10 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Fabulous Honeymoon Destination
"We stayed in this hotel for our honeymoon. One word that would best describe this hotel is "fantastic".
On arrival at reception we were offered towels to clean ourselves and a local herb tea. Very refreshing and needed after a long flight from Gatwick.
Check in was extremely smooth and pain free and our luggage was taken to our room immediately.
On entering the room, the staff had made a design of two interwoven hearts with rose petals on the bed, a lovely touch. The room was spotlessly clean and quite modern. The air conditioning worked a treat, at this time of the year it was essential.
The hotel had 4 pools, one of which was right outside the bedroom. The food was excellent. The buffet breakfast was unique, some unusual Thai dishes.
On the beechfront there was a restaurant and bar and a small games area. Happy hour was always popular, the houses own cocktails (Blue Maranga) was lovely. You don't need cash, everything was charged to your room.
Service was excellent if at times a bit over attentive. The prices in the hotel were generally cheaper than the UK but compared to the rest of Thailand it is expensive."
- Travel date: Mon 2nd of July 2007
"Just got back from 2 weeks holiday at the Merlin Hotel Khao Lak.Absoluteley excellent for a relaxed setting and secluded beach location.We stayed in a delux pool access room which was well worth the upgrade .The service was good and the hotel was very clean and tidy.The food was very good but a bit exspensive compared to nearby local restraunts the Khao Lak o7 bar just off the beach was great for food and a drink bar man Lek could tell you where most things were and to go.
Excellent hotel well postioned will definitely be going back."
- Travel date: Fri 16th of March 2007
The most lovely hotel and staff
"We stayed to The MERLIN not one but 4 times in every seasons, we stayed a long period like a short, high and low season but always perfect! The standard is high during the december holidays like in july, incredible!! The landscape is beautiful nice gardens, , the staff so lovely and helpfull always, the food great (expecially the breakfast!!!) and also a la carte dinner. The deluxe rooms are spacious and with a very nice view. The swimming pools are great. Don't loose a spa experience, simple but very professional!
This hotel is really the best in Khao Lak. Good price, good environment, good food, great staff. Nothing is best.
If you like to go in the Khao Lak center you have to take a tuk tuk or a taxi, but it's only 5 minutes!"
- Travel date: Thu 15th of March 2007
"We have just returned from a week stay in Khao Lak Merlin Resort and what a week it was !!! I have booked this trip as a surprise Birthday present to my husband. I booked the hotel through their own web site as I found their prices and packages the most competive and we flew with Malaysian Airlines. The only regret I have that I booked only one week. From the moment we arrived and till the moment we left we felt so pampered and so well looked after, we couldn't fault a thing. We had a pool access room which was just amazing, you could dip into the pool any time of the day and with constant heat it came very handy :) The room itself is very big with a nice layout so your bed faces patio doors, you can open them and it will create an outdoor feeling inside the room. In the room you will find a large walk in shower and a huge double bath with a step into it. Great air conditioner and selection of TV channels (not that we spent much time watching it:). Breakfast selection was great and for lunch we used to walk down the beach and three restaurants down there won't leave you hungry (we tried all of them and they are all great), for dinner we went down Khao Lak and again selection of restaurants there is just great, our favorites Jai and Phu. Make sure you try pancakes on the street as they are absolutly divine:) Over all we found food and prices in all restaurants very good and tasty. One night I tried extra spicy fish soup and after one spoon my throat was burnt, couldn't feel another flavor after that and all restaurant was smiling at me as I ve gone really-really red :))) so be careful with what you pick in the menu.I think 80% of people staying in Merlin Resort are German and Swiss and they are there for 3 weeks. The Merlin Resort is really very quiet and relaxing, we have been in Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica in all inc hotels with constant entertainment going on, here all you will hear all day long is the sound of waterfalls and birds:) Massage in the hotel is good but much better on the beach and much cheaper as well. Over all prices in the hotel for food and drinks are very European but outside you'll find them very cheap.The near-by shop is great for water, beer and snacks. We went to Similian islands which is a must, stunning scenery and great snorkelling, 1h30min on the speed boat a bit long but worth every moment of it. It was an amazing trip and Thai people, culture and nature were the main components of what made it. Merlin Resort is a great place to stay to explore Khao Lak."
