Zeavola - No questions - excellent!
My wife and I were extremely happy with our decision to stay at Zeavola for the 4 nights we had chosen to visit Ko Phi Phi. The hotel experience certainly exceeded any expectation we had set. We decided to go with the hotels own speedboat transfer, which included a car service to and from th airport or Phuket destination. From the moment we sat in the car it was exceptional service. The hotel staff in any role were fabulous. The rooms very well furnished, private and had eveything you needed. You really felt you were staying somewhere special and the setting of the hotel is great. My wife made use of the spa, and had only good things to say of the treatments and staff. We did snorkelling using the long tail boats and captains through the hotel. The captains were very friendly and got you to exactly where you wanted to be. These were great trips to do, to get out to see and enjoy the islands. The hotels two restaurants had a great selection to keep our taste buds interested throughout the holiday and the breakfast spread would have you wishing you could wake up to that each morning at home. Your main contact with staff is at meal times and we found the staff making an extra effort on our behalf as a standard, time and time again, to the extent the staff decorated a beautiful beach table for us to celebrate my wife's birthday - exceptional. Overall, we were so glad we sprang for the Zeavola experience.
Diving with Leisure Dive Center
Meet Paula and Cas from Spain and Brazil!
Two very expierenced Dive Masters taking good care of the "Leisure Dive Base" next to the Zeavola Hotel. This base doesn't belong to any hotel, so the prices they quote do not add up 10% Service and 7% Tax like in hotels.
The equipment is up-to-date and you feel like VIPs diving with them. The 3 days I went diving we were like 3 to 4 Divers + 2 Dive Masters on one boat....what a luxury when you compare this with bigger boats carrying 30-40 divers....! I made one night dive and this was a one-on-one dive, just me and Cas the dive master!
6 Dives cost around 13000 Baht.
YES, I did see Grey Tip Sharks.....but they are really shy and swim away too fast! At least the turtles swim slow enough and offer great poses for pics!
Awful, Awful, Awful
We travelled all around SouthEast Asia and had an amazing experienc until we arrived at the Zeavola. They rob you with the transfer rates getting to the island ($300 for a group boat), and then you're on your own..don't even think about heading back inland since they charge $500 to get you back to mainland Phuket. Noone speaks English and the service is terrible. Our toilet was not working when we arrived and broke down two more times. What seems like it would be very charming (little huts on the beach) is a miserable way to spend a few days and way too expensive for what you are getting. Don't bother staying here.
Form follows function
We stayed at Zeavola for more than a week, as part of our honeymoon and we had a really great time there. As the resort wasn't willing to give a discount (we first tried it by email) we took an offer from the hotelthailand.com website, for BAHT 12500 for 6 nights plus 2 nights for free (resulting in EUR 200 on average per night) for a village bungalow.
About the premises: the hotel is wonderful, especially if you appreciate design. Especially their spa (we often use them) is one of the most beautiful ones in Thailand, and I recommend to visit it after sunset, when it is even more impressive with the lighting and darkness that gives it a special tranquility. The beach bar and restaurant are beautifully designed, and so is the pool, which is just stunning in the afternoon, when the sunlight merges the pool with its yellow and green mosaic tiles into the green surroundings. The bungalows are in old Thai style, beautifully designed, with the terrace functioning as the living room with minibar and sofa, and by dropping the huge protective suncovers from each side of the terrace, it is possible to transform it into a private room.
We looked at all three different bungalow types, beach suite, garden suite, and village suite and opted for the village type, which is the cheapest, because it was good enough for us. The beach and garden suites would have had in addition a full outside bathroom and outside shower, and essentially are the same, just that the beach ones are - guess what - closer to the beach.
About the service etc.: The staff has been wonderful, and the management also made a great effort to make each guest feel comfortable, and they succeeded, at least with us. Obviously, other customers were not that happy, as you can read from other reviews. But after having been on four different hotels and resorts on our trip, all around EUR 200 per night, I'll tell you that: everywhere you go, no matter how much you pay, it is never 'perfect' and what counts the most is how you get over that and how the staff makes it up to you, in case something goes wrong. We also had a misunderstanding at Zeavola, but we sorted it out with the staff and the manager and their way to react to our complaint was just excellent. They get 10 of 10 points for that.
Zeavola just hired a new chef from another luxury resort in Phuket , the Banyan Tree, and the food was great - better than in other boutique resorts where we were before. The prices for cocktails, food, etc. are quite reasonable, especially the Thai food was reasonably priced and tasted great. The wines are a bit pricy (start around BAHT 1500 which can easily be as much as your entire food orders for two persons) but so they are in most small resorts on the islands. The service by the staff was very good and they made us feel really comfortable, and we had great fun.
The gipsy village -critisized and put down by another reviewer - is actually a rather interesting place, lots of cheery kids running around, the adults being very polite and friendly. The restaurant on their section of the beach is really fun and great food for a low price. You should definetely pay it a visit and eat there in the evening, they also take table reservations.The Zeavola by the way financially supports the School for the Sea Gipsies.
