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Reviewed February 9, 2012

This is my first time to Thailand and also the first time experiencing a Ritz Carlton hotel and I was more than impressed with the hotel in its entirety. Firstly the staff are extremely helpful, friendly, polite and a joy to have around, the best service I have ever received from a hotel. Our villa was exceptional, the only down side being I would have preferred our plunge pool to be heated so as to take advantage of it at night time. Beautiful views, stunning pool area and wonderful food. The spa is truly excellently but I will agree quite highly priced which is a shame as I would happily have used it everyday!!!
Apart from this a perfect relaxing time and we will always now look to stay at a Ritz Carlton hotel first when we go on holiday in the future.

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank MissC721
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed February 7, 2012

We have just returned home from a wonderful holiday & we spent the last 6days in ritz carlton, which was the highlight of our trip however this resort is not perfect!
On arrival we were very unsure, as the whole hotel is painted purple & there is alot of concrete. However after seeing our amazing reserve villa with it's floor to ceiling window & huge bath we soon forgot about the colour of the outdoor walls.
I will go through the postives of the hotel first..
The staff are just wonderful, genuine, kind & they seem truly happy to work there. A special mention to our lovley butler ying, ying is what thailand is all about always smiling & very warm & thoughtful. Also mon the muy thai instructor was so professional & my boyfriend said his private muy thai classes were the best thing he has ever done on holiday.
The food in the thai restaurant was gorgeous, it was different to other thai food we have eaten, but easily the best meal of our holidays. The head chef had a genuine passion about thai food & is a pleasure to talk to.
The spa is so stylish & truly 5star luxury, even if you don't have a treatment you can use the hydro pool & steam rooms etc.
The rooms are huge & the bed is the best you will ever sleep in & huge.
Also there are a couple of hotels on the beach next to the hotel, we ate in both & the food was very good & very reasonable.
Hong island lagoon is breathtaking, so it's certainly worth a visit over there on the free boat provided.
The management are always visable & seem to be happy to take feedback (good or bad)

Ok now onto the not so good things..
We could not quite work out who would give the go ahead to open the first flagship beach reserve & spend millions upon millions of pounds in a location that does not have a beach & is next to a huge cement or mineral plant & when I say next door I mean you could actually canoe over to it in 2mins. You try & have your cocktail at the sunset bar & look straight ahead at the amazing rock formations but this huge tanker & pier constantly catches your eye.. it really is a shame.
Also the price of drinks is really expensive. We work hard for our money to go on nice holidays but £10 for a cocktail & £5 for a local beer makes us both feel ripped off.
The food is expensive but we thought the quality matched the price tag, but the drinks are just a ripoff.
Right our final negative experience are the excursions.the hotel have a glossy brochure recommending all different trips & local companies. We paid £60 for the sea kayaking half day trip to kayak through the caves. They actually took us both to a mangrove as the sea trip was cancelled (no one told us) this took 2 half hours to get there , we kayaked for 25mins then it took 1hour 45 mins to get back. On the way back the driver fell asleep at the wheel & thankgod my boyfriend seen him & screamed otherwise it could of been a whole different story. To apologise for this the hotel put us on a private boat trip the next day for a whole day trip with a english speaking guide, it worked out the guide did not speak one word of english so could therefore not understand were we wanted to go, he took us to the most awful tourist sites after 2 hours we gave up & asked to go back to the hotel (which he understood)
I think a hotel of this standard should be providing something alot more special than trips like this & it did leave quite a bad taste in our mouths.
Back to the positives. The hotel is truly luxurious with wonderful service & 70% breath taking views. But it does has a few flaws.

Room Tip: all rooms are amazing. possibly stay clear of the beach villa as it's not actually on a beach
  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank ethan75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed February 5, 2012

We have never stayed anywhere quite like the Ritz Carlton at Phulay Bay although as you can tell for the title, it was not an entirely positive experience. The design and styling of the resort is remarkable - the welcome pavilion and quality of the interior fixtures set the scene for what could and should be an extraordinary break - but some things just don't make sense.

