Updated: May 9, 2018
Quiet, small, beachfront, but a little distant. This laidback place only offers 16 rooms on 2 levels in an L-shaped block facing the sea. The overall wood-grained design is somewhat tarnished, however, by the garish orange tiles in the pool and the matching chairs on each patio. All rooms overlook the sea barely 20m away, and a few are close to the road, but traffic across the island is minimal. Rooms feature a pleasant rustic-style bathroom and sofa alcove facing the minuscule balcony, but there’s just too much wood – all different varieties and all stained a different way. The Infinity-style pool is adequate, while the beach is virtually private, with views across the bay. With only the delightful hotel café nearby, it does feel a little isolated but is only 700m on foot (or occasional songthaew taxi truck) to the ferry terminal and another 200m to the main street.
Simple, comfortable, peaceful, and few guests. This charming collection of bungalows is away from the crowds, and considerably less busy than other resorts. Almost all bungalows are detached and separated by about 10m, and scattered around the extensive gardens of pepper trees and palms. The whitewashed wooden design with an arched thatched roof is modest but appealing, and many are raised to maximize glimpses of the sea; only a couple have direct beach frontage. The décor is colorful, and windows on 3 sides add to the feeling of space and light. It faces a private beach, which is too rocky for sunbathing but still OK for swimming. Best of all, it’s distant from jet-skis and boatloads of day-trippers. Guests can use the pool in the neighbouring resort. Along a back road with a temple and negligible traffic, it’s only 500m to the main street and ferry terminal, and another 300m to the principal beach.
Lima Bella and Lima Duva
Ultra-modern, decent pools, convenient but not so appealing. Side-by-side along a backstreet with a temple and minimal traffic, these twin boutique hotels offer a variety of rooms in a setting that is chic but charmless. Rooms in both are undersized and ‘minimalist’, so e.g., there are no bedside tables and the walls are unpainted concrete. Those in the Lima Bella are more spacious and more practical but still très hip, and some have a minuscule balcony that is remarkably only accessible from the outside. Rooms in the Lima Duva have angled windows facing the jungle behind, which is far quieter than the pool. (Those on the ground floor have direct pool access.) But there are just too many rooms in too little space, so a balcony often directly faces another. The upsides are the 2 better-than-average pools, and proximity to the ferry terminal, main street and beach.
Huge, central, superb facilities, and good for families. This vast resort is divided into 3 ‘zones’. In motel-style blocks only meters from a second pool in the ‘Hub Zone’, rooms feature a massive bathroom, extended alcove with a comfy sofa, and sizeable balcony/patio. Sprinkled around vast lawns in the ‘Hide Zone’, cottages are brightly-painted, separated by 10m-15m, and feature verandas dripping with vines. The best of the 3 pools is Infinity-edged and overlooking the beach in the ‘Hip Zone’, and another boasts a swim-up bar. Sai Kaew Beach has golden sands and noisy jet-skis, while the resort’s private beach is quiet but rocky, and any patches of sand are like to disappear at high tide. And it does cater for children, albeit modestly. The poorly-signed entrance is along a back road, about 200m from the main street and another 500m from the ferry terminal.
Beachside and downtown, but no pool. Accessible from the main street and the primary Sai Kaew beach, this is more like a boutique hotel than a resort. Cottages are dotted around the lovely spacious gardens. Separated and raised a little for possible glimpses of the sea, they feature a dark wooden design, elegant décor and a balcony large enough for chairs, tables and inbuilt benches. Natural light is limited, however, and they can be hot inside. A hideous afterthought, the concrete block of Superior Rooms at the back is as unappealing inside as the exterior suggests. The more likable orange block facing a side-street contains budget-priced rooms and Studios with 3 or 4 beds. Surprisingly, there is no pool, but a stretch of powdery white sand is only 50m away. However, this part of the beach is perennially busy with jet-skiers and boatloads of day-trippers.