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Reviewed February 21, 2010

This is a lovely place on the beach with a blend of 2 weeks holiday makers (that pay the full price),habitual travellers, expat hippies, (temporary) health freaks, yoga teachers and lots of other lovely people (who worked out to stay for a reasonable budget), mostly 20-40 years old. People hugging each other seems to be the standard, and if you are not into hugging nobody will bother you with it. The Thai staff is super friendly! To avoid "look of death" by the European managers only order at the bar and do not hang out there! To be accepted in the community (if you want that...) you need: "cool" clothes (its a fashion show), be beautiful, single, casual. If you miss one of these items, you need to be (very) patient.
All other accommodation and restaurants on this beach seem to be influenced by the health consciousness of the people that are attracted by the Sanctuary. Smoothies, brown rice, lassies, muesli and porridge seem to be standard on every menu. But the most healthy options and by far largest menu (400 items) can be had at the Sanctuary. Their restaurant
is superbly built into the rocks with an unbeatable atmosphere and the best spot on this beach.
Everything a modern traveller wants is available including "fast" internet (2B/min with your own laptop and 3B/min using their computers) and slow/unreliable wifi (400B/100min), yoga (all kind of variations 300B), massage (550B/1 hour or 300B/for a massage in public), dorms till "penthouse" acc. (250-4000B), single kayak (100B/1hr; (60B for a double at Hat Yuan beach! around the corner)), medium sized shop (at nextdoor love lip), food (50-400B). Most people we talked to were not impressd with the quality of the teacher training at the Sanctuary and told us you can take a 5-10min walk to http://www.thebloominglotus.net/
As you can see prices are pretty steep at the Santuary (for Thailand), so you pay for the atmosphere, variety, hygiene, quality and last but not least the fact that so many short stay travellers come that have no clue about Thai prices. The restaurants/bungalows around are often full (as well as the Sanctuary) and they serve the same Thai food/rooms with a 20-70% discount. The more the Sanctuary puts up the prices the higher the prices at the acc/rest close to it get, as travellers are coming in droves. Try to arrive after the fridaynight party in case you are a light sleeper between 10PM and 10AM.
Other recommended restaurants: Beam (great french fries) and Bamboo.
Thai massage at other end of the beach (250B) with the thai older Ladies is only for the fainthearted as they make sure!!! you have the more expensive oil massage (350B) next time.
Mobile Phone: DTAC and AIS GSM seem to have reception on Had Tien beach, so when getting a Thai Simcard opt for a company that uses one of these providers.
Going to Had Rin costs 200B one way either by 4WD (bumpy road) or boat (bumpy boatride if there are waves and many laptops have not survived the trip so bring a bin bag or the like!). In Had Rin you find pharmacies, banks, massage, 7-11, shopping, etc. There you can also rent a motorbike for 200B per day and explore the island and maybe stop off in Thongsala for the Tesco Lotus shopping (50-70% discount on everything compared to the Had Tien "shops").

One last remark about the restaurant at the Sanctuary (and for astmatic people like me). It was very contradictory to see that almost everything is devoted to giving people the option of eating and living healthy. At the same time lots of people are smoking in the restaurant and others are forced to inhale their smoke.... Even if you finaly find a smoke free area, a bit later someone comes and sits 3 meters away and starts smoking... (the restaurant has a relatively low roof, is very large and is only open on 2 sides) If the manager reads this I would ask them to consider a smoke free policy in the restaurant (even in most of Europe's unhealthy restaurants smoking is not allowed). My personal impression is that (at the moment) the spirituality / detox is only skindeep as the (created) ambience seems to attract a majority of people that like to enjoy a hedonistic lifestyle.
I would also recommend to rename this place from Santuary Resort to Hedonistic Resort :-)

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled with friends
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5  Thank monao-yoga
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 8, 2010

The Sanctuary really is a beautiful oasis of calm in an increasingly crazy island. I first came to Thailand 15 years ago when there wasn't a tarmac road in Koh Samui or Koh Phanang. Things are obviously rather different now, but The Sanctuary - mainly due to being so wonderfully tucked away - is far away from the shops and madness. Every other guest I met there had an intesting story and the staff are kind and helpful. Mike and Moon run a great set-up that guarantees you a bit of how Thailand used to be before the crowds arrived. Yes the beach isn't quite a soft and sandy as some others but the location is rugged and beautiful and arriving by boat on the beach is fabulous (road there is incredibly bumpy - take the boat if you can). There are also many different yoga and pilates classes with great instructors - the yoga platform is up the hill overlooking the jungle, and heavenly massages of all types. Leave your attitude on the boat and enjoy a wonderfully relaxing stay in the very special place. I'll definitely be going back!

