Long review but overall a good experience though the Hotel has the potential to give a great time - and offers really good value too. Borderline 'cheap' for what you get...
We have been to Phuket many a time over the years. The last 2 places we visited were the Centara Karon Resort Phuket and Indigo Pearl (twice). Both places provided great stays that exceeded our expectations.
This year I was looking for an alternative place to stay and finally settled on the Centara Grand West Sands. Overall i think that the Centara web sites for Thailand is one of the poorer ones for hotels when it comes to information and pictures. It can be confusing navigating the site and even selecting the correct note to view before booking.
Nevertheless although reviews here on TripAdvisor seemed pretty poor, i held out some hope after reading a great variety of more positive ones on Agoda's site.
The hotel, as i understand it, is probably about 4 years old and was originally taken over by the Centara group in Oct 2011. The grounds are pretty massive and spread out. Located far away from the 'main' road and about 12-15 minutes from the Airport, the main draw for many (like me) who want something for families is the Splash Jungle water park (more on that later).
This hotel can look like and feel like a condo turned into a hotel or service apartment. Yet the numerous blocks of low rise rooms would tend to argue that notion. No taller than 5 stories in height, a condo would unlikely to be so low rise as not maximize returns based on a small no of units per block. The feel of a service apartment has to be only with the sheer lack of staff manning the hotel. I am sure they could use more people all around, from the people who man and tend to the massive grounds and gardens, to more buggy drivers. The exteriors tend to be the most neglected and give a less than pristine and cared for look.
My booking was for the 'Family Suite' done on Zuji. I hardly use Zuji but found they were the only one that provided this type of accommodation here for my wife and 12 year old son. At this age, hotels charge and treat 12 year old (children as they really are still as far as parents are concerned) as adults and thus the trawling of sites to find value for money hotels.
On Centara's own site which is almost mirrored in their partner booking sites, there is no such room category - the Family suite is termed as a 2 bedroomed family suite. I was looking for a one bedroom family suite - and really there is no such thing.
The "Family Suite' i got was really 2 rooms inter-connected. Not the one-bedroomed one i had envisioned or bargained for. That explains the higher price i had paid on Zuji that I questioned them on but never replied to me. This was housed in Block 8 in the hotel complex. The buggy had dropped us off at the correct block but did not usher us to our room or even the entrance to the building. We took almost 5 minutes to find the main entrance and make our way up. I think it is this initial less than welcoming experience that the Centara group could do so much better in.
Undeterred we found our room and went in. The rooms were different and that explains the 'Suite concept. The main room was a suite in itself with a separate bedroom and living area. New slim LCD TV's in both and a kitchenette as well as living area. Sofa's looked a bit drab but i suspect it was just the color and fabric used. There was a long bath and nice balcony. The other room had 2 single beds, a sofa and a standing shower. It also had a balcony, but neither looked out over anything worth mentioning however all very nicely laid out and spacious.
We quickly called for an alternative room.
Let's be fair here and understand that this 2 bedroomed family suite would be excellent for a slightly larger family. Or if we had 2 more friends to accompany our son this would be ideal.
And for the money it offers - we paid a little more than USD$500 for 3 nights which included breakfast and free wifi. Don't be put off by the wi-fi charges you may see - i don't think they would charge for it as it is pretty much everywhere in this massive hotel property, even extending to the Jungle Splash park.
Settled for a swap (downgrade) to a one bedroom luxury suite which meant our small family could enjoy each other's company without the privacy that the other setup entailed. The 'luxury' is well worth it and this was mirrored in both the fittings, the large jacuzzi and the layout of the room. A lovely counter sits between the living area and kitchen, and the door behind that leads to a nice sized bedroom with a large sized bathroom that houses the jacuzzi and separate standing shower. There are also 2 sinks - a luxury to HDB bred Singaporeans.
For the record I looked at the one bedroomed Pool Villa too and whilst the interiors were nice, the outdoor pool looked great and of a good size too, the grounds and outdoor jacuzzi looked jaded. We turned that down and opted for the room mentioned above which is where would choose the next time round.
I think the staff work extra hard meet the expectations of guests. The check in and front office do a wonderful job. They need more buggies and drivers, and people who will walk you to your unit and do the expected song and dance routine.
The restaurants (food and beverage) are a disappointment though. The coffee house set near the beach really could use a makeover or at least more attention to an overall look or cleanness. Not that it was dirty in any way, but the outside are looked as if it could benefit from more attention. The lunch we had was not really good. Spaghetti for my son was really under-whelming, and the Thai fried rice was not nearly as good as the average you could find out on the streets. My wife had a porridge with prawns and it did not go down too well. Needless to say we have looked for alternative food where possible.
Breakfast is pretty decent compared to the ala carte we had.
Do check out "Cinnamon' which is a ten minute walk from the hotel - great place and can't recommend it enough, We were there on the 2nd night and food was great - can't rave enough about the place. The night before we paid 600 baht to engage someone to take us to Kin Dee Restaurant and back. Of the 2 i much preferred Cinnamon. Kin Dee was set in a very jungle like environment, and offers little other than good food. Whilst backed by many glowing reviews on TA, the food is by no means cheap if you consider what has been offered in terms of furniture, plates and what their rental of the place might cost them.
Both my wife and i visited the Spa and found it to be of a high standard - this is the one in the hotel grounds and not the one in the Jungle park which we did not see. The massage was great - so pampered and service was excellent - the spa is due for an upgrade at the end of the year (2012). currently housed in a covered pool villa, that's how i see it. But the room for treatment was very well set up and comfortable - current promotion was 50% off before 2pm which we took advantage of. Therapist was good and overall a super experience!
The gym is set above the main check in building - on the 2nd floor overlooking the place and looks nice enough. Closes very early (like before 5) and I am not sure why...
Finally the Jungle Park - won't delve into much here as one read many other comments about people who have come here for a good outdoor time. Great place for both the kids and grown ups... not crowded at this time of year at all though. Could be bigger but the slides offer a lot of fun and i think the lifeguards seem very vigilant and no shortage of them here.
Yes I have more more thing (like Steve Jobs) the hotel is next to a runway and if you are looking for total peace and quiet this may not be it. One can always hear and see the planes but this is Phuket and they are not taking off and landing every 15 minutes - we did not find it intrusive or in any way annoying. Slept very very well...
We liked the Centara Grand West Sands and I am sure we shall be back - knowing better what to expect and how to better enjoy ourselves this time around.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- West Sands Resort & Villas Phuket is located on the west coast of Phuket and set in 47 acres of land with 500 metres of pristine beach frontage on Mai Khao Beach, the longest and quietest stretch of beach on this side of the island. The resort has been designed to blend in with its ecologically sensitive environment, and has its own green systems that ensure the natural resources of the area are conserved.The design focus of the resort is an extensive water park with swimming pools, a lazy river and waterslides, including a huge Super Bowl slide. All rooms, suites and villas are of modern design and are carefully sited to take advantage of the stunning views of the Andaman Sea and Phuket's dramatic hinterland.Although this part of Phuket is renowned for its extensive areas of natural and undisturbed beauty, the resort is only 15 minutes away from Phuket International Airport. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- West Sands Hotel Phuket
- Grand West Sands Resort & Villas Phuket Mai Khao