We stayed at the Layana very recently as the last part of a three week trip to Thailand to celebrate my husband’s birthday. We wanted somewhere really special and relaxing for this week since the rest of our holiday had been adventurous and hectic in Laos and Bangkok.
Our room was well designed , functional and relaxing ( comfy day bed) as well as having great tech features and very private balcony overlooking the pool with a glimpse of the sea!
The ‘welcome/orientation’ was nice but a bit lengthy. We had three different people come and tell us lots of things before we finally got to relax in our room. We’d have preferred a little more info regarding activities /facilities to be available in the room for us to read at our leisure when we could take it in. An activities sheet only arrived in our room a few days into our stay showing events that had now already happened! The invite to the wine tasting did not make clear that it was complimentary so we didn’t go, thinking it was a formal event you had to pay extra for and it wasn’t a priority for us.
We found the GM Stephan to be a little wooden and rehearsed, lacking in natural warmth and in some ways resembling a military commandant! Ned was much warmer and more natural. This was a surprise given the reviews we’d read and contrary to being on hand for queries or to ask us how our stay was going, this ‘welcome’ was the last we heard or saw of Stephan until the day we left!
The food was a bit of a disappointment. We had lunch the first day and the Thai food was no where near as good as we’d had in Bangkok and as it turned out, elsewhere on Lanta. We also went to the curry night which was mediocre, it was more of a canteen experience with no starters or lovely side dishes that could have accompanied the dishes. The desserts were pretty awful. They also ran out of some dishes ( people dine at different times during the evening) and took a long time to refill. We ate elsewhere along the beach for the rest of the week.
The breakfasts were really disappointing for a five star hotel and food was often covered in flies! The main issue though for us, was the egg/omelette ordering system which drove us to distraction. This should be fast and efficient but often no one was at the station. Then one of the kitchen staff would eventually take on the role having to fire up the rings and 15 -20 mins later you might get your eggs... if they understood the order! The bacon , sausages etc. would by this time be cold and if you had ordered a pancake this may arrive as you were finishing your breakfast! Very frustrating. On our last day the sausages and bacon were actually hot, normally they had been cold or at best luke warm. We tried to tell them the food was not hot enough on the first day but were met with blank faces and they didn’t seem to like hearing that or didn’t care! The coffee was fantastic and generally arrived quickly but on the whole, the breakfast service was irritatingly slow and dysfunctional . It definitely affected our experience negatively.
The pool/bar staff are also nice and friendly but not always on the ball. We often had to wait a long time before they’d answer the call button or bring drinks. We ended up taking our own water to the beach as I was parched at times! They are more efficient around the pool so perhaps they forget about the beach guests! The service could be slow, we ordered cocktails to enjoy the sunset and 30mins later they came and the sun was nearly gone!
The main staff are lovely, really friendly and genuinely smiling and professional. The room cleaning staff were absolutely excellent, the whole place was spotless and little touches like leaving cookies and ice made it special. They did tend to come too early (7.15pm) for turn down, we were always still getting ready to go out but they came so had to ask them to return later.
The ‘one call does it all’ didn’t really work. We really wanted rum for our mini bar which is not such a big ask, there was only whiskey, gin and vodka available. We were just told that we could have rum at the main bar -not really the point of an in room mini bar. Also one evening we tried to borrow a dvd from the library but the case was empty. We dialled 7 to see if they could help and they said they’d look into it. We called back but she said she hadn’t asked anyone yet then we never heard about it again! Noone really went out of they’re way.
The spa was the best we’ve ever experienced as were the spa staff whose expert hands gave the best massages we’ve ever had and for reasonable prices. Do not miss this! The beach massages are good but do not come close.
The four island cruise is a must. We considered booking an excursion in Saladan but it was so convenient to just sign up and leave from the hotel in the morning at the beach. We had no regrets. A lovely lunch on Koh Kradan, good, if a little precarious snorkelling and an exhilarating high speed boat.
