Tag Archives: Trip Advisor

Haad Yao Accommodation Update 2017

Sun Moon Star Resort

Sun Moon Star Resort

The Thai Baht has dropped in value against the US dollar. Whereas, traditionally the Baht hovered around 30 Thai Baht to a dollar it is now 35 Thai Baht to one dollar. The strengthened dollar has meant many accommodation providers have been able to drop their prices. This is good news for Americans. Not so good news for Brits whose wrecking-ball referendum on the European Union has seen the British pound fall further back against the Baht. The focus of this post will not be on currency fluctuations but on how the public see the resorts and hotels in Haad Yao. Which businesses have impressed and which disappointed.

Rising Standards

Euphoria Bungalow has made modest progress on Trip Advisor going from 120 to 116 in the speciality lodging category. The bungalow outfit has received its first Agoda rating and enters the Agoda rating system at a generous 6.8.

Haad Yao Over Bay Resort has done well on Trip Advisor – it has gone from 55th to 31st best speciality lodging in Koh Phangan. Despite that its Agoda rating out of ten has dropped slightly from 6.5 to 6.4.

Another Trip Advisor success story is Haad Yao Sunset Bungalow that moved from 84 to 75 in the best B&B category. The budget bungalow outfit has also got its first Agoda ranking – 7.3

Sun Moon Star Resort has now the most expensive ‘low end’ accommodation with prices starting at 1,700 Thai Baht. The villa resort has gone from 9th best B&B in Koh Phangan to 7th best. Its Agoda ranking remains at an impressive 9.1. Clearly they are treating their guests well!

Another top end place to do well is See Through Boutique Resort, also in the B&Bs and inns category, it has risen from 56th to 46 on Trip Advisor. It has also improved its Agoda score from 7.3 to 7.4. And more good news – See Through Boutique has lowered its prices.

Long Bay Resort had a good year. In 2016 the resort ranked 50th in the Trip Advisor hotel rankings. In 2017 it made it to 40th. However, its Agoda scored dropped slightly from 7.6 to 7.5. Prices have gone up at Long Bay Resort primarily because the fan bungalows have been upgraded to air-con. Shame for the environment.

Falling Standards

Sadly, the list of establishments offering accommodation with falling Trip Advisor and Agoda ratings is longer.

Baan Haad Yao Villas dropped from 181st to 231st best speciality lodging in Koh Phangan according to Trip Advisor. It did, however, improve its Agoda score from 6.6 to 6.7

Easy Life Bungalows has had a number of negative reviews and has fallen from 84th best speciality lodging to 209th. This is reflected in a falling Agoda score that in a year has gone from 6.7 to 6.5.

Haad Yao Bay View Resort, one of the few places classified as a hotel by Trip Advisor went down from 63rd best hotel in Koh Phangan to 74th. The Agoda ranking remains unchanged at 7.3.

Haad Yao Bungalows drops 7 places in the Trip Advisor B&B category from 26th to 32nd. Despite this, the Agoda rating went up over the year from 6.9 to 7.1.

Haad Yao Resort fell from 70th position in the hotel list for Koh Phangan to 77th according to Trip Advisor. The Agoda score also dropped from 7.1 to 6.8.

A similar year long record is available for Haad Yao Villa – it dropped from 110th best speciality lodging to 137th. Its Agoda rating also dropped from 7.9 to 7.6.

In the same category is Seaboard Bungalows. It fared no better over 2016. It is now in 2017 at 57 in the lodging section. It was 46 in 2016. Agoda rated the resort as 7.5 in 2016 and only 7.3 in 2017. The good news is that Seaboard Bungalows has dropped its room prices slightly.

Conclusion

Prices remain competitive in Haad Yao. There are still plenty of cheaper fan bungalows to rent despite the near axiomatic business notion in Koh Phangan that upgrading accommodation is the way forward.

Considering the number of resorts and hotels in Haad Yao that have seen both their Trip Advisor and Agoda rankings diminish accommodation owners and managers in Haad Yao might be better served by another business axiom – the customer is always right

Rating Changes for Haad Yao Accommodation in 2016

reviews

Every year I try to give myself an hour or so to see how Agoda and Trip Advisor ratings have changed over the last year for various resorts and hotels in Koh Phangan. I recently performed this task for Haad Yao. Below are my observations.

Firstly, it is noticed that generally resort ratings decrease over time. This is not primarily, I suspect, down to bad service or churlish managers. Rather, resorts get a bit run down over time: facilities break down, holes appear where mosquitoes and insects can get in and paint peels and fades. It is customary for a resort to be renovated or completely re-built every 10 years or so in Koh Phangan where the sea air takes its toll on facilities. In the old days the wooden bungalows that used to be the prevalent accommodation option in Koh Phangan would be allowed to get really tatty before being torn down and re-built usually with an upgrade to increase revenue.

My second observation is that Trip Advisor ratings are effected not only by how well the resort is perceived by guests but also by the amount of competition. Every year Trip Advisor includes further hotels, lodges and inns to its lists. The effect is often to amplify the nose dive of position. Agoda that uses an aggregate score out of 10 doesn’t have this problem.

Thirdly, it is very possible for a resort to improve its Agoda rating but lose ground in its Trip Advisor position. It seems contradictory, and should instruct us all to take these things with a pinch of salt. After all we know that resort owners and managers have a history of giving themselves good reviews and their competitors bad ones.

