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“A piece of heaven” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of The Sanctuary Thailand

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The Sanctuary Thailand
Ranked #20 of 89 Hotels in Ko Pha Ngan
Certificate of Excellence
London
1 review
“A piece of heaven”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 July 2013

The Sanctuary delivered exactly what I had been expecting - a piece of island paradise, secluded from the throbbing noise and dirty dissatisfaction of mainland Thailand.
It's a bit of a journey to the resort, but the staff obviously appreciate that. They greeted us with open arms and huge smiles. Exceptionally helpful and friendly throughout our stay.
The rooms were great too; simple in design and minimal on luxury comforts which is exactly what you'd expect from a secluded rainforest retreat. And what a setting!! Soooo beautiful.

We spent hours on the beaches along the coast, in between yoga sessions and jungle walks.
Don't go if you're expecting a 5* Hilton and Michelin starred food. But if you want to leave all your problems at home and eat simply delicious and well made asian/thai food then you're not going to find a better place. Having spent 9 months in South Asia I don't think I felt more at peace than my time here. Loved it!!

Room Tip: Stay higher up the hillside if you want to feel really solitary. In the dorms near the restaurant if...
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  • Stayed February 2013, travelled with friends
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Will B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
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English first
Los Angeles, California
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 June 2013

The sanctuary is a beautiful place located on a lovely beach. If you are into meditation and detoxing that aspect of the place is fine. I met some great people and did some really cool meditation.

From the second we got of the boat we were attacked by mosquitos, something that marked our experience there as well as our bodies. After covering ourselves in Deet and asking what the deal was to the management, I was told to burn a "mosquito coil" and all would be fine. I have no idea what a mosquito coil is or where to buy one there, but apparently they burn them there to no avail. The mosquitos are a huge problem because there is standing water pools (some with fish in them but some without fish to eat them) all over the huge property. Additionally, people throw their empty coconut shells in the bushes where they collect water and become breeding grounds for the mosquitos. It is actually quite dangerous due to the prevalence of Dengue Fever in the area (Apparently many of the staff there have been getting it).
If you go bring serious mosquito repellent and cover up! Dengue Fever is not fun.

Menu - If you are detoxing/fasting you will enjoy this menu , but you'd probably enjoy anything after not eating for a week. For me the the healthy, vegetarian dishes (Which I do normally enjoy) seemed to be made by an amateur who loves health food but does not know how to prepare the food. The food was not very tasty to downright gross. The worst was the tuna sushi rolls I ordered which much to my dismay were made from canned tuna. Gross! Vegetarian, healthy food can be SO much better than the food at The Sanctuary.
The one redeeming value is in their bread which is actually homemade and quite tasty.
Eggs and toast were great in the morning. I strongly recommend The Sanctuary consulting with a professional chef to revamp and rethink the menu.

Other issues include bad service: I carried my heavy bag uphill to my room and was dropped off a sweaty mess with out an orientation of the room or area and I needed one. Where was the bathroom? How do I turn on the lights? What is on the campus? etc. Also getting service at the restaurant is difficult even though at any given time 3-5 staff members cans be seen doing nothing.

The Friday night party - While this party is not The Sanctuary's, it is on campus and the bohemian and younger crowd like to attend. This techno party starts at about 10:30 pm and lasts until noon the following day. Be prepared to not seep. The terrible music is played all night and blasts throughout the campus. If you are in the mood to dance, drink, and do drugs at a rave, awesome. If you aren't into that scene you don't have to go, but you do have to experience the loud music and attendees.


Additional things worth mentioning: RUnning water did not work every day in our room from 7-9:30 am. Everyone smokes tobacco products. Lots of falling coconuts. Heads up! Lot's of hippies. Apparently your will get an infection if you go into the ocean with an open cut (Isn't the ocean supposed to do the opposite of that?) Maybe different sewage standards?

The sanctuary could be a great place but it needs a lot of work.

Room Tip: Do not stay in the expensive room. Get an air conditioned bungalow with a flush toilet for less the...
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  • Stayed June 2013, travelled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Jacob G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SanctuaryThailand, Guest Relations Manager at The Sanctuary Thailand, responded to this review, 30 June 2013
Hi Jacob and thanks for your review.
Firstly thanks for letting readers know the things you enjoyed about The Sanctuary, and I am glad you did enjoy them.
Secondly, let me apologise for the service you received on arrival: guests are not expected to carry their bags up to their rooms, and all arriving guests are normally given an orientation at reception. We are also constantly trying to improve the service in our restaurant. To go on to your following point about our menu, we have a new Food and Beverages manager in place who will be responsible for changing and improving the menu, as well as the running of the kitchen and the restaurant. It’s a big job, but we hope all our guests will see improvements very soon.
With regard to mosquitoes: of course you are aware this is a tropical jungle, and mosquitoes are an inevitable aspect of life here (as are falling coconuts). Many of our ponds have fish and tadpoles that do a good job of eating the mosquitoes, and we fog our grounds on Saturdays to control the mosquito population. I take your point about small pools of stagnant water and I will ask all the staff to keep an extra eye out for those. As for Dengue fever, it is widespread throughout Thailand and although we have occasional cases here, we have far fewer than other parts of the country due to our location and the fogging.
And finally, with regard to the ocean, our understanding is that the warmth and coral is what leads to infection in these particular waters – you can read more here: http://www.susanscott.net/Oceanwatch2002/jul05-02.html
With best wishes,
Tasha
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 June 2013 via mobile

