Hotel Review: Layana Resort on Koh Lanta Island, Thailand
A few weeks ago, feeling the need for some sun, crystal clear water and sand between our toes, Sarah and I decided to have another little mini-adventure and fly down south and visit some of Thailand’s islands we haven’t had a chance to explore yet. In addition to the beach, we were also having a little celebration, and we wanted to check out the legendary hospitality that some of the island’s hotels are said to offer. When the five star Layana Resort offered for us to come and stay with them for a few days we jumped at the opportunity.
The Layana Resort is located on Koh Lanta Yai, in Thailand’s southernmost district Krabi Province. The island is about 14 miles long, 3 miles wide and offers over 20 miles of spectacular coastline. The almost mountainous island is shrouded in verdant forests and palm trees and is a haven for a variety of wildlife including rare birds and even some macaque monkeys. Because the island is accessible only by ferry, Koh Lanta Yai is an oasis of Thai charm in the ever expanding desert of over development that has plagued much of Thailand. The hotel itself is nestled amongst the trees in the middle of a quiet three mile expanse of white sand known as Phra-Ae Beach or Long Beach.
Our “Garden Pavilion” room was large and thoughtfully designed to be over the top luxurious but not stuffy. There was a large bathroom — with granite countertops, two sinks, a separate sunken bathtub and waterfall shower — which was filled with natural light because of floor to ceiling windows that overlooked a small private walled garden outside our room. There was a sitting area with a flat screen television and DVD player (which we didn’t turn on), fast Wi-Fi, a second sitting area on a private porch and even a small area where you can prepare the locally grown and roasted coffee they provide in the biggest French Press I have ever seen. Fluffy towels, gazillion thread count sheets and a perfect mattress tied everything together. For the very picky there was even a “Pillow Menu” where you could choose from five pillow types and have the staff deliver it.
As fantastic as our room was they also offer “Beach Suites”, “Ocean Deluxe Suites” and something called “La Maison” a separate villa with two huge bedroom/bathroom suites, its own private outdoor swimming pool and a gourmet kitchen. Even with a price tag of over $1,000 USD a night, La Maison is often fully booked for months at a time in high season. La Maison is, to say the least, a bit out of my price range.
The rooms are set on beautifully maintained grounds with palm trees, a multi-tiered infinity pool, sitting areas by the beach, a library, and a Jacuzzi, Spa and fitness center. The restaurant, which overlooks the sea, had one of the best breakfast buffets I have ever enjoyed, with everything from eggs to order to Thai dishes to Norwegian Smoked Salmon and Danish Blue Cheese. There was a fun Happy Hour where many people mingled at the bar overlooking the beach as the sun set into the Adaman Sea.
The Layana is one of those places where people like to work and take care of their guests. You could tell that, while everyone had their individual jobs, there were no territorial divisions. The mission for everyone was guest satisfaction and they all took it personally and seriously. We were given an opportunity to go on a great private tour of the island and our guide and he said he loves working at the Layana because everyone is happy and cooperates with each other. He proved this later in the evening when we found him pitching in at the swimming pool serving drinks. When we went to check out, we didn’t need a bellman for our few bags so we just picked up our things and started walking toward reception. Thinking maybe the bellman had forgotten about us, one of the gardener supervisors stopped what he was doing and rushed over to help us carry our backpacks.
The Layana Hotel is an uber luxurious place that has the potential to wreak havoc to a restricted budget. Even so, nothing about the place felt snooty, pretentious or elitist. Everything was meticulously arranged and organized but not fussy. The Layana has managed to attain that elusive mix of informality and luxury; exactly what you would want in a beach resort.
The beach itself is a long expanse of lovely sand with only a smattering of people on it. The hotel is faced to the west so you can see some spectacular sunsets as the sun dips into the Andaman Sea. The bar has a friendly sunset happy-hour where guests mingle happily and effortlessly and the Coco Locos are, if I remember right, absolutely top rate! On top of all of this awesomeness the Layana has a strict, no children under 18 policy. The customers of the Layana Resort want, and pay for, a child free experience, the policy is made clear to everyone up front and apparently, much to the chagrin of some, but the joy of most, they have had to turn away people that turned up with children. Bliss!