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Thai Island Dream Estate
Ranked #27 of 217 Speciality Lodging in Ko Lanta
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 3 March 2014

I'm pretty sure readers will be really confused by the review posted about this property so I'll add my experience to the mix.
Booking is a little odd and made me nervous - but it works. For whatever reason cards aren't accepted, its money transfer for the deposit and the remainder in cash on arrival. The cost to you will be the same and in fairness excellent value.
The three bedroom villas are separate rooms connected by walkways which is not ideal with young children assuming you don't want them left alone and out of earshot. The two bedroom apartments are self contained and ideal for families - make your decision before you book and make your requirements clear.
Yes there are a few mosquitoes and ants, this is Asia. On this trip I also stayed at two of the most expensive hotels on Phi Phi and Railay, there were far fewer bugs at the Lanta apartment than elsewhere.
Our rooms were cleaned and changed every day - no problems and no we weren't bothered by the staff, there are shops and restaurants nearby that catered for all our needs so I can't really imagine why I would want to see them - they do live on site though so in an emergency I'd have knocked the door.
The two bedroom apartments were ideal, the view great and location from what I saw one one the best on Lanta. I'm a bit reticent about too much praise as I want to go back and don't want to find it fully booked - but we had a great time.

Room Tip: If you want to be in the same building as your children book a two bedroom appartment.
  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled with family
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1  Thank ivor l
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 9 April 2013

We just returned from a 4N5D stay in the 3 bdr villa and were very happy with our stay, definitely worth a recommendation given Koh Lanta is not as well known. The best things about this villa was the location and the value - more on that later. As per GiloManila's review previously, there are a couple of things to be aware of during the booking process but our experience was generally positive - more on that later also.

We were 3 adult couples and one small child (3YO), so the villa was perfect for our group with three large bedrooms with ensuites and living quarters, each separated with an external deck and walkway - Balinese style. Each bedroom is big enough to fit a cot or additional mattress, however if you have small children that are sleeping in a separate bedroom the villa might be as well suited because all the rooms and living areas are disconnected and accessible from the outsite. The bedroom doors have locks but the villa is easy to access from the beach and the street, so while Koh Lanta seems safe some people may have issues with the minimal security. Suggest in this case for families to consider the 2 bdr apartments next door which is also beach front with a large shared pool.

The villa is just as the pictures show so we weren't disappointed, although there was some slight wear and tear starting to show (faded decking, some parts of the garden overgrown etc), but we aren't the sort of travellers who mind superficial things like this. The villas were clean and serviced each day so that's all that mattered.

The pool is small, but it was clean and well maintained, all we needed to relax in and cool off. It has a shallow end which is good for little ones, but it has a steep drop off to a deep end.

The villa we had was tastefully decorated, but from what I understand some are privately owned and some still with the developer, so the decor probably differs in each villa. It has basic amenties, fridge, microwave, cutlery and crockery. But we didn't eat in once, why would you when you have amazing food at your door step.

So more about the location. It's at the south end of Khlong Nin Beach, which has nice clean white sand for about 1.5 - 2km. In front of the villa is great for swimming, mostly sandy bottom with a few large rocks around, but not as many as other beaches we saw. From the villa you walk a mere 50m to the start of the restuarants and bars, so it's very convenient. Mostly we walked along the beach to find somewhere to eat as all the tables and chairs are set up beach-side, but you can walk along the back side on the road also. In the evening, the sun sets on this side of the island so it's a beautiful spot to relax with a few sundowners and enjoy some great Thai food.

More on the value. Thailand is generally very cheap to travel, but Koh Lanta is like the rest of Thailand 15 years ago - which we loved. Your dollar / Baht goes a lot further compared to Phuket or other better known Thailand destinations, you'll get much better value for your money in Koh Lanta. As a group of 6 people who had been to Thailand many years ago, it's just what we were looking for. Don't expect many commercial operations or 5-star luxury (although there are the odd 1 or 2 places on the island like this). You will enjoy Koh Lanta if you like the laid back approach to travel/holidays, no time/clocks, little cell reception, rustic restaurants, home made wooden chairs/tables, thatched roof cottages etc. But the thing that amazed us was despite the rustic facade of many places, the food we ate everywhere we went was excellent, freshly made, delicious thai flavours, we didn't have one concern about the quality, cleanliness or freshness of what we were eating.