What an utter disappointment. After 2 weeks in Thailand, this was the experience I was most looking forward to. I should have seen it coming with the bad communications leading up to the retreat, when I was unsure if they'd actually booked my room. They gave away 2 of the rooms I was supposed to have, and conveniently I ended up in one of the most expensive "suites." I figured I'd already made it to Thailand and this was a once in a lifetime experience so I decided this would be the luxury/spendy stop. At about $180/night for the retreat package, this is really expensive for Thailand. I just left a 5 star resort in Samui at about $120/night.

Worst service in Thailand. From the beach, I had to carry my luggage up to the resort, only apparently I went to the wrong reception desk. I didn't get much help in finding the other desk and ended up wondering around for 20 minutes trying to find it. Low and behold, they didn't have my reservation. Awesome. I had to pull out my email to PROOVE I was telling the truth.

Finally made it to the "suite," which is more like a cheap bungalow. The lock doesn't work, the air con I'm paying for is non existent, ants and spiders everywhere, mosqutos, fruit flies, a chunk of wall is missing, blood on the pillows, sand in the sheets, no in-room safe. The shower is basically a spout in the bathroom with a drain in the floor. Personally, I feel dirtier post shower than before. At $30 or $40/night, it would be fine....not a good deal...but fine. In fact, I can imagine spending $40/night for a place like this in Santa Monica.

Whatever, I'm from San Francisco, I get granola hippie, I'm fine with it. But, not when I'm paying Thailand luxury resort prices. Ps, I walked by some of the "detox rooms;" you'd be lucky to come out disease free. They're basically cylinder blocks with liquid seeping out under the door. Gross.

Stayed June 2013
Helpful?
8 Thank ewf28
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SanctuaryThailand, Guest Relations Manager at The Sanctuary Thailand, responded to this review, 24 June 2013
Hi Elysa
I was very upset to read your review today. I am sorry you were so disappointed by your short stay here, and that you experienced confusion around the booking, reception area, and so on. I have asked for the room you stayed in to be completely checked and cleaned and will be going to see it myself to check it - blood on sheets and sand and chunks of wall missing does not sound like any sanctuary room i know.
I must say that most of our guests really like the colonic bathrooms at the Wellness Center, which I think is what you were referring to as 'detox rooms' - had you stepped inside one you might have seen how clean and well they are kept.
We know we do not always get it right, but we are not flippant about our service. We know that people are working hard out there and holidays are enormously important for mind, body and soul, and we want our guests to feel utterly rejuvenated after their time with us, be it from detoxing, enjoying the local party scene and social life, or just from the tranquility of the beach and the yoga classes. At the same time we are not a 5 star resort - we are a jungle resort with no phone lines, no electricity lines, no road and no water pipe: keeping The Sanctuary running costs a lot in terms of money and resources, and simple things like making sure there is light and water require much thought and effort here. this is definitely not Santa Monica - its not even Koh Samui - and its not for everyone.
I do hope you find what you are looking for during the rest of your trip -
Best Wishes
Tasha
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 June 2013

My wife & I have just been to Koh Phangan. We stayed at Way Nam 2 bays over and went to the Sanctuary every day for yoga, meditation and to have the company of fun, open and lovely people. The resort is built in the environment creating a very unique jungle atmosphere. The accommodation looked very cool, the food in the restaurant was superb, very creative, healthy & jummy and the staff were so helpful, friendly and knew what they were doing. We are just back home in New Zealand now and are planning the next trip. It was "living the dream" and am a huge fan now.

Room Tip: Choose a room with a bit of a breeze
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  • Stayed June 2013, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Richard M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SanctuaryThailand, Guest Relations Manager at The Sanctuary Thailand, responded to this review, 27 June 2013
Hi Richard,
thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences at The Sanctuary - and I am very glad to hear how positive they were!
Hope to see you again some time soon -
Best wishes
Tasha
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Haarlem
Level Contributor
10 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 June 2013

For the last 4 weeks I have been re-thinking my stay at Sanctuary. And I really have some mixed feelings. My main reason to come was to do a 5.5 day detox/fasting. And I have to say the detox was very effective and worth all my time and energy. I was very happy with the 10.30 am Yoga sessions and the Yoga teacher was very pleasant in her Yoga-approach. I absolutely loved that moment of the day. I liked it that the detox facillities were seperated from the normal restaurant and separated from the guests who were at Sanctuary for the relaxing holiday purpose and not for a detox. The detox day schedule was very effective and all employees at Sanctuary made sure that you took your shakes on time, your supplements on time etc. Yes I really liked the staff at the detox-facilities.

