Timeless elegance at Vana Belle, Koh Samui
Encapsuled in a green bubble with the crystal clear ocean and pristine white sand beach in front, Vana Belle, Koh Samui is on Chaweng Noi Beach.
Named after the Thai word for forest: vana and the French word for beautiful, the Luxury Collection resort is tucked into a secluded cover, fringed by a verdant forest. Though Vana Belle opened its doors in January 2013, it still offers modern amenities, with one of the best features being a private pool in every suite and villa. The other is the 180m-beachfront, which is the longest straight beach on Koh Samui.
The driveway to the lobby is engulfed in nature and upon arrival the first thing one notices is the vast expanse of blue in front. The link between the resort and the mythical tale of Himmaphan and its creatures, is apparent the moment you enter. The most prominent mythical creature, Gun Chorn Waree, the elephant with the fishtail, is a prominent feature throughout the resort.
Guests are welcomed at the reception with a hand-cleansing ritual to wash the bad luck away before checking-in. Vanabelle Koh Samui
Guests are welcomed at the reception with a hand-cleansing ritual to wash the bad luck away before checking-in to one of the 79 lavish suites or villas. Welcome drinks are served in the open-air lobby which offers a bird's-eye view of the Gulf of Thailand.
Designed to offer guests complete privacy, each pool suite and villa is designed in contemporary style with indigenous Thai accents. The expansive outdoor space is common to all the suites and villas, though some come with stunning views over the beach, while others are of the lush rainforest as a backdrop.
I stayed in the Tropical Pool Villa, which was bang smack on the beach, nestled among the resort's lush gardens. The view from the bed -- the exquisite beach, sea and a shimmering pool -- was the best view to wake up to each morning. Seamlessly integrating the dramatic sea views are the French windows letting the room bathe in natural light, highlighting its tranquil cream and brown tones.
The pool retains its privacy because of the greenery around it and is the best spot to indulge in some skinny dipping with a toast from the in-room Champagne bar. The villa came with my personal butler, named Cynthia, who was always efficient and on hand to assist me with my additional desires.
However, if that pool doesn't catch your fancy, you can always mermaid in the beachfront infinity pool. Cabanas line the poolside wooden decking from where you can bask in the glory of the rising sun. For the tanners, the beach is dotted with sun loungers.
The resort's beachfront restaurant is called Panali and it specialises in southern Thai cuisine. The alfresco setting offers a casual atmosphere which pairs well with the fresh seafood dishes, most locally-caught, rice noodles, coconut juice, sun-dried ingredients, rich curries and spicy dips. A meal at Panali is not to be missed.
Breakfast is served at Kiree, the hilltop restaurant with an indoor dining room and a terrace with views of the sparkling blue ocean. The Vana Belle signature breakfast with the free-flow prosecco, an extensive selection of a la carte dishes and a small buffet for breads, salads and cereals. Do try the unique Vana Belle Egg Benedict.
The Lobby Lounge is the place to enjoy the Jib Nam Cha or afternoon tea, which requires an advance booking of a minimum of two hours. This is also the best spot for sundowners or crafted cocktails in the afternoon.
The only minus being that if you are in a suite or villa on a high level, there is no elevator. You have to climb up, therefore making the resort a tad difficult for people who don't like climbing stairs. Though the sweeping views make up for climb.
Though the hotel is close to Koh Samui's attractions, the main visit should be to the Isaan Rum Distillery. The distillery is Thailand's only organic rum distillery producing Caribbean agricole-style spirits. Do take a tour to see the process and indulge in a few drinks by their pool. Ask for a tasting of their ginger liqueur.
Vana Belle, Koh Samui offers all the four pillars that the hotel is built around: recharge, rejuvenate, relax and romance. With a quiet beachfront and gracious hospitality, the resort is the perfect island getaway in these times.
Vana Belle, Koh Samui, Chaweng Noi Beach, Surat Thani / Call 077-915-555, visit luxurycollection.com/vanabellesamui or FB: vanabellekohsamui.