- Travel date: Fri 2nd of March 2007
"Visited Merlin 25 th jan to 8th Feb
Hotel lived up all preivous reviews, We booked superior room which is well worth the small extra cost,Rooms large spotless ,with excellent housekeeping.
All public areas maintained to same high standard. Some tiles missing off pool base (only fault I could find)
Beach is fantastic , well worth walking to either end to get a beer at sunset.
Hotel food and drink of high standard and reasonable by uk standards, for better value try the resturants down the beach to the right of the hotel. The Bann sumatra is excellent,and the other two are good. Food in Khao Lak is good (150 baht for taxi from road end ) Try the Dragon for a very basic resturant,
Diving good with sea- bees very professional outfit. Various operators do speed boat trips to similian islands, Very rough crossing enjoyable if you love a 2 hour roller coaster ride, snorkling good and provided lunch excellent (Thai food) .
Kings taylors at hotel a bit expensive but good quality, handy rather than going to kho lak to get measured, make sure you barter in Thai bahts as he tries it on with exchange rates.
overall fantastic relaxing holiday."
- Travel date: Mon 12th of February 2007
A Khao Lak Experience
"KHAO LAK- MERLIN HOTEL
Our final 8 days in Thailand were to be spent in Khao Lak, at the Merlin Resort.
Three vehicles arrived from the Merlin at 11am (an hour early) - 2 minibuses for the 15 of us and 1 truck to take the luggage!
After a 10-minute ferry hop and a further 20 minute drive, we arrived at the Merlin - one of the southernmost resorts of Khao Lak. A lovely four-star resort that survived most of the tsunami and so is one of the oldest hotels still standing in the area.
We had a pool-access room which was lovely, although we had been a little spoiled by the splendour of the previous place and so were mildly disappointed at the time. This is no reflection on the Merlin, but more down to having been spoiled by the spaciousness of the Princess. The youngsters particularly were initially grumpy about the three of them being âsqueezedâ into one of the rooms but this soon passed as, in reality, they spent very little time in them.
The outstanding feature of the Merlin is the fantastic staff. Headed by the exceptional General Manager, Krisda, the staff is super-efficient, polite, gracious and charming. Krisda was always around, keen to solicit comments from guests and always available for advise and help. I have rarely known such a âhands-onâ management style, but it is certainly what makes the Merlin so wonderful.
The breakfasts there were very good, as were the meals taken in the beachside restaurant, although I would say that the menus were a little limited.
However, we experienced two gastronomic treats that were wonderful surprises:
The first was Christmas Eve, which was a poolside/beachside buffet and show. The food was wonderful and ranged from Thai to barbecue to pasta to seafood and everything in between.
The second was New Years Eve which we all agreed was the most splendid feast we had ever seen (or eaten!). There was everything you could possibly imagine, exceeding even the range of the week previous. Sushi, dumplings, soups of incredible varieties, crepes, pancakes, skewers, Italian, Spanish.. you just couldnât possibly try even a fraction without bursting.
The show they put on was also wonderful, starting with a Polynesian-themed luaua and culminating in a traditional Thai play. At midnight there was a spectacular firework display which rounded off the evening perfectly. Would I recommend the Merlin? You betcha!! Well done, Krisda!
KHAO LAK- THE TOWN
Khao Lak itself was an extraordinary place. Living in the shadow of the tsunami which had devastated the town two years ago, it is now rebuilding itself back to its former glory. I was informed that KL is much like Phuket was before it became overrun by tourists and hopefully that is a good frame of reference for you. It is quiet, yet very well served by a plethora of fantastic restaurants, were you can gorge and drink yourself silly for 300 baht per head (with no compromise on quality). There are many family-run establishments and we never had a bad meal in one of them. Bars are generally few and far between at the moment, but the standout must be the Happy Snapper which plays excellent live music every night and is run by a Thai âsuperstarâ who often plays there himself.