We had booked one of the Reserve Villas which was a marble clad palace with one enormous bed two large baths and a small swimming pool. What I could not understand is why, despite having circa 250 m2 of outdoor space, not an inch of it is available to relax in the sunshine? The design of all the rooms and villas at Phulay Bay seems to be consistent with a fundamental principle that the sun should be avoided at all costs in the privacy of your own accommodation. Anywhere that could catch some rays is completely covered by wooden awnings and the only place you'll find any sun loungers is beside the communal pool - not really what we had in mind and at odds with the experience at any other resort we've been to that offers pool villas.

It's fair to say that the view across the Andaman Sea is pretty stunning from the pool area and a couple of the restaurants but there is not much beach to speak of and a massive cement works dominates the horizon from the small beach bar - talk about a blot on the landscape!

Breakfast was somewhat disappointing (buffet selection only) although the food was pretty good in the Thai and Seafood restaurants that we ate in. My query here was why on earth the Seafood restaurant (Lae Lay) served 'Canadian Lobster', 'Atlantic Cod' and 'Mediterranean Dorade' when there is all manner of wonderful fresh seafood available locally? When I asked the question of the F&B Manager I was told that this was what most of their customers wanted by which I can only deduce that most of their customers have far more money than sense. You certainly need plenty of money to drink here as all drinks (but alcohol in particular) are as expensive as I think I've ever seen. Brace yourself to pay £6 for a small can of local beer, £10+ for an unremarkable cocktail and at least £50 for an average bottle of wine. I don't mind paying for quality food as it requires skill in the preparation but a 500% mark-up on basic drinks leaves a slightly bitter taste in the mouth.

Ritz Carlton pride themselves on service and I don't think they've quite got it sorted here yet despite being open for a couple of years now. Great service should be intuitive and effortless and it never felt like either from our perspective - the 'Butler' concept is a little flawed and adds unnecessary complexity to sorting out what should be simple things, like restaurant reservations. There is also an obsession here with ferrying guests around in golf buggies and we felt like the only people in the resort who actually used their legs. The lack of signage (and lighting at night) suggests that they don't expect guests to move about under their own steam either - maybe the same customers who want their fish frozen and imported a few thousand miles before serving also expect not to use their legs while on holiday?

While we did enjoy our relatively short stay here it was certainly not the highlight of our holiday. Would we come back to Krabi? Absolutely. Would we come back to the Ritz Carlton? I doubt it. The Hangover Part 2 was filmed here and that film and this resort have something in common - both promised much but were ultimately quite disappointing...

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank Dr_John
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 30, 2012

The Ritz Carlton Phulay Bay is one of the most impressive Resort Properties you will ever encounter in terms of design. The grounds are simply breathtaking.

To start with, I had booked transfers through the hotel from Phuket. The luxury MPV the Hotel uses has seating similar to a Business Class recliner and has a DVD player which makes for a very comfortable journey as it is a 2.5 hour drive. Fresh towels and water are provided for the journey.

On arrival the property is remarkably understated as you drive through the gates. Very little to suggest what lies beyond. As you are dropped of at the main entrance you are received by name and then taken through a narrow corridor leading into what must be the most impressive Hotel Reception anywhere in the world. The water, the 2000 candles, wow.

You are then transferred by Buggy which is the primary transportation around the resort grounds to be checked in in your villa. We were upgraded to a Resort Pool Pavillion (which may bias my review!).

The Villa is simply incredible. One struggles to find the superlatives to describe it. Layout, Size, Design, Detail, the best you are likely to ever find. Pure luxury, while somehow managing to be understated at the same time. The extended length mattress is brilliant. Private pool is sizeable and has a comfortable temperature, even late at night. What is great about the design is the amount of natural light the villa receives while still retaining so much privacy. We could barely see other villas and genuinely felt as if were the only ones there at many times.

