Review of the Conrad Koh Samui and all it's glory
If you follow my article on the recent devaluation, you can see a list of my top 10 aspirational hotels. It's no secret that the Conrad Koh Samui is one of those aspirational hotels in the Hilton hotel line that is the stuff of dreams.
As I was planning my Epic trip in 2012, I literally mapped out where I was going to go based on how I could use my hard-earned Hilton HHonors points. The ones I knew I just HAD to hit up were Bali, Tokyo and lastly Koh Samui. In all honesty though, it wasn't the fact it was Koh Samui that led me to this one but it's one of those properties that once you see ANY photo of it, you'll fall in love with it.
And so there I was, at the prestigious Conrad Koh Samui in May of 2012. Although I wasn't with my significant other, I was still happy to be there with my best friend. At times, it almost felt like we were probably judged to be a gay couple but whatever! Epic hotel for an epic trip.
When you think about that relaxing R&R vacation, soaking in the sun and enjoying the hospitality of Thailand, one usually thinks of Phuket or Koh Samui. The former being a bit more crowded and sometimes rowdy and wild while Koh Samui often viewed as a little more luxurious and secluded.
The Conrad Koh Samui is located in Koh Samui (or Ko Samui) which is Thailand's second largest island after Phuket and in the southern part and on the eastern coast. The airport and the main city of Chaweng is located to the north east and you'll find that most hotels/resorts are in that area and downwards to Lamai but the Conrad is actaully located to the south and a bit farther away as you can see on the map. This of course has its pros and cons. The advantage is that it's in a very exclusive and quiet. The disadvantage is that there aren't too many activities and food options nearby. As a result you will seriously need to contemplate renting a car or just accept the fact that you will need to hire a taxi or take one of those taxi vans around the island. I'll get back to that later.
Now here's the amazing part about the resort and seriously I only need one photo to to convey the Conrad's epicness. This is exactly the same photo that I first saw that got me hooked instantly.
Okay so a little about the resort. This is a 5-star luxury resort that sprawls over a 25-acre property situated literally on a mountain side facing the west. The resort features 65 one-bedroom villas, 14 two-bedroom villas and 1 Royal villa. Really the big selling point for me was that you have spectacular views of sunset anywhere you are on the resort since you're facing west and it's truly one of those places that there's no reason for you to leave your suite let alone the resort. Every suite has their own infinity pool. Yes you read right…your very own private infinity pool. That's pretty much all you need to know about this place.
If you're coming from the airport, it's about a 30-40 minute ride down. For me, we were actually just moving resorts from Le Meridien Koh Samui Resort & Spa so we ordered a cab to take us down. It's pretty secluded once you past the Lamai area so one recommendation of mine (actually our cab driver said it would be smart) would be to get the cab to stop at a grocery/convenient store (i.e. Family Mart) before you head all the way south to stock up on some snack/fruits/drinks/alcohol. There's not a lot of signage as you're heading down but you'll be winding through some jungle-like areas before reaching the road leading up. From there, it's an uphill climb, some windy roads, a security gate check and then you're treated with a lovely roundabout with this massive water fountain bowl and open air lobby with already spectacular views.
The check-in process was painless and smooth. We were treated with these amazing cold lemon grass tea drinks which I will never forget. In fact throughout the trip I asked for this drink in particular many times :). Once checked-in and done all the paper work, the lady at the front desk called for a golf cart and escorts us down as we were quickly whisked away through winding roads downhill to take us to our suite.
With the map layout you have to understand that the main check-in lobby is actually at the very top of the mountain. From there, it's a winding switchback road that takes you downwards.
I only have knowledge of the regular one-bedroom villas so I'll be focusing on that in this review. I will flat out say that from an individual room/suite perspective, the Conrad Koh Samui villas are perhaps the BEST suites I've ever stayed at.
When you first enter the suite, the lady gives you a full walk through of the suite which was lovely. A few notables were that we had our own comfy Conrad slippers but of course they're pre-stocked to be his and hers instead of the his and his set up we had lol. The room also came with a platter of fruits and snacks (though this is most likely because of my Diamond status), a welcome letter, elephant paper weight and glass bottles of water. I'm usually not a snob about these kind of things but talk about attention to detail. I've never had glass bottles of water at a hotel before!
It's not unnecessarily large but just right for two people. The art and decor is simple and tasteful. The bed is large. The bathroom is HUGE. The bath tub is this crazy oversized bowl, the his & her sinks are not your customary against-the-wall set up but in fact in the middle of the room. The shower is also simply massive.