There are also plenty of shops to buy souvenirs, clothes and handbags. A little more expensive than MBK, but still very cheap by western standards. The people are universally pleasant and happy, whether you buy from them or not. There is also a great range of massage places were you can get everything from a foot massage to a traditional Thai one. There didnât seem to be any âdodgyâ parlours either, and so I would say that the area is very, very family-friendly.
If you want a suit made, there is only one place you should visit - Monty the Tailor.
Run and operated by Monty and his brother, Tony I wouldnât hesitate to recommend this establishment for all of your made-to-measure requirements. The care, craftsmanship and service provided by Monty and Tony are beyond compare and the results themselves are truly excellent.
I ended up with a wool/cashmere suit + extra pair of trousers, a tie and 5 shirts. My son had the same. The cost is variable depending on what fabric you want and how much detail in the cut/design. Needless to say that the whole lot as described above (for both me and my son) came to around Â£300 totalâ¦ this would be the price of 2 made-to-measure shirts from Jermyn Street, London!!
We had 3 fittings and so the final garments fitted like a glove. Also note that every male member of our party had a suit (and several shirts) made and there was universal delight and praise at the end. Monty and Tony provide exceptional service at a very fair price. None of us would hesitate to return to them next time we want a suit made and that is the highest praise I can extend (as there are some very fussy members in our group - myself included!).
KHAO LAK- THE LEGACY
One of the most profound days of the vacation (and probably of my life) was a day arranged via the German website mentioned above by a chap named Mikel. Mikel had supported a number of causes which looked after some of the children of Khao Lak who had lost one or more family members in the tsunami.
Discovering that I would be travelling to KL at the same time as him, Mikel asked if I would like to visit one of the âprojectsâ that had been initiated to help some of the victims. We arranged to visit the Beluga School For Life one sunny afternoon in late December and this place had such a moving effect on both myself and my wife. At the time, we did bring along some other member of our group who were unfortunately summoned back to the hotel after an hour as one of the children had been taken very poorly with some sort of food poisoning. As a result there was just myself, my wife and our 11 year old daughter left, together with the German families who had arranged the visit.
This project is amazing! It is a charitable project set up by the German Beluga Shipping company and comprises of an enormous âcampus-styleâ suite of buildings and houses which form a school, hotel and residences for children to learn not just the regular 3 Rs, but also life-skills that they can use as a trade when they are old enough. It is far too vast to explain in a short paragraph or two, but needless to say this is a very ambitious project, but one that is taking extraordinary shape right now.
We were given a tour by the manager of the project - JÃ¶rg -and we were all stunned at the magnitude and scope of what was being done. This was followed by a meeting with about 50 of the children, aged between 5 and 12. This was what moved me the most as we realised that these beautiful, smiling kids had little or no family to care for them and that many would never remember their parents.
We had brought along some gifts to give them and the sheer delight as they eyed the packages was a joy to behold.
However, the most moving thing of all was when one of the German visitors handed out his gifts to the children and watched with tears in his eyes as they opened them. He had himself lost a young son on that day in December 2004 whilst on vacation in Khao Lak and he was making a pilgrimage back to the town to help others who had been similarly affected. To me, this was one of the noblest things I had ever witnessed and the memory of that day will Iâm sure, remain with me forever.
I am enormously grateful to Mikel for providing me with this experience and although we have only now met for a brief time, I would consider him a true friend and look forward to staying in contact with him and his lovely family.
As a footnote, I would urge anyone who is undecided about where to give their charitable donations to please consider the tsunami victims of Khao Lak. In truth, a lot of the money donated has been unaccounted for, but I was reassured to see that every single penny given to the Beluga School for life is earmarked precisely for that cause. The Beluga Company is picking up the tab for the creation and building of the project but any donations will be used to subsequently keep it running until, as intended, it becomes self-sufficient. It really is a very humbling endeavour.