My biggest concern during my stay was my Thai-Style bungalow. First of all I really loved the bungalow. But mine was next to a place where they were building a new house. That started in the morning around 6 am and lasted until 7.30 pm. For me that was really disturbing. I explained Moo at Sanctuary that I am really sensitive for sounds and that I realised that it was something that had do with me as a person, but that I would really loved to change accomodation. But he laughed it all away. Then at day 2 of my detox the weekly dance-party was going on, which was fine for me because I was informed that one night a week there was a party. I guess if I wasn't detoxing I would have even joined the party. But then on day 3 the staff at Sanctuary had a birthday-party next to my bamboo-bungalow which is fine off course, but maybe when you are not eating and trying to reset your mind it's a little bit much if it lasts until 2 am. Then on day 4 the builders started to burn their waste in a massive bonfire 10 m from my bungalow which set my bungalow completely in fumes. Since I did a detox that, for me was just that bit too much and I got really angry with Moo. He told me the day before my detox that all facilities were booked, but then I later heard that the bungalows in the hills were free and NOT booked, so that got me all confused about the accomodation-situation.

Anyway, in conclusion I have to say I was happy to stay at Sanctuary and anyone who plans a detox should go there. But if you go make sure that the accomodation you choose suits you. I guess it is good when you contact Tash at Sanctuary and you explain what kind of accomodation you like the best. Because there is enough, and I guess there is something for anyone, but you have to explain it.

  • Stayed May 2013, travelled solo
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank rishi1978
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SanctuaryThailand, Guest Relations Manager at The Sanctuary Thailand, responded to this review, 21 June 2013
thanks for your review. i very much appreciate all the good things you have to say and i am glad that you enjoyed the detox.
however i can only apologise whole-heartedly for everything else you experienced - the noise, the fire, and so on. although of course we have to use our quieter seasons to do building work and repairs etc, the lack of consideration for you during your detox experience was unacceptable and we will be discussing all the points you raise in order to make sure the level of disruption you experienced does not happen again.
if you do ever choose to come back again, please write to me directly and i will be happy to upgrade your room and do what i can to make sure you have a fantastic experience next time round!
best wishes
tasha
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 June 2013 via mobile

Well, I am still currently at The Sanctuary. I am on day 5 of my 7 days cleanse. This is my second trip here in 4 years and the place is still magical. I suffer terribly with a low immune system and the cleanse here is the only thing that has ever helped. Moon, the wonderful man who runs the Wellness Centre, is simply a godsend! Just by seeing the smile on his face makes you feel better and nothing is ever too much trouble. Him and his staff provide all the support and more that you could possibly need during quite a difficult process, but the benefits are extraordinary.

There is a fantastic range of people staying and working here, from professional rugby players, to high powered business professionals, to travellers, right through to more new age/hippy individuals.

Please research the place before you decide to come here, it may not be your cup of tea, and that is fine! But don't come here expecting it to be like every other island resort in Thailand - it is far from that, it is a special and unique place.

Right, back to the fasting, day 5 and I'm feeling like a new woman!

Thank you to The Sanctuary and especially to Moon for all you have done for me. I will be back! X

  • Stayed June 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank JuliaPoolia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 June 2013 via mobile

After my 6th visit of The Sanctuary my husband and me decided to have our wedding ceremony there- and it was a dream come true! The manager Tasha made organizing everything so easy and wrote apprx 100 emails to make everything just as perfect as it was! Michael, the other manager was always around, supporting and helping us in every situation!

20 guests came, and all of them just looooved that place and were overwhelmed by the service, kindness of the staff, quality of food, landscape and peace there!

Thank you for making that day ad the complete stay outstanding and unforgettable!!!

  • Stayed May 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank anjabogo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The Sanctuary Thailand

Property: The Sanctuary Thailand
Address: Had Tien Bay, Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand (Formerly The Sanctuary Island Resort)
Phone Number:
Region: Thailand > Surat Thani Province > Ko Pha Ngan
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Kitchenette Restaurant Spa Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#6 Spa Hotel in Ko Pha Ngan
#13 On the Beach Hotel in Ko Pha Ngan
Number of rooms: 21
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Established in 1991 The Sanctuary is a unique beach front resort offering beautiful houses, comfortable bungalows and budget dorm beds & boasts a 300 + vegetarian and seafood menu & bakery. Offering a diverse Spa menu & Detox fasting center, day trips, Kayaking, snorkelling and our gym to encourage you out of your beach front hammock. An eclectic mix of guests ensures a special beach holiday. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
The Sanctuary Island Hotel Koh Phangan
The Sanctuary Island Spa

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