After three flights and 24 hours of travelling, arriving at Koh Samui airport would bring a smile to the face of even the weariest of traveller. Looking more like a Hawaiian hut than an airport we were collected from the plane by little trestle trains, brightly coloured and open aired. “Only in Thailand” my man and I said to each other as we trundled along the runway towards the arrivals hut alongside landing jet planes.
This is what we love about Thailand (hence this being our third visit!). It’s not only a beautiful and magical country full of wonderful people and the tastiest of food but also quirky and unique and in so many places still really undeveloped.
We had booked to stay at the Anantara Resort and Spa in Bophut village on the island of Koh Samui for 12 nights. Before leaving the UK I read every inch of the hotel’s website, getting excited about all of the things that we could do when we got there (water sports, activities, excursions), knowing full well that I probably wouldn’t get off my sun lounger for anything but the offer of a cold alcoholic beverage or the talk of some more Pad Thai (we were heading to Koh Samui for a well-earned rest). I did however see that you could book a VIP car to collect you from the airport for a mere 1,000Thai Baht, so I secretly booked this as a little surprise for my partner.
Being greeted at the airport by a placard with our names on, a welcoming Thai smile and a sleek air-conditioned Mercedes was a fantastic way to start the holiday especially after such a long journey. We were whisked away and nearing the hotel in under 20 minutes. I realised that we had arrived when a man dressed like an aircraft marshal with mini light-sabres came into the middle of the busy road and with a flash of his wands stopped all of the traffic and enabled our car to cross over and in through the hotel gates.
My man and I squeezed hands and smiled at each other as the car took us over a lily pond via an ancient looking draw bridge lined in fire lanterns ready to be lit that evening. The grand entrance to the hotel with its Hanuman fountain is inviting and you feel a million miles away from the bustling road that you just left behind. Our bags were swept away as we were gracefully shown into the lobby with the familiar “Sawatdee Kaa” and a wave of tranquillity instantly took over us. Cool, cold tiles beneath our feet, opulent glass lanterns hanging from the high, dark wood ceilings and the sound of the tiny Common Myna birds chirping outside in the trees all combine and tell your senses that you’ve arrived in paradise.
Ushered into huge reclining chairs in the lobby we were brought a refreshing and much needed ice-cold fruity drink (posh Ribena) along with a freshly made coconut cake that looked a lot like soap but thankfully tasted like heaven. We were checked in without having to make a move and then shown to our room where our luggage now awaited us.
Images: Top, Fifth & Sixth Row: Anantara Resort and Spa, Bophut
Second, Third, Fourth & Seventh Row: You Mean The World To Me
Room with a view:
The Deluxe rooms are of a good size and comfortable, providing every luxury that the Anatara hotel name is synonymous with. A wide, cloud-like bed is set upon on a wooden platform and gives a very restful night’s sleep. The walls are adorned with southern Thai inspired arts and décor.
Stepping out onto your private wooden terrace set amongst the brilliant greenery, you get to fully appreciate the sparkling lily pond set within the lush Bill Bensley designed gardens.
In the bathroom the deep terrazzo bathtub for two (complete with wooden basket filled with fresh petals) adds a luxurious touch. Large wooden shutters open to bring the bathtub into the main bedroom, if you so desire.
Enough wardrobe space (unless you’re Imelda Marcos), tea and coffee making facilities and an efficient and thoughtful maid service that turn your bed down each evening and leave a personalised goodnight message written on a leaf on your pillow. It worked, we felt special!
The main attraction of this hotel is its serenity. Pure, quiet, bliss. Helped along by its stunning, manicured gardens, pagodas covered in fairy lights and tall flickering lanterns lighting every pathway. Everyone is in the same vibe, seeming to have flocked here to seriously chill, swim and be peaceful.
The shoreline infinity pool is impressive. Never too busy during our visit and always possible to find a sun lounger, this turquoise lagoon is inviting and luxurious with hidden Jacuzzi pools and drenching water fountains. We would typically say we are beach kinda people but at Anantara, we were most definitely swayed to stay poolside.
Images: You Mean The World To Me
Fisherman’s Village, Bophut:
Perfectly located right on the shoreline of the tranquil, white sand of Bophut Beach, Anantara is also only few sandy minutes walk away from the charming Fisherman’s Village. The narrow beach road has kept its heritage and charm with a blend of original Chinese shop-houses and more modern buildings which now house independent boutiques, an array of fantastic restaurants and a variety of watering holes. There’s enough to try a different place each evening during a two week stay. Quickly becoming a firm favourite with couples and families, the entire resort has a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.
Don’t miss Friday night in the village as it hosts the ‘Friday Walking Market’. The beach road becomes pedestrianized and is lined with vendors, food stalls, music, entertainment and dancing. It can become super busy, which only enhances its festival feel.
This idyllic village is a world away from the upbeat hustle and bustle of near-by Chaweng. It is worth a visit to Chaweng even if it’s just to see the different side of Thailand nightlife first hand, plus there are some great restaurants and bars around. The hotel runs a shuttle bus to Chaweng and back and taxis are relatively inexpensive.
Images: You Mean The World To Me
The main course:
Back at the hotel, food and drink is in lavish supply and you will not be disappointed at any of the resorts exclusive restaurants and bars.
High Tide Restaurant serves a plentiful buffet breakfast and by evening it dishes up authentic Thai cuisine. Head to the Full Moon Restaurant seated high on wooden stilts with poolside views for an Italian inspired lunch or dinner.
If you’re looking for an extra special treat, private dining is available in any location of your choice around the resort with prior arrangement.
Enjoy a relaxing cocktail whilst dipping into tasty, Thai inspired snacks on the veranda of the garden Eclipse Bar or head to the beach for a refreshing drink, lazing on comfy bean bags before sun down.
Images: You Mean The World To Me
The award-winning spa epitomises the hotels understated luxury. Stepping through elegant water gardens to discover this plush, hidden oasis you are greeted by efficient and experienced staff and a lengthy and varied treatment list. Having received a voucher for a 15-minute foot massage on check-in, you can have a little taster of the treats available at the spa before booking other treatments.
If you love the sound of this idyllic resort, you can also hold your wedding at Anantara Bophut. The beach, the gardens or the elegant banquet room would make be a magical wedding location.
Image: You Mean The World To Me
Having visited Thailand twice before, we had already fallen in love with the Thai way. The wonderful weather, unforgettable hospitality and honest Thai smiles combined with fantastic, flavoursome food and a serenity you just don’t seem to find anywhere else, ensures that Thailand is still up at the top of our revisit list.
And you just can’t help but fall in love with the Anantara Resort and Spa, Bophut – it simply oozes with Thai charm. Whether you’re looking for a restful holiday, somewhere with a little more activity right on your doorstep, or a honeymoon or wedding location, Anantara Bophut offers the complete Thai experience and the perfect place to unwind.