For our first stop in the islands off of Phuket, we chose to stay at a place we found online that had stunning views. This place was called Santhiya, and it was on the island of Koh Yao Yai.
The one thing I will say leading into this was that the airport>hotel transfer was a blatantly miserable experience. From the time we got off the plane, it took probably the better part of three hours to get settled into our room. We first met someone outside baggage claim, only to have to wait in a staging area. Then, we were walked over to a secondary staging area, where we waited on a private shuttle (with two other couples also staying Santhiya). Not so bad, yet… Then, once we got over to the marina, we had to wait (yet again) while the team checked us in and scanned our passports. Nearly one hour later, we were loaded onto a boat and brought over to the island. Then, upon disembarking the ferry (which took around 20 minutes), we had to yet again (you guessed it) wait some more to get formally checked in. At this point, I think I had to provide my physical credit card for a third time (side note/pet peeve: you already have my card on file – just ask me if you can use that instead of continuing to shake me down for my card; I’m not trying to dine and ditch on the tab!), and we soon thereafter began the trek up to our room (which, we found out later, was much more than a hop, skip, and a jump). Exhausting, right??
As far as the review… Here is what I would say about Santhiya:
- Overall: 6/10 – Stunning views, very cool architecture, but then the resort (and the surrounding town for that matter) fall short
- The architecture and resort itself as awesome – so much hand carved wood abounds, and even the fact that it’s literally built into the side of a small mountain/cliff setting is incredible
- Having the get around the property on wood-wrapped trucks or tuk-tuks was a bit of a pain, but since our room was near the middle of the resort, we also had the option of short 5-10 minute walks (when the weather cooperated)
- Views were especially incredible the further “up” into the resort you went; the views from the top pool and the breakfast area were amazing
- Service was good, not great, but we can attribute most of that to being an Asian culture (whereby you will not be bothered for things like additional drinks, the check, etc); you simply had to ask for things and then they were very efficient about it
- Food on property was, again, good-not-great; the breakfast was pretty typical for buffet style, the lunch was great depending on where you went and what you got (although it seemed a bit pricey – but we later realized this is just the island/resort effect and having recently adjusted from a much cheaper place like Chiang Mai)
- The village itself, beyond the resort, is an odd town; it has heavy muslim influence and a severe lack of other dining or drinking options
- Checkout was somewhat non-eventful, although it’s always fun to see just how much money you had shelled out in a short three days at a property like this; there’s always a momentary sink in your stomach after you do the high level conversion in your head (if you know what I’m talking about, isn’t that the worst?)
- We did find one hidden gem in the town though: Odys Cafe. Cannot recommend this place highly enough if you ever find yourself on this island! The owner shared his life story, we spent several hours there one day (due to a rain storm), and even went back again for dinner
Til Next Time,