Koh Samui, Thailand


 

Koh Samui
The Pool at Outrigger Koh Samui is ringed by Grand Pool Villas.

 

Need insight on the best way to experience this Thai island haven? Read on to find out how.

Luxe travelers looking for an alternative to the Caribbean getaway or French Riviera frolic ought to head further east toward Thailand’s Koh Samui. The island—the country’s second largest—in the Gulf of Thailand, is everything a well-heeled jet-setter seeks in an exclusive escape (think a jungle interior complete with waterfalls that flow into white sandy beaches lined with calm, blue water).

Outrigger Koh Samui

Outrigger Koh Samui Resort & Spa is the newest addition to the destination’s five-star collection. Formerly the Destination Beach Resort & Spa, the hotel rebranded as of February 1, waving the Outrigger flag. Although the property is just about a month old, the Outrigger reputation for peerless luxury precedes it and we predict big things for the baby on the block.

We hear the most requested suites are the four Grand Pool Villas, which come with full sea views. Nice Touch: Outrigger is the only hotel on this stretch of sand, promising a private and tranquil experience. If it’s private butler service you are after, the Pool Villas (specifically Nos. 211, 212, 221, 222, 231 and 232) will soon have the Yim Siam (aka Thai Smile) butler service.

Koh Samui
A Deluxe Suite at Outrigger Koh Samui features a private outdoor spa bath.

In the country known for its eponymous massage, we know your clients will expect the best of the best. We suggest booking a traditional Thai massage with Ms. Duan, the Navasana Wellness Center's most experienced therapist, who specializes in Thai massage. Note: Each of the nine double treatment suites has a private spa bath and steam room. Luxury travel advisors should reach out to Reservations Manager Tiwa Sengsomwang (kung.sengsomwang@outrigger.co.th; 011-66-7741-7300) at least two weeks prior to clients’ arrival.

Thailand’s cuisine is a frenzy of colors and flavors, and the restaurants at Outrigger serve it up with a touch of refinement and elegance. Tip: Opt for the Thai sea bass with spicy mango salad. For the ultimate in private dining, the resort recommends getting back to nature with its beachside dining (picture your table in the sand with sweeping views of the Gulf). Sengsomwang is on hand to make specific dining arrangements.

 

Advisor Insight:

Timothy Krenzien, president of Paul Klein Travel in Chicago, is a Thailand specialist. “Koh Samui offers the affluent traveler easy flight access to an extremely comfortable airport. The Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui and Six Senses Samui are extraordinary resorts with enormous accommodations, great amenities and very personalized and attentive service.

The resorts are cliff-side and the views over the Gulf of Thailand are spectacular. The beaches are not particularly good but the resort’s pools and public areas are outstanding. The bustling villages of Chaweng, Lamai and Nathon offer great shopping, night markets and restaurants on the sand.”

Shopaholics will find solace at the resort, which provides 15-minute private car service to and from the bustling Chaweng shopping district. Local Flavor: The resort also has a regular shuttle service to Chaweng and Fisherman’s Village in Bophut. We love the vibrant atmosphere of the village, which closes its street to cars on Friday evenings and floods it with street food, shops and a laid-back vibe.

If luxury travel advisors want to arrange special bespoke outings or experiences for their clients, they can get in touch with Sengsomwang. Because the resort is new, there is no precedent to speak of, but the team is ready and willing to help.

Note: Samui International Airport is a five-minute drive from the resort. Guests are welcomed with private limousine transfer that includes a welcome drink and cold towels. Private helicopters and private jets can also land at the airport.

W Retreat Koh Samui

New to the scene as of November, the W Retreat Koh Samui is turning heads. First and foremost, it is the ultimate in exclusivity (think isolation on a private peninsula from the rest of Koh Samui). Lovers of the W name will not be disappointed.

At this resort, first impressions are key. Guests are greeted by the W’s signature W Lounge, which offers ocean vistas along with interactive digital floor projections (the mix of natural beauty and modern technology is very W).

Each of the private villas in this all-villa retreat has private pools, daybeds, outdoor showers, 46-inch plasma TVs, wine refrigerators and Yamaha sound systems. We hear the top accommodations here are the Extreme WOW Ocean Heaven villas. These jewels come with separate entrances and two floors. We love the direct beach access, two bathrooms, two bedrooms and panoramic views over the Gulf.

By day, visit The Kitchen Table, which offers gourmet pizzas and buffet-style dining. There is also the signature restaurant Namu, serving a modern reinvention of Asian cuisine. By night, take a trip to sultry WOOBAR, which is open on three sides and has sweeping ocean views. Here, guests can sip exotic cocktails while a DJ spins from the mezzanine level. Want a personalized experience? We suggest dining under the stars. The resort’s sales manager, Peanpon Smitinand (peanpon.smitinand@whotels.com; 011-66-2639-1818), is on hand to arrange this.

A trip to Away Spa is a must. Here, guests will be well served to book the 90-minute AWAY Spa Massage in one of the seven treatment rooms. In-villa massages are also available. Advisors can reach out to Spa Director Pornsawan Limphapayom (porn sawan.limphapayom@whotels.com; 011-66-7791-5999).

Need some retail therapy? The hotel runs a free shuttle three times daily to Chaweng Beach.

If your clients have the culture bug, we recommend checking them into the W during the annual Samui Regatta or Samui Jazz Festival. Of course, these events tend to draw large groups, so booking is recommended at least three months out during these times.

W Hotels are known for their “Whatever/Whenever” service. This includes arranging anything and everything under the sun (as allowed by law, of course). For extravagant arrangements, we suggest contacting Smitinand.

W Retreat Koh Samui
An Extreme Wow Suite at W Retreat Koh Samui has two floors and a separate entrance for guests.

Getting There: The Samui International Airport is a 15-minute drive from the resort. The hotel can arrange individual pickup from the aircraft by limousine or helicopter. Guests can also land a private helicopter at the W’s tennis court.

Touring Koh Samui

November through March is typically the best time to visit Koh Samui. The most requested tour operator for luxury travelers in Koh Samui is Abercrombie & Kent. Jessica Hanshu (jhanshue@abercrombiekent.com; 800-554-7094) is one of A&K’s Southeast Asia travel specialists. She tells us that Koh Samui has a wealth of activities for the luxury traveler. These include a visit to the Butterfly Farm, a PADI dive course and Thai cooking lessons. The island is also a thriving Buddhist center, peppered with old temples and artifacts and dominated by the Big Buddha, a 50-foot figure looking out over the sea. Koh Samui is surrounded by a number of smaller islands. The Ang Thong Marine National Park comprises 42 islands, some of which have caves and secluded beaches. These secret pockets make for great diving and snorkeling, which can be arranged through A&K.

Trails of Indochina is another high-end tour operator that has crafted a Thailand-specific Southern Beach Escape, which visits Koh Samui besides some of the country’s other famous beach locations like Phuket and Krabi.