One of the best places to stay in Krabi
My excitement builds as soon as I step onto the long-tail boat that will take us to the Centara Grand Beach Resort and Villas Krabi. It’s a shame that we’ve arrived so late at night, as the darkness takes away the added allure of what I know to be the blue waters that lie below. Still, I know I’ll have plenty of time to see this tomorrow. We’ve had a long day in Bangkok and a flight to Krabi, so right now, I’m looking forward to getting to my room at the resort.
The Centara Grand at Krabi is a little unusual. Whilst it is located on the mainland, access is only possible by boat unless you want to walk the Monkey Trail, a walking track that winds up over the hill between Ao Nang and the resort. As tempting and exotic as this might sound, it’s not something you want to attempt at night or with heavy luggage.
Check-in at the Centara Grand Resorts and Villas Krabi
Check-in is swift and accompanied by a welcome drink. Even late at night, the temperature in Thailand is testing us and the inclusion of an ice-cold towel is refreshing. The Centara Grand is spread out over a private reserve. We are guided to our rooms by the staff, who then give us a run through of the whole room, which is nice but unnecessary. Unless I’m staying at a hotel for the first time, there’s a good chance I’m going to know how to find the mini-bar. I’d be happy to just get any tips for unusual items like the monkey lock on the front door or how to find the correct light switches.
The rooms at the Centara Grand Resorts and Villas Krabi
There are nine different room types available for guests here, ranging from deluxe garden view rooms through to one and two-bedroom villas. The Royal Villa is their premium offering. My abode for two nights was the ocean-facing deluxe room. Located on the third floor, I can see the ocean through the swaying palm trees and rooflines of the villas in front. Even though I’m surrounded by other rooms, the design of the room offers complete privacy. The main door to the apartment opens into the balcony which also serves as an entry zone.
Tip: If you want to see a lot of the ocean I’d recommend booking an ocean facing villa.
With the blinds down and the door locked, it almost feels as though this is part of the room. At the front of the room, another part of the balcony offers a better location for lounging in the on-shore breezes.
Inside, there is plenty of space and the 72 square metres has been used wisely to give pride of place to the large king-sized bed with all the amenities tucked away behind. The bed is very comfortable and there is a good supply of pillows. Floor to ceiling glass doors and windows allow for the room to be filled with light during the day and at night, or for privacy, the attached timber blinds can be closed. Only the timber blinds on the main door are electronic, the rest are manual.
The room is fully air-conditioned and is a big tick for me, can be personally controlled so that I could adjust to the temperature I preferred. An overhead fan is also in place if you prefer that to air conditioning, which is fantastic.
The bathroom at the rear of the room was extremely spacious. A full-size built-in bathtub and rain shower should cover most people’s bathing needs. Whilst the shower is in an open area (ie not enclosed by the glass), it’s actually built in a way that doesn’t generate a 100-year flood in your room every time you take a shower. I liked having the choice of using a hand-held shower or the overhead rain shower.
The toilet is on the opposite side, separated by an area that includes the vanity basin. The design of the vanity bench was annoying as it had a massive gap at the rear. With limited space to put my things due to an above bench vanity, taps in the bench and the timber toiletries contraption that they use, I kept losing stuff over the back. Fortunately, it wasn’t gone for good and I could just crawl underneath the bench to retrieve it all.
The toiletries come in generic plastic containers that are refilled. It’s a first pass at trying to reduce the amount of single-use plastics.
Nearby there are also cupboards that provide good storage and a safe. There’s also a beach bag and flip-flops that may be used during your stay as well as bath robes. An ironing board is not provided but can be requested from housekeeping. Mine kept disappearing every day though, so you might find you need to keep requesting it unless you can get someone to clear it with housekeeping that it’s ok to leave for the duration of your stay.
Other room facilities
Back in the main room, there’s a small desk to work from. All rooms include free wifi which was easy to connect to and worked well.
A well-stocked minibar is provided which includes beer, wine and spirits. Evian water is also provided but Centara Grand gets a huge tick for offering water in recycled glass bottles. A generous amount of this water is provided on a complimentary basis, and if you run out, you can simply ask for more. The water is treated and filtered on-site as well. It’s one of the reasons why this resort is Earthcheck Certified. Tea and coffee making facilities are also provided.
My usual bugbear of powerpoints and technology access was evident here again. There were no easy to find power points near the bedside tables. There’s one at the front of the room which isn’t that handy or near the desk. One of them didn’t seem to generate electricity at all, but the other did. With the amount of electrical equipment, I need to charge every day, having to have it all over in the corner wasn’t convenient. It was also low down to the ground so I had things stacked up on the chair and floor.
From the main area of the resort, the rooms are quite spread out, meaning you might have a reasonable walk to your room. Some of it may also be uphill. If you have mobility issues, you can talk to the staff to get a buggy to transport you around. There are no lifts for the apartments either. Access is via external steps. If stairs are an issue, I’d recommend booking a ground floor room.
Around the resort
Behind the main lobby area is the Club Lounge, a more exclusive area for guests who book the villas. Alternatively, for an additional charge, any guest can get access to the benefits of the club.