The TV and entertainment system is top notch. The suite is equipped with a mac mini from what I remember, and a fancy remote. There was no real need to watch tv but were able to entertain ourselves with some YouTube clips and even bought a pirated DVD in Chaweng to watch at one point. Most high tech.
And of course how can I miss the incredible view, the deck complete with beach chairs and table and the infinity pool itself. Words don't do it any justice. Just look. We enjoyed many sunsets from here.
Here's a little photo tour.
The only restaurant we can really speak about at the resort is the breakfast and boy was it worth waking up for. Now we were relatively close to the mid-level restaurant but they told us to not hesitate when needing to get around in the resort so we would call the concierge and we'd have a buggy at our door in 10 minutes.
The breakfast for Diamond members was free which made it that much more sweet. As with the Conrad Bali, the breakfast was jam packed with foods from all regions. I can only describe it as a culinary adventure. Just as I got stuffed everyday eating at the Conrad Bali, the exact same thing happened at the Conrad Koh Samui. It was buffet style and had a lot of the standard breakfast dishes you'd see at most breakfasts but also had a lot of unique items that had a local/Asian flair. There were also a few stations where you can get cooked-to-desire type foods. I usually got my own omelette and made sure I tried the plethora of juices and fruits.
Aside from that we were on a bit of a budget so we didn't get to try the other restaurants. However, upon recomendations from the front desk, we did try an amazing restaurant super close by to the result called Green Ta'lay. It cost us 500 Baht to get down there but was well worth it. A lot of hotel guests were there and the food was amazing. Highly recommended and well rated on TripAdvisor as well.
As part of being Diamond, we got a free 60 minute massage at the resort. BEWARE at first we were by default provided the free wine which we didn't want so I made sure we got the receptionist to change it for us. She was pretty nice about that. Another tip is to book your time slot as early as possible as they do fill up. There are a lot of Diamond members at the resort.
The spa itself was very pleasant and very professional as well. Out of my entire trip, this was probably the most luxurious spa I went to. It definitely lived up to the Conrad name. The spa building was extremely clean as you'd expect, zen and well decorated to keep in line with the theme of simplicity, Thai and modern.
Okay I'll be honest here and tell you that…we basically didn't use any of the other facilities. One reason for that was that there were a couple of days where we had activities outside the resort planned and so we didn't have too many full days at the resort. The main reason though was like I stated already, there was no real incentive to check out the rest of the resort because our suite was that damn amazing.
As expected, most of the guests at this hotel were newly weds. We met a few guests at our hotel through my dive training or Angthong Cruise and another trend I started to notice was that most guests were simultaneously also consultants/business travellers of sorts and staying on points. That makes sense since these suites cost the pretty penny and the only way for most of us to afford it through the use of points.
Service was top notch from top to bottom. The buggy service was always on time. The concierge was able to fulfill all my requests including preparation of a hot breakfast packed in a bag for my early morning dive lessons. I also asked about the little plush Conrad toys which wasn't on our bed. She wasn't sure what I was talking about but worked hard to try to find out if the hotel had any. Sadly, the Conrad Koh Samui doesn't have any of these collectibles at the time we were there. Service met my expectations as a 5 star luxury resort.
Exploring Koh Samui
I feel like Koh Samui is definitely more suited for a bit of the older crowd wanting to relax and soak in the sun. There are activities on the island but doesn't focus on crazy partying that some other places have or a wide range of activities.
That being said, me being part of the younger crowd was still able to find lots of things to do. At the same time, I kind of wish we just spent more time in our suite chilling but we wanted to do some exploring as well. Based on my research, we were able to do the following in Koh Samui:
- Diving – Most will flock to Koh Tao but there's still a lot of diving to be done here.
- Angthong National Marine Park – The jewel of Koh Samui. There's the James Bond rock to see, mountains to climb, snorkelling and diving. We were able to see most of the park through Samui Boat Charter Co.
- Chaweng – The craziest it really gets in Koh Samui
- Bophut – Neat night/fisherman's market to walk through
4.5 stars out of 5
For a resort like this where you're looking to just relax and live in the lap of luxury, this is the place to be. There aren't too many resorts that can say their suites are built on stilts, have their own private infinity pool and is facing the right way to have amazing sunsets everyday.
My only issue with the resort is really just the location. It's a bit far from most things and with the taxi mafia taking advantage of all the tourists that flood into Koh Samui, it gets pricey. As much as I loved staying in our suite, it would've been nice to have more nearby options to change it up.
This was definitely one of the highlights of my trip to Asia. Aside from perhaps my trip to the Conrad Maldives I'm really not sure how else I'll be able to top this resort. Save up those Hilton HHonors points or some of your hard earned cash for this place. Well worth it!