Tag: accommodation

Accommodation Update for Mae Haad for 2017

Mae Haad Cove Bungalows

The year 2016 was good for Mae Haad accommodation. Two resorts managed to get Agoda scores for the first time. Another first is Mae Haad Cove: they finally caved in and partnered up with booking.com to provide online booking. The other major development is that Wang Sai Resort is looking to expand by splitting into two businesses.

In terms of room prices, there has been little movement. This means with the small drop in the value of the Thai Baht, Mae Haad provides good value for money. The one exception is Island View Cabana that has doubled the price of its cheapest bungalow offering.

The Movers

Mae Haad Cove is perhaps the standout resort in Mae Haad in terms of improvement. It has gone from 94 in the specialist lodging category to 66. Moreover, Mae Haad Cove can now be booked online using booking.com.

While Mae Haad View Resort fell in the B&Bs category from 62 to 70, it registered its first Agoda rating (5.9 out of 10). This is not high but it shows they are taking online booking seriously. And even better, prices fell slightly for beachfront bungalows.

According to Trip Advisor Mae Haad Guest House dropped slightly in excellence – going from 155th to 164th in the lodging category. The good news is that the guest house broke into the Agoda rankings and scores a very respectable 7.3. Room prices remain the same at Mae Haad Guest House.

Wang Sai Resort is a mover for the reason that they seem now to have two listings with Agoda. One is Wang Sai Resort, the other is Wang Sai Garden Resort. It looks like they are starting to use land set well back from the beach. Travellers booking online should be clear about which Wang Sai they are booking.

In terms of ratings, Wang Sai Resort got its first Agoda score – 7.3. However, it fell in Trip Advisor – moving from 140 to 189 in the speciality lodging section. The prices for accommodation also went up.

The Non Mover

Why Not Bungalows continues for 2017 to fly under the internet radar. Agoda and Trip Advisor continue to ignore the backpacker resort primarily because it eschews online booking. You still have to rock up and see if they have a free bungalow.

The good news is that prices remain the same for the bungalows at Why Not and, as before, those prepared to stay for a few days can negotiate a discount.

The Losers

Royal Orchid Resort has seen a slight drop in rankings. Agoda continues to ignore the place while the Trip Advisor ranking fell one place from 83rd to 84th in the hotels category. This category only lists 89 hotels. So Royal Orchid is literally one of the worst hotels in Koh Phangan. The price for a sea view fan bungalow stays at 400 Thai Baht a night.

Although Island View Cabana slightly improved its Agoda rating (going from 6.5 to 6.6) the popular resort fell from 64th to 98th in the B&Bs category. This doesn’t tally well with a jump in price from 400 to 800 Thai Baht for a fan bungalow.

Mae Haad Garden Inn rose from 8.6 to 8.7 in Agoda but dropped considerably in the Trip Advisor listing – going from 126th to 193rd in the lodging category. The one positive is that the pricing structure for accommodation stays about the same.

Mae Haad Bay Resort is the best example of a hotel in Mae Haad. It has had an average to poor year. It’s Agoda score dropped from 8.3 to 8.2 and it went from 22nd best hotel to 31st best hotel. Perhaps connected, is that the fact that room prices went up except for the most basic rooms which fell in price.

Conclusion

Mae Haad continues very much the same as usual. Prices haven’t changed dramatically and the resorts have not attempted to upgrade significantly and convert the land by the beach into a building site.

The fact that some Mae Haad accommodation has got an Agoda score for the first time indicates that Mae Haad is not quite as obscure and underground as it once was. Still it remains a fabulous beach and the best place to go snorkelling in Koh Phangan.

Contrasting Opinions about Mae Haad

Opinions from other travellers have become too important to people. Word of mouth recommendations have always been an integral part of the backpacking experience but since the ubiquity of the internet, corporations have taken it upon themselves to encourage comments which they collect and publish along with advertising and hotel booking engines. Comments are free content and create a successful business. Why? Because people want to know about a place before they go. They want to book in advance. They want to know where to eat. They want to know what activities they should be trying.

Perhaps I am old fashioned, but this obsession with researching everything at home and booking everything before leaving is taking the adventure out of travelling. Finding a cheap bungalow on a gorgeous beach is more special if it is unexpected. Indeed, it is bad value to book budget accommodation online, as you cannot negotiate a price. Try explaining to Agoda that you plan to stay for a week and would like a discount.

The advice invariably falls on deaf ears. People always book in advance, fearing everywhere will be fully booked. Let me state this simply – except for New Year’s Eve there are always vacancies at any hotel or bungalow resort in Mae Haad.

To return to the topic at hand, I thought I would survey some of the opinions about Mae Haad found on the various review sites. I won’t bother quoting directly as information about name and place of reviewer is generally ignored by the reader anyway.

The Beach

Most people find Mae Haad beach something special. While most think the sand fine, a few consider it coarse-grained.

It is nearly 50-50 between those who believe the local businesses are doing a good job cleaning the beach and those who thought the beach is dirty. Most agree that Koh Ma Island is full of rubbish. Since the closure of Koh Ma Dive Resort the small island has become a dumping ground for trash. Moreover, the sea washes up rubbish on the island. I t can only be hoped that the right eyes read these comments and feel compelled to do something about the discarded atmosphere of Koh Ma.

Snorkelling

It is an easy 80% of people who positively rate snorkelling at Koh Ma. Comments are more about the caveat of the tidal variations. In the lower tidal months from May to October you have to negotiate rocks to get to the best snorkelling. It is signposted and not really a problem. The lower tidal months affect all the west coast beaches in Koh Phangan.

On the same topic, most people comment on the good visibility under the water. However, under windy conditions the visibility can quickly deteriorate as the sea gets churned up.

Accommodation

It is not a bad idea to dip into reviews about accommodation on the internet, and to check the date. More recent comments have greater relevance. If criticism of surly service, unclean sheets or poor value keeps appearing in a reviews it is worth taking note. We also review every hotel and resort in Mae Haad and give Trip Advisor and Agoda ratings.

However reviews of accommodation like of restaurants are perhaps the most subjective. Many people just looking for a clean bed and a fan at a cheap price don’t expect much. Others pay lots of money and expect a ‘5 star’ experience like in a European hotel. Moreover, staff can change quickly in Thailand where lots of places use cheap migrant labour.

Restaurants

One man’s superlative Thai food is another man’s inedible trash. If you are staying in Mae Haad you might as well try a few places for dinner. The change of scenery and the small variations in menus keep a holiday interesting. Ma Haad is a small area and easy to get around on foot. There is enough light coming from the various places along the beach to make it fine to see where you are going.

Naturally, the more expensive resorts charge more for the same food as you can get in the small local restaurants in the village. Moreover, beachfront restaurants generally charge a bit more than inland places.

Conclusion

As stated at the beginning of this post, put a little adventure into your holiday with a bit of spontaneity. Take a chance with a room or a meal. The money to do so is normally not a lot. Saying that, Mae Haad is currently the 8th best attraction according to Trip Advisor. It is worth teasing out themes in reviews as they often hold valuable information about a place or activity.