We stayed from 2nd - 6th April which is the start of the low season, so the villa was extremely good value for what I'd consider a 3.5 - 4 star self contained accommodation THB8250 per night; or for 6 people THB1375 pp/pn (around AUD/USD45 pp/pn). Even in peak season it works out to be around AUD/USD75 pp/pn which is still great value for a spacious beach front villa with a pool.

GiloManila had some negative experience on the booking and check-in side of things. The process for us was very seamless, but you should be aware of some things. We booked through the Amazing Lanta website, not direct with the villas. Robert was my contact and everything was done via email. I had lots of questions given there were few reviews on Tripadvisor for the villas and generally not a lot of information about the beach/Koh Lanta. Robert was brilliant, very responsive on emails, detailed information etc. Consistent with GiloManila's review, we were asked for 50% deposit up front to confirm the booking and had to pay via Paypal AND pay the Paypal fee which surprised me. I did question it and was given the same response, that it was my responsibility to pay the fee. I accepted this, maybe I should have questioned or pushed back more. We were supposed to pay the remaining 50% 4 weeks before arrival, but Robert let me know around the due date that the 'owners' of the villa had changed their payment process and that I could pay with cash on arrival - much better. I initially did have concerns about paying 100% in advance and worried about the legitimacy of it all, but it's actually not uncommon in Asia for hotels to ask for 100% payment up front to secure special rates - I've since had to do this in Vietnam and Bali.

Robert at Amazing Lanta organised the private mini van transfer also, door to door for 7 people, which all went smoothly. Driver was waiting at the airport for us, drove to the ferry (45mins), get on the car ferry (20mins), drive for a further 20mins, get on another car ferry (15 mins), then drive to the villa (25mins). In low season this whole transfer took about 2.5hours. During high season it could be much longer due to the queues of cars waiting to get on the car ferries (2 ferries each side going back and forth). If you are pushed for time, consider the speed boat transfer but this is extremely expensive. Just one thing to note, if you pay for the transfer, this should include the cost of the ferry tickets as well. At one crossing you have to get out of the van and walk onto the ferry (completely pointless). You are supposed to have a ferry ticket which the driver should give you. Don't let him fool you into buying another one from the ticket window, the transfer should be all inclusive.

The manager of the villa Ben was there when we arrived about 3pm in the afternoon. He walked us around the villa, gave us the keys, talked us through the basic of the villa, the beach, hire places, places for groceries, laundry and drinks etc. But we didn't see him again. So you are more or less left on your own unless you need help with anything. We didn't mind as nothing really went wrong for us and besides this is self service / self contained acommodation - not a hotel.

So we will definitely be going back, next time with just my husband and daughter we'll go for the 2 bdr apartments next door.

A couple of things that need improving:
** No wifi in the villas - you need to walk around to the 2bdr apartments where the 'office' is to access the wifi
** No candles in the villas - the power went out one night as we came home from dinner and we didn't have any candles, went to the office but the caretaker guy didn't have any either. Trying to get a 3YO to bed in the dark is near impossible.
** Bit more maintenance around the gardens wouldn't go amiss, while generally tidy a bit overgrown in places.
** There are a few ants around outside, especially at the pergoda/deck by the pool. Some were very big and angry looking, although no one got bitten, the external areas could do with some pest control.

