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norfolkwoman
suffolk

5 Stars all round!

5.0 of 5 bubblesReviewed 13 Feb 2013
We stayed at Shantaa for 10 nights in January 2013. We had a 'sweet'. Funny how you can manage to do very little for quite a long time if you are staying in such a perfect spot.! The accommodation is of a very high standard, spotlessly clean and well maintained. The beauty of the place is that they have not been greedy and filled all available space with villas -there is loads of space for lovely gardens and perfect seating spots. the restaurant is very good and prices reasonable. Staff make every effort to care for you and will sort out anything you need.
The only low spot for us is the presence of sand flies on the beach beyond the jetty. Not everyone reacts to their bites but we would advise you not to sit on the beach here and to wear repellent when walking. They don't get you if you use a lounger! We also found the big ferry much more comfortable than the slightly faster small speed boats.
Date of stay: January 2013
Room Tip: The sweets are nearer the beach. and have slightly better facilities
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
5.0 of 5 bubblesValue
5.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
5.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
5.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
5.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
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All reviews shantaa resort beach bar koh kood sweet room kayaks and paddle boards rooms are beautiful small beach little piece of paradise sandy beach beautiful garden thai dishes lovely resort pier beaches sea sunset thailand
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Reviewed 11 February 2013

Back to Koh Kood and the Shantaa after a 5-year absence. The Shantaa has got better in subtle ways which mark out exceptional properties with a timeless quality, a sort of magic you can't quite put your finger on. It's best not to mess with that too much. I first reviewed it in 2009.

Koh Kood on the other hand, while still relatively unspoilt, shows worrying signs of turning bits of the island over to hell-for-leather developers. They have a habit of ripping the heart out of local communities and replacing them with high-density resorts and all that comes with that elsewhere in Thailand. Which is fine if that's what you want. But Koh Kood, nestled up against the Cambodian border, is a world away from the buzzy, sassy, over-developed islands and beach resorts south of Bangkok. And that's why people come here again and again. But Koh Kood is no longer a secret.

The north, central and east coasts of the island retain their unhurried and largely untouched air: quiet creeks reminiscent of the Florida Keys at their lazy best. Rugged hills and ancient rain forests, rubber plantations and fishing communities that are really the gentle beating heart of this island. You can still take a scooter and ride down to Ban Ao Salad, the busy fishing village on the undeveloped east coast without encountering much traffic. The creeks are still there with their mangrove forests. The Mangrove Bungalows, just south of Loem Khlong Chao, with its soft-shell crab traps and jetty overlooking the mysterious mangroves, has a loyal following. Go there just before sunset fora drink or a meal, or take a kayak up to the Khlong Chao waterfall, and you will be touched by the spirit of Koh Kood. It's an island to relax into, without jets skis, noisy long-tail boats, nightclubs and the rest. There's also a respectful gentleness about the islanders which you really only now find mainly in Thailand's less-developed, rural eastern provinces.

But just on the other side of the bridge, on the coastline, and running south all the way to Ao Phrao and the Neverland Resort, along a beautiful stretch of beaches and inlets, developers are off the leash building cheek-by-jowl resorts of dubious legality. It will become just another strip; still Thailand, still beautiful but not Koh Kood, which is a shame. It's not about development. That's inevitable and it's needed in a country with such gaping inequalities of wealth. It's about trying to preserve the particular character of Koh Kood.

The Shantaa meanwhile, as many others have observed, remains quite special, sitting on a bluff, overlooking an azure sea, its handful of comfortable chalets widely spaced in 12 hectares of sensitively landscaped gardens, 60-foot coconut palms watching over it like venerable ancestors. Everything about it says "low-key". It remains in the hands of the family which owned the former coconut plantation, and much of the island. They have created a place of simple, under-stated elegance and subtle charm. Which, when you realise it was launched less than ten years ago by resort novices, is quite remarkable. Perhaps that's because it comes from the heart.

The food has improved noticeably, the bigger largely Thai menu served up with garden-fresh local ingredients in a subtle and tasty mix of flavours. They now have a proper wine list. A modest barbecue might be nice to add next. And maybe home-made jam at breakfast and fresh bread?

Nat and Korakot and her sister Fon who runs the place most days head up a team of charming, helpful staff. They're not professionas and they don't pretend to be. But they're willing, courteous and helpful. The villas are comfortable, sparsely but stylishly furnished, not huge, but quite sufficient, with delightful tropical, open air ( as well as indoor) showers. The views across the lawns which sweep gently down to the sea are magnificent. The main dining area, reminiscent of an African lodge, is cooled by overhead fans and sea breezes. Watch the crimson setting sun from your terrace. At night dine looking out to sea at an armada of fishing boats, their green lure lights ablaze right across the horizon.

I've been trying to figure out why I like this place so much. Why I think it's really, really special, worthy of my list of exceptionals which includes 5-star to no-star properties around the world.

Hotels and the travel industry, with their stars (which don't really tell you much do they?) and upgrade and deals designed mainly to seduce us into spending more money, turn travellers and holidaymakers into bean counters. We expect this and that from a hotel and quite often our expectations are not met because we come with preconceived notions,ready to jump on the slightest deviation from the idea we've carried in our head. I'm also not a fan of uber-luxurious resorts which have sprung up like an expensive rash around the world, charging an arm and a leg for stuff you don't need (African lodges with chandeliers, marble bathrooms in the Himalayan foothills). Most of them seem to designed to put as much distance as possible between the guest and the local community or, a best, to offer a sanitised version of it.

