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Six Senses’ first luxury hotel is re-born, re-freshed

Bernhard Bohnenberger enjoys a neck massage at the GM's cocktail

Bernhard Bohnenberger enjoys a neck massage at the GM’s cocktail

Well well well. Will all hotel managers please take note. Here is the gal, accompanied by Six Senses President Bernhard Bohnenberger, at the weekly GM’s cocktail party at Six Senses Samui. We, and all the other guests, are having complimentary neck massages as we sip our G&Ts, with lots of ice in this heat. The honeymooners and middle-aged Europeans and three intrepid Japanese office ladies travelling as a trio, and others, were all similarly relishing the experience. In between elegant gulps, and one-bite tasting of masses of little plated canapés, and euphorically wanting those pairs of hands to go on forever, everyone also looked at the view. No wonder Ton Chirathivat, of Thailand’s Central store family, bought this land – he then went on to buy Italy’s  Rinascente department stores.

Sunrise over the pool of villa 53

Sunrise over the pool of villa 53

Six Senses Samui, just finishing a complete botox to make its 12-year old self better than new, is on the north-east tip of this Thai island. The cocktail is held on a series of teng (teak-like) wood platforms jutting out, cantilevered, over 20-foot cliffs below. Look down, at other platforms, including one that is a table for two, buy the whole thing for the evening. Watch the sunset. And, 12 hours later, watch the sunrise, as I did from Villa 53, looking out over my private pool. For anyone who knows this hotel from before, by the way, pools are today lined in Balinese slate, the villas now have glassed-in vanity and sunken bath areas, though showers remain outside, and beautiful woods and all-wall windows are complemented by stunningly-bright fabrics for cushions and day-beds.

The imaginative new 8-shaped breakfast buffet

The imaginative new 8-shaped breakfast buffet

Returnees will also find the main restaurant, Dining on the Hill, has a built-in pizza oven, and a fabulous figure-of-eight wood sculpture that is actually the breakfast buffet station. This was actually my first visit to this 66-villa property, and I thought all the food was fab-healthy in the way that is part of the Six Senses philosophy. Meals are preceded by just-baked brown and white bread slices, and the flavoured oil of the day, and a dip (Dutch chef Erik Gremm, who came here from Oberoi Mauritius, prefers using yoghurt to mayonnaise). I loved my Asian greens with crispy tofu but probably my favourite dish-of-my-stay was the green gazpacho. A single prawn came in a bowl empty other than tiny cubes of cucumber, and I poured the green contents of a small accompanying jug around.

The finished green gazpacho presentation

The finished green gazpacho presentation

Yes, this is a healthy luxury hotel. It is precisely 100 wood steps down from the main courtyard to spa reception, and thereafter a succession of somewhat Heath Robinson-type walkways and stairways take you further down, to two gyms, and to sauna and steam, and treatment rooms (obviously, go for a Thai massage, here). To get to villa 53 it is 24 steps down from the road, and, once inside, it is 13 more wood steps down to the private deck around the pool. I was in even fitter form when I arrived back at the airport, conveniently only 15 minutes’ drive away. As Samui regulars know, it is a 300-yard walk, along an open-sided walkway, from check-in to the departure lounge, where most seem to wilt in the heat, although there are plenty of overhead fans and iced water dispensers. But when it comes to drinks, nothing of this Samui experience can live up to the GM’s cocktail, and not only because of the massage.