  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled with friends
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4  Thank Mel J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 April 2013 via mobile

We stayed in one of the beach villas, which is right on the beach with a nice pool in the villa to enjoy, that's the good stuff. Now for US$450 per night in Thailand you should expect some kind of luxury but not here. For starters, noone shows you to the villa, the office is only open from 10-4pm and when it's open no one is there anyway. The villa was fitted out with the cheapest furnishings and not properly cleaned, we had period stains on our sheets one day and weren't changed for 2 days. The shower is rubbish and the head blew off one evening, then the second room bathroom got flooded from broken pipes. On about the 5th day the pool went green due to lack of chlorine. So many things to complain about but if the place was say 250 per night you wouldn't be so upset just because of its great spot. If someone put money and effort into it, it could be superb, unfortunately it's not and not worth the money you spend to stay here

  • Stayed: March 2013
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1  Thank Squealer19
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 February 2013

We loved it so much that we stayed an extra 3 days. Really the best location on a perfect white sand beach, even at low tide ,wich is rare in Thailand... It's a beautiful and luxurious villa, well designed, aspacious and very private, with wonderfull swimming pool and tropical garden. Amazing seaview and sunsets in bonus! We also found out that the best place on the island to find nice shells was right in front of the house at low tide! Nice snorkeling too!

I must mention the good service we had from Ben and his ever smiling staff. The only problem we had was an aircon that went noisy and it was repaired within two hours. The villa is very clean and close to everything. We will sure come back next year.

Room Tip: Ben Cotrell offers four well separated 3 bedrooms villas with swimming pool right on the beach with...
  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank AlainSimard
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 February 2013

I would like to say thank you for a great stay at your villa. My wife and mt two small children really enjhoyed waking up in the morning playing in the pool and only being steps away from the beach not forgetting the wonderful Koh lanta sunsets.

The Villa is set out on one level which is great for children, the rooms are divided with a wooden walk way. All the rooms are well eqipped and very comfortable and spacious. The pool is located at the front and there is a sala to relax on.The villa is speretaed from other villas with a high wall which kept it private. We also had a car hired from Krabi airport for the week and enjoyed the private parking area connected to the villa. The villa is located on flat grounds and it was easy to stroll along the road with the stroller - also along the beach

I met Ben and Alena who mages the property and would like to say thank you for your help and assistance whilst we stayed with you.

I would highly recommend this villa for people looking to be close to the beach, not far from many amenities and also who want the independance and not a resort. I hope to return next year and this is the first place I will book again

Thank you

Rob

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled with family
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3  Thank RobL690
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 January 2013

As usual, let's start with the nice bits. The villa is spacious, the layout is quite original, with the complex divided into 3 separate bungalows with an open air corridor with a wooden plank floor in the middle and a little pond on the side. The bungalows on one side are the sleeping area, with 3 bedrooms (one bungalow is for the masters bedroom and the second bungalow is for the 2 other bedrooms, which are not communicating). On the other side you have the third bungalow which comprises the living and dining area, plus the kitchen.
There's a smallish private pool perpendicular to the corridor between the two wings, just before the path leading to the beach. The Asian style layout is quite pretty and one really enjoys the feel of being free in front of an almost empty sandy beach (although when the tide is low swimming gets a bit awkward as big rocks surface).
The place is overall quite user friendly for kids (with a caveat though due to the surfacing rocks, and - what's worse - hordes of mosquitoes and aggressive ants), which was good for us since we were 2 families with 3 small kids all in all.
Although the second and third bedrooms were quite basic, the villa was quite tastefully designed, with nice exterior lighting.
So much for the nice part. Now for the not so nice one.

First of all, upon booking, the management made us pay a hefty non-refundable deposit of about 1,200 dollars by Paypal (this was the only payment method offered), and, what's worse, they charged us the Paypal fees, which is illegal. In fact they sent me a receipt showing an amount paid which was more than 1,300 Bht less than what I had actually paid and they justified this by saying that that was the net amount they had received.
We tried to discuss this issue right away (and for several times) but the management kept ignoring the topic altogether.
When we booked the transport from the airport to the villa (about three weeks before the start of our rental period), they asked me to pay by Paypal a deposit even on the cost of the transport (they wanted 800 Baht deposit again via Paypal on a total transport cost of 2800). This time I simply refused to pay in advance and they backed off from asking a deposit on the car transfer.

