Paradise Lost is more than just a quality bungalow joint. Legendary among sailors and backpackers, it’s also a compelling story. The mini-resort was carved out of Ko Kradan’s jungle-clad interior, said to be infested by cobras and spirits. Now very popular thanks to its relaxing vibe, affordable accommodation and owners who really care, the place is one of a kind.
Onlookers thought Hawaiian-born Wally Sanger and his business partner, an Italian by the name of Johnny, were totally nuts when they made Paradise Lost materialise out of the jungle just after the year 2000. Sadly Wally passed away in February of 2015, leaving the resort to Johnny. Wally had a fascinating personality and there’s no doubt that we felt something missing during our first stay at Paradise Lost since he passed, but some of the old staffers have stuck around and Johnny is also a pleasure to chat with.
A handful of dark-crimson, thatch-roofed wood bungalows sit around a slope of Bermuda grass punctuated by flower and herb gardens, bamboo, coconut and papaya trees. Outfitted with soft mattresses and fuzzy blankets raised off the floor and draped in mosquito nets, the simple yet clean rooms have a few swing-open windows and wall-mounted fans to keep you cool. A couple of larger bungalows, including one suitable for families, bag you more space and private bathrooms. Thatch roofs had been reinforced since our last visit.
You’ll also find a string of cheaper rooms set in a thatched longhouse, each with two firm single mattresses on the floor, mosquito nets, wall-mounted fan, windows on either side and a glass-topped table. At the far end of this structure is a simple mixed dorm offering the cheapest beds on the island with fans, shared lamps and outlets. Guests staying in the longhouse and the cheapest bungalows use a few shared cold-water bathrooms set behind the restaurant.
A generator stowed in a corner of the resort keeps the dim lamps and electrical outlets powered 24 hours a day; it puts out a low hum that becomes a noisier cranking sound if you’re staying in the longhouse closest to the generator. For most of the year, running water is only available from 06:00 to 23:00.
Anchoring the resort at its centre, a spacious open-sided dining area is a good place to unwind over a pizza, gelato, beer or fresh coffee, even if the Thai food went downhill since Wally left us. You’d have to be one unfriendly person to not befriend other travellers here, which is perpetuated by WiFi that scarcely works and a location at the edge of functioning cell coverage.
We were pleased to see that Johnny has kept Paradise Lost pretty much the same, at least on the surface. Room rates jumped a bit and the value is more questionable than it used to be, though rates fall by around 30% in the shoulder months. Johnny added a website and listed the resort on Booking.com, but we found the rates there to be higher than if booking directly.
Paradise Lost is the only non-beachfront resort on Kradan. To get here, look for the sign just south of Kradan Beach Resort and follow the sandy track inland. While the lack of sea views will dissuade some from staying here, the location does put you within an easy hop of Sunset Beach, and the main beach is a leisurely five-minute stroll away. Pack a torch and mosquito repellent.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 6th March, 2017.
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