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“Pros and Cons - opinion of a guest”

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The Sanctuary Thailand
Ranked #22 of 91 Hotels in Ko Pha Ngan
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 19 August 2013

This is the information I would like to have before I spent my time there. Hope it's helpful.

I've been there in the first week of August with my girlfriend and it the experience wasn’t as good as expected. Iplanned to stay 4 nights and only stayed for one.

Quick evaluation:

Staff – very friendly
Remoteness – yes, but that doesn’t come cheap (taxi and boat)
Room - comfortable, really good bed and well immersed in the nature. Again - too much Money for the offer
Restaurant – good, if you are not hungry. Expensive.
Not good if you want to explore the island and know the local culture.
Good if you want to party and meet party people.

My experience:

Knowing that the bungalows were not bookable, I sent an email to confirm the availability. I was told that there was no problem with that, because they only get fully booked in Dec-Jan. August is ok then, or so I thought.
Unfortunately, when I arrived, we were told that in August they're always fully booked. After a long trip, and a pricey taxi and boat ride (700 baht for 2 people), we were really disappointed for the misinformation.

In all, not a bad experience, but too expensive.

Most likely, I will not come back.

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank joao c
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 reviewResponded 23 August 2013

Hi Joao and thank you for your helpful feedback.
Its always disappointing for us to not meet guests’ expectations – however we also know (and you can read in a number of reviews below) that it can take a little time to settle into The Sanctuary – so guests who leave after only one night may not have time to really appreciate the full experience. This is one of the reasons our minimum booking is 3 nights. Another reason for that is that we are neither easy nor cheap to get to – so best to make the journey worthwhile!
For the benefit of future visitors, I just want to take the opportunity to touch on our bookings system, which can be a little complicated!
For folks on holiday, with limited time, or who know they are looking for more upmarket accommodation, we offer a booking service for our more expensive options.
For those on a more spontaneous trip, or a tighter budget, we offer our cheaper accommodation which is not bookable in advance: you turn up on the day and see what is available.
Many of our guests stay longer than planned, and this open accommodation style system allows for a happy spontaneous flow!
It is true that December and January are our busiest times of year, but it’s also true that there are other periods in the year – and more of them now, happily – when we are also busy. Availability of rooms changes daily, and we provide the phone number for reception in order for you to check daily. I am very sorry if you felt you were misinformed – we try to be as clear as possible about potential availability precisely to avoid this kind of disappointment.
Best wishes
Tasha

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266 - 272 of 551 reviews

Reviewed 17 August 2013

the first time we arrived at Koh Phangan, almost 13 years ago, when the longtail boat was neering this hidden bay, we thoght we came to heaven. we got the honeymoon suit and had an amazing time. since then we have been in the sanctuaty several times, taking thai massages, eating the great food, taking yoga lessons. this august we spend hours in this lovely beach and in the great reastaurant, regretfully, the spa schedule was so busey, that we could not have a massage from their great massues.

Room Tip: try the honemoon sweet, its the priciest, but worth it.
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  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled with family
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Thank Avner C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 August 2013

I found this sanctuary by accident through google and booked airfare last minute, and called the morning of my arrival to secure a dorm bed. I was really intending to do some self-healing and introspection since I haven't been able to since living and working in Kuala Lumpur for that past several months. Upon arrival, I had noticed the intense party atmosphere of koh phangan but a second taxi to haad tian bay to this place proved everything I expected and more. It takes a few days to adapt to the daily rhythms, and everyone I met wanted to stay longer, or have extended their stays and been there for 3+ weeks! There are three daily yoga classes, and different workshops that help release blocked energies. Really encourage nice flows. Thursday open mic night was chill and exciting at the same time to see an onslaught of hidden talents that stay there. The food is heavily vegetarian and there's a huge selection, though meat options are readily available. The resort is very self-sufficient with its own generators and water sanitation systems, which I hope they can do a better job at reminding people to curtail more waste.
I also wanted to go to see ubud Bali, but upon further research it actually sounds a lot more commercial with a specific intended market for luxury yoga retreats. The Sanctuary actually comes out far cheaper, it's very relaxed, not pretentious at all. If you want to party, there's all-night club that does some drum-bass beats on fridays a short walk away, and saturdays it's a short hike to the next bay for more at some bar if you feel like really being social.
Besides still wanting to see some southeastern asian cities, the sanctuary is really the only place I'd like to go to relax, heal, detox, yoga, unwind and everyone who leaves ends up coming back for the good vibes.