You realy could spend your entire time in your villa and wouldn't feel as if you had wasted your holiday. That good.

The general layout, the gardens and the main pool are nothing short of breathtaking, you can see what alot of your money is going into.

Onto the food, we found the poolside restaurant to be decently priced and great value. Pizzas were excellent as were the Coconut Shakes (a must). In room dining was good and also not as pricy as expected. However, the main restaurants such as the seafood restaurant while serving good food, are ridiculously priced and you realy get tiny portions. We found it to be a rip off to be honest.

Breakfast was a sore point for me. We realy look forward to hotel breakfasts on our travels and found the selection to be average for a 5 star resort, especialy one of this nature, Realy expected more.

More so, and what realy dented my view of the resort was that you were charged extra at breakfast for items such as Waffles, Pancakes and a few other items. On receiving the bill at breakfast I thought it was a prank.

Firstly,I have never come across this at any other hotel breakfast anywhere else in the world. All 5 star and even 4 star hotels in the world I have visited offer pancake/waffle stations as part of the buffet. I stayed at 3 other 5 star properties in Thailand and Malaysia on this particular trip and the Ritz Carlton was the only one that took this approach. For a resort that charges upwards of $ 700 USD a night to charge 200 odd baht extra for a waffle on a breakfast inclusive rate leaves a sour taste. Increase your rate by 3 dollars a night and no one will notice!

Onto the rest of the resort, the beach as you may have come to understand from previous reviews is not suitable for swimming. I do think they should make this clear on the website and advertising as it is misleading to arrive at what you think is a beach resort and then not realy have a beach. The water however is clear. Just rocky. The Paradise that is Phulay Bay is slightly dented on the one end of the resort by the view in the not too far distance of a Mine of some sort and Oil tanker sized ships awaiting their load. The main resort view out to sea however is magnificent.

The lack of a swimmable beach should however not put you off as the complementary speedboat to Hong Island which is 10-15 minutes away more than makes up for it. A truly magnificent beach with great snorkelling. In fact, you don't even need to snorkel as you can just see the fish with your naked eye.

I would suggest visiting Ao Nang which is about a 20 minute ride ( the hotel charges 1100 baht return ++). You can have a much better meal there and do a bit of shopping or enjoy the nightlife.

As for the service, it isn't bad by any stretch but I did find the staff a little aloof by Thai standards. Perhaps this is what they are going for. Not my personal cup of tea. The Butler service was also a bit hit and miss. You have a personal butler assigned on arrival. He is your port of call and is responsible as I understand, for about 5 villas. One noticed that some Butlers were alot more involved then others and were always waiting for their guests as they returned from trips to Hong Island for instance. It seemed rather inconsistent.

Our Butler while never letting us down, was a little less involved and seemed a bit overworked and tired at times. I later found out that they work 13 hour shifts for up to 14 days straight and often do overtime. This did concern me.

The Spa while beautiful is incredibly overpriced.

All in all, you will not go wrong choosing with Phulay Bay. You will quickly understand while it is 3 or 4 times the price of any nearby property. It is an incredible property with one of the best "Hard Products'' you will ever find. The "Soft Product" while very good could be improved.

Room Tip: Villa 20 is a Resort Pavillion which offers ocean views and is well located near the main pool and restaurants. No need for a buggy most of the time.
  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank JoeyDock
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 18, 2012

Just completed 12day stay at Phulay Bay. Manicured jungle. Food very good, fresh, great service. Staff actually care that you are happy! We have stayed at 5 star resorts all over the world and this hotel is a good value. Great spa, world class. If you are on a budget go elsewhere. If you are more concerned with value, than cost, great resort. It costs a lot to maintain a resort of this caliber in the jungle.

Room Tip: Just ask to see available rooms. They often upgrade guests.
  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Vcfar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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