Redefining luxury, Samui-style

The Nation, July 7, 2018

A SHELTER for fishermen and sea merchants during the monsoons in the late 1800s, Koh Samui is now home to a wealth of five-star resorts, making it a popular holiday retreat all year round.

After a 15-minute drive from Samui Airport, I find myself relaxing in the beautifully decorated lobby of the brand-new Ritz-Carlton, Koh Samui Resort, which celebrated its opening with a classy red-carpet party last month. Already attracting well-heeled urbanites wanting to get away from the city for a spot of pampering, the hotel has plenty to keep the visitor amused and well fed with specially designed activity programmes and great cuisine.

Perched on a headland overlooking a private beach, this new property belongs to Malaysia’s leading hospitality chain YTL Group and was built on a 146-rai plot of land that once housed a coconut plantation.

The resort features 175 exquisite suites and villas in elegant contemporary Thai design, with earth tones, coconut husks and other natural materials paying homage to the former landlord and echoing local architectural aesthetics. 

“Koh Samui has long had a reputation for its charming island life, authentic Thai hospitality and culture. It’s a destination that is a perennial favourite amongst domestic and international travellers. We are privileged to be the second Ritz-Carlton to open in Thailand,” says Tan Sri Francis Yeoh, managing director of YTL Group.

“Now we have 10 Marriott International properties located across Asia-Pacific and Europe, plus upcoming developments in Japan and Malaysia in our expanding portfolio. We look forward to growing the dynamic 20-year relationship that we have enjoyed with Marriott.” 

Unruffled and lush with coconut palms and other tropical trees, the guestrooms come in five categories – Ocean View Suites, Two-Bedroom Ocean View Suites, Ocean View Pool Villas, Ultimate Pool Villas and Villa Kasara – and range in floor area from 93 to 255 square meters.

Each room provides expansive windows to invite natural light in and an oversized terrace with a day bed where guests can enjoy either a view of the lush landscaped gardens or the azure waters of the Gulf of Thailand. I stay in a 93 sqm Ocean View Suite for two nights, my privacy ensured by a long zigzagging path that leads to my suite.

The interior boasts towering sliding gates as functional partitions to underline the perfect harmony of scale and proportion.  I spend much of my free time curled up on the living room sofa binge – watching Korean drama series on a smart TV with satellite cables. The mini bar and coffee- and tea-making facilities keep me in good cheer and I occasionally boot up my computer in the compact working space that comes complete with complimentary Wi-Fi, USB hubs and electric sockets. 

The bedroom is simple but elegant with a super comfy king-size bed with finest feather duvets and plush pillows to guarantee a good night’s sleep. There’s also a high-definition LCD television with satellite channels, backed up by a Bluetooth sound system so you can enjoy seamless entertainment no matter where you are. 

The luxury natural stone bathroom offers a separate rain shower and separate toilet, while an oval-shaped bathtub stands in the middle and shares space with a double wash basin counter that’s well stocked with aromatic amenities created by Aspray London. An inspection of the en-suite closet reveals a safety box, bathrobes, slippers and laundry set.  “Our room types start from the Ocean View Suite.

As the name implies, all these rooms face the sea and offer a great view of the sun setting over the Gulf,” says Mahmoud Skaf, area general manager.

Every morning, guests are spoilt with a colourful breakfast buffet at Shook! There’s Thai and Western cuisine as well as dim sum and a variety of freshly squeezed fruit juices to enjoy. The Pak Tai restaurant is a good place to experience a traditional southern interpretation of Thai cuisine using the finest ingredients sourced from local markets daily. 

During the day, those wanting to stay in can sign up for muay thai and Southern-style Thai cooking classes. For families, there’s a snorkelling class in the Swim Reef, home to more than 50 species of fish.  The resort also offers a beachside pool, two floodlit tennis courts, a dedicated playroom and a Spa Village offering a wide range of holistic and rejuvenating spa programmes. 

On Saturday nights, the resort turns the public courtyard into Baan Talat offering Thai street food favourites and cultural dance performances in an al fresco market-style atmosphere.

AT A GLANCE  High Point: Rooms are large and elegant with full facilities and a buggy service is provided to transport guests every 15 minutes.

Low Point: The private beach is a good spot to sunbathe but not for swimming because it is full of rocks. 
Pay for it: See the website for the best rates
Find it: 9/123 Moo 5, Tambon Bophut, Koh Samui, Surat Thani
Call it: (077) 915 777
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