Beautiful hotel and views but the beach............... A review of Anantara Si Kao Resort & Spa
We stayed for 2 weeks at the Amari Trang from the end of April until the beginning of May. The hotel was excellent, the staff exceptionally friendly, and our deluxe room had the most stunning view overlooking the huge limestone rocks that protrude from the sea. ( We were recommended by another Trip Advisor to choose rooms 301 - 316 which are on the west side of the hotel). The restaurant food we thought to be very good, especially 'Aqua' the Italian restaurant which is air-conditioned. We were astounded at how quiet the hotel was as I would say on average there were no more that 60 guests staying - one day there were only 29! For the two of us who were looking for peace and quiet and a total chill-out holiday, this was excellent and, if we used the pool ,we quite often had it to ourselves! The real downside was, as a few other trip-advisors have commented, the so called beautiful white sand beach, which didn't really exist. The main reason I go away is for the beach and the emerald seas - but most of the time the beach was covered in washed-up garbage (bottles, bags, crates etc) plus, as the hotel is situated right next to the estuary, there's masses of mangrove roots and branches floating around in the sea! The weather when we were there was perfect, very hot and virtually cloudless skies, so it wasn't as if it had been stormy and hence had recently washed up all this muck. It would be wrong to say you couldn't swim in the sea at all, but it was best to wait until the tide started to go out so that all the 'crap' was left on the beach - you definitely needed to wear shoes on the beach and in the water. In the end I was picking up pieces of broken glass and handing them to the hotel staff! It's such a shame as the beach stretches round a huge bay for probably a couple of kilometres and is lined with casuarina trees, so if it was clean - could be paradise. Please note that it is not the hotel that throws out the rubbish but probably the locals and the fishermen.
On the plus side you could take the local long boat over to Koh Kradan (about 1 hour) for 400 baht or the hotel speed boat which is much quicker but more expensive. Here the hotel has a section of beach front ,with their own beach club and excellent facilites. The water was a lot cleaner and clearer, though don't expect the island to yourselves as quite a few other boats arrive, ladened with Thai day-trippers - however, fortunately they don't stay very long and then it's not too long before it's all peace and quiet again! It's certainly worth visiting as it also gets you some change of scenery for a while, and you can look at the local, treble/quadrupled decked Thail fishing boats that are very fascinating!
Back at the main hotel ,I have to be honest and say that in the 2 weeks we didn't venture outside the hotel to explore the area, which is most unusual for us, as we were told that there wasn't a lot to do. A German family that we met up with did go for a bike ride into the National Park but were very disappointed as they said the local people just don't seem to be very environmentally friendly as, yet again, there was garbage everywhere! There are some excursions that you can take and according to the guide books the area has a lot to offer but we declined.
Would I recommend the Amaria Trang? Yes I still would, as if you're looking for peace, quiet and chilling out with spectacular views and wonderful sunsets, then this is the place, and the hotel itself is very clean, staff very friendly and polite, and a good standard of food. (The hotel brochures and travel agents are wrong in saying it has a pristine white beach - unless other times of year it really is clean and clear? ) Would we return? Probably not in the near future, only because we would like to try another area of Thailand, having already done Phuket and Phi Phi - before the tsunami.