But the Ayara did not provide the true 5 star experience we were lead to believe we would receive. Let me first say that my wife and I have travelled quite a bit and have stayed at various hotels, B&Bs, and mega resorts. I normally don't write reviews, but after our lack luster experience at this hotel and seeing the continual 5 star remarks, I wanted to paint a more realistic picture. We visited this hotel in mid-July, which I understand is the low season, as part of our 3 week vacation in Thailand. The Ayara was our last hotel before coming home. There wasn't a certain "encounter" that dimmed our experience, but it was no where near the equivalent to the other 4-5 star hotels we had been staying in in Thailand. I will highlight pros and cons below:
Beautiful room- Very well furnished with a nice mixture of Thai and modern decor. The bed is the biggest I've ever seen (I'm 6ft and laid across with my arms up and barely covered its width) and the outdoor shower is a nice touch. The outdoor area is also really cool but with a few flaws (see cons below).
Beach club access-They provide daily transportation to either Bimi Beach Club or Catch Beach Club. These are probably the two best restaurants that provide beach front dining, ambiance, and music. When you present your hotel card, they provide big pillows and towels for you to lay on the beach. This was the best part of our visit to Surin Beach.
Breakfat- A very good spread. Plenty of options and a good mix of western and Thai food. I really liked that they made you eggs, any style, not just an omelette.
Pool-Really nice decor.
Major Road noise/view- The fact that they call themselves a "Hilltops" resort can be a little misleading. I'm sure the rooms on the very top half of the resort feel more secluded, but there is a good portion of the hotel that is barely up the hill. Should be more like Ayara Foothills resort. The property is directly next to a major thoroughfare with loud noise from the cars, motor bikes, and trucks. The property's pool is also right next to the road. Although they planted some high bushes, it doesn't take away from the honking and engines sounds you hear. Also, the terrace outside the room is essentially just as close. If you're lucky enough to not see the actual road and electrical poles (which also make noise), you will certainly hear it. There goes trying to lay out on your loungers and relaxing, unless you have headphones and music, which you shouldn't have to do at a 5 star resort.
Bed- Big but not necessarily comfortable. Hard in some areas and sinking in others. This is a preference thing and some people may not complain but for us, we found that as each night passed, our backs ached more and more.
Terrible Wifi- Especially in the rooms. Very difficult getting connected and staying connected. And good luck attempting any sort of video communication with your family back home.
Apathetic Staff- This was our BIGGEST issue. Everyone seemed to be smiling but no one was really warm and service oriented. Maybe coming from Chiang Mai we were a little spoiled but we genuinely did not feel welcomed. One morning, the houskeeping staff came to our room to clean. We told her that we would be leaving in a few minutes. Mind you, there is no actual lock on the door to your terrace. She stood by the door with an attitude, and did not even greet, smile, or anything, as we exited our room. I'm not sure what her problem was but it was just rude. Each night as we returned to our room we had to open the sliding glass door (which is your only locked entry) in the dark. We realized the next morning that there was actually a light out on the terrace. Each evening there is turn-down service so how something like that can go amiss, I'm not sure, but at least when we told them, they fixed it. Probably the only thing they remediated. It was borderline eery when we were out by the pool in the evening (but still within their open hours), and two wait staff were standing around looking at us. I understand it's low season. I understand they want to give the message that they are "here to help" but that does not mean that you essentially loiter around with a flat affect. We felt like we were being monitored, which we probably were. I brought down vitamin water in my water bottle previously and the waiter didn't hesitate to ask me what was in my drink. Had their been more people at the property, maybe things would've felt different. But there weren't. And it just felt weird.
No management skills-The staff's attempt at handling any kind of complaint or suggestion is a mere smile and saying "sorry about that." Even if they did actually try to resolve something, if it didn't end up being resolved, there was absolutely no recourse (case in point, the wifi). From the moment we checked in, they said they gave us an upgrade, which was great!, however, we said we wanted a quiet room, no matter the "view." We were placed very close to the road noise and when we mentioned that we are light sleepers and hoped we would not be awoken all we got were head nods, a smile, and "I understand sir." All this despite the fact that we had literally just checked in and could've easily been moved to another room. The kicker was on our final day when we informed the hotel supervisor (never had access to a manager) of our continued disappointment. Again, more apologies but nothing else. No other kind of offer that would've made us feel heard and validated. We had given them so many chances and ample opportunity to address our concerns. We did not just hold it all in till the very end and not give them a chance to remediate. This review should not come as a surprise.
So all in all, is the property beautiful? Yes. Is it close to the beach? Yes. But do the pros outweigh the cons? No way. I would not stay at this hotel if I return to Phuket. For the money, I'm sure one could find a hotel that allows you to get away from it all. Ayara Hilltops is not that hotel.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The days are yours to create, ours to fulfill. Caters to ADULTS only (No Children)(No extra beds). An enclave of 48 LUXURY SUITES set in 23 Villas amidst sloping exotic gardens, taking advantage of the arresting views offered by the emerald green Andaman Sea.Facilities and service are inspired by the single goal of helping each guest create their own journey of respite from the rigors of civilization.Whether you venture only as far as the boundaries of the resort or go further afield, the days are yours to create and ours to fulfill.Welcome to the private world of Ayara Hilltops! ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Ayara Hilltops Hotel Thalang
- Hotel Ayara Hilltops
- Ayara Hilltops Resort And Spa Phuket, Thailand