As a second to last stop of a four month trip in Asia Pacific we stayed a week in a beachfront Castaway Villa at Haad Tien Resort. The resort is located perfectly in the most beautiful bay (shark bay) of Koh Tao. It takes you about 5 minutes by motorbike to the next restaurants and shops. Unlike most other places you can't conveniently rent a vehicle at the resort so you have to make your way to the village to get this done. There is a free shuttle from the hotel to the pier which runs (unfortunately only) once in the morning, afternoon and evening.
The sandy beach with palm trees and the sea is absolutely stunning even though you have to swim roughly a 100 metres to find coral alive. If you're lucky you'll be able to see some reef sharks there as well. You have to be aware that the beach is public.
Our wooden villa (number 215) was classy, well equipped. It had a spacious veranda and offered a breath-taking seaview. It was also away from the sometimes noisy beach club construction site. We enjoyed it very much!
Nevertheless, we were extremly disappointed by the lack of service and passion throughout the resort. Here are a few examples:
1. With a few exceptions, the staff (a mix of locals and unexperienced foreigners) lacks friendliness and is not very attentive. They rarely greet you (even if you greet them first), more than once let us wait (up to 25 minutes) to take our order at the restaurant and they have a tendency to forget orders.
2. Not surprisingly before full moon, the sea washed lots of garbage ashore and the beach looked terrible in the morning. How did the resort react to these forseeable event? Not at all! There was nobody picking up garbage in the morning. Even worse, guests hat to take action and collected several bags of garbage (among other things dangerous needles, spiky glass or used condoms). The staff didn't seem to care and even laughed at us. We've never ever seen that in such a (pricy) resort before!
3. The resort has its own dive center. Compared to others on the island it's much more expensive (two fun dives are THB 3400, most other centers charge THB 1800-2000). As it was convenient, one of us went nonethless for two fun dives with them. The first dive was a joke as we dived over a sandy bay with nothing going on for most of the time. As our group complained the guide changed the second dive spot to Shark Island spontaneously and we got see a bit more. However, this time he struggled to navigate us back to the boat.
Once again, we've never experienced something like that and couldn't figure out why one should pay that much more for so much less. Of course we talked to the activities manager afterwards and we were happy that she agreed to a 50% discount.
4. The Castaway Villa is expensive and one would therefore expect a bit more. However, "the management" seems to think differently. Examples needed? Despite our request, we weren't granted an additional access to the wifi for our notebook (it has also to be said that the wifi is very slow and unstable). The turndown service was more than once forgotten. If you didn't hide your unused daily complimenary bottle of water, house keeping wouldn't place a new one the next day.
5. As the shortcomings had risen above an acceptable level in the course of the week, we decided to get in touch with Manager John who had welcomed us on our arrival. We sent him an e-mail describing our complaints. It took the resort more than a day to send the following generic reply: "Dear Guests, thank you very much for your email detailing your findings. John is no longer working with us at The Haadtien. New management will be joining very soon. We recognized our shortcomings and are certain that we would be able to correct and improve on the important points that you have raised. Thank you again for your patron." There was nothing else, no invitation to a personal meeting and not even a question at check-out if we liked our stay.
Overall, it kind of makes you sad to see such a beautiful place to be run that way. It seemed to us that the general attitude was that we were expected to be happy to stay here. But we (and quite a few other guests we talked to as well) expect more for such a high price. We also think that the resort will face new challenges when the new beach club will be opened completely and the number of rooms will increase significantly. The restaurant crew in the morning was by all means already struggling with the bigger amount of people. We can't recommend the place.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- HaadtienBeach Resort is a boutique destination set in a stunning backdrop of beachfront panoramas, featuring its own 380 metre secluded beach situated at the southern tip of Koh Tao. The property contains 70 private villas thoughtfully spaced amongst over 45 acres of land, which features a stunning natural bay, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Haad Tien Beach Hotel Koh Tao