Think of the Shantaa, not as a hotel, not even as a resort. Tear up your hotel checklist. Think if it rather as someone's gracious home, given over to privileged guests with the minimum of fuss and the maximum of quiet, modest hospitality. It's a peaceful refuge, a place where you can lay down your cares for a while and watch the fishing boat and the one or two small ferries which dock at the pier off its small, private beach.

Most people who come here I'm glad to say see that. But a few don't. I was struck by one reviewer who complained there wasn't gym and her hubby couldn't manage.

Well there is no gym at the Shantaa, no TV, no pool, no room service. (Nat and Korakot might want to think about a future alternative bathing area for guests as a possible insurance policy against the pier getting busier in years to come)

But for now the Shantaa offers pretty much all you need for a restful and comfortable time on a lovely island. Take it as you find it. It will work its way into your soul. As it has mine.

Room tip: I prefer the villas to the "sweets". They have two big beds and fit more naturally into the landscape.
Date of stay: February 2013
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Alain C
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 3 February 2013

If there is such a thing as Paradise on Earth - this is it. Island Koh Kood is still not totally spoiled and at Shantaa you will experience what relaxation is really about. The resort seems to be in perfect balance with the nature, the staff will do its best to make you feel welcome and well, and the restaurant ? , well i say again - try it because words will never give justice to this thai-kitchen, it is very good and the prices are very low. We took a little trip around the small island - and nowhere else there did we se anything like Shantaa.

Date of stay: January 2013
  • Trip type: Travelled with friends
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1  Thank Niels U
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 24 January 2013

it is hard to find a place more familiar than this!
shantaa is the perfect place to calm down. located in a beautiful garden beside the sea it looks like paradise. there is no television in the room and no pool. but it is a great deal to view the sunset and swim in the sea instead!
there are only a very few huts with a small number of guests. instead of the cool athmosphere of a "normal" luxury resort you will find a warm and very private athmosphere.
the whole staff is working hard and satisfy every wishes. and even the food beats everything we found in thailand anywhere else.
many thanks to the team - we will definitively come back!

Date of stay: January 2013
  • Trip type: Travelled with friends
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1  Thank ken s
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 12 January 2013

This is a lovely small family run resort which used to be a coconut plantation.

We pre-booked our ferry from Trat on the Internet in advance, which was really easy. When we arrived at the jetty a member of the hotel staff was there to meet us and take our bags.

The staff at the hotel are all local including their cooks who have learnt their trade through generations of expertise. The waiting-on staff do not speak much English and are quite shy (which is nice) but we are in Thailand and they try very hard! We were always greeted with a warm smile and they could not do enough for you. It is good to see that the hotel employs local people.

The rooms are spacious and the bed comfortable. There is an outside shower, which is very authentic, and bathroom/shower is open to the elements. Each room has it’s own balcony where you can watch the sunset with a glass on South Africa wine bought at the local shop!

The food is excellent. The menu is quite large and can be a little daunting if you want to try everything!

We hired a scooter for our duration of 5 days. It is easy to get around, a little hilly in places but very few cars. There are some beautiful beaches where you can visit and spend the day.

The beach at the hotel is quite small, and sunbeds are limited. However, there are many sunbeds close to the rooms set on the hillside overlooking the sea. Across the jetty there is a golden sandy beach, ideal for morning walks or relaxing during the day.

If you are looking for a lively holiday, this is not for you. If you are looking for a relaxing holiday with beautiful beaches in a tropical landscape this is ideal.

On our departure we were escorted to the jetty by the manager who presented with lovely gift of Thai tea. Such a nice gesture.

Note, the jetty arriving from Trat and then departing to Koh Mak is right next to the hotel.

Room tip: book a room closest to the sea.
Date of stay: December 2012
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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1  Thank cejd
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 9 January 2013 via mobile

This place was nice and we did have a great time here on our honeymoon.

What we really liked:
- the food is authentic and great
- the rooms are lovely and the outside bathrooms a nice touch though I guess a little too rural for some
- it's a nice aspect but having explored the island a bit, and it might be grass-is-greener, it seemed others enjoyed better views and certainly beaches. I think shantaa could make more of the part just the other side of the pier.

What they could work on:
- we got v bitten but Mosquitos once the sun was just setting but throughout so take long clothes and plenty or spray. If have liked an explicit warning of this rather than figuring it out myself.
- if you're on a half board package, they could present what you're eating on a menu so you know what it is. Most of the waiting staff speak v little English.
- our transfer back to bangkok was a fiasco so book yours as soon as you arrive or before. Given our short holiday and honeymoon, I didn't like the taxi boat that took a lot longer than we were told.
- again, you should pre book stuff you'd like to do as we tried to arrange a cookery class and also a snorkel trip but neither could be done.
- to make the stay really special, the service at the beach bar could be a little more attentive and proactive.
- the manager didn't seem to know the island, I would have loved her to wait until we're settled in, and then perhaps before supper, have talked us through what we're interested in doing and want from our holiday and then her suggest walks, swims, cycles, cafes that would suit.

On that note, a cycle to the Viewpoint cafe next to the sunset bar is well worth it for a coffee and their thai fish pâté. It's not 30 mins or so and not exactly flat. It's also canoeable but again probably 45 mins so only in calm sea.

Date of stay: January 2013
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4  Thank Meerkat1402
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
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