Winners

Agoda

Haad Yao Resort went from 7 to 7.1
Seaboard Bungalows rose slightly from 7.4 to 7.5

Trip Advisor

Haad Yao Over Bay Resort jumped from #109 to #55 out of 273 Speciality Lodges
Euphoria Bungalows jumped from #141 to #120 out of 273 Speciality Lodges
See Through Boutique Resort went from #60 to #56 out of #116 Inns and B&Bs
Haad Yao Bungalows did well to go from #55 to #26 out of #116 Inns and B&Bs

Losers

Agoda

Haad Yao Over Bay Resort went from 6.8 to 6.5
Sun Moon Star Resort dropped slightly from 9.2 to 9.1

Trip Advisor

Sun Moon Star Resort fell from #7 to #9 out of 116 B&Bs and Inns
Haad Yao Resort fell from #66 to #70 out of 90 hotels
Baan Haad Yao Villas down from #146 to #181 out of 273 Speciality Lodges
Haad Yao Villa went from #82 to #110 out of #273 Speciality Lodges

Other results include non-movers and those new places without listings on Agoda and/or Trip Advisor. Agoda ratings usually go up or down by just 0.1. The exception is Haad Yao Over Bay Resort that lost 0.2 points. More dramatic are Trip Advisor ratings: Baan Haad Yao Villas dropped 35 places; Haad Yao Villa fell 28 spots; Euphoria Bungalows rose by 21 positions; and most impressively Haad Yao Over Bay Resort went up 54 places.

Perhaps the most interesting stat is that it isn’t the most expensive resort that gets the best review scores. Sun Moon Star Resort has rooms starting at 1,500 Thai Baht a night and yet it is the 9th best inn in Koh Phangan and has an Agoda rating of 9.1

How Do You Rate Haad Yao?

haad-yao-at-night

For those aficionados of Koh Phangan it is a moot point to declare the best beach. Is it Thong Nai Pan Noi? Is it Haad Yao? Is it one of those obscure beaches on the east coast where they do colonic irrigations? Or is it Haad Rin Nok, the Full Moon Party beach? It is very much open to debate. A great beach isn’t just the sand, sea and palm trees. Often people are attracted to the atmosphere of a beach location just as much as the natural beauty of a place.

This is where Haad Yao scores so highly. Yes, it is a beautiful long beach with soft white sand; yes the palms tower into the sky; and yes the distant mountains display vast virgin forest. But that isn’t the whole story. People love Haad Yao because it is just at that right level of development. You can find cheaper wooden bungalows as well more luxury rooms. The beach front hasn’t been taken over by 2 or 3 large businesses. There is still room for the locals and the proverbial ‘little man’ to set up a reggae bar, a mom and pops shop or a little restaurant.

Along Haad Yao beach as well as back in the village there is an eclectic mix of bars, restaurants, shops and massage houses. There are local characters. There is a feeling of staying in a little community of beach folk when you go to Haad Yao.

At dusk the beach gets lit up with lights, cool music can be heard mingling with the sound of the surf and the cocktails are downed while everyone looks out to sea and the invariably fantastic sunset. No doubt at any given time many of these sunset gazers are wishing that their holiday didn’t have to end so quickly.

If you want to go back then you know it is a great beach.

Although Trip Advisor ratings go up and down as new entries are posted it seems that the general consensus is that Haad Yao is one of the best beaches in Koh Phangan. Only Thong Nai Pan Noi, Thong Nai Pan Yai, Haad Yuan and Haad Salad came out with a higher rating in the ‘Things to Do’ list. Haad Yao was rated much higher than Haad Rin, Than Sadet and Jungle Experience.

Haad Yao and the Full Moon Party

full-moon-party
The biggest draw for Koh Phangan is the Full Moon Party. It is an event that started off as just a small party for a few hippies on Haad Rin beach in the late 1980s. Over the last 30 years it has escalated into the biggest outdoor rave in South East Asia. There is nothing quite like the Koh Phangan Full Moon Party anywhere else in the world. Attending at least one FMP has become a bucket list item for many.

However, now that we live in the age of information people are fussier than ever about the details of their holiday. I have always just turned up in Koh Phangan and found a bungalow to rest my head. This is not an option for many: especially those who have only a few days in paradise before they are back to the grindstone of 9 to 5. They want to confirm all the details about where they are staying, the amenities available, the activities on offer, and the cost before they leave home.

For many the thought of staying in Haad Rin during the Full Moon Party does not appeal. It is not hard to find out or to imagine that during the night and following day of the party Haad Rin is a very noisy and riotous place. There are also plenty of stories of bungalows being robbed during the party. The ideal situation is to be able to go to the party and then to leave when you have had enough of dancing, drinking and socializing. And when you get back to your bungalow you want peace and quiet. You don’t want the noise, trash or party just outside your bungalow.

This is why Haad Yao is attractive for many. It is a long beach with white sand. There are plenty of rooms on the beach and rooms overlooking the beach. There is a choice between cheap bungalows at places such as Easylife Bungalows and Haad Yao Bayview Resort, mid-range places like Long Bay Resort and luxury places like See Through Boutique Resort. Haad Yao is just 10 minutes away from the amenities of Thongsala, and of course there is a good road between Haad Yao and the Full Moon Party in Haad Rin. There are taxis going all night between the two beaches, and the journey takes about 30 minutes.

Trip Advisor is full of comments by people who say Haad Yao is too far from the party, a bit remote; that the taxis are expensive etc. These comments need to be taken with a pinch of salt. People who haven’t minded the journey are far less motivated to write a review on TA. Moreover it is the distance between the two beaches that makes Haad Yao so peaceful and enjoyable to hang around during the day.

After all, the Full Moon Party is for many a-once-in-a-lifetime event. It is worth the 30 minute journey and $15.