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“Great staff, poor management and administration”

Sairee Cottage Diving
Ranked #20 of 93 Tours in Koh Tao
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: A medium size PADI 5 star diving school, focussing on quality PADI diving courses and fun diving trips. Located in the middle of the beautiful Sairee Beach with fantastic diving facilities on offer.
Level Contributor
224 reviews
47 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 180 helpful votes
“Great staff, poor management and administration”
Reviewed April 4, 2013

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)

Visited March 2013
1 Thank Carolineess
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Manchester, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Fan-flippin-tastic! You have to go. You'll be hooked like me!!”
Reviewed March 28, 2013

I was reccomended by a friend and he did me well. Great company, awesome staff. I only intended to go and do my open water course but loved it so much I stayed an extra few days and did my advanced and I'm so glad I did. Everyone who works there is so friendly and relaxed yet proffessional at the same time! I had Jessie for my open water and Sarah for my Advanced both were absolutely awesome! DO IT! You won't regret it! No doubt I'll be seeing them all again at some point in the future to do my DMT!

Visited March 2013
Thank Nath1991
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Qualicum Beach, Canada
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Got us hooked!”
Reviewed February 13, 2013 via mobile

We did our very first scuba here with Rachel, she was such a great instructor and really fun to go diving with. We did a discover scuba course and paid the little bit extra to do an extra dive that day. The dive sites on koh Tao are amazing and it was nice to dive in such a small group. I really wish we'd had more time to do another course koh Tao is so far the least expensive place weve been for diving and this dive school just can't be beat.

Thank Rya B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
34 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Awesome Dive Shop/School - Great Staff”
Reviewed February 11, 2013

Sairee Cottage Dive Shop is awesome! Trevor runs the dive shop and has a delightful and talented staff. I took my PADI Advanced open water and got my Enriched-Air/Nitrox Cert as well (thanks Felix). For part of our Adv. Open Water course we could pick a specialty so my buddy and I went for Enriched-Air/Nitrox dives, one of which to the shipwreck Sattakut (highly recommended). My only regret is not staying longer and doing more dives, but I'll be back... :)

Visited January 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Duisburg, Germany
Level Contributor
25 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“After inquiring a lot, the best place we found”
Reviewed February 11, 2013

We were running around a lot to find a place that suited us best and stuck with Sairee Cottage.
They seem very relaxed unlike the larger dive centers. They too make most of their business with courses but you dont feel treated like a burden when you are already certified and only seek for some fun dives. Also a nice thing is that they go out to dive sites less frequented (Green Rock, Red Rock) which have a lot of nice stuff to see as well.
The staff is very nice and professional and really try to get your money worth.
All in all I would highly recommend this place to people who look for fun dives only!

Visited February 2013
Thank PhilippP4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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