Probably one of the best places I’ve ever been…bar Pumba in South Africa Could I fault this place - nope. Checked in for 8 nights on the Spa package, spent 6 at Gardenia and 2 in Orchid. A mistake on our part btw as I actually preferred Gardenia to Orchid even though Orchid was an upgrade.
Gardenia is the lowest price and if that’s the lowest price I can’t imagine what the highest prices one look like as Gardenia was fantastic!! Massive room with adjacent separate room containing Jacuzzi area, wall to wall window so the person on TA who complained about the view from this room talking absolute balls - the view every morning was amazing! Room was immaculate as was pretty much every part of the whole site that we saw. Hats off to all the staff who work there, they put in loads of hours and keep the place as clean as you can based on a tropical climate. Room had a massive bathroom, with huge walk in shower which could have fitted about 4-5 people in itself! Kitchen area was a nice touch - containing microwave, sink and fridge. Mini bar was fairly reasonably priced with beer at 75 thb and coke cans at 30thb. Okay this seems a bit high as you can get the same in a Thai supermarket for half the price BUT when you do a conversion its still a hell of a lot less than I’d pay in a UK or US hotel. And anyway I accept that hotels will also charge more than a supermarket anyway but this was still not overpriced such as in BKK hotels etc.. It never bothered us. We did stock up on drinks when we got to Chaweng and Lamai so not a big deal. And we did use the mini bar as well. They also gave us a nice fruit basket and complimentary water bottles every day. Rooms are also equipped with TV showing several channels (in fact better than my hotel in BKK) and I got to see the last day of the Premiership (all matches - couldn‘t have done that in the UK) & DVD/CD players. There is an abundance of books ( I never used my Kindle once) and CD/DVDs in the lobby area that you can borrow - you don’t need to bring anything. Wireless in Gardenia was perfect.
Orchid - very nice immaculate room. Bathroom not as big as Gardenia, but it has a loft with as well containing a double bed and TV, and it has a balcony/terrace with loungers and sofa. On ground floor of Orchid there is the bathroom, separate area for fridge and amenities, and bathroom with Jacuzzi bath and overhead shower. it’s a really nice room and useful for a small family. I thought the open plan of Gardenia was better, and its got more natural light, but don’t take anything away from Orchid it’s a lovely room it all depends on whether a balcony terrace area, and extra double bed is what you need. Wireless in Orchid a bit patchy but only for minutes.
I know some people had the odd cockroach issue (rare), and to be fair speaking to the couple it happened to, they accepted it was part of being in a tropical climate, but the staff addressed it as quickly as they could. In my entire stay I have to say I never saw one in any of the rooms I stayed in. In fact the only thing that we did see were mosquitoes and I got several bites but having been to various tropical destinations; Bali, India, SA etc I accept this as part of the climate, and the room had repellents, coils etc free of charge to use so I have no complaints. To be honest what can you expect Sandalwood to do its part of being in Thailand! J
Staff - I could write pages on this! The staff here are amazing from Pon, Jip and Taeng on the front desk who make every effort to arrange trips, recommend restaurants, taxis , deal with issues and still keep smiling, to the restaurant staff Rat, M, Nam, Tracey and all the cleaners, gardeners and drivers. Even when the gardeners and cleaners are sweating away in the heat, when you walk past, they always stop to acknowledge your presence with a Sawadee, and a big smile. I don’t care if that’s part of the training or whatever, it always felt nice and to be honest if I was working in a searing 35 degree heat I wouldn’t be smiling at anyone so hats off to them. We met the owner George on several occasions and he spent the afternoon at the pool chatting to my wife and I and what a nice bloke he is. It was great to hear how he built the place up , his background, we even talked about the good and bad reviews on TA and his view on them. I found him to be a very pragmatic and honest guy and I personally could understand if he was disappointed or eve annoyed in the negative reviews. I felt even though this was his business, to me it felt like it was his second home and he was hosting one big party. I’d be defensive if someone severely critiqued my home but he took it all in his stride and if things needed to change he would do them. In fact when my wife casually mentioned she would love hash browns and beans at breakfast (which weren‘t on the menu), he made sure we got them the next day…..delivered to our room ! I’ve not experienced that personal a service anywhere and I’ve been a lot of places!
Prices comparable to any big hotel/restaurant in Chaweng/Lamai. Main meals range frm 150- 330baht and shakes etc about 60-90thb. Cocktails were about 220thb - no different than what I’d pay in a bar in the UK, in fact it was cheaper in Sandalwood. Service in the restaurant was brilliant - Rat runs a tight ship and they all make sure you are happy. They made a small mistake with our order, rectified quickly and not a problem but two days later she was still apologising about it which there was no need- but they really do care. Everything was spot on and in fact the veggie dishes were sometimes better than the meat ones and this coming from an avid meat eater! One night George even sent the staff home and we had a Thai style ‘lock in’ which was appreciated and went on till about 230am. It didn’t feel that good at 9am the next morning L
Breakfast - plentiful, loads of options and one of the best ground coffees I’ve been served in a long time! I left the breakfast room fairly stuffed and not needing to eat till late afternoon or evening and I can eat loads normally. Everything on the menu is great but pancake with fruit was my wife’s favourite. Previous moans from reviews have either been addressed or were never issues in the first place and down to individuals’ personal tastes. I can’t and noted in 8 days no one else complained - they must be doing something right so dispelling any previous whinges on TA.
