“A beautiful place to decompress before or after a diving trip to Koh Tao or the rigours of Koh Phangan’s Full Moon party”
The Pool Suites have been renovated in a style known as ‘tropical modern’ (whatever isn’t brown is rigorously beige). They sit along winding paths in their own patch of shady foliage, all have a terrace and plunge pool, and the best of them overlook the sea. Inside, a sumptuous kingsize bed dominates, ruled by the mango-wood frog that does double duty as a do-not-disturb and change-my-sheets sign. In front is a sofa, covered in tasteful silks. But the most striking feature is a huge bronze bell that serves as a reading lamp - a signature of the designer. The lighting is best controlled by leaving off the ‘romantic’ option, an energy-saving neon in a shade of yellow rarely found in nature.
All mod cons are in place, including a flat-screen TV and an iPod dock. Your minibar is well-stocked with beer and spirits and a great choice of chocolate (the stingy can find top-ups in the nearby 7-11). In the adjacent bathroom sit an ovoid bathtub and rain shower with powerful pressure and piping-hot water. An abundance of toiletries, cotton buds, mini-loofahs and other mysterious whatsits ensure you'll remain scrubbed, buffed and perfectly fragrant. The loo has a bum gun, which we consider vital but a lot of upscale hotels here don’t. Bathrobes are provided, as are soft cotton jimjams (which impressed one 70-something fellow so much we spotted him out on the town in them).
The newer Pool Villas have bigger plunge pools - 4 strokes from end to end - and an open-plan design that brings the bathroom into the living room. They rely on bleached wood and shades of beige and taupe. The standing lamp here is a startling creation of twisted old wisteria branches. There’s space for 2 extra beds, and larger fmailies can rent a pair of villas at reduced rates. Polished-concrete cells house the powerful rain shower and loo (watch your step, the floors get slippery when wet).
With a deck overlooking the pool and, from some tables, the sea, the open restaurant The Edge is an atmospheric place to end your day. For dinner there’s a small selection of Western options. Our carpaccio was sliced to a gauzy thinness and came with smears of pesto and a basket of parmesan that held the rocket leaves. Tenderloin steak (no, we didn’t mean to order beef and beef) was cooked to tender perfection but drenched in a generic mushroom gravy and only accompanied by what we must call French fries. Imagine, then, our surprise when the chocolate fondant was exceptionally delicious. Perhaps puddings are where the chef’s real passion lies.
Breakfast is a limited mix of buffet and à la carte. Bread was crusty and fresh, pastries had spent the night in the fridge, jam was a nice imported brand. The test of a kitchen are the eggs Benedict: these were sneezy, while the hollandaise had been great until the accident with McGarrett’s Fine Provencal Herbs. In short, both waiting staff and cooks seem to suffer from a lack of confidence and do either too much or too little, depending on their state of fluster. No doubt time and growing confidence will sort these things out. Since our visit, a tapas and Thai restaurant have opened, too.
The resort can arrange a private barbecue on your deck - be your own cook! - and, in the non-windy season, a romantic Thai dinner on the beach in a curtained gazebo. There's also an all-day pizza menu, featuring over 80 varieties.
There are no other restaurants or even street stalls within walking distance. If you have your own transport, make your way over to Bo Phut, where the H Bistro at the Hansar Hotel offers fine, pricey, mildly molecular dining; or choose from a wide variety of more affordable restaurants there, Thai or otherwise. On Chaweng, 10 minutes by car in the other direction, you can’t move for seafood emporia.
The hotel welcomes children but targets chiefly couples. Extra beds and baby cots are available, there's a kids' pool, and babysitting can be arranged. Bear in mind there are a lot of stairs so it is not ideal for toddlers/buggies.
Children (4-12 years)
The Pool Villas can sleep up to 4, but if you want 2 separate bedrooms you'll need to book 2 suites or 2 villas (reservations staff can ensure they are adjacent).