I’m recently back from Khao Lak, Thailand among other destinations in Asia. The trip was prompted by the Ugandan Schillings rate at the Le Meridien. My wife had three nights booked in the Presidential Oceanfront Villa and I had three nights booked in the Royal Suite. That satisfied the requirement that they’d only honor one reservation per person, and together we had six consecutive nights at the resort. The Presidential Villa wasn’t showing up for all six nights when we booked, so we had to settle for the smaller Royal Suite for half the stay when making our booking. As I saw pictures from others who had stayed in both rooms, I was actually getting disappointed. While the Royal Suite looked fabulous, the Presidential Oceanfront Villa was just breathtaking — how I’d hate to move!
When we arrived in Khao Lak, the hotel car was waiting for us. At 1800 Baht for the 70 minute drive it’s more expensive than a cab (~ 1300 Baht) but the incremental expense seemed worthwhile. I do tend to prefer a hotel car.
Upon arrival we were seated, greeted with cold towels and drinks, and checked in. I showed them both reservations and they noted that the Royal Suite had already been upgraded to the smaller oceanfront villa. Nice! But that still meant changing rooms, and I asked if we could just stay in the Presidential villa for both nights. (Both rooms are now referred to as oceanfront residences, but the internal code for the Presidential Villa remains unchanged, “PY“.) After checking in back I was told that wouldn’t be a problem. Nice!
We were taken to our room and we were floored. Even seeing the pictures in advance, it was still absolutely stunning. A 2-bedrrom, 2.5 bath room, 3100 square feet, full kitchen. Each bedroom had a large bathroom with two vanities and with a separate shower and tub. Each shower opened up into an enclosed, private outdoor rainshower. I just assumed the outdoor rainshower I had heard about was to was off from the beach before re-entering the room. Oh, there was that too — but these were really just outdoor private showers. The room had a private pool, its own stretch of beach, and a direct view towards the ocean. Plenty of pool chairs and a couple private beach chairs, as well as two outdoor tables perfect for enjoying room service.
Since it’s low season (ostensibly rainy season, though it rained only one night and briefly one afternoon in our six day stay) the resort was nearly empty, I’d guess 15% occupancy. As a result, all spa treatments were 25% off, and food & beverages 20% off in the restaurants. Of course, breakfast was included in our rate. And with the Thai Baht at an all-time high against the dollar, an hour long massage at the spa still came to less than US$40. We had three treatments apiece.
Service was fine, English-speaking was prevalent, but I suspect that was all a function of being low-season so they’ve retained only their preferred staffers and those folks were far from overwhelmed with guests. Spa was lovely, though spa reception was a big lacking (only provided with drinks and cold towels 1 of 3 times before entering treatment room, where of course we received them).
With the private pool and my own stretch of oceanfront we never did venture to any of the main pools or the main beach area.
We enjoyed the Thai cooking class, given to us privately by the chef of the hotel’s Thai restaurant. She was a marvelous grandmotherly lady who explained things well enough that I’ve already had some success preparing Thai dishes myself now that I’m back in the States. She’s traveled abroad with the Le Meridien chain, spending a month at the Le Meridien Picadilly in London in elsewhere. An outstanding couple of hours, though not inexpensive for Thailand at 2000 Baht apiece — still, a value for an activity like that at a nice resort.
That’s one of the /reasons why I love South Asia so much. Of course there are many others. But even at prime resorts things are sufficiently inexpensive compared to resorts elsewhere that I can enjoy myself without worrying too much about cost.
Food was ‘okay’ … nice breakfast buffet .. Most restaurants were closed, only the open air Bangsak restaurant (where breakfast is served) and Thai restaurant were open daily for dinner. Kukkuk, the nightclub just off the reception area, was open over the weekend but I didn’t visit it. The Thai restaurant was good, but menu options fairly limited. Room service quality was excellent and inexpensive.
While in Khao Lak we had some suits made. Visited Monty the Tailor, picked out style and material and had measurements taken. Then they came to us for the first and second fittings, and delivered the clothes as well. All for less than the price of off the rack.
If I were returning to Khao Lak and paying a regular rate for my room I’d probably choose the Sarojin over the Le Meridien, upgrades aside. And recent word is that getting upgrades at the Le Meridien is somewhat difficult. Starwood platinum members might obtain a suite in the main building, but generally won’t be given an upgrade from a standard room to a Villa of any sort. And it’s the room that made the property and stay extraordinary.
Service wasn’t as amazing as at the Sheraton Pattaya, one of the places I stayed during my trip to Thailand last year. But this may well have been my best hotel room … ever. And that takes into account the Diplomatic Suite at the Intercontinental Bangkok; a Terrace Suite at the Mark Hopkins; one of the preferred Overwater Bungalows at Bora Bora Nui; an Atlantic Suite at the former Westin Rio Mar in San Juan; and of course others that I’ve blogged about here over time.
Well worth the trip!
More photos after the jump…
Resort’s Main Pool
Outdoor Rain Shower (Each bedroom’s bath had one attached to the regular shower.)
View from Reception
The long corridor from room to room…
A flat panel TV in every room
Inexplicably, Thai Airways runs 3-cabin 747s with new-style seats from Bangkok to Phuket