Gastronomic Delights Villas in Koh Samui, Thailand

Food, glorious food! Hot sausage and mustard! Cold Jelly and custard! Perhaps not quite, but these villas have been specially selected for their exceptional chef, marvellous menus, cookery courses or other culinary specialties. No Oliver, or Olivia for that matter, will be going hungry here.

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Miskawaan - Villa Acacia

Miskawaan - Villa Acacia

Thailand » Koh Samui » Mae Nam

Although part of a larger estate, Villa Acacia feels agreeably private, with a wonderful beachside location that definitely encourages you to spend most of your stay outdoors. We spent our days either snacking and web-surfing on the poolside terrace (covered, so no need to rush in if it rains), or enjoying a vitamin D boost and the dreamy ocean views from one of the comfy sun loungers on the lawn.

There's no reason not to indulge in Villa Acacia's tasty menu; guilty pleasures can easily be offset with a swim in the sea, a few laps in the pool or a quick session in the gym. In fact, for a relatively modest villa, Acacia offers an impressive combination of active and sofa-bound activities, including movie nights in front of the drop-down projector screen.

Staff were courteous and almost invisible unless called upon to feed and water us (drinks often appearing without a prompt). They efficiently set tables, prepared and served delicious local food and cleared up without fuss. The estate manager greeted us personally, answering every question we fired at her and also offering island insights and recommendations that sadly, we ignored. Not that the information wasn't useful, simply because we quickly decided the best place to be was right there in the villa, immersing ourselves in beachside bliss.

The villa's abundant foliage did encourage a bit of an insect festival when it rained one evening, so we retreated to the safety of our room for a soak in the tub after a hard day of nothing. Villa Acacia is a compact trove of holiday treasures. No wonder the owner keeps a bedroom to himself for regular visits.

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Miskawaan - Villa Hibiscus

Miskawaan - Villa Hibiscus

Thailand » Koh Samui » Mae Nam

Although none of the villas at Miskawaan infringe on each other, Villa Hibiscus is perhaps the most private of the bunch and we happily wondered around the grounds in varying states of undress, totally relaxed in our own sheltered beachside world. The days passed gently, time between meals happily filled with regular dips in the pool interspersed with naps, reading and ‘Googling’ on the beachside terrace (which is covered, so no need to rush in if it rains). For sun soaking sessions we headed to the beach, and staff obliged by moving the sun loungers down onto the sand for us. The water here is a balmy 28 degrees Celsius year round and deep enough for a long swim (during the monsoon in November the tides are higher, so the beach gets quite narrow).

The villa manager and her team were friendly and amenable throughout, regularly appearing from nowhere to offer drinks and snacks and efficiently setting tables and serving our pre-ordered meals. Alfresco breakfast was well prepared and varied, with special touches such as the homemade jams – be sure to try the unusual but delicious coconut jam. The estate manager was also there to welcome us when we arrived and not only answered our questions but also offered useful tips and insights about things to do in the area.

In the end though, we resisted the temptation to explore the island in favour of relaxing and enjoying the villa to the full: we saw little reason to go out when we had everything right on our doorstep. We explored the menu in depth and offset our guilt with regular swims and walks along the beach. Luckily our stay included a Thursday night, so we were able to enjoy an evening at the nearby festive walking street market. On our return, the room has been turned down, the air-conditioning set at just the right temperature, and flowers placed on our pillows.

Although Hibiscus lacks some of the high-end facilities (such as a private gym or cinema room) available at more opulent private residences, we were quite content to enjoy the various holiday pleasures on offer –  particularly the villa’s beachside setting – and marked the evening switch from outdoor to indoor indulgences with sunset drinks in the poolside sala.
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Miskawaan - Villa Waterlily

Miskawaan - Villa Waterlily

Thailand » Koh Samui » Mae Nam

Villa Waterlily is a rare beachside delight. Even on an island known for easy access to sand and sea it's not always easy to find such comfortable and private accommodation so constantly connected to both. We slipped into holiday mode immediately, even postponing our usual tour of the rooms and facilities to just sit back and soak in the surroundings. When we did summon the energy to explore a little, we were impressed by the quality of the furnishings and decor, which is all meticulously maintained (not always the case in rental villas, even at this level).

We also appreciated what architects and designers sometimes call the 'flow' of the building, which suits the location and makes the most of the island experience. Despite the villa's substantial size, you can wander easily between the various spaces and, thanks to the discreet yet efficient staff, even if you choose to set up in one spot for the entire day, you can be sure they will appear at regular intervals to refresh and feed you, sometimes even popping up unprompted with pleasant surprises like a plate of fresh fruit or a glass of iced water.

