 1pm for us!!! It's impossible to escape, especially when you have no walls!!!!!
We were there for Xmas and as a result, there were two nights in a row of this LOUD music.
I'd been liaising with Mike before I got there and he'd offered to book us appointments for treatments at the spa. But when we arrived, this hadn't been done, which I thought was completely lame. Fortunately, we were able to figure it out.
Take a walk from the Sanctuary to Haad Yuan and visit Eden. The staff are super cool, the food is great. Try a shake ; )

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank LadybootsLosAngeles
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 3, 2009

I was recommended this resort by a friend and was very excited to spend two weeks relaxing in this Spa / Yoga retreat. It's perfect for the solo Traveler, very friendly people and lovely staff.
I practiced yoga a couple of times a day, indulged myself in the Spa and enjoyed the extensive menu in the restaurant. Traveling from Ireland and looking for sun sea and relaxation in November I don't think i could have gotten better value than the Sanctuary. Generally it was a very quiet holiday, having said that i did have one pretty big night out which was great fun. I don't know what else to say other than i had a fabulous time there and would like to congratulate the management on creating such a lovely resort! If anyone wants to email me for further information please do.

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled solo
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Thank IrelandHolidays
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 2, 2009

I've been going to the Sanctuary for about 10 years now, off and on. It's been so, so disappointing to watch their rates climb so high, to a degree that is almost out of my price range because I really loved the place. Also the generator use and smell has gotten really out of hand. Perfect location, great food (but they really don't know how to make a smoothie and freeze most of their juices?!) The generator is much louder than it used to be and you can smell it from several of the overpriced bungalows. The staff is underpaid and that is reflected in their continually worsening attitude toward the guests. I just feel bad for them because I have seen that the management is simply becoming more greedy every year. They could pay their staff more, the just don't. And they could keep their prices lower, they just won't. It really turns your stomach when you think of how this conflicts with the laid back attitude they are trying to exude.

If you go to the Sanctuary, leave all your Thai Change in your room or as a tip for them at the desk! So many of us end up taking a kg of those coins home accidentally. At least we can help in some small way. And of course there is the tip "code number" that we can use, but since the Sanctuary only accepts cash it's very easy to come up short when your trip is over.

The management mentioned in an earlier 'response' that most ("if not all") guests love the Friday all night extremely loud 'music.' Well when I as there most 'if not all' guests were complaining about it, and returning guests were adding how sad it was that Had Tien was now just like every other beach. In a couple of years, with the new road, it probably will be.

  • Stayed: December 2008, traveled with friends
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1  Thank goshalaseva108
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SanctuaryThailand, Manager at The Sanctuary Thailand, responded to this reviewResponded November 4, 2009

Hi and thanks for your feedback.
As always we welcome constructive feedback to enable us to improve what we offer here at The Sanctuary.


I am saddened that your recent return visit was disappointing & that you only saw increasing prices, which incidentally have not changed in nearly 2 years due to the global economic situation , when you revisited with us, as opposed to all the improvements and additions we have added to make your (return) visit more interesting & rewarding


I wish to address 1 thing only – that is your assumption that our staff are underpaid and not looked after. This is so inaccurate that it upsets me. Most of our staff have been with us for nearly 10 years. Fact is : our staff are among the best paid in southern Thailand, they have excellent bonus system , holidays and support which is why they stay here and greet you on you return visit. Please don’t feel bad for our staff as they are very happy ( though they will appreciate the tip suggestions) , as are most of our guests.

Sincerely yours

The Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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
#14 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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