The Le Meridien Khao Lak is in Phang Na province between the beaches and lush tropical rain forests. This was my second visit to the LM Khao Lak. My first trip was in Dec 2010 over the Christmas holiday. I had a spectacular time on my first trip, so I was excited to return.
The drive from the airport to the resort takes about 80 minutes to 100 minutes (rain and traffic can add time to the trip). The hotel has a reception area inside the Phuket airport with comfortable chairs and cold drinks! It’s a nice place to wait for you car if you have arranged transportation with the hotel. A private car (Toyota Camry) is 2,000 THB each way, a SUV (Toyota Fortuner comparable to 4runner in US) is 2,400 THB or minivan is 3,200 THB. This is an easy way to ensure reliable transportation to the hotel.
The Hotel lobby is a large outdoor area with concierge desk, travel desk, reception desks and the latitude 8 bar. Upon arrival, I was greeted with a cold towel and very sweet fruit juice (not sure what it was exactly.) For the second time, I made the mistake of not changing at the airport into cool clothes (I was still in jeans and a t-shirt). After about 10 minutes in the lobby, I was a dripping in sweat. The temp was about 103 degrees.
The check-in process is very quick and easy. I was also greeted by the executive assistant manager which was a very nice touch. I was upgraded to a pool villa, but the room wasn’t ready upon my arrival. I was very hungry, so I decided to have lunch while I waited.
TIP: Bug spray is a must when you visit Khao Lak. The mosquitoes were as hungry as I was, and ate me alive. You need to wear bug spray at all times, even at night (while you sleep) or get some type of repellent for the room – 99% of my bites (and I probably left with15 or so bites) came while I slept.
While I waited: Lunch is served every day at the Bamboo Bar & Grill. The view is spectacular because the bar and grill sit directly in front of the ocean. The lunch time service at Bamboo is terrible – my only complaint about the LM Khao Lak. Since this is the only lunch option at the hotel, you’re kind of stuck w/it. The food is good and not expensive compared to most hotel restaurants around the world. An iced tea was $2.50 and most lunch dishes were around $9-15.
I got an amazing rate at the hotel -about $90/night, and quite a spectacular upgrade (more about that later), but it turns out that May is the start of the rainy season and it literally rained about 18-20 hours a day during my visit. The storms can be stunning too. Luckily, the hotel has a great spa, I had some good books and a blog to attend to!
I was upgraded to a pool villa. The villa was large and roomy with a king size bed, day bed, desk and chair. The bathroom is amazing. There’s an indoor and outdoor shower, a huge soaking tub and some of the best hotel towels ever. A really nice, large, fluffy bath towel makes such a difference I think. The bath products, Cinq Mondes, are nice and have a very mild fragrance. The villa had a huge patio with a private pool and jacuzzi. The patio had a day bed, lounge chairs and area for a grill (the hotel will provide a private chef and grill for a bbq in your villa.) The villa pool is surrounded by very tall walls and lush greens – which made it very private – and also meant it was in the shade most of the day. The villas have private villa hosts who will help you unpack and repack, they will press two items of clothing, they will make reservations for you and are extremely attentive and accommodating.
The villas have very high ceilings and therefore they can get extremely warm. My room was 29C/84F when I arrived. It took about 5 hours to cool it to 22C/71F and I couldn’t get it to go below 22. The ceiling fan was extremely helpful and made it comfortable. During my last visit here, in December, I remember the rooms getting a bit cooler. I can’t even imagine what it would be like in June/July!
As I’ve already mentioned, the mosquitoes are everywhere – there’s really nothing you can do to avoid them other than keeping the bug spray on as much as possible. There a a million other insects, bugs, spiders, lizards and birds around the hotel too. I really only found the mosquitoes annoying. You will also notice a ton of tiny black ants. They’re everywhere. If you leave even a crumb on the ground you’re sure to have a swarm of ants in no time. The ants were all over my villa – in the bathroom – my guess is they come in from the outdoor shower; near the coffee maker, around the bed headboard, and all over the patio. I suspect the rain also contributes to this as well. They don’t bite though.
I loved the villa and only wish the weather had been better so I could have enjoyed the pool and jacuzzi more!
The Bamboo Bar & Grill – which I’ve already talked about – serves lunch and dinner daily. The menu offers a variety of foods including traditional Thai dishes, sandwiches, seafood and more. You can’t beat the view and setting – I only wish the lunch service was better. Strangely, the dinner service is better usually. The resort offers plenty of restaurant options, though you’ll have to figure out the schedule upon arrival – they’re not all open at the same time. The Twin Lake Pavilion serves bbq and Japanese cuisine – the sushi is good and Kuk Kak Bar & Grill serves Indian food – I didn’t eat here on this trip. Baan Thai serves very good Thai food and is a great experience. It’s a little pricier than the Bamboo, but still a great dinner option. Café Lilawadee serves a huge breakfast every morning. The buffet is quite amazing and has about every type of food and juice you could ever want. The buffet is included for platinum guests – so you don’t have to choose that as your amenity. They also serve the signature breakfast and “eye-openers” created by three-star Michelin chef, Jean-George. I fell in love with the Oatmeal Soufflé on my first trip and it was just as good this time around. Favola, formerly Bangsak Grill. offers Italian food and is definitely worth a visit. Favola is next to the pool and has a great atmosphere.
Pools & Beach
The pools are great. There’s the main pool, a kids pool and two smaller pools next to the towers. The beach is nice with lots of chairs, volleyball and other water sports. Cold towels and fresh fruit are served pool-side – when it’s not raining. There are plenty of lounges and very attentive pool staff. There are many small vendors and restaurants along the beach offering food, souvenirs and massages.
The Spa is amazing and shouldn’t be missed. There are early bird specials and other specials offered throughout the week making the spa very affordable. The spa rooms are private and relaxing. The reception area is quite and a great place to wait for services while enjoying a tea or juice. Since my last visit the hotel added a room for manicures and pedicures. This was a very welcome addition. The room, however, needs a little TLC – the paint was chipping, there were water stains on the walls, etc… – but the pedicure chairs are very comfortable! The mani/pedi services are wonderful. The Le Spa manicure and pedicure are 60 minutes each and cost $30 and $35.
The weather stunk – but the hotel can’t control that – and so I didn’t enjoy my trip this time around as much as I did last time. The villas are wonderful, the restaurants are good and for the most part, reasonably priced. The service – with the exception of lunch at Bamboo – is first class. And the Thai hospitality is amazing – everyone is friendly, kind and so welcoming. I would return to the LM Khao Lak again – just not in the rainy season. The hotel definitely rates a 5 out of 5!