When we arrived at the airport the day of our check in, the driver who was supposed to pick us up was not there. I tried to call the number we were given in case of problems and there was just an answering machine in Thai. I emailed my contact person, but no reply. The driver eventually showed up about 15 minutes late.
When we arrived close to our destination, it came out that the driver had no clue of where the villa actually was and had to stop a couple of times to ask for directions. When we finally arrived at the villa, we got the most unpleasant reception one could possibly imagine, i.e. no reception at all. The driver helped us unload the luggage in front of the house, which was open but with nobody around, and left. After wondering around the area for a few minutes I located a woman in a building nearby which was supposed to be the 'sales office' of the villas. She just dumped in my hands the keys of the house and, before we could say anything, she left saying that the following day she will come and collect a further deposit of 10,000 Baht in cash to cover for any breakages. It was 6 pm, we were tired after a full day of travel, with 3 kids (2 four years old and one 4 months old) and we had now to figure out ourselves everything about the house.
The baby cot we had requested had not been provided, nor the extra mattress for our son.
In the bathtub of the master bedroom there was a dead cockroach, and of the 3 rooms only one had hot water. Of the other 2 bathrooms, one had no hot water at all, while the masters bedroom had a dripping sink which had flooded the whole bathroom. But unfortunately there was nobody at all to help us with all these problems.
Also, there were no decent grocery shops in the vicinity (as opposed to what we had been told when we made the booking) but fortunately there was a resort nearby where we managed to have dinner.
The following morning, in a pouring rain, we went back to the 'sales office' where the woman of the previous night was supposed to be but she wasn't there. She came after about an hour and she admitted she had no clue of how many we were supposed to be and of what were the requirements we had discussed in the exchanges we had had with the manager of the estate, who, by the way, had left for England and didn't endorse anything to her.
She didn't even know we had 3 kids with us and had no clue about the problems and the provisions of the house. We told her about the plumbing issues and all the things which were missing. She said she would send a plumber and a maid, and then insisted on the deposit she had mentioned the night before. So we paid it.
She disappeared again and after a few minutes the plumber came. It took him a good 3 hours to fix all the plumbing problems with several trips back and forth from a supplying shop or quarter. Unfortunately, even after fixing the drip, the master bathroom kept smelling like stagnant drainage water whenever the aircon was kept off for more than 30 minutes. This was probably due to the fact that the shower was placed above the WC and having a shower meant flooding the bathroom, whose drainage was not that good and the floor was permanently wet.
In any case getting hot water remained a fiddly affair throughout our stay as it was coming and going incessantly while taking a shower. And having hot water coming out of the faucet and the shower at the same time was wishful thinking.
At 5 pm the maid/cleaner was still nowhere to be seen. We located her near the 'office' busy... sleeping. We literally woke her up and dragged her to the villa where she just dumped the lining and the things we needed, but didn't clean anything as she appeared far too lazy and disappeared saying she would not come on the following 2 days because it was a holiday (although the 31 Dec is not a holiday in Thailand).
This episode ended our first full day at the villa: so much for relaxation at 550 USD per day.

The whole cleaning affair was actually going to become one of the highlights of the inefficiency of the management. Even when the cleaning staff re-appeared on Jan 2, they did a very cursory job in the bungalows, and left the kitchen area untouched. We mentioned this to the 'office' and a few minutes later they came back to clean the kitchen, which meant basically only emptying the trash can... The following day no cleaner showed up and the following one we had to go and look for the maid again to make her come.

The villa complex, although pretty, had several quirks and was not very functional overall. We soon realized in fact that the bathrooms had limited space to put the toiletries and only one small wall bar to hang the towels, there were no bedside lamps and the small bedrooms had basically no furniture at all apart from the bed and a small cabinet which forced us to live out of the suitcases on the floor for the whole week.
Moreover, the front gate had no lock and the back was just facing the wild wide beach, with no form of security whatsoever.

As a result, in the morning of the first day we saw from inside the room local strangers wandering around the premises for no reason whatsoever and when we mentioned it to the manager she shrugged it off saying that probably they were workers. This wondering around of strangers kept going on throughout our stay. Two days later I found the lights in the garage switched on, although I remember switching them off the night before and none of us ever went there to switch them on again. Also, we found the third bedroom locked with one of our two set of keys inside and none of us had done it. Nothing was missing but obviously there were people wondering around who were not supposed to be there.
Not a nice feeling considering that the locks of the rooms were all very flimsy and the 'safety box' was a light and tiny one, freely moving at the bottom of a cabinet so that anybody could just lift it and carry it away. In any case it was locked when we arrived and therefore of no use.