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled with friends
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Thank RaeFoggo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 8, 2010

I have just returned from a memorable week at the sanctuary and am already plotting my return. The setting is idyllic, the atmosphere welcoming and inclusive, the food fantastic and the the whole a magnificent retreat from the demotic. Highly recommended

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled with friends
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Thank theconsul
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 7, 2010

I RARELY write reviews. I travel extensively. I recognize [--] when I see it. Mine and my friends experience of this place was quite sad. I arrived from Ko Samui, then by dirt trek road, all this costing money. On first site, I saw how it does appear to be paradise. The beach and scenery were sensational. But does this mean Sanctuary should treat people like they DON'T MATTER? I guess when an entire resort is completely full, they think its okay to turn away people, and not help them IN THE LEAST with finding a bed somewhere nearby....I came with a friend, but we didn't care what kind of accommodations we would stay in. Front desk said they were full and that they had no clue when space would open up. The next 2 hours my friend and I spent trekking up and down the hills, trying to find a bungalow or bed in the nearby beaches. The front desk didn't tell me to try to find space in alternate bungalow resorts, it was some nice solo travelers staying at the sanctuary... This was frustrating as I had to leave my bags out in the open, which is okay for 20 minutes...but 2 hours? All guest houses and bungalows were full. Soon it would get dark and I was SO hungry and tired from the running up and down hills but had no time to BREAK becuase I needed to find a place to crash. WHY did the sanctuary not have the phone numbers of nearby beach bungalow resorts?? This would help!! Instead of having travelers trekking up and down...OH RIGHT becuase they would not make more money if we stayed in nearby resorts. Because they don't care. Instead they would rather have us trekking up and down..like 2 idiots. I then considered to sleep on the beach or something, but I was so saddened by this experience and thought perhaps it was a sign I should not stay there, plus it simply felt that we were unwanted since we were "new" and didn't know the sanctuary ropes. Clearly if I was a return customer, I would have received warm service, instead of cold and inconsiderate. Everything was full that night, and one place a 30 minute walk away said they had something open in 4 days.....I didn't want to spend a night in this way outdoors not knowing what would happen tomorrow. Then I found out that due to a several-weeks long yoga program, THIS is why sanctuary and surrounding bungalows were ALL BOOKED UP! Why did sanctuary not express this in their website? THIS WOULD HELP TRAVELERS WHO ARE PLANNING THEIR TRIPS! Perhaps I'd arrive at a different time when availability would be BETTER. Yet, on my way to the Sanctuary....I met people that are regulars and are good friends with people who LIVE at the sanctuary. SURELY they didn't just arrive on a whim. Sanctuary, why do you cater to the public if you actually don't CARE about anything or anybody other than yourselves and your immediate circles of friends? The front desk lady remarked that "its not my problem" that I am looking for a bungalow or bed, and that my bags are out in the open. Could you not offer me somewhere to store them? I DON'T ASK FOR MUCH, really!
Eventually I realized I needed to leave, and there was nothing I could do.The lovely man who professionally drives travelers to and from the sanctuary, charged us 1000 baht to privately get us back to Haad Rin, and since it was after dark, he was tired, and we were the only two...he had no choice but to charge us this much money. He was a blessing. My advice to the sanctuary is: consider removing your website from the WEB because you seem irritated and uninterested in catering to the public. This has already been written and felt by many others who visited your clique-retreat. THIS IS FINE, and there's nothing wrong with it..but quit this NO RESERVATIONS policy crap, becuase its pure bollocks. I understand that some people don't show up, but decent people DO. Perhaps have a MAP of nearby beaches and resorts, and phone numbers. You would appreciate the same, if you were in our shoes. I am not interested in your apologies or alternative perspectives so please don't contact me.
Sending light and blessings your way

  • Stayed: January 2010
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2  Thank divinefem
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 February 18, 2010

I am very sorry at your upset …

However we do take bookings on half of our accommodations which is clearly stated on our web site. All our bookable rooms were full for christmas and the high season as people book their holidays in advance . Perhaps this is the customer who was checking in when there appeared to be no rooms – they had a reservation. The other half of our rooms are available on a first come basis , again clearly stated on our web site and rooms become available almost every day. The Yoga group in question ( 16 people) were only staying in 2 of our rooms. All others became available as guests checked out. Again sorry you had an upsetting experience.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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