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“Great to go back....” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of The Sanctuary Thailand

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The Sanctuary Thailand
Ranked #21 of 89 Hotels in Ko Pha Ngan
Certificate of Excellence
oxforf
Level Contributor
12 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Great to go back....”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 July 2013

It was great to be back at The Sanctuary again after a few years away.
A note of thanks to everyone there for achieving such a great balance of 'alternative world - meets eco jungle lux - meets paradise beach hang out - meets great restaurant ! ' . Not an easy combination, considering the remote spot and logistics.
I loved the evolution and improvements since my last visit, my jungle room was such a comfy, yet different experience. Loved the soft mattresses and pillows - 5 star bed in an eco bamboo open room. Spot on.
I spent my days swimming and kayaking, the odd yoga class, some dance meditation with Rashmi ( Brilliant, go see her in the 'Tea Temple' for every kind of alternative class and therapy). Then hammock time, and healthy food decisions!
Sanctuary is not a sterile perfect western style resort, so its not for some people. But I loved being immersed in nature, very easy vibe, staff and most of all the mix of people and friends I met there.

Room Tip: Decide what you want - bamboo room with open walls and a sea breeze and the wonderful sounds of the...
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  • Stayed May 2013, travelled solo
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank beachpaddy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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511 reviews from our community

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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
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (98)
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English first
Melbourne, Australia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 July 2013 via mobile

I have stayed at The Sanctuary numerous times over the past five years and it and its beach draw me back again and again. The beautiful traditional Thai bungalows are simply furnished but welcoming, with generous beds, lovely throws and great balconies and hammocks. The restaurant has excellent food to suit all tastes and specialises in yummy vegetarian food with generous serves. They also do a mean cheesecake and great cocktails. The staff are always welcoming and friendly and the position right on the beach makes it even more special. I spend a lot of time doing yoga at the Sanctuary and the teachers have an amazing knowledge of their practice and are among the best instructors i have met. The spa is a dreamy place to get a facial and a massage and if you want to detox you can head to the wellness centre. There is a party on Friday nights, which is loud but since I enjoy going to it and listening to the music it doesn't peturb me. The three bays of Haad Thien, Haad Yuan, and Haad Whynam are an escape from the nearby craziness of Haad Rin, and have great community feel with people from all the world. The Sanctuary is not a five star airconditioned Samui resort (though some of the rooms are really lux) that is a bubble removed from the land. It is in the Thai Jungle so there are bugs and geckos that you may have to share your bungalow with but that is the jungle! If you want a relaxed soulful place where you can go at quarter speed ... or at full speed on Friday nights, this is the place for you.

Stayed July 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Agrippinamaior
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Shanghai, China
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 July 2013

I was at The Sanctuary for a two-week stay, first doing the detox programme at the Wellness Centre then relaxed for a few more days afterwards. It's secluded from the noisy party scene, but still with plenty of activities, laughers and interesting people everyday. The mix of spa (best Thai massage and homemade coconut oil for the Hot Stone massage...), jungle life, yoga / pilates classes (Victoria the Pilates teacher is amazing!), healthy yet yummy food at the Sanctuary kitchen, and kind smiles from all the staff made me smile every day. Of course, if you fancy parties, you can easily find the right people to go with too. Mozzies are plenty around, but it's all part of the jungle life, and you just need to remember to smile and breathe in the fresh jungle air. The reviews below has a very precise description of the crowd: mature bohemians who care about their well-being and health, but still know how to have fun.
The Detox programme was amazing and life-transforming for me. Moon and his team has so much enthusiasm and knowledge. The support from them and my fellow fasters made the journey seem an easy ride despite the occasional bumps (if you get too hungry, you can always get a coconut juice! Well allowed!).
It's worth mentioning the Tea Temple (home to The Sanctuary Life) has more resources of healers from various disciplines. Some of us tried out different healers and all had very positive feedback!
The Sanctuary was an all-around good experience for me. Tasha is super helpful too! Many of us are definitely coming back for sure.

Stayed June 2013, travelled solo
Helpful?
3 Thank Sylvwhite
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 July 2013

A spa, detox, retox, relaxing, partying, theraputic and totally magical resort built in and amongst a jungle and on the edge of a beautiful beach. A brilliant idea, superbly executed.

I'm not at all surprised that it attracts the most eclectic crowd of brilliantly talented, open-hearted and bohemian people that I've ever met in one place. A bit like the upper fields of Glastonbury have been transported to the tropics.

Yes, there are a few rough edges and the odd mozzie but then again that's what you'd expect from a resort in the jungle. Indeed, what you want ... unless your the type who prefers to stay in some sterile and anonymous 5*. Some do I'm told, although for the life of me I can't understand why.

Getting there is by boat or over the mountain in a 4x4. This suits those with a bit of a sense of adventure. It's also one of the things that gives The Sanctuary its get-away-from-it-all atmosphere.
I'll definitely be back!

Room Tip: Ask for an upgrade if out of season. If they're not full they sometimes offer good deals.
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  • Stayed June 2013, travelled solo
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Guy C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London
1 review
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
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
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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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