Four Seasons Koh Samui, Thailand review: Spectacular resort is worth a splurge

CHECK-IN

No palm trees were harmed in the making of this review. In fact, those behind the creation of this fabulous 71-villa resort insist that not a single tree whatsoever was felled in its construction with even more planted after its opening. The spectacularly lush Four Seas Koh Samui, where the discreet thatched villas don't even try and compete with the abundant foliage, is an easy one hour and 15-minute flight from Bangkok. Located in the vast Gulf of Thailand, close to Thailand's slender Isthmus of Kra east coast, Koh Samui is nearly 230 square kilometres in size and is the kingdom's second largest island after Phuket.

THE LOOK

Four Seasons Koh Samui was designed a decade and a half ago by American Bill Bensley, arguably Asia's most visionary hotel and resort "starchitect". The flamboyant Bangkok-based Bensley still ranks it as one of his most special projects (and, believe me, his hotels and resorts are never anything other than truly special). Even before the full rise of sustainability, "minimal intervention" was the essence of the resort's ambitious design and construction, with retention of the lofty palm groves also a preventive measure against landslides and drainage problems. However, the resort's unusually precipitous site means guests must be transported pretty much everywhere by a fleet of always available electric buggies (although there's nothing to stop you eschewing them to give your glutes one hell of a workout on foot). 

THE VILLA

Bensley says the footprint of the villas, all which come with private pools and every imaginable mod-con for a resort of this calibre, was kept relatively modest to preserve the natural environment. With respect to the architect, that's risible since our indulgent accommodation is hardly cramped at 103 square metres in size. But, in the unlikely event you do find your villa, replete with views of the Gulf of Thailand, surrounding islands and the tropical forest setting, a little cramped, there's always the main infinity pool set back from the resort's own talc-white sandy beach. Pool attendants are on hand to provide ice water, chilled towels and water spritzes at poolside with an adjacent bar for the harder stuff.

FOOD AND DRINK

This being Thailand, food plays an integral part of any stay at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui. The main restaurant is the attractive open-sided Koh Thai Kitchen specialising in the country's southern cuisine. Set on one of the resort's loftiest, palm-fringed peninsulas, there's indoor and outdoor seating and you'll want to secure a table on the breezy terrace with its arresting resort and ocean views, at least for a sundowner or three. By nightfall, be dazzled by the spectacle of fishing vessels ringing the island, with their bright green lights attracting  the local squid population. Elsewhere, at the bottom of the hill, there's also the oceanside, Mediterranean-themed Pla Pla, opposite the main pool, and a prime spot for a casual lunch.

OUT AND ABOUT

Even though we stayed two nights, arriving in the early evening from Bangkok on the first, there was regrettably no time to experience the rest of the island. But, as you will have deciphered, there's plenty to keep you content and indulged within the generous confines of the resort, even down to its own, fully-equipped Muay Thai boxing ring for seaside lessons and work-outs as well as marine biologist-led water tours.

THE VERDICT

This glamorous, splurge-worthy Four Seasons remains one of Thailand's most well-conceived, sensitively-designed and spectacularly-positioned island resorts.

ESSENTIALS

In the low season, pool villas start from THB22,800 ($930). Visit the resort's website for various offers including 20 per cent off for advanced bookings and a third night for free deals. Four Seasons operates three other resorts in Thailand, in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Four Seasons Resort Koh Samuim 219 Moo 5, Angthong, Koh Samui, Thailand. Phone: +66 77 243 000. See fourseasons.com

HIGHLIGHT

The Four Seasons' elevated, densely-vegetated setting, and the ocean views it affords, is genuinely breathtaking.

LOWLIGHT

This decidedly steep and hilly resort isn't exactly made for walking, though it doesn't stop the diehard joggers.

Advertisement

SCORE

★★★★★

Anthony Dennis stayed a guest of Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui.