We stayed at Barali in December 2013, which was our fifth stay at the resort. Our stay in December 2013 was the first with our children and I would say that in hindsight Barali is not a family friendly resort but you put up with it because it is on the best stretch of beach on Koh Chang and it has vast stretches of shallow water appropriate for children. We had booked via kohchang.com and requested a family room four four with two children aged 5 and 2. We had stayed at Barali many times before with irksome problems from time to time, but we had problems from the moment we arrived. We arrived at 4pm, tired and hungry, with two equally tired and hungry young children in tow and a ton of luggage. We had requested a room appropriate for a young family with a sea view. The villa we were given was up two flights of steep concrete steps with a balcony and a steep drop to the earth below. There was no cot in our room, no single bed for our five year old and no sea view. We tried to negotiate with the person who showed us to her room but as is the case with Thai people, they treat any feedback with a smile and few words, rather than trying to sort problems out. We tried to explain that the room was inappropriate on a number of levels because of our young family and said we had asked for a sea view room for a family, but were told that as we hadn't booked the room directly with them they were not responsible for not having the room prepared for a family and that we should take up any issue with the intermediary. We were told that many people share a bed with their children so why couldn't our children share our bed with us?! This was totally illogical (and inappropriate, given the high price we had paid for the room) and the hotel just pushed back everything on us, in order to save face. They refuse to take on board constructive feedback and sort out customer problems, but if they made a little more effort could have much better tripadvisor reviews.
They showed us another room next to it, which was quite a way back from the front of the resort and no where near the beach and we said we still weren't happy with it. We weren't being given what we had paid a princely sum for and the hotel was refusing to do anything about it, even though the member of staff said that the resort was only at about 25% capacity, with a large number of free villas remaining. We asked if we could upgrade to a sea view suite so that we would have more room but were told we could have this if we paid another £50 a night. Having already paid around £110 a night, we felt like we were being bled dry, so refused and agreed to stay in the second villa they offered us until a better one could be offered, because by now it was 5pm and the mosquitoes were out in full force.
The next morning my partner went to speak to the manager who, in perfect English, threw everything back on us and said that they were not aware that our booking was for a family and that we should take up the fact that we were not happy with our room with the intermediary. She also said that as our room was not a family room and they were only expecting two adults, they were going to charge us for a cot and for towels for the children! This was just ludicrous.
We eventually got moved to a villa we had stayed in many times before. We met a housekeeper who remembered us from previous stays who kindly agreed to give our children towels and we felt like we'd recouped some of our basic rights back.
There is a wide variety of breakfast items to choose from (bacon, eggs, cereals, fresh fruit, ham, cheese, Thai bread - sugared, not like UK bread) but when it comes down to it, the quality of some of the items is poor (the coffee is like paint stripper and you need a hundred cups of it to get a hit of caffeine, the bread is awful and some of the rolls you could hit on the breakfast bar and they would bounce) and most of the stuff you just wouldn't eat (e.g. cauliflower in butter, peas in tomato sauce were on the menu for several mornings). You just have to find your way around the food issue and be very selective.
Cleanliness of public areas
In the toilet below the pool, one of the taps was broken so couldn't be used, and there was a leak which meant that the toilet floor was flooded daily. My 2 year old and I had several slips and falls as a result. In addition, the toilet wastepaper basket was overflowing with used toilet paper, which was not pleasant.
Wifi is extortionately expensive and not free as standard. As a result most guests at the hotel knew that they could get free wifi by simply walking out of the hotel and walking 10 metres to the right or left, where you could get free wifi in every restaurant and bar. The hotel needs to change this outdated policy because I bet they don't get much demand for use of their wifi.
Swimming pool bar
We were at the hotel for 8 days before the swimming pool bar was opened. And even then, a few bottles of alcohol were put behind the bar, but no one was manning it. No-one came by in the whole time we stayed at the hotel to ask if we wanted a drink. We were happy to walk to the beach front bar to get a drink, but it would have been nice to have the option of having someone ask us.
One morning at breakfast we watched an amazing guy shimmy up a coconut palm without support or harness and hack away at the dead branches. The manager was watching him work and I called down to her from the breakfast bar to say it was amazing to watch him do this job so deftly. She looked back at me, gestured by rubbing her thumb and forefinger together and said, 'you want to pay to watch?'. I was utterly dumbfounded. It just made me feel like the hotel was going to find yet another way of getting cash out of its clientèle. I simply felt like we were cash cows to be milked in any possible way.
Cost of clothes washing
The hotel offers a clothes washing service, as do most hotels in Thailand. However, the cost was again extortionate, with individual items costing several pounds to wash and not even iron. If you walk out of the hotel there is an abundance of shops offering washing for 20 - 40 baht a kilogram, whereas one item washed at the hotel can cost a few hundred baht. I am very pleased to pay a sensible amount of money for a service in Thailand and do not believe that things should cost rock bottom prices, but again, the hotel is just trying to milk its clientele dry at every point, for every possible service.
The pool is not appropriate for young children unless they can swim, but the beach is a stone's throw from the pool and is very shallow, so fine for children.
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- Also Known As:
- Barali Beach Hotel Koh Chang