We had a week at Santhiya in December and came away with a highly favourable impression. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a relaxing, luxurious and low-key time in Thailand, but if you're after a party then go elsewhere.
Firstly, I find some of the other reviews here a little odd - you genuinely cannot complain about a resort because you got three mosquito bites and the private speedboat only runs twice a day so you had to get a ferry, it's ridiculous. We actually found the mozzie level to be very, very low vs the rest of Thailand, and used both the public ferry from Ao Nang (fun, Santhiya picked us up from the pier on Ko Yao and we saw some of he island on the way to he hotel) and the private hotel speedboat to Phuket (v James Bond, especially as we were the only guests). But anyway, ridiculous.
The resort itself is stunning; picture-perfect beach; a beautiful pool area which was mainly empty and fantastic pool-villa rooms, very luxurious with astonishing views. We were travelling with our one-year old daughter and Santhiya was the best place we stayed for her - she loved the villa pool, there was loads of room inside and out to crawl around, in the day she could snooze in the villa whilst we sunbathed, and at night the separate living area meant she could sleep soundly whilst we could read or whatever. The staff were all amazing - taking a baby to Thailand is huge fun anyway but the guys at Santhiya were especially friendly and helpful, nothing was too much trouble and they even upgraded us to one of the biggest villas. Our baby left having been utterly spoiled. to be clear though, this is not a kids place - there was the odd other child but it's mainly a quiet adults resort. The food was fantastic, a wide mix of western and Thai options, the latter of which were a bit too westernised for my taste but they happily spiced up to Thai levels on request so was no problem, I still think about the spicy prawn and lemongrass salad!
Is there anything negative to say? The resort is not yet finished, with the non pool villa rooms due to complete in early 2014. The spa is also not yet built (they use a villa currently). In our view these were no bad thing though, as there was zero construction noise and the resort will no doubt be busier when the other rooms complete. I also think prices will rise when the hotel is finished - current rates for a pool villa room in such easy reach of Phuket are great value and can only rise. I guess some parts of the service were a little slow for a five star hotel, water and wine sometimes took a while to arrive for example, but this was very minor. As above, we found the service in general to be fantastic.
Overall we loved both Santhiya and Ko Yao Yai, the hotel is beautiful and great value and the island is an as-yet undeveloped rural slice of old Thailand. Given the location this is unlikely to last long, so I'd recommend getting to Santhiya as soon as possible
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