Cultivating serenity

Stress evaporates when you are choosing between the pool and the jacuzzi, writes Andrew Taylor.

There's a private jacuzzi with my name written on it, not to mention a blue-tiled swimming pool with bar service and a view of Lamai Beach. But luxury can wait while I sit in a small room, trying to get my tongue around a few simple Thai phrases, courtesy of Took,

the resident language teacher at the Renaissance Koh Samui Resort & Spa.

Took, so named, he says, because he was born in a tuktuk, is giving me a crash course in counting, shopping and how to greet men, women and lady boys, which is always handy in gender-flexible Thailand.

After the crowds and kitsch of Ko Samui's Chaweng Beach area, the serenity of the Renaissance is more than welcome. Ceiling fans whirl lazily over a shallow pool in the reception area lined with statues and wooden furniture as we are speedily checked in and led along a path shaded by tropical plants, including the padauk and golden shower tree, to a resort villa.

An imposing gateway opens on to a shaded paved courtyard separated by a low wall from the villa's private jacuzzi.

Inside, the air is scented with jasmine and the king-size canopy bed is demanding to be jumped on while our luggage is being brought in by an attentive staff member.

There is a lot to love about the villa, from its high ceilings, plush lounge area and spacious bathroom with separate basins, to thoughtful touches, such as the international adaptor provided in a conveniently placed power point.

Our quibbles are minor. The large-screen television is fixed to a wall where it cannot be seen from the bed, perhaps for the best, and the weak Wi-Fi signal, we're told, is caused by overcast weather. It also takes several attempts to open the villa's safe.

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The resort has received generally favourable reviews on hotel sites although some guests have complained about the leaf litter that collects in the jacuzzi and the resort's distance from both Chaweng's shopping and restaurants and the more sedate Lamai. The Renaissance provides free shuttles to both areas, although the service is infrequent.

Built at the secluded end of Lamai Beach, the resort's amenities include a pool fringed with palms, statues and double day beds - all hard to go past.

Throw in the 50-metre lap pool, classes in yoga, Thai boxing, activities for children and the array of restaurants and bars, and it's easy to find a reason to remain within the resort. It also hosts cooking classes taught by resident chefs.

Dinner at the resort's TawaNN restaurant is an elegant affair as we watch paper lanterns being released from the beach to float into the night sky.

The food is impeccably prepared although dishes like creamy saffron risotto and ravioli seem too heavy, given the evening's humidity. The restaurant's dim lighting, presumably to foster romance among the many couples holidaying here, also makes the menu a chore to read.

Soaking up all this luxury is horribly stressful, which makes a trip to the Quan Spa a must. The Qi Fusion massage, a combination of Thai and Swedish massage methods, promises to banish the stress caused by buffet breakfasts and deciding what cocktail to drink. After 60 minutes of kneading my lazy flesh, Jin the masseuse, offers dried mango and fruit tea and leaves me to another afternoon of lounging by the pool, working my way through the drinks menu.

The writer was a guest of the Renaissance Koh Samui Resort & Spa.

TRIP NOTES

WHERE

The Renaissance Koh Samui Resort & Spa, Lamai Beach, Koh Samui.

HOW MUCH

Rooms from THB6560 ($230) a night.

TOP MARKS

The resort's beautifully landscaped gardens are breathtaking.

BLACK MARK

There's no faulting the resort's hospitality but staff can be difficult to understand.

MORE INFORMATION

renaissancekohsamui.com.

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