The beach at the resort is quite nice, although we have been at better ones what the swimming is concerned (during low tide, which was in the morning, you should use their pool if you want to swim). But in high tide you can of course swim and snorkle out a bit and you'll see quite nice fish and corals. We spent really a lot of time on the beach, just reading, swimming, eating, drinking cocktails - so we liked it a lot and anyways, almost any beach where you go to in Thailand has some pros and cons. What we loved about the beach was the places where you could lie down and hang out for hours, on comfortable, huge pillows (fatboys), with great music a la bossa nova, and in the evening, they transform the same places for romantic dining.
For the transfer from the resort to Phuket airport, we used their private speed boat and limo, which is a one-hour boat ride plus 20 min in the car, and costs BAHT 2500 per person per way. We came to the resort via Koh Lanta, paying only BAHT350 for the ferry to Koh Phi Phi plus using a longtail boat (20min) from Tonsai Village to the resort, which is on the northern tip of the island. I think the ideal time to spend at Zeavola is 4 to 5 nights, in order to go on some snorkling, diving trips and relax, and then head off to other places to get the right mix of experiences.
By the way, the Zeavola makes its own water (desalination system) cleanes its wastewater on the site and reuses it for gardening (natural cleaning system that you can't notice) and also creates its own energy. Hence, Zeavola does what it can to be an environmentally sustainable resort, which is a good thing considering the chronic lack of water on the island. The sound from the energy generator (mentioned by another reviewer) actually is the neighbour resort's because Zeavola's generator is in a soundproof room. You can hear it if you are close to it - and although our bungalow was the closest one to the technical facilities, we were not bothered by the sound, and after a while didn't realize the sound was there at all. Next year the resorts will get the energy from Krabi with a seacable as part of a government plan to improve the energy situation on the island (the chief engineer told me while they gave me a tour through the technical facilities) and the generators will only be the backup. But I wouldn't worry about that sound anyways.
Overpriced and Overrated
This was our 3rd location and hotel on our trip to Thailand and although pleasant probably the most disappointing of the the 3.
We arranged a Longtail transfer from Ton Sai which was a great service. On arrival check in was very efficient and we were shown to our Garden Suite. The rooms/suites look great on first viewing with a great sundeck and spacious interior. However, when you try them out they are overdesigned somewhat. Take the lighting and blinds - having all the controls on remote sounds like a great idea, but try finding the bathroom light in the middle of the night when you need to go to the bathroom! In the bathroom there is no mirror near the sink for shaving etc. The shower/w.c is a little cramped and hot water was a 1 in 10 experience.
The food was good but a little limited in choice for evening meals. In comparison to restaurants and bars on the island the prices are absolutely extortionate. But as it is reasonably isolated they can get away with it. The other hotels on the beach dont really have attractive menus or inspiring atmospheric bars. However, the Sea Gypsy restaurant Jasmin served us the best food and the coldest beer we had on Phi Phi - huge piles of hot chicken wings, freshly barbecued prawns, fantastic curry, chang beer, all for a fraction of the price of Zeavola but with a hundred times more atmosphere.
The beach is not bad but not idyllic. The boat trips offered by the hotel are excellent - we hired a speedboat for the day and saw all of the island with plenty of stops for snorkelling and sunbathing.
Service in general was not as good as the Metropolitan Bangkok and the Tubkaak Krabi where we also stayed.
It could be a really good hotel if the service was addressed, the price of the food/drink addressed and some atmosphere injected into it.
We are planning a holiday in Thailand for early next year and have already chosen accommodation in two locations.
We'd also like to visit Ko Phi Phi Don and the website for Natural Resort looks good - and so does the price. BUT, there are mixed reviews from several Forums - from the sublime to the downright disgusting!
Has anyone stayed there recenltly? We're looking for a quiet location, simple clean rooms with private bathroom and good snorkelling.
Any recent information will be helpful. Thanks.
Re: Natural Resort
Phi Phi Don is devided into two part, Ton-sai area and Lam-tong area. Natural Resort is located in Lam-tong, at the most end of area. The neighbor hotel are Phi Phi Erawan Palm, Zeavola, holiday Inn and Phi Phi Island Village. All hotels above have their own private beach and only hotel's shops and restaurants.
Ton-sai area where the Phi Phi Main Pier is located, are home of all shops, restaurants, tours, internet cafe, many hotel and guesthouses. Standard hotels in this area include Phi Phi Island cabana (2 Minutes), Phi Phi Hotel (2 Minutes), Phi Phi Banyan Villa (5 Minutes), P.P. Palmtree Resort (10 Minutes), P.P. Casita (15 Minutes) and small guest houses along the way. All hotel & guesthouse can be access by only few munutes walk.
When the boat arrive, boat will stop at the pier then continue to Lam-tong. But when you are alreay in Lam-tong area, if you want to go shopping in Ton-sai, you must take a long-tail boat for 30 munutes.