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Trip Report Phu Quoc, Vietnam Peppercorn Beach Resort

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We just completed a 5 night stay at the Peppercorn Beach Resort which included round trip transportation from the airport. Their driver was there to collect us and another couple when our plane landed. It was about a 40 minute drive to the north end of the island where the property is located. The last 10 minutes were extremely rough dirt roads. The property consists of five 2-unit attached bungalows. The first 4 buildings have tile roofs and the last building has a thatched roof. Otherwise, they appear to be identical. Soundproofing between the walls is adequate as I could only hear my neighbors when they were dragging a chair across the tile floor. The sounds of the wind, sea and hum of the generator mask other noises that might be around.
This place was not for us, we wished we hadn't have booked it and will not return. In fact, their welcome letter on the desk in the room has a 1 hour allowance for 100% full refund if you are put off by the remote location or accommodation. The note states they will even help you to find alternative accommodation on the island. I imagine there is a reason for this great policy! I immediately searched for a flight off the island and would have taken it. The look on my wife’s face filled me with terror. I thought she would kill me for selecting this property. Unfortunately there are not many flights to/from Phu Quoc and there were no more to Hanoi that day.
The reasons we didn't like the place may be reasons that others might prefer it.
Roads
Extremely rough dirt roads leading to the property. In fact, there are not a whole lot of paved roads on the island. Many roads on the two maps I had were dirt. The staff told me that improvements to the road nearest the hotel are part of their expansion plan next year.
Power
This may have been the biggest annoyance. Every day, the power would shut off multiple times. Sometimes it would be for 5-10 minutes and others would be for 5+ hours. They have a 25KW diesel generator that they will run sometimes when the power is cut. I woke up the 2nd night in a sweat due to no power for the AC or ceiling fan. It was a constant battle to try and keep all our devices (iPad and 2 iPhone's used for navigation) charged while the power was still on. It was so bad, I actually kept a log one day: Off at 08:30, on at noon, upon return at 18:00 it was running on the generator, 01:00 woke up in sweat due to no power, 04:00 generator turned on, 07:30 generator off = no power, 08:41 power on, 10:05 power off/no generator, 10:40 power on.
The staff told me they were planning to install a generator twice the size of the existing one. It really doesn't matter if they choose not to run it.
Build Quality
The rooms are basic. The doors don’t all align and there are gaps at the bottoms and sides that allow sand to come underneath during periods of wind. The toilet paper roll holder fell off the wall. I repaired it myself by simply putting it back together and tightening the set screw (allen head). Because the bathroom door didn't align well with the wall, we had to pull really hard on the handle to get the door to close all the way. After a few days, the handle was coming off the door. I fixed this myself also by tightening the 2 screws that hold the handle to the door.
Plumbing/Bathroom
Water pressure and temperature is sporadic. It’s one of “those” showers that you have to constantly fight to keep from either being burned or frozen. The pressure is erratic and felt like a snake spitting at me. There is no glass shower door, but only a short glass shower wall. This is an attempt to be fancy and/or save build cost, but it is not functional. Each morning I took a shower, water splashed out into the bathroom and onto the bathroom door. My wife is shorter than I so she didn't experience this because she had the shower head pointed downward more. It had a mixing valve, but yet I could still feel the separate streams of hot and cold at times. There is a small window in the bathroom that can’t be closed from the inside. A hair dryer was promptly provided upon request.
Insects
We actually never had to use the complimentary insect spray. I did kill 2 spiders, but the biggest issue was gnats and we had one lizard get in.
Meals
Food quality in the small restaurant was very good and the prices were reasonable for a hotel (I can’t bring myself to call it a resort). A variety of fruit is provided at breakfast and you can order however much you like from the menu. The cà phê sữa đá was spot on. If you want something not on the menu, you just need to ask a day in advance. Two large bottles of water are provided in the room each day. Fresh eggs come from the ~20 (well make that ~19 now that a dog killed one in front of our room. It was still twitching when we came upon it) chickens they have fenced-in just behind units 5 & 6. About four dogs wander around the dining area and in the kitchen each mealtime. Most guests actually seemed to enjoy this and would call the dogs over to their table to pet. None of these dogs were begging for food. I saw a cat in the dining area only one day.
Housekeeping
Housekeeping is done while you are eating breakfast. I am still puzzled as to why they asked for our key the first day while we were eating, but each subsequent day they used their own keys to gain access to the room. The towels are substandard. Two extra blue towels are provided for drying off if you choose to swim. The double bed comes standard with one thin sheet only. My wife had to request a blanket. The blanket was thin and had a hole in it.
TV
There is a small (~32”) LCD TV mounted high on the wall opposite the bed. It worked 4 out of 5 nights and had plenty of channels. They provide an assortment of DVDs in the main lobby.
Bikes
Four mountain bikes are available to use free of charge. Two 110cc automatic motorbikes are for rent at 250,000 Dong/day. We rented for four consecutive days and they gave us a 20% discount. Although fairly new, they bikes were in a state of disrepair. I suppose some of it is due to the conditions you are operating them in…many dirt roads. The motorbike they gave me the 1st day had a front brake that was metal-to-metal, but then they gave me the other from the 2nd day on. It had the right side mirror broken off, the speedometer & odometer didn't function and the check engine light kept going on & off.
Staff
For the most part, the staff was excellent. They are what made this stay bearable. The only issue I had was when I asked when the power was going to return. My wife wanted to dry her hair and there was no power. One staff member said they would turn on the generator, and then shortly thereafter a second staff member said the generator was broken. It was running fine later that day. For two consecutive days my wife had to go without the use of a hair dryer.
Snorkeling
They provide complimentary masks & snorkels as well as sunscreen. It was extremely windy while we were there which prevented us from swimming in front of our room. Just around the tip of the island on the west side, the wind was absent. It only takes about 5 minutes to ride the motorbike to this area which is where all the local fishing boats moor. I did take a mask & snorkel to the west of the island and swam one day. The water was filled with “things”. Not sure what it was…maybe just a form of algae. It wasn't litter, but was thick and I got out after 10 minutes and took a shower.

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