A late breakfast (included, but with optional extras charged) in the breezy beach-view sala set a suitably relaxed tone for the day. Over our toast and marmalade we agreed that Villa Waterlily is not somewhere you rush to explore the island from. A far better schedule here is to sink into a routine of sun, swim, snack and snooze. To ease the guilt of such sloth, we did manage a sunset walk along the beach one evening to browse the weekly 'walking street' market in Mae Nam village (Thursdays). We returned to a delicately prepared meal of fresh crab curry and crisp local vegetables, accompanied by a decent Chilean red and our favourite playlist of tropical itunes.

For those in search of peace and relaxation, Villa Waterlily certainly makes life simple and easy. Having said that, the multi-functional design, staffing and idyllic location also make it ideal for a more sociable gathering or family-oriented holiday.
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Motsamot

Motsamot

Thailand » Koh Samui » Choeng Mon

Our initial concern at the location soon gave way to satisfied sighs when we settled into Motsamot's appealing, natural surroundings. The serene forested setting and abundance of space more than compensated for the lack of beach or ocean views, and with 20m of cool blue pool to swim and splash around in we never felt an overpowering urge to get sand between our toes.

The villa's intriguing design touches and framed photographs of Asia not only make it feel homely, but also had us pointing out details to each other; playing 'guess the country of origin' as we admired the owner's well-travelled taste. It's hard to confine yourself to one spot at Motsamot and we definitely wished we'd come as a group to make the most of all the different lounging, dining and bathing options. The staff happily but unobtrusively followed us around, bringing us cool drinks as we switched from pool to sala to lounge and finally to the terrace. They even moved the furniture outside for us when we decided the latter was the best place to relax with a book. Having a rental car meant both Choeng Mon and Chaweng were an easy hop for dinner by the sea. During the day we survived on the filling breakfast (included) and then snacks we bought at the local minimart. Not a choice for seasoned beach freaks perhaps, but certainly a very comfortable and original villa if, like us, you like a bit of privacy, plus the freedom to come and go with ease.

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Motsamot

Motsamot

Thailand » Koh Samui » Choeng Mon

Our initial concern at the location soon gave way to satisfied sighs when we settled into Motsamot's appealing, natural surroundings. The serene forested setting and abundance of space more than compensated for the lack of beach or ocean views, and with 20m of cool blue pool to swim and splash around in we never felt an overpowering urge to get sand between our toes.

The villa's intriguing design touches and framed photographs of Asia not only make it feel homely, but also had us pointing out details to each other; playing 'guess the country of origin' as we admired the owner's well-travelled taste. It's hard to confine yourself to one spot at Motsamot and we definitely wished we'd come as a group to make the most of all the different lounging, dining and bathing options. The staff happily but unobtrusively followed us around, bringing us cool drinks as we switched from pool to sala to lounge and finally to the terrace. They even moved the furniture outside for us when we decided the latter was the best place to relax with a book. Having a rental car meant both Choeng Mon and Chaweng were an easy hop for dinner by the sea. During the day we survived on the filling breakfast (included) and then snacks we bought at the local minimart. Not a choice for seasoned beach freaks perhaps, but certainly a very comfortable and original villa if, like us, you like a bit of privacy, plus the freedom to come and go with ease.

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Motsamot

Motsamot

Thailand » Koh Samui » Choeng Mon

Our initial concern at the location soon gave way to satisfied sighs when we settled into Motsamot's appealing, natural surroundings. The serene forested setting and abundance of space more than compensated for the lack of beach or ocean views, and with 20m of cool blue pool to swim and splash around in we never felt an overpowering urge to get sand between our toes.

The villa's intriguing design touches and framed photographs of Asia not only make it feel homely, but also had us pointing out details to each other; playing 'guess the country of origin' as we admired the owner's well-travelled taste. It's hard to confine yourself to one spot at Motsamot and we definitely wished we'd come as a group to make the most of all the different lounging, dining and bathing options. The staff happily but unobtrusively followed us around, bringing us cool drinks as we switched from pool to sala to lounge and finally to the terrace. They even moved the furniture outside for us when we decided the latter was the best place to relax with a book. Having a rental car meant both Choeng Mon and Chaweng were an easy hop for dinner by the sea. During the day we survived on the filling breakfast (included) and then snacks we bought at the local minimart. Not a choice for seasoned beach freaks perhaps, but certainly a very comfortable and original villa if, like us, you like a bit of privacy, plus the freedom to come and go with ease.