KHAO LAK- THE TOURS
Through the hotel, we had arranged several trips. These were operated by Khao Lak Land Discovery and we were accompanied on each one by their Managing Director, Num.
The first of these trips was a boat tour around Phang Nga bay. We first went by longtail boat, followed by a kayak tour. Great fun as we visited James Bond Island and a Moslem Floating Village. Interesting, but not outstanding. Num was a great guide though, and stopped on the way to the boat to show us how rubber is extracted from the countless rubber trees we saw in and around Thailand.
The next trip was the Khao Sok National Park which allowed members of our group to have a ride on an elephant. We also went down a river by canoe and finally visited a hidden temple in a cave guarded by a hoard of macaque monkeys. Great fun!!
Our third trip was a tour around the Similan Islands, which entailed a 90-minute speedboat ride (each way) which culminated in a large number of our group feeling very queasy indeed! However, it was worth the discomfort as the beaches were beautiful and the sea was crystal clear, providing a snorkelling experience that was unparalleled.
Another tour we took, organised by Richard and Megumi in Phuket.
This took place at the southernmost tip of Phuket, which was a 2Â½ hour (each way) coach ride for us. On reflection, this was probably a little too ambitious for our group as, by the time we arrived in the heat, everyone was already a little tired.
We went to what was termed an animal ârehab centreâ, where we got to ride up to a beautiful scenic point on elephant-back for 900 baht per person. In the centre were 2 beautiful gibbons, Charlie and Lum-Yai. Although they had the complete freedom to come and go as they pleased, they were very friendly and seemed to enjoy the company of us humans. The youngsters in our group fell in love with the monkeys and spent a lot of time grooming and petting them.
We followed this by a visit to a local spa which Richard had thoughtfully arranged for us to freshen up at, before departing for a fantastic âall you can eatâ barbecue, organised by Richard and attended by and large, by members of the Tripadvisor forums. It was great fun and delicious food.
This was to be followed by the âFriday Night Socialâ which, sadly, we had to pass on due to one of our party feeling a little unwell and the prospect of that long return journey dampening much of the enthusiasm of the rest of the group. If you are staying in Phuket, then it would be an absolute âmust-doâ, but when you have a 5-hour round-trip then itâs probably impractical. Anyway, thanks to Richard and Megumi for his kind help organising the coach and the day. Just sorry we were unable to take full advantage.
Well, that just about covers the unforgettable two weeks we spent in Thailand. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Would we return? Well, I canât speak for the rest of the folks in our group, but my wife and I would certainly like to revisit Bangkok and Khao Lak sometime in the future. Our fear however, would be that KL might quickly become over commercialised and in the process, lose much of its undeniable charm.
Khao Lak is a wonderful place, full of smiling people who have been brought together in tragic circumstances and who are rebuilding their lives philosophically and with genuine hope. I am pleased that 17 of us chose to spend our money in that region and that perhaps some of that will help rebuild the economy and contribute to reconstructing a beautiful town which will shine once again as a little gem of Thailand.
Lovely place. Excellent food. Amazing people. What more do you want?"
- Travel date: Thu 4th of January 2007
Couldn't be better
"We stayed in many hotels in Thailand and this place was the best value for the price. Relaxing, spotless, beautiful, elaborate buffet breakfast and the staff is superb. We stayed at the Oriental in Bangkok which was only slightly more luxurious but about 5 times the price of this resort. Because it was more reasonably priced, I felt more relaxed their. They have four nice pools, ping pong table, darts, a wonderful soothing spa, a small gym and internet lounge. The beach is terrific and ever other day a herd of working elephants tromps down the beach to take a bath which was great to watch. The resort put on a delightful Christmas show on the beach complete with Christmas carolers from a local school and tradtional Thai dancing. The incredible Christmas buffet was out of this world. Drinks are reasonably priced, try their fantastic tropical fruit milkshakes (smoothies). Strangely, I seemed to be the only American at the resort. Most of the guests were British, German or Scandinavian. The Merlin's manager Mr. Krisda was friendly and professional. I would highly recommend this resort."
