“Stylish bungalows, warm seas, a heavenly spa and delicious food: this 26-room resort is a mecca for rest'n'romance”
The 26 bungalow rooms feel like a traditional Thai home housed within adobe walls reminiscent of Mexico. All are similar in size and layout, but prices vary to match location. Wide glass doors open into an airy space with parquet floors, a raised bed platform and silk blinds over the windows. Each comes equipped with a flat-screen TV, iPod docking station, A/C and powerful fans, DVD player and WiFi, as well as a whole host of less technological but useful touches: gorgeous silk dressing gowns and slippers, kettle, socket adaptors, mozzie repellent, plenty of complimentary bottled water. Towels are fashioned into elephant shapes, beds strewn with orchid petals every night.
The décor is modern meets traditional, with hand-carved wood or leather furniture and decorative Asian art, including an antique Thai puppet and a funky driftwood sculpture in our room. Photographs of Thailand dot the walls and cushions are scattered on the lounge floor and sofa for cosy relaxation, Moroccan style.
Bathrooms are open air, with pebbled floors, plants, large mirrors and a rainfall shower. The walls are high so there’s no fear factor, but if we're being picky, the shower pressure and temperature did fluctuate, and the toiletries were not the most lavish.
We'd opt for a Garden Villa: they're tucked away at the back of the plot (so furthest from the beach) but look out onto leafy gardens, with a secluded sitout at the front - great for al fresco room-service lunches or shady reading. Their split-level interior is larger, with 2 single daybeds perfect for 1-2 kids. The Garden Deluxe and Beachfront Deluxe Bungalows are closely grouped together near the front of the resort, so you're nearer to the beach but also to each other; they're also smaller inside. We didn't feel the hefty premium of the Beachfront Deluxe was warranted by its position, especially since the beach can get crowded.
The food at Zazen Restaurant is superb and the restaurant deserves its great reputation on Koh Samui. Set a few paces from the water, with open sides and great sea views, it offers a choice of upscale Thai food and gourmet French-influenced cuisine - both as good as each other. Our gaeng phed ped yang (red curry with roasted duck and coconut) and the beef massaman were both superb: rich, flavoursome and not too spicy for western palates. Fishy options include tiger prawns in tamarind sauce and stir-fried scallops with green asparagus; or you can go international with beef tenderloin, tuna steak a la plancha or (dare we say it) a phenomenally good burger.
If you really want to push the boat out, a discreet "Chef's Table" upstairs in the Le Salon De Ti offers degustation menus (5-7 courses) to a maximum of 12 guests. Head chef Cyrille Keyser - French but fast becoming local (his wife is Thai) - creates truly innovative dishes and presents them with flair. One menu is tea-themed, another offers snowfish in white wine and vanilla sauce, and all are paired with tipples from Samui's huge wine cellar.
Breakfast (included and served in Zazen Restaurant) is a delightful buffet, with exotic fruits (think pomelo, dragonfruit and rambutan), fresh juices, cereals, homemade pastries, fluffy banana pancakes, excellent eggs Benedict and just-brewed coffee.
Throughout the day staff can bring you tapas and cocktails as you lie by the pool - such as chicken and coriander corn fritters, sesame and soy beef skewers and king crab cakes with dill tzatsiki. Alternatively the restaurant serves lunch or you can have meals delivered to your private terrace. There's also afternoon tea at Le Salon De Ti with a huge range of varietals, plus cakes and fruit. In the evenings the emphasis is high on romance, with 100 candles lighting the restaurant, jazz on the stereo and the sound of waves in the background. Enjoy a pre- or post-dinner drink at beach-front Le Rouge Lounge; they have a huge range of wines and cocktails to try out.
If you want to eat out one night, you can wander along the beach to Bo Phut Fishermen's Village (15-20 minutes) which teems with eateries of all flags, from traditional Thai to pizzerias and teppinyaki. Don't expect great quality though; our dinner at Starfish - recommended by hotel staff - was distinctly average and (like most in the village) overpriced, and after that we happily stuck to Zazen.
Children are welcome but the setting is quite romantic and attracts couples in search of R&R, so you might feel self-conscious if you have hyper kids!
Teens (over 12)
We'd recommend staying in a Garden Villa, which can accommodate 2 children comfortably on its sofabed, as well as fitting a cot. Numbers 28 and 29 are the most secluded. Otherwise the Beachfront Deluxe and Garden Deluxe Bungalows can each have an extra bed and a baby cot. Cots can be provided on request and are free of charge. The cost for extra beds varies depending on the age of the children.
Babysitting can be arranged.
Baby cots are available on request.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
There's a small children's pool.
The resort offers a medical service and there's an on-call doctor.