As some other people have said, there is something missing from the atmosphere at Layana. It may be a combination of a slightly over sanitised environment which is little contrived and the clientele who can be quite an odd bunch : 0 from other reviews it clearly wasn’t just when we were there so it must attract a certain type. People don’t really talk to each other, not even a hello or good morning! On several occasions we would smile and say hello to other guests and barely got a reply just a flicker of the lips. I started to think it was to do with so many of them being German and Swedish - my husband said they were just ’different’ but different is not the same as rude. A smile is universal and not to return one is just plain rude or strange. I don’t believe German and Swedish people are naturally rude people, I’m sure they can be lovely so it must have just been these particular people. There was no low ambient rumble of conversation even between themselves at dinner - more like whispers . Even after having shared an excursion with some of them where we did actually chat a bit, the next day it was like they’d never met you. Normally I’d rather not see or hear other Brits abroad but I have never been so glad to see some friendly English and Scottish faces!
Sands beach bar seems to have been bought over by Layana and I fear they have sanitised the life out of it. It severely lacked atmosphere despite the lovely comfy round seats facing the beach. There was no sign of a beach barbecue which would have added a bit of theatre . If they could have had fresh fish being cooked each night on a big beachfront grill it would have been fantastic and could have been made to look really beautiful. Instead a lonely fish cart was left way down on the sand practically in the dark and when any passersby came for a look, a Layana staff member would run up presumably to ensure nothing was touched. It was quite a sad affair. The live guitar night seemed a bit more lively though.
We are 40 and 42 and yet felt like the ‘kids’ of the resort. Neither of us are big party people or drink much but even we had to go along the beach a bit to get a bit of atmosphere for our evening meal . The bar area has the most buzz and was actually very pleasant to sit and have a mojito. This was one of the few cocktails that actually tasted like it had any alcohol in it. Others seemed to be mostly fruit juice!
They have kayaks and ‘hobiecats’ that guests can use. We really fancied stand up paddle boarding but the hotel didn’t have any. It would be good is they had these and perhaps some snorkels ( just for fun ), bats and balls etc.
Lastly the goodbyes. Some people like to show off and go for the big ceremonial goodbye on the beach and speedboat departure and why not, it looked like fun – the boat bit at least. The five robotic waving figures though we just found a little bit spooky , kind of a ‘Stepford wives’ assembly...but maybe that’s just us : D
Stephan and another manager (not Ned, the other one with short brown hair and pale skin) came to say Goodbye. He stood beside Stephan staring and barely said a word apart from ‘Goodbye’. He was not in the least bit warm, in fact a little frosty! He had appeared once before during our stay, suddenly right in front of us at our dinner table on the first night and said robotically something like ‘it’s a beautiful evening’, stared for a moment at me then skulked off without waiting for an answer! No conversation, no introduction, no smile....weird.
They didn’t seem to know how long we’d stayed at the hotel. Stephan kept saying how short a stay with them we’d had and yet we’d been there for a week! Some people only stayed three days. I didn’t mention any of the above as it was too late and when you’re on holiday you don’t want to go searching out management to complain to every time. If they’d bothered to ask us during our stay we’d have highlighted at least the breakfast problem.
It seems there are favourite guests and those are generally the ones who eat at the hotel every night and spend the most money. Shouldn’t every guest be made to feel special? That’s what makes people return. This hotel is in a lovely location but that doesn’t make it perfect. When you’re spending that amount of money it has to be phenomenal .
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Layana Resort & Spa is nestled on Koh Lanta Yai Island in Mu Koh Lanta National Park. The park is a marine archipelago, home to verdant tropical rainforests and undersea kingdoms of colourful coral rich in natural marine diversity. The resort enjoys a spectacular beachfront location on a 3-kilometer long white sand beach, situated about 2 hours south of Krabi International Airport. Environmentally-conscious design throughout the property results in a simple and elegant Thai atmosphere; alfresco architecture combining with contemporary design to provide an open, cool and natural feel. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Layana Hotel Ko Lanta
- Layana Ko Lanta