Thursday, February 21, 2013

Buri Rasa Koh Phangan

Hotel Stay Details
Hotel: Buri Rasa Village Koh Phangan
Dates: February 17-22, 2013
Rate Paid: $106 / night (including taxes)
Total $ Savings: $0 
Points Earned:  2,303 United Miles

For once, my father booked away from Starwoods Hotels and instead picked an independent boutique hotel.

Buri Rasa was located on the northeast end of Koh Phangan along Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach. Being a small child, I loved it. There's a beautiful pool with a separate section for little kids. Free WiFi. A delicious breakfast buffet each morning. Samples of local desserts brought to your room each night. A small village right next door with a lot of local restaurants. And there's an amazing beach right on the property.

Our room at the Buri Rasa (#1 or #2 ranked on TripAdvisor, depending on what day you look) was about $90 USD/night + another $16/night for taxes. For the island, it was a bit on the higher end, but still very affordable for most American families. Further, it was built in 2012 so everything was new and fresh, unlike some of the more dated bungalows we passed along the way here.

The room we had was a garden view King bedroom with a terrace. As you can see, it was very clean and nicely appointed with some colorful tropical pillows that made me happy to look at.

The bathroom was very modern and very environmentally friendly - no plastic, refillable soap/shampoo/conditioner bottles and small hand soaps (enough for a family to use for 5 nights).

We were here for 5 nights - which is a bit long for my parents. Given there weren't many active things to do in Koh Phangan for families (apparently babies can't rock out at the Full Moon Party or ride around on motor scooters or scuba dive in the coral reefs - Thanks Bin Laden), we just enjoyed our time at the pool and the beach.

The pool wasn't that busy during the day, but since my mother doesn't want me tanning too much, we opted for late afternoon/evening swims where we had the entire pool to ourselves.

Despite being born/raised on an island (Manhattan), I still haven't mastered my swimming skills so I'm still confined to the bright yellow floating device that really doesn't flatter my baby skin complexion. Thank goodness it was dark!

Yesterday, however, my parents took me to the beach to work on my sandcastle building skills. But apparently, beaches aren't my thing, because I HATE sand. From the moment my little baby toes touched the grainy stuff, I started screaming my head off like my father just dropped me into a pot of boiling water (not that he's ever done that to me before, but I can imagine).

Nevertheless, my mother just put me to sleep in the shade on one of the beach recliners, and I passed out quickly with the ambient sound of the actual ocean waves instead of the lame sleep sound machine that my father bought for my crib at home.

Now, despite the hotel not being a part of a Loyalty Program, that didn't stop my father from earning frequent flyer miles.

Through the website, he was able to book the reservation at the Buri Rasa (similar to Expedia or Travelocity) and earn United Airline miles (or Hawaiian Airline miles, if he so chose). They offered him 2,303 United miles for the $450 booking for 5 nights - so about 5 miles/$ spent.

And since he was paying with his Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, he would earn 2 Chase UR points for the travel spend as well, earning a total of 7 points/dollar. Pretty great points earnings for something that he would have done anyway.

Overall, we really enjoyed our stay here.

  • As you might expect, unlike the Caribbean, we were the only Americans at the hotel, though not the only Israelis. Mostly the crowd was European couples on a romantic getaway as well as families taking their toddlers to get some sun in February.  
  • Food was quite good and very inexpensive and the beers (at the bar and the mini fridge) cost the same price as you'd find in the small markets outside the hotel.  
  • The checks didn't even have tip lines on them for drink service on the beach/pool - just at the dinners at The Beach Club.  
  • The staff/service was great and they still followed the old policy where "the customer is always right." Anything we wanted/needed, they were there ready and waiting.  To be fair, it wasn't not as quick/efficient as the service you get in a New York City deli during the lunchtime rush, but when you're in the islands, you're not in any hurry.

The only negative was that it's in the middle of nowhere.  You really have to commit to get here.  For most of my New York area friends, that would involve a long flight to Seoul/Hong Kong, a medium flight to Bangkok and a short flight to Koh Samui, then a ferry ride to Koh Phangan and a 30 min drive to Buri Rasa Village.  But for those of you who accept the traveling challenge, your efforts will be rewarded!

1 comment:

  1. Koh Phangan is world-famous for its Full Moon parties, with up to 30,000 people partying on the beach in Koh Phangan Resort to share sweat with people from all over the world! The party peaks at sunrise and eventually tapers off in the afternoon, leaving a scene of carnage behind on the beach. Full Moon Parties are chaotic but lots of fun, and generally considered a rite of passage in Southeast Asia.