Room Tip: Sometimes opting for a feeling of security with a private room and bath is just not worth it at this...
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  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled solo
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1  Thank rascal2q
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 reviewResponded 14 August 2013

what a lovely review - thank you so much for taking the time to write it!
and we are so glad you enjoyed your stay with us - hope you make it back sometime soon.
best wishes
tasha

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Reviewed 7 August 2013

The Sanctuary was recommended to me early on in my trip to Thailand by a new friend who happened to be a regular guest, as the best place to stay whilst on Koh Phangan; perfect for relaxing, enjoying the beauty of the island and great for trying some yoga or spa treatments. Myself and a friend only ended up staying for one night but from what I experienced I found the Sanctuary to be very unique in what it has to offer. The place has a chilled out vibe and is great for taking some time out and relaxing - we met some interesting people on our only night who were on intensive fasts or yoga courses, something I will be interested to try when I next visit.

However with a tight backpacker budget and with one eye on the full moon celebrations we only stayed one night. This was partly due to price, partly due to my friend not enjoying the sanctuary as much as me and partly down to the travel options to and from the beach. You can take a water taxi to and from the sanctuary which really adds up and becomes inconvenient if you do want to occasionally leave, but for most people when you arrive you'll more than likely be happy to stay and indulge in what the Sanctuary has to offer.

The basic dorm room was well priced for what it was and I enjoyed my nights stay there - being woken up by a cat playing with my feet through a mosquito net was a definite highlight! However I felt that the restaurant was a bit pricey for what I was looking for, but I can't deny the dishes I had were very good. It is your only real option for eating whilst there so perhaps for those on a tighter budget this is not the place to stay for an extended period of time.

Had a good impression of the staff, helpful and friendly, especially a guy called Chard who was a cool guy. The setting is beautiful so I would definitely recommend taking atleast a few days out to relax here, but the beach isn't the best for swimming like others have mentioned. Overall had a great nights stay and will definitely come back to immerse myself properly when I have the money to spend.

  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled solo
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Thank Ed-Janes-1991
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 July 2013

My boyfriend and I spent 8 days at the Sanctuary but most certainly could have stayed for longer. It takes a few days to get settled and into the rhythm and spirit of the resort but when you do you feel right at home.

We did not fast on this trip and indulged in the food food. The restaurant has a great selection of foods at all hours of the day and although the service can be slow and they do tend to miss orders at times, they staff are v friendly and courteous. There is a good family, hospitable atmosphere. Try the breakfast mueslis, maki rolls, Hot n Raw soup. The seafood BBQ restaurant, Spices, near the Tea Temple is not to miss. Duck curry, Banana flower salad, thai prawn & pomelo salads are all delicious.

If possible sit in on the talk sessions to get a sampling of different alternative and holistic practices - its a great place for a gateway into a plethora of subjects. We were fortunate to have consultations on Rolfing with Sarah, Ayurveda with Kimmana. We took part in the complimentary sessions of Tai Qi with Greg, and Ayurveda with Kimmana which usually don't have more than 10 people in a group.

Yoga at 8am with Ushma was a great start to the day. The levels is basic from a physical point of view - it is not asana heavy but was a wonderful introduction to the fundamental principals of yoga in theory and as a lifestyle. It is also a flexible class where you can also take any variations you please. There is ashtanga at an adjacent beach for those familiar with the primary series. Blooming Lotus yoga at the next bay has also been highly recommended for those who are looking for a Vinyasa flow.

Pilates with Victoria is a must - fundamentals of pilates which will leave you wondering how you never had it part of your life in the first place. Victoria's class is able to cater to all levels. There is an area for weights and boxing at Horizon boxing next to the Sanctuary.

