Reserved Luxury

Centara Reserve Samui is elevated in many ways

Centara Reserve Samui is the inaugural property of the new brand Reserve, which aims to be the five-star-luxury tier under Centara Hotels & Resorts, Thailand's leading hospitality operator. The beachfront property is formerly known as Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui for more than two decades until it was closed in 2019 for a complete transformation and reopened its doors on Dec 1 last year. Why the name Reserve? It's a place set aside for a special purpose where luxury and sanctuary intermingle.

Salt Society Beach Bar & Kitchen.

First impression

Centara Reserve Samui definitely leaves you with a good first impression by offering a thoughtful welcome at its open-air, basked-in-sunlight and spacious reception. Your Reserve stay memorably starts with not only just a welcome herbal drink and cold towel as per usual. The cold towel is scented with organic oranges. The welcome drink in a flute glass is called Silver velvet purple, a concoction of soda, lavender, lime and 24-carat edible silver, begging to be Instagrammed. Pair it with Magic boxes, red and blue cubes of Valrhona chocolate with popping candy inside. Then float a marigold for a little auspiciousness. Attention to detail seems to be the name of the game here and it was evident throughout my stay.

Beachfront.

Entrance.

Reserve Spa Cenvaree.

The original colonial splendour that the property is known for is polished up while the big green lawn that looks out to a long and pristine stretch of Chaweng Beach is a perfect backdrop for a destination wedding. The renovation that transitioned Centara Grand Samui into Centara Reserve Samui is not a mere job paint or refurbishment. Some units have been merged to make more spacious accommodation while in-room amenities have been upgraded to luxe up your stay.

The 184 accommodation units are categorised into rooms, pool suites and beachfront pool villas, starting respectably with the 40m² Deluxe Garden to the 501m² The Reserve Ocean Pool Villa. If your company is bigger than two, you can book two or three connecting rooms. If you're a water baby, definitely consider a Deluxe Pool Access on the ground level where you can access a swimming pool that you share with a handful of adjacent units, from your private terrace.

I checked into the middle accommodation range, namely a 67m² Reserve Pool Suite. The first thing that catches our eyes behind a big wooden gate is a sizeable outdoor pool perfect for luxuriating in. The suite has an open-plan layout where the living/sleeping area seamlessly merges with the big bathroom. Besides all of the trimmings you would expect from a respectable hotel room, Centara goes a bit beyond your expectations. For example, there are two sets of toiletries with different scents and you have two choices of bathrobes -- classic terry or breathable linen from Egypt. Whether you stay in a top or basic tier, your room comes with an elegant drink-mixing/minibar station featuring vodka, gin and whisky that gets replenished daily day. Soon, a recipe of the month will be available so you can DIY. Don't forget to ask for the surprise of the day. Mine was raspberry jelly candy.

Staying in

On the F&B front, Centara Reserve Samui seems to strive for both quality and quantity. There are six outlets, each of which has its own signature and appeal. Definitely a foodie playground for all kinds of palates around the clock. You can enjoy breakfast indoor or al fresco at the all-day dining restaurant The Terrace. Order from a la carte menu or help yourself to a salad station, a pastry room or an egg station. Go for Minute Wagyu steak from the a la carte menu if you want perfectly poached egg served on succulent meat. Definitely save room for their itty-bitty micro croissants from the pastry room. They are crunchy and cinnamon-ey despite their puny size.

Sa-Nga.

Wagyu beef salad.

The Pool Bar serves light meals and refreshments with Snapper ceviche and Korean chicken baguette being my recommendations. For a proper meal with a stunning horizon, Salt Society serves dome pizzas, Whole baked red snapper with chimichurri and avocado-lettuce sauce and Steak tartare. Wash them down with refreshing drinks served in conch-shaped, pufferfish-shaped or octopus-shaped glasses. In the evening, Salt Society becomes even more photogenic being lit with an amber hue. Catch "Mr. Smoke" making nitrogen liquid sangria tableside also in the evening. You can even give it a try yourself.

Gin connoisseurs should stop by The Gin Run where 35 types of house-infused gins are on offer for a pre-dinner tipple or nightcap. Sa-Nga is where Thai cuisine is reinterpreted in tapas form. Think Wagyu beef salad that harkens back to sue rong hai, succulent Lamb loin sprinkled with crispy noodles that pays homage to khao soi. However, the Scoville scale could have been turned up a notch.

Last but by no means least is Act 5 where flavours and theatre meet. By that, I mean every dish comes with a memorable presentation. I had Scallops with yuzu butter as the first act and it's served with coconut smoke trapped inside a dome glass. Fine de Claire oysters sprinkled with ikura and caviar are served on a bed of mineral salt and flambéd with dry gin before you can dig in. Vegetable glass is basically a selection of sixteen tiny dishes sectioned off in the form of 4-by-4 tic-tac-toe on a square piece of glass. You'll definitely eat with your eyes first at Act 5.

You can stave off an inevitable vacation weight at The Fitness Center, which is equipped with top-notch equipment and machine, steam room and yoga room. Stay hydrated with complimentary infused water and fresh fruits. Hit the beach if you want to kayak, canoe or sail a boat, the latter comes with an extra fee. Besides the main pool, there's also an adult-only pool located on a quiet corner of the lawn. It features a clear wall in the middle for an IG moment. Get bliss out at Reserve Spa Cenvaree which uses some ingredients harvested from its own farm to pamper you.

Going out

The Chaweng Beach Road where Centara Reserve Samui is on is much quieter compared to its pre-Covid self but some businesses and local restaurants are still open. If you want to learn about local wisdom and how to make a Thai compress herbal ball, consider Honey Rose Garden & Art, which is about a 30-minute ride from the hotel.

Final verdict

To me, one way to define a luxury stay is attention to details paid to make a guest experience memorable and Centara Reserve Samui has done just that. It is reborn afresh and the transformation definitely goes way deeper than skin-deep level. You should reserve a stay here (admit it, you see this line coming) if you want to escape from busy Bangkok for a luxurious yet relaxed stay at Centara Reserve Samui. The expansion of the new brand is in the pipeline so you can expect more Reserve properties at prime locations in the future.

Centara Reserve Samui is offering various packages, including The Villa Reserve Experience, which is a five-night stay with roundtrip airport transfer among other perks until Apr 30. Moreover, Salt Society is offering a romantic four-course set menu on St Valentine's Day for B1,990++ per person or B3,190++ per person with a wine pairing. Book at saltsocietysamui.com or call 077-230-500. Visit centarahotelsresorts.com/centarareserve/crs.

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