The whole dining- living- cooking area was equipped only with ceiling fans (no aircon) and the kitchen had only an electrical stove with only 2 plates (whose functioning we were left to figure out ourselves) and was far from complete in terms of utensils. So it was practically impossible to cook anything serious. In any case the only acceptable supermarket for groceries was about 15 km away and far from complete.

Other small details: a generally pretentious design, but the dust bin was an ugly plastic bucket and the curtains of the bedrooms were so thin that getting undressed with lights on at night time could offer a fine entertainment to by-passers on the beach. Lastly, the villa was infested by hordes of huge mosquitoes whose bites disfigured the face of our four year old son and which were impossible to eradicate even after a full day of toxic coil burning. Let alone the nasty ants which kept biting the kids (and us) throughout our stay.

I should also mention that getting a car from the villa to the supermarket area was a lengthy and costly affair: a wait of one hour to get a car with driver, a return fare of 600 Baht and an almost 30 minute trip.

Even in the main market area of the island there's not much choice in terms of fresh food so overall in Koh Lanta it is advisable, in my view, to opt for a resort rather than a rented villa.

Another surprise came in the evening of 31 December (we had arrived on the 29) when I got a reply from the contact guy (supposedly the manager of the estate) whom I had emailed from the airport when we were waiting for the driver. He was just saying that he had been informed that the driver had not collected the payment for the transport and that we should pay it to the lady in charge since he would be back to Thailand probably after we will have left. Not one word about the check in or any interest whatsoever in how things were going!

Electricity was also a flimsy affair. It was cut off at least a couple of times, the second time for a couple of hours.

Half way through our stay we were asked to pay the whole balance. I then explained the issue of the Paypal fees to the lady and she accepted the amount without the Paypal fees (about 40 dollars), but with reservations, as she needed to clear it with the 'manager' in the UK. Eventually, we did not hear about this topic any more.

On our last day, on the way back to Krabi airport the driver of our van inexplicably stopped at a Thai massage parlour, went down and started talking to a woman of the Thai massage and both started making mobile phone calls. After a few minutes I went down and asked for an explanation. None of them seemed able to speak a word of English, but the driver at some point said 'you pay to her'. Basically he had stopped to make me pay the transport fare to somebody at a Thai massage parlour. I resolutely told him 'I'm going to pay you if and when we get to the airport' and we finally proceeded.
This was the last hiccup of a generally less than relaxing holiday (we also had a less than pleasant experience with the '4 islands tour', but that bit doesn't belong to this review - you can ask me if you want to know more).

So the bottom line is don't choose this type of property (unless you really know who you are going to be dealing with) because you are on your own for everything. In our case, the place was managed by foreigners who, although not 'mean', were obviously not professionals of the hospitality business and had serious difficulties getting to grips with the local environment to provide a serious service. At least in a resort you have somebody managing the place, not just somebody asking you to pay. Oh yes, and let's not forget that at the rented villa, for 550 dollars per day, you don't even get any form of internet connection.

  • Stayed: January 2013
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3  Thank GiloManila
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 July 2012

We went during the off-season and there had just been a massive storm, which dampened things a little because all of the restaurants etc along the beach were severely damaged and the beach was littered with debris. However, the villa was excellent and the manager very helpful. We spent a very relaxing week and will return!

  • Stayed: July 2012, travelled with family
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4  Thank bushmanparis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Thai Island Dream Estate

Address: 356 Moo 6 | Koh Lanta Yai, Ko Lanta 81150, Thailand
Region: Thailand > Krabi Province > Ko Lanta
Hotel Style:
Ranked #27 of 217 Speciality Lodging in Ko Lanta
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Thai Island Dream Estate 3.5*
Number of rooms: 4
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