Above: The hotel as seen from the Gulf of Thailand.
Conrad Koh Samui
Property name: Conrad Koh Samui
Where: Aow Thai Beach, Phang Ka Peninsula, southwestern tip of Thailand’s Koh Samui island
Street address: 49/8-9 Moo 4, Hillcrest Road, Tambon Taling-Ngam, Amphur Koh Samui, Sur, 84140
Rates: Villas from US$825
Room count: The resort features 65 one-bedroom villas, 14 two-bedroom villas, and one Royal villa.
Conrad Hotels and Resorts (Hilton Worldwide’s global luxury brand) has already established its presence in a number of major gateway cities and leading resort destinations in the Asia-Pacific region, including Bali, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and the Maldives. Officially launched on November 10, Conrad Koh Samui is Thailand’s second Conrad property, after Conrad Bangkok, which recently celebrated its 8th anniversary. DestinAsian attended the launch party of the Conrad Koh Samui, which also gave us a chance to review the sprawling 25-acre property.
While the hotel’s secluded location–40 minutes from the airport on a remote cliff-side–means that you will be far from the crowds, at the moment the signage for the hotel is still limited. It may be a good idea to arrange a car transfer from the airport when booking your room since a taxi driver might not know the way (though you can call for an escort around 2 kilometers from the hotel–look for the sign with the phone number at the bottom of one of the steep inclines). The check-in process is painless, and you will be whisked to your villa in one of the ubiquitous buggies within 10 minutes of arriving at the property.
At 65 square meters, even the one-bedroom villas are spacious. The interiors feature a blend of contemporary Thai elements–think silk pillowcases and Thai art works–and modern minimalist furnishings. The bed is heavenly soft, albeit a bit short for those with long legs. The one-bedroom villa is arranged in such a way that the wall-mounted flat-screen TV has to be watched from a slight angle while in bed. No matter: The amazing view from the huge floor-to-ceiling window is not a bad trade-off.
The elegant bathroom, with its marble flooring, rain shower, and oversized tub, is almost something to e-mail home about.
Meanwhile one of the resort’s best features is each villa’s private outdoor deck area, complete with loungers and infinity plunge pool. Since all the villas face west, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Gulf of Thailand’s azure, island-dotted waters in private, comfortable surroundings.
(A breakdown of the villa dimensions: One-bedroom villas have 65 square meters of indoor living space, 28 square meters of outdoor space, and a 10-meter infinity plunge pool. Two-bedroom villas have 186 square meters of indoor living space, 42 square meters of outdoor space and a 12-meter infinity plunge pool. The Royal villa has 201 square meters of indoor living space, 164 square meters of outdoor space, and a 22.5-meter infinity pool.)
Eat and Drink
The hotel’s selection of restaurants includes Jahn, which specializes in Thai and pan-Asian cuisine; Zest, for Mediterranean-style cuisine either indoors or al fresco; and Azure Bar and Grill, for casual poolside dining.
For a sundowner with a view, head to Glow, a lounge bar perched high above the resort. A sophisticated tipple more your style? Try the cellar with its range of 3,000 wines.
The breakfast was certainly worth getting up for, with a range of tasty breads, cured meats, cereals, fruit, and two cooking stations. But for a hotel that promises to take your senses on an “unforgettable culinary voyage,” the food left something to be desired. Some of the Asian and international dishes lacked attention to detail. And the staff, though friendly and capable, at times seemed a bit overwhelmed by the number of guests. Hopefully these are launch-phase kinks that will be worked out in the near future.
Each villa is equipped with the latest in audio/visual technology, including an LCD TV, DVD player, and iPod dock. There are also videos on demand, although the selection seemed a bit limited. Both wired and wireless Internet access are included with the room and seemed sufficiently speedy for most needs.
Health and Fitness
The resort features a 24-hour fitness center, an outdoor yoga pavilion, and a small private golden-sand beach with palm trees. There’s also an on-site diving and sailing center. The beautifully appointed spa boasts panoramic sea views from its floor-to-ceiling windows.
Transport within the grounds is generally via buggy. Perhaps because the staff was busy organizing the launch event, it sometimes took 30 minutes after calling for a buggy to arrive, while at other times it was prompt. Whichever turns out to be the norm, having to call and wait for a ride is the inevitable price you pay for staying in a secluded villa in a huge complex. Walking around is not much of an option due to steep inclines (this is a cliff-side resort, after all), long distances, and the initial sense that the resort is a maze. Use a map from the front desk if you decide to walk (the back of each villa front door has a map as well).
Exploring the Area
Because the resort is so secluded, it isn’t the best base camp for exploring the surrounding locale. Excursions can be arranged, of course, but this is more of a destination unto itself. Then again, why venture forth when you’re already perched on a sunset-facing cliff in a luxury resort with panoramic views of the Gulf of Thailand?
If you’re after seclusion and don’t mind being ferried around in a buggy, then Conrad Koh Samui offers the perfect getaway. The views really are breathtaking, the villas are luxurious, and the staff is ready to do everything within their power to please. Relax and enjoy the ride.
Reviewed by Anita Surewicz