Conrad Samui delivers what it promises: the ultimate escape with the ocean firmly in view, writes Neetinder Dhillon.
The slogan ‘Stay Inspired’ underwrite the Conrad Samui experience. Inspiring the design and stay is the ocean. No matter the angle, the azure expanse remains firmly in focus. That first unobstructed view of the ocean is at the arrival level as the car pulls into the porch of the hotel reception. The architect’s use of the perspex balustrade in the driveway to ensure uninterrupted views of the Gulf of Thailand is your first hint of the ocean playing a lead role in the design experience. Stepping out, I am drawn to the dramatic view. Almost without realising I am taking pictures. It’s the perfect instragram moment.
The only west-facing luxury resort on Koh Samui (Thailand), Conrad Samui is perched high on a promontory at the end of the Hillcrest Road. From its reception, the hotel cascades down to the water line and the Aow Thai Beach in several levels. Your first contact, the intimate reception area open to the views, is but a brief check-in stop. A buggy ride away is my one bedroom villa, in the mid levels – a space that will anchor my stay.
Location, location, location
The resort just 28 kilometres from the airport, makes the most of its location. The sea is the focus at all times from your bed and even from the bathtub – a champagne coupe in stone.
The villa blurs the lines between the indoor-outdoors with floor-to-ceiling glass doors; outside the infinity pool borders the villa connecting you to the great blue – the ocean and the sky. Lying in bed the reflection of the blue sky in the pool and the view of the Gulf of Thailand beyond does take your mind off everything. All that you can focus on is the big blue…the sound of the sea, the wind, the bird call… Plenty of instagramable moments here.
My instagram and facebook post of my breakfast on the restaurant deck encapsulated the experience – a simple composition of a pot of tea and a freshly baked Danish pastry framed by the azure sea; a perspex balustrade keeping me from tipping off the edge – generating plenty of ‘I want that’ responses. “That” being not the breakfast per se but the ‘escape’ the picture represented.
The luxurious resort’s 98 freestanding villas with private plunge pools and sundecks (65 one-bedroom villas, 32 two-bedroom and three-bedroom Residences, and a Royal Villa) all integrated within 25 acres of carefully tended tropical foliage with dramatic cliff-side landscapes provide the perfect setting. The villas are far enough apart to ensure complete privacy, the plunge pools too are secure in that respect. The only intruders are the birds… one persistent, territorial yellow-billed mynah, perhaps annoyed by my intrusion in to what it regarded as its territory, made its feelings abundantly clear. Every morning the said mynah would wake me up with its loud proclamations of ‘mine, mine, all mine’ – squawking chirping, clicking, whistling and I could swear, even growling.
No sooner would I step out, the bird would fluff its wings and fly away as if saying ‘job done – message sent and received’. My upload of his angry squawking did nothing to shame the bird but instead had more people wanting to experience the ‘abuse’ for themselves.
But I was grateful to the mynah, this place is not just for dramatic sunsets to which everyone in the resort has ringside views, but also magical dawns…watching the pink creep slowly over the cliff backing the resort to colour the sky was almost meditative. Nothing intrudes on the experience… it’s just you and mother nature at its cinematic best.
After yet another dramatic performance by my winged friend I turned my attention inwards to the villa: a symphony of comforting earth tones highlighted with shades of ivory coming together in a luxurious design with original artworks and silk cushions – all very contemporary. The interior underlining a sense of the destination with Thai-inspired design features. Cutting-edge technology is brought into play to seamlessly connect you to the outside world via satellite television, Apple- based TV, iPod dock and high-speed internet access.
The bathtub, a giant champagne coupe – shallow and broad-bowled – extremely comfortable to recline in and big enough for a couple, encourages you to relax. Between all the relaxing, catching up on my reading there was just enough time to check out the dining options: private in-cellar dining at The Cellar (for a maximum of eight with specially created multi-course menus), Thai-influenced fine dining at the cliff-side speciality restaurant, Jahn, the Azure Bar & Grill set next to the resort’s main infinity pool with its casual beachside ambience, live action grill stations and lots of Mediterranean options, the all-day dining Zest which is your first port of call every day for breakfast – phenomenal options – a perfectly curated experience; Aura Lounge perched high above the resort that offers dramatic views with its cocktails and the beach club which is an absolute must for sundowners with its nifty floor rockers – Fedro – from Dedon, plus the in-villa dining which quite like their ‘destination dining’ options can be customised.
Adding another layer to the experience is the Conrad Spa with its 270 degree views.
MEETINGS with a view
Just below the Azure lounge level is the meetings and conference space with spectacular sea views. It is ideal for all sorts of occasions, from international conferences to intimate meetings. The Aow Thai Hall with its picture windows has a lawn breakout area overlooking the Gulf of Thailand; the state-of-the-art amenities make it ideal for company conferences. This entire space is so tucked away that no meeting can intrude on the other guests.