We stayed at Islanda Resort Hotel from December 19-29 and have mixed feelings.
Firstly, as others have pointed out, this is not really a resort. It has about a dozen rooms, a small pool and a restaurant. For Koh Mak standards I suppose that qualifies as a resort but if you are used to large resorts with fancy everything you won't find it here or anywhere on Koh Mak. That doesn't mean Koh Mak isn't a great island to visit - it is. There are some lovely places to eat, swim, drink etc but Koh Mak has not been built up like the over run islands in the south or even Koh Chiang for that matter so just know that before heading here.
This hotel is very expensive, especially for Koh Mak standards. Is it worth it? I suppose it depends on the person. They claim to be offering more here than elsewhere which is true on one hand but not the other. A few things here are worth noting. The hotel is exceptionally clean and the staff do a great job of keeping it that way. Also, it is new so its appearance is still bright and well kept. The view is amazing as it sits atop a hill with a view of the entire bay. Is it the nicest hotel on Koh Mak? Probably. Is it worth the extra money? You decide.
I should point out that Islanda Resort is not near the beach. You will have to walk ten minutes or just rent a scooter as we did for our stay here. The hotel rents scooters for a very reasonable price.
The staff are very nice and always greet you with a smile. Mostly, they will try very hard to accommodate you but there are instances where they don't quite cut it. When we were here it was peak season and very hot. This means 30 degrees and we were paying $200 a night. This is a lot of money for Koh Mak. For that money I would expect certain privileges, one being the ability to leave my air conditioning on all day if I want to. They would not allow this. When leaving your room your key card comes with you which cuts power of to everything in your room. If you want to charge your devices or leave the AC on you are out of luck. I got another card from the staff at the front desk and left it in the slot when we left the room to leave the power and AC on. I discussed it with a number of staff and explained to them that when we returned to our room the temperature inside was much hotter than the already extremely high temperatures outside and that it took almost an hour for our room to get down to a comfortable temperature. They explained that the power for air conditioning cost money and that it was more environmentally responsible to keep it off. Really! Firstly, for $200 a night we should be able to have the AC on 24 hours a day if we want. Secondly, I don't need to be lectured on environmental matters, which was just an excuse for them trying to increase profits.
The restaurant food was outstanding and the vista from the restaurant was spectacular. However, the drinks at the restaurant are a lot more money than other places on Koh Mak, which would have been fine if they were better than other places. They were not, in fact the mixed drinks were some of the worst we had on Koh Mak. The food is also priced a little high but that didn't bother us because it was excellent. It should be noted that the breakfast here is not very good at all. They try to make western food at breakfast but fail horribly. In addition when we ordered just fruit for breakfast it was not fresh and had clearly been cut and prepared the previous day/s and kept in the fridge. The coffee is instant as it is most places on Koh Mak.
Here is a big error that you should be aware of. They made a massive administrative error upon our checking out that would have cost us $1000 if I had not caught it and been very insistent as to what had occured. What had happened was upon checking in the owner/manager (who is a very sweet and lovely woman) charged us the remaining amount owed for our stay in advance. That's fine. Upon checking out, however, she had left the island to go to Bangkok and the employee in charge wanted to charge us again for the room! I explained to him that we had paid already and he said there was no record of this. He tried calling the manager and was unable to reach her. There was much confusion as he spoke with other staff and I showed him my credit card records online. While this was all going on we were supposed to be en route to catch our boat to leave the island but we were held up at the hotel taking care of this mess. Finally they decided to not charge us again and drove us to the dock but this took a lot of time, discussion and worry. There should have been a very clear record of our payment and they had no system in place to account for that. Big, big mistake. A couple of days later the owner/manager sent a brief two sentence email apologizing.
The positives: Very nice staff, new buildings, exceptionally clean, fantastic pool, great food, great view
The negatives: Price, administrative errors, proximity to beach, no power or AC while away from room, expensive drinks
One final note is while on Koh Mak beaches you must wear insect repellent or the sand flies will leave you worse for wear.
Even with our feelings about what was wrong or could be improved at Islanda we enjoyed our stay there and had a great time on Koh Mak. I would not pay that price to stay there again but probably would if they lowered their rates.
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