The beach itself is not great for swimming. It is small and rocky and small boats come and go. Try the next bay over and enjoy the food at Bamboo Hut, a restaurant built into the boulders along the beach. We actually spent a lot of time at this larger bay and the food at Bamboo is equally fantastic.

Although we came as a couple, The Sanctuary is v conducive to all travelers and has a great community vibe. Altogether, good value for money, if you are looking to enjoy some down time and find some peace and beauty in simplicity, you will enjoy the Sanctuary.

Room Tip: Beach bungalow is an excellent location next to the restaurant and overlooking the beach. However yo...
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  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank xinmei55
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 July 2013

I tagged along with my girlfriend who was really keen on a 5 day fasting detox. Personally I was really keen on doing shrooms on near-by Haad Rin, but I decided to bite the bullet and join her.

I was rather shocked when Mr Moon explained that we wouldn't eat for 5 days: I understood detox to mean no beer or dope with lots of water and yoga. And colonic irrigations? There's no way i'm sticking that up there!

After lightening up and losing my preconceptions, I discovered another side of life. This was stress-free, worry-free, healthy living!

Not only did my girlfriend and I have a wonderfully unique experience , where we bonded really well and discovered more about each other, we also met some rather cool people along the way (Dan, Ian!).

And as an animal lover, I was especially pleased to see this is not just a human sanctuary but also a cat sanctuary.

I didn't partake in the yoga but I did swim (yes Swim!) to Haad Rin and back, which I believe is a first.

So a special thanks to Mr Moon for taking great care of us, entertaining us with your numerous anecdotes, and taking the drama out of colonics!

Alex & Elle

  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank Alexbdx
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 reviewResponded 28 July 2013

hi alex, and thank you so much for your review which made me laugh out loud today. its one thing attracting the people who are already detox-converts, but to be able to let go of your expectations and discover the pleasures (?!) of detoxing quite by surprise... this is wonderful for you and gives us great satisfaction too.
i hope you continue to enjoy the benefits of your detox for a long time to come -
with best wishes from the crew and the cats,
tasha

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Reviewed 22 July 2013

How do we define a sanctuary?

According to the Oxford dictionary a sanctuary is a sacred place,  such as a church or temple . Or it can be a a place of refuge from arrest or imprisonment. 
The sanctuary in Thailand has been both for me. 

It is a sacred place that is made special by not only the feminine energy that dominates the lush tropical hill surrounded beach. It is the energy of the people who visit,  and those who wander and stay,  that create this sacred temple. 

Never have I been in a place that has shifted so many people into a state of consciousness in such short periods of time.  People will come with the weight of the western world on their shoulders, their energy carrying the karmic weight of constant battle too repress the true self. 

This place then slowly embraces them with its magical touch and bam! Your heart explodes open and you first feel the ecstatic  feeling of joy. The joy that keeps you dancing all night and all day to the sounds of sweet life. This may leave you, it is an energy that cannot be maintained. Though when it leaves you. You are left in an even sweeter state. That constant state of peace. 

Where you just breathe in the beauty of the air around you and you sigh in content. It is such a sensual pleasure . To stop and look at the pink flower that blooms slowly day by day, changing color and loosening its tight hold on itself, ready to flourish open.  The day you stop to smell it's sweet nectar. How can I describe how nourishing this scent was to my soul?

It is a place of refuge from imprisonment. The imprisonment of society. Societies beliefs and judgement. Here you are free to be you. To truly express every part of who you are. To laugh, to cry, to scream , to sigh. You are free.

So as I sail away to the land I call home, I look back to this bay that has stolen and broken open my heart and I am grateful . For the experience of finding the pure joy that is being and loving me. 

For this I am forever grateful . 

For those who wander lost in this world. Let your heart and feet guide you to this magical place. It is one experience that will show you how amazingly beautiful you and life really is . 

Sal X

Room Tip: The zorba private rooms are really nice. Very clean and new. The beds are comfortable and nice littl...
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  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled solo
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1  Thank sallem
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

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:
#9 Spa Hotel in Ko Pha Ngan
#15 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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