Gastronomic Delights Villas in 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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Ban Haad Sai

Ban Haad Sai

Thailand » Koh Samui » Bang Rak-Big Buddha

It's not difficult to settle into 'the House on the Beach'. As soon as the sliding gate shuts out the roadside bustle, a relaxed atmosphere takes hold, coaxing you to kick off your shoes and switch into holiday mode.

The villa was originally designed as two separate residences and although this creates a few anomalies (such as two lounges, which seems a little excessive), we felt the symmetry between the left- and right-hand accommodation would allow families or friends the choice to spend time with or without each other when sharing the villa.

The more significant division perhaps, is between the front and rear. Staying in one of the front-facing master suites is a real treat as you enjoy constant sea views, instant pool access and special additions like sunken outdoor bath tubs but, depending on the group dynamic, this may cause a little bedroom envy with those occupying the rear guest rooms. Having said that, everyone benefits from abundant communal comforts and homely touches (including a good selection of books and DVDs) which, combined with the great sound system and the huge flat-screen TV in the AV room, add to the general sense of privilege.

Days slip by gently at the poolside, with the wide, comfy hammock providing the ultimate excuse to do nothing but read, swim and snooze. To really appreciate the villa's idyllic location and make the most of the relaxed atmosphere that pervades, ask the helpful staff to set a table on the deck or lawn in the early evening, then drift from sundowners into dinner before turning up the music for a pool party.
 
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La Lagune

La Lagune

Thailand » Koh Samui » Laem Set

Sitting in the beachside sala at La Lagune, we were struck by the secluded feel of the place. Even though it's not that far to the main tourist beaches (Lamai is 10km away), you're totally removed from the commotion of Koh Samui and that's certainly one of the of the villa's main advantages. Day and night we enjoyed the benefits of total escape, helped by sensitive staff who remained unobtrusive unless we needed them. The only contact with outsiders was the occasional greeting from a passing fisherman, and having the sunset completely to ourselves was as much of a treat as the opulent surroundings we enjoyed it from (turning off the garden lights to star gaze at night is even better). The villa's open design and cool, tiled floors mean you can pad around barefoot in your beach wear, and with so many options for outdoor repose you're only ever fully indoors while sleeping (weather permitting of course - the villa's folding doors can all be closed during wind or rain). Staying in the master suite is a pleasantly private experience as the only view from the bed is across your private terrace to the sea. The owners are definitely active types and having so many options for recreation close at hand means that even kids will rarely feel the need to venture beyond the garden and beach. Having said that, it was fun to strike off and explore the coastal paths on the villa's two bicycles and drag a kayak out to deeper water so we could paddle to the nearby offshore islands. With delicious meals prepared to order by the chef, coming back to La Lagune at the end of the day was always a pleasure, sound in the knowledge that a blissful, private and chic retreat awaited our return.
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La Lagune

La Lagune

Thailand » Koh Samui » Laem Set

Sitting in the beachside sala at La Lagune, we were struck by the secluded feel of the place. Even though it's not that far to the main tourist beaches (Lamai is 10km away), you're totally removed from the commotion of Koh Samui and that's certainly one of the of the villa's main advantages. Day and night we enjoyed the benefits of total escape, helped by sensitive staff who remained unobtrusive unless we needed them. The only contact with outsiders was the occasional greeting from a passing fisherman, and having the sunset completely to ourselves was as much of a treat as the opulent surroundings we enjoyed it from (turning off the garden lights to star gaze at night is even better). The villa's open design and cool, tiled floors mean you can pad around barefoot in your beach wear, and with so many options for outdoor repose you're only ever fully indoors while sleeping (weather permitting of course - the villa's folding doors can all be closed during wind or rain). Staying in the master suite is a pleasantly private experience as the only view from the bed is across your private terrace to the sea. The owners are definitely active types and having so many options for recreation close at hand means that even kids will rarely feel the need to venture beyond the garden and beach. Having said that, it was fun to strike off and explore the coastal paths on the villa's two bicycles and drag a kayak out to deeper water so we could paddle to the nearby offshore islands. With delicious meals prepared to order by the chef, coming back to La Lagune at the end of the day was always a pleasure, sound in the knowledge that a blissful, private and chic retreat awaited our return.
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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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Paresa Grand Villa 5

Paresa Grand Villa 5

Thailand » Phuket » Kamala

Water, water everywhere! From the expansive sea views to the three swimming pools to the fabulous baths, there's no escaping from aquatic delights at Paresa Grand Villa 5. Soothed by its cool earthy tones, gorgeous Southern Thai design and seamless outdoor and indoor spaces, our worries simply floated away in a sea of serenity. We loved the openness of all the rooms -- there's nothing quite as refreshing as peeling aside an entire wall to greet the morning's tropical breezes. Equally as nice, as evening arrived, was the ease in which the bedrooms could be made cosy by drawing the curtains and switching on the romantic lighting, while the air conditioning cooled down hot bodies after a day in the sun. Paresa's picturesque location and impressive facilities are ideal for a wedding or other celebration, with a full contingent of resort services and staff on hand to help. As a resort-style villa, Paresa does not have the live-in staff that regular villa guests may anticipate but a butler is easily reached by phone. We felt that the subtlety of the interior design made the villa a bit generic looking; some splashes of colour would have added flavour. However, what the villa lacks in character, is made up for by the Paresa Resort staff's smooth professionalism and the good range of activities on offer such as cooking classes, yacht trips, spa sessions or market excursions (additional charges apply). Paresa's many staircases will make it difficult for those with limited mobility and a watchful eye on young children will be needed with the open pools and lack of barriers on some steep areas.
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