Address some of the previous negatives - yes the Spa is small (never personally had a problem with it small is nice)- only 2-3 girls on and they do recommend prebooking. As part of our package we had 5 treatments each, and at no time did we find it a problem to get the slots we wanted. Yes, the cost of a massage here is three times more than in Chaweng and Lamai, but once you add cost of transportation then are you really paying that much less? Also thought the prices were still better than what I’d get in the UK and that includes the service. I can fully recommend this spa and my wife who works in the reflexology business here in the UK, said the girls were very good and service was spot on. For tiny girls they applied a lot of good pressure and I felt great after every treatment. I’ll also add that my wife had sunburn and when we passed the spa one day, the girls were fairly concerned and took her to one side and treated her for ten minutes with cold towels and applied some creams they had. We hadn’t even asked or were about to get a treatment, they did this free of charge and that is service. Steam room was great, well done out and immaculate. Best part was you just booked and it was yours without any interruption for the hour.
I only used the one in the lobby area, and it was great - never bothered trying to find the other pools as it was rarely busy. Superb views over the cove and across the island. I could have stayed in the pool for days. Note even though its not big, it dips from shallow to deep very quickly (for non swimmers)and was just over 6ft in the deep end, but there is a wall to grip onto so you can lean and take in the views. I loved it! Also at the side are some Jacuzzi jets as well - brilliant
I read at least 100 reviews on this place and I always make a point in reading the bad ones (I accept everyone is entitled to their opinions) and I want to dispel some negative comments:-
Yep they charge 3% for paying the final bill but frankly this was made very clear when I booked, its on the website and when I checked in they repeated this fact. Lets just say Sandalwood provided no surprises. I coulda paid by cash, but to be honest taking that amount on money out to save £20-£30 wasn’t worth it and my credit card or bank card would have charged me anyway. Yep I could go an get travellers cheques on the so called ‘0% commission’ but if you look closely you still get a lesser rate.
Sandalwood taxi service
400 THB for the personal rides outside of the agreed shuttle times - okay it seems steep compared to Bangkok…this isn’t Bangkok. I reckon at best we could have got a local taxi to do the trip for 200-300 maybe less with a lot of bargaining but I doubt it and most won’t go up the very steep hill. To be honest it was great to have a personal driver from Sandalwood. I knew he would be there, always on time and no BS about taking the long way round as we weren’t on a meter. Best bit about the personal driver was we felt safe and when we asked if we could make a detour to the supermarket he did so without batting an eyelid. The nicest part was we had been to the boxing on the weekend, and then three days later when we used the same driver he asked us how it was which showed he had remembered us. It’s a 15min taxi ride to Lamai/Chaweng and I have to say 15min in a taxi in the UK would be a lot more than 400THB! Before anyone makes the comment but this is Thailand and it should be cheaper just think about what you pay at home for things. Also, the Sandalwood is not a Marriot or big chain hotel with a fleet of cars - it’s a privately run place. Whilst it would be nice to have an evening shuttle I think the 11am drop off and 5pm pickup is absolutely fair. Again to address the moaners -sort your own transport out then. In most other places that’s what you have to do or pay a premium. Also when we were in the car with another couple we only paid half so its worth it.
We used the free shuttle to the Cove - to be honest not a beach fan - nice for those who enjoy that. There was a nice small restaurant at the Cove serving really good food but the experience was ruined by a swarm of flies who just kept attacking us - more than normal and eating and swatting every second was not great. Food was amazing though - 400thb for two incl drinks and tip.
Yep its on a steep hill - and you need transport be it local, private hire or Sandalwood to get anywhere. Personally it was fine for us - we wanted to relax and being away from Lamai and Chaweng was perfect. We used the shuttle in the morning stayed in the town during the day when we wanted to and left the hustle and bustle to our nice cliff top location. Best of both worlds. Don’t diss the location - you do your research and see where it is they don’t pretend.
To summarise, I researched this place over two years ago but had to cancel at the last minute. I‘ve been waiting for 2 years to go and it was worth the wait - my wife is already insisting on a 12 day stay next time! Also considering the options of booking half the estate which is fairly reasonable - I think it currently works out to be £500-£600 per night but it’s a bargain if you get a group of people
It was no.1 in Tripadvisor when I looked 2 years ago and still is and I can see why. When I go back and I will, be it next year or the year after, I sincerely expect it to be still No.1 - they would have to have some fairly drastic disasters not to be.
- Also Known As:
- Sandalwood Luxury Villas Hotel
- Sandalwood Luxury Villas Hotel Koh Samui
- Sandalwood Luxury Hotel
- Sandalwood Luxury Koh Samui
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Situated on a hillside amongst tropical gardens, our luxury villas are a stylish combination of traditional Thai design and modern elegance. Each villa has its own unique charm, and features a balcony, terrace, pool, or Jaccuzzi from which you can enjoy breathtaking views of Koh Samui across the clear blue bay of Chaweng. Our resort consists of ten Thai style pavilions positioned on different levels around two shared infinity swimming pools. Each pavilion is linked by landscaped gardens with intricate stone walkways and lush flora. Camellia, Leelawadee, and Plumeria villas each have their own private pools. We are ideally located between the two main beaches, Chaweng and Lamai, and within a 15 minute drive of every major attraction in Koh Samui. Whether you're a couple seeking a romantic getaway, a family looking for a fantastic holiday, or a larger group wanting the entire private estate, we are at your service with our 5 star Thai hospitality, and very reasonable rates. ... more less
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