- Travel date: Wed 3rd of January 2007
Beautiful place to get away from it all
"My boyfriend and I spent an amazing week at the Merlin Khao Lak and will definitely go back. It is about an hour north of Phuket airport, sympathetically built to fit in to its surroundings amidst the trees. It is well worth the drive from the airport because you can escape the overcrowding of Phuket itself. The resort is magical - listening to the soothing sounds of the water at breakfast around the pool, swimming in the sea or one of the pools, or just walking through the gardens - we really felt that we had escaped the hectic rush of the London lifestyle. All of the walkways/outside sitting areas are covered and so even if there is a monsoon rain shower you can still get around and enjoy the views. There are spacious areas for sun loungers in the gardens that drop down to the beach and loungers are not allowed on the beach to preserve it . This means that you can walk up and down the beach (if you are feeling romantic) and enjoy them unspoilt and almost to yourself - none of the overcrowding that you sometimes get on Thai beaches now.
Not only is the resort itself a tranquil place to wind down, but you can combine staying there with great days out. We went snorkelling from one of the diving boats that go out to the Similian Islands (three hours out at sea and noted as one of the world's top ten diving sites in the rough guide) where we have never seen such beautiful fish. There's a national park north of Khao Lak too and Phang Nha and Phuket for day trips.
The town of Khao Lak is tiny and seems to have been built up around the divers who came there for the amazing diving - there are some great little restaurants based there if you fancy an evening away from the hotel. The food in the hotel caters to a mix of western and thai tastes - we stuck to the tasty thai food and you can't beat the views from the hotel as the sun goes down across the sea and you are sipping a cocktail!
I would definitely recommend trying to get one of the rooms that open onto one of the pools - but having said that our hotel was at the back and we were still absolutely thrilled by it when we arrived - it was spotlessly clean, spacious and beautifully designed with a mix of Thai furniture, modern comforts and a great bathroom.
The hotel also has treatment rooms and I tried out the massages/wraps and manicures and felt trully pampered.
What else is there to say? The staff are very friendly and I would definitely recommend the hotel for all ages - both relaxing or as a base to go diving, trekking or sightseeing. I almost don't want to share the place with people because don't want it to get spoilt!"
- Travel date: Wed 29th of November 2006
Great for chilling out
"Resort set in beautiful gardens,on several levels ,going down to beach.Uncrowded pools and padded sunbeds.Some rooms have direct pool access.Rooms are spacious in small low rise clusters spread around the resort .Reasonably priced spa. The resort is a 10 minute 300 baht(Â£5) return taxi ride from town, plenty of bars restaurants and excursion/dive offices couple of supermarkets and souvenir shops.
Low key entertainment and themed buffet nightly as well as a la carte restaurant.
Staff ,service and food at the hotel were excellent nothing was too much trouble.Ideal place to relax."
- Travel date: Wed 22nd of November 2006
"I've actually stayed at the Khao Lak Merlin twice - once in November, 05, and again in late February, 06. It's a beautiful hotel, fortunately largely untouched by the tsunami of 2004. It has an almost tropical, rain forest setting in parts - with trees and pools to be found in several locations, and there's always a new hidden corner to be discovered.
The rooms are extremely comfortable and well-appointed, and the service very friendly and efficient - nothing was too much trouble for the staff - who almost all speak English.
There are several swimming pools, but also good access to a quiet, sandy beach. Free scuba lessons were available at one of the pools while I was there.
Food was good - both Thai and international - and we particularly enjoyed the buffet breakfasts.
The resort is about an hour's drive from Phuket airport, but it's well worth the effort."
- Travel date: Fri 17th of November 2006