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Shiva Samui Resort - Baan Lotus

Shiva Samui Resort - Baan Lotus

Thailand » Koh Samui » Laem Set

Although it looked a little boxed-in when we first arrived, once inside, the spacious interiors at Baan Lotus quickly made us forget that we were surrounded by similar properties. The homely atmosphere makes this an experience more akin to traditional self-catering holidays than to the new upscale villa rental concepts that have taken over in many parts of Samui. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you have kids, because staying within a private, gated community brings added security, and with an office on-site and staff ready to handle requests and deal with problems, it’s very convenient too.     

The beach in front of Shiva Samui Resort is quiet and clean and the water is shallow, flat and calm for much of the year, so children can play happily and safely. It’s only a short stroll from Baan Lotus, so older kids could even be left to amuse themselves by the sea while the adults lie by the pool. A lot of thought has clearly gone into the property’s interior design, which combines practical features with some interesting, artistic Asian decor. This gives the house plenty of character, in some ways even making it feel more up-market than it actually is. But despite these touches of style, you never feel uncomfortable wandering around in your swimming gear or putting your feet up on the sofa. All the bedrooms are very comfortable and nicely furnished, particularly the upstairs master, which also has a pleasant balcony looking down over the garden and pool. The bathrooms are quite compact with no tubs to soak in, but large rain showers do the job well enough and there's plenty of storage space in the attached dressing areas.     

Despite a lack of spectacular sea views, Baan Lotus still offers a relaxing, seaside ambience with modern comforts and comprehensive service options that make your stay easy and enjoyable.
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Shiva Samui Resort - Baan Sarika

Shiva Samui Resort - Baan Sarika

Thailand » Koh Samui » Laem Set

 If you worry that staying in a gated community means dealing with intrusive neighbours and beating them to the sun beds in the morning, think again. As soon as you close the front door at Baan Sarika you're in a private, exclusive world and free to relax in your own space, surrounded by tropical extravagance. The decor may be a little magniloquent for a beach villa, but at least you never forget you're in Thailand and once you slip on your bathers and flop into the pool, you quickly get used to feeling like a royal guest.     

A team of staff take care of the entire estate, and as a guest at Baan Sarika you enjoy VIP treatment (although you can stipulate the amount of attention you receive!). Mealtimes are almost as much of a pleasure as the down time in between, most of which is easily spent doing very little in a horizontal pose.     

When you yearn for life's simple pleasures, you can wander along the quiet beach to watch the fishermen bring in their catch or just gaze over the calm waters to the small islands on the horizon. Although you share the beach with other guests and residents, this part of the island never feels crowded and local island life continues around you undisturbed. This is the kind of villa that inspires a long, satisfied sigh.
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YL Residence No. 17

YL Residence No. 17

Thailand » Koh Samui » Laem Set

Arriving at YL Residence for a friend's birthday weekend, I initially thought I'd come to the wrong place. On first inspection, the collection of modern, white buildings seemed to be part of a resort - and indeed it could be - but instead, the owners choose to rent the entire place as a private residence, which provides a unique opportunity to share a stunning space with a close group friends or family.

The suites and communal areas are all exquisitely furnished and the entire property is incredibly well staffed. This means you can either choose your spot and stick to it, or make the most of what is essentially a millionaire's playground. Our host had plenty of people dropping in and out throughout the weekend, plus 20 of us staying over, so it was easy to drift between different scenes and social groups at will.

The poolside party included parents and kids, who tended to favour the sun deck and pool lounge, the drinkers meanwhile hung out in the club house bar with their ipods permanently plugged in to the Bose music system, the beach bums switched between the sand, the sea and the games room, while the inner circle often retreated with the birthday boy and his partner to the master YL Suite, which became affectionately known as "the lux lounge". Every space had its own dedicated staff with exquisite meals, snacks and a full range of drinks served at almost any hour. The barbecue was a particular treat and big enough for a banquet. Unequivocal extravagance!      

As an extended party pad, YL Residence is hard to beat, but not everyone would choose to stay here on a wild weekend. Unofficially, it is the largest villa in Thailand so rock star connotations are virtually unavoidable, but the property also manages to hold onto its natural side thanks largely to the dramatic beachfront setting and the forest of coconut palms and casuarina trees that fill its grounds (a fellow guest suggested cutting a few of them down to build a 9-hole golf course!). Even for those on a more sedate holiday, the villa offers a one-of-a kind experience. The staff, cuisine and multitude of diversions make it a rounded luxury holiday haven. The only drawback being that without a gang of fellow guests to share its vastness, one could feel a little lonely and isolated.
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