I booked my husband, brother and niece on an Open Water dive course with Sairee Cottage. First of all, I do have to compliment Sairee on the quality and professionalism of the diving staff they employ. Robyn (the dive instructor) was more than awesome - she was just fabulous. Despite only having learned to dive a year ago (let alone teach) all three were slightly concerned about her experience for teaching three new recruits to the sport. within half an hour, they worried no more. She was truly excellent with my brother (an ex army ski instructor) saying that she was a true natural for teaching and all three were just amazed at the logic, communication skills and approach she employed in her teaching. Her professionalism even extended out of the water in that she was kind enough to include my niece (23 years old) on a social event at the dive school (got my nice out of the clutches of her aunt, uncle and father) and even ensured she got home at night at a good time so as not to miss the 7 am start the next day. Robyn is a truly super girl and someone Sairee should do all they can to keep as she is a great ambassador for them. Although I didn't dive my interactions with not just Robyn but the other staff at the school were just as good - they were truly friendly, helpful and enthusiastic
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for how the dive school is administered by the management. We arrived on the afternoon ferry, which was due in at 3.30 pm with the first part of the dive school programme due to start at 4 pm. We were due to be collected from the port by the school/resort but on arrival no one was there.
We waited a while, then phoned, and they had obviously forgotten to send the driver. No worries, he turned up eventually and off we went to the school and the resort
On arrival there was so much complication about the booking – first the bookig couldn’t be found, then there were problems over how much was owed after the deposit having been paid in advance, and the e learning completed by all three participants (which should have provided a 10% reduction in the price of the course) and so on. All of this took so long that it was too late to start the course on the day of arrival as planned with it scheduled to start the following evening. Wasn’t too much of a problem for us as we had booked an extra day in the accommodation anyway
This poor organisation continued throughout. A wet suit large enough for my husband was not provided (despite my having informed them in advance of his age – recognising that he would probably be older than most of the back packer divers at 62 – and of his weight.
We accepted this for day one but no attempt was made to find a suitable suit for the second day. There didn’t seem to be any recognition of the e-learning that had been undertaken by the three beforehand and it was a challenge getting back the 10% pp per course, and as they had a fourth member in the group who hadn’t done the elearning (and indeed was following a different course) it meant that the schedule was completely thrown with an additional day having to be added. This was a pain for us as the extra day we had booked was meant for additional dives if the group required but was a particular pain for the other member who joined them as she was on a tight travel schedule .
This may of course be the standard of admin that is normal for dive schools generally so may not be something unique to Sairee. However, it would have been much better (and simpler for everyone) if a written schedule had been provided at the beginning so everyone knew what was happening when and, assuming no adverse weather conditions (which there weren’t during our stay) kept to
A simple thing to have provided – and maybe not necessary for backpackers and travellers who are perhaps more flexible than those of us who have to work whilst on holiday – but it would have made a big difference to our experience if the administration had been more organised
Therefore, if anyone is on a tight timescale check exactly what you will be doing and when in order to complete the course within your travel plans
I do have to point out to ensure this review is perceived as a fair one that my husband dropped out of the course on day two (due to problems with his ears – and also with frustration over the whole set up including no wetsuit or him (he was diving in a golfing shirt) and having to wait so long to get in the water to dive (up to 20 minutes for a rope to be available which does make me wonder whether the area is over dived – the dive boats from the different schools all congregate in the same area each day and on some days it did look a bit of an Armada as as a result) but my brother and niece completed the course and received their accreditation (and were delighted with everything except the admin issues I have highlighted)
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