Any stay here will more than likely include a visit to the pool. Set in amongst palm trees and with a view of the ocean, it’s the perfect spot to relax. Bright orange sun lounges surround the pool and line the edges of the beach. There are umbrellas to keep the hot sun from beating down on you and pool towels are also provided.
There’s a children’s pool, waterfall and jacuzzi here also.
From private dining on the beach to in-room dining and a range of great restaurants, going hungry here is not an option. The Centara Grand has options to cover every type of guest and their dining requirements. If I stayed here for a week, I’d be happy to check them all out, especially Suan Bua, with its traditional Thai cuisine. I’d also be heading to Hagi for some Japanese-inspired food.
Instead, as my stay was only short, the newly opened Coast Beach Club and Bistro was the centrepiece of the evening dining experience. Open-air and perched right on the edge of the beach, it’s a stunning location for a late afternoon drink and dinner under the stars.
There’s a wide range of casual food offerings here, available from 11.30am until 1 am. My arrival coincided with a themed night, Texas barbeque.
As an early riser, I got to eat breakfast in peace and quiet each morning at Lotus Court Restaurant. By 8 am, this area is a hive of activity as everyone starts to wake from their comfortable night’s sleep.
There’s an expansive range of food to consider here. Continental offerings of cold cuts and cheese and plenty of fresh fruit is on offer. There’s a large range of bread and pastries, jams and other condiments. The usual cereal bar is also there, along with fresh tropical juices. I can’t get enough of fresh pineapple juice in Thailand. I particularly loved the international food, from Indian samosas to Thai curries and even marsala tea.
Sitting outside is a perfect way to start your morning, although there is plenty of indoor seating if you prefer the comfort of the air conditioning.
Beach access and activities
With 500 metres of beach and ocean frontage, it’s an area that is well used by the resort’s guests. Whilst many will pull up a beach lounge and spend some time quietly relaxing in the sun, others look for something more adventurous or active. Fortunately, there’s plenty of activities here at Centara Grand to satisfy everyone’s needs. Catamarans, paddle boards and other watercraft are available and you can easily put on a snorkel and pair of flippers and make your own adventure in the surrounding waters. Daily activities include beach volleyball and aqua aerobics.
I would highly recommend going on a tour that can be arranged by the team at Centara Grand, to get out into the waters off the resort and amongst the islands. From the comfort of a speedboat, you can go swimming in locations where you won’t see too many tourists, spend time on the beaches or go snorkelling in the clear water. Alternatively, do a tour of a local island, where the people who live there still live a very simple life. Here you can meet boat builders, rice farmers and even create your own batik painting.
If you are looking to relax further the spa offers a range of massage and wellness services. Or, if you think you’ve indulged a little too much, the fitness centre has a gym and offers classes.
Taking the lead with sustainable tourism
Having a resort that sits in a national park and with direct ocean access increases the focus on behaving in an environmentally conscious manner. The pontoon that allows guests to get to and from the mainland is a floating one, rising and falling with the ocean’s movements. It makes for a bit of an interesting walk when the sea develops a bit of attitude, but there are always staff on hand to assist if necessary.
As mentioned earlier, the resort treats its own water using a reverse osmosis process. The refilling of toiletries is another step in this process, although I did notice that plastic straws were still being used in cocktails.
Where is the Centara Grand Krabi located?
The Centara Grand Resort and Villas Krabi are located on the Thai mainland at Pai Plong Bay. The resort itself is enveloped by magnificent limestone rocks, the base material for the islands that also appear off the coast. They are the rock formations that Krabi is known for, all over the world. Positioned just behind a headland that juts out into the bay, the resort is private and as mentioned earlier, only accessible by boat.
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How to get to Centara Grand Krabi
The resort is approximately 40 minutes from Krabi International Airport. Many airlines fly into Krabi. We flew with Thai Airways from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport., a short 1.5-hour flight. Access to the resort is via a planned speedboat transfer from Nopparatthara Pier. Transfers from the airport and the pier should be arranged by you at the time of booking. Regular boat transfers also occur during the day to take resort guests into the nearby town of Ao Nang. It’s a thriving area here with local shopping, markets and many dining opportunities.
Beach resorts in Krabi
If you are looking to get out of the big cities like Bangkok and see some of the beautiful natural landscapes in Thailand, Krabi is a must-do. From here you can access the smaller islands or the more well-known ones like Phi Phi Island. You can go snorkelling or diving, relax on white sand beaches or spend your days boating on the crystal clear waters of the Andaman Sea. A stay at the Centara Grand Resort and Villas Krabi will also ensure you have a wonderful place to come back to after a day of exploring. It is currently only one of two Krabi resorts with private beach access. Later in the year, another Centara hotel will open in Ao Nang which will also have direct beach access. Whilst the Centara Grand Resort and Villas is not a brand new resort, there’s still a lot to love. I’d be happy to return to both the Centara Grand and Krabi any time!
Beer and Croissants was a guest of the Tourism Authority of Thailand. As always all opinions, editorial and images are always our own. Special thanks to Thai Airways for getting us from Bangkok to Krabi.
Kerri now travels regularly with her husband, Stirling, where eating great food, drinking quality beer and wine, and cooking international foods are integral to their adventures.