Every day brings excitement for the perennial luxury traveller but there was such a feast of goodies at the luxury Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, Thailand, the gal was mentally, and emotionally, exhausted. This is a vertical hotel, with even more stress on the straight-up-and-down than at, say, Four Seasons or Maia, both in the Seychelles. Here in Koh Samui, the entrance to the resort is 110 metres above sea level, but that measurement is a mere 650 metres, in a straight horizontal line, to the water. Think of it another way: the slope is more gruelling than walking on a Technogym jogger at 15 vertical. Each of the 60 villas in built on stilts, some incredibly high, and designers Bill Bensley and Jirachai Rengthong left the original 850 coconut palms so some, as at Villa 707, come up through the wood-tiled roof.
Every villa, built with a mirror image, in semi-detached style, is at least 130 sq metres with a 26 sq m pool and a big deck. Inside, my ceiling soared up, cathedral style. See the video below for a tour of my room. I could spend a week there, no problem, perhaps learning how to make the DIY Daiquiri that was part of my welcome. Others head, on one of the 60 buggies down to the beautiful beach that was part of the reason Bill Heinecke bought this idyllic spot back in 2000: there is a new 60-metre pool down there and a CoCoRum bar with six tall-backed double chairs – there are also six airy cabanas, and nearby is a single-plank table, cantilevered over the ocean, that can seat up to 20 for dinner.
The hyper-creative GM, Jeff Rednour, was all set for a basketball career back in Las Vegas, and he is always coming up with ideas here. There are so many dining opportunities, with paella nights, steak nights, romantic tables on the beach or in the 3,000-bottle wine cellar. The food is fabulous – I finished dinner, which included still-smoking just-smoked salmon, with a smoked yoghurt ice cream. Yes. really, and it was heavenly. In the morning I walked up, an Iron Man hike, to the 24/7 Citterio-for-Technogym for an extra work out, to make up for that dessert. The sun was coming up as I finished. Magical. Yet again eschewing a buggy, after a swim I hiked back up again for breakfast (OH the view, looking far down at the ocean) and as luck would have it met the pastry chef, Dustin Baxter, a Michigan lad who had created the dessert: pipe smoke into yoghurt for ages, remove said pipe and make into icecream.
And while still on food, lunch was memorable too. See the image at the top of the page. This is DIY room service, Moo Kra Ta Thai Barbecue. I had a low, round wood tub like the sawn-off end of a barrel. Inside this an iron liner held hot coals. On this was placed a metal lid with a concave outer rim. Into the rim is poured chicken broth, in which I cooked my vegetables. The central dome of the lid was brushed, using a stick of lemongrass, with olive oil to make it nonstick. On this I cooked my sesame-dusted free-range chicken breast strips, which of course kept on falling into the broth. SUPERB result! I really did not need the two starters, green papaya and beef salads, or the spicy dipping sauces, or the final platter of mango and pomelo. All this should have warranted a return to the hotel’s Jungle Spa (after reception, a total of 93 steps up or down through undergrowth that has become 100% lush since the hotel’s opening ten years ago this very month). But as so often happens, sadly, in my global tour of luxury hotels, it was time to move on – BUT DO WATCH THE VIDEO OF ROOM 707, BELOW