Nestled on the southwest coast of one of Thailand’s most popular holiday destinations, Avani+ Samui is a taste of the future of hospitality’s, discovers Nick Walton.
Let me tell you about a little hideaway where couples can be seduced, where families can frolic, and where the bustle of the modern world is kept at bay. This is an intimate little enclave where check-in and check-out times are as flexible as the coconut palms that line the walkways leading to modern guest rooms sequestered behind walls and private balconies. It’s a place that’s trying to break the mold of tropical resorts, one that’s putting the power back in the hands of the guest while embracing the beauty of its locale. This is the Avani+ Samui.
A New Style of Resort
First impressions of the Avani+ Samui don’t tell much of the new resort’s story. Guests arrive in an intimate lobby of polished concrete walls. There’s beaming staff in immaculate white uniforms and walkways that lead off in different directions. But then you see the Pantry, the resort’s answer to a minibar, where guests can buy anything from sunscreen and Moet Chandon champagne to kale chips and fresh fruit, and you start to get a sense that this is a hotel that’s doing things a little different.
Avani is operated by Minor, a global hospitality group best known for its luxurious Anantara hotels and resorts. Within the Avani brand, some properties have been designated “+”, meaning they offer a little more than the average hideaway. The Samui property, with just 52 rooms and villas, opened in December 2018 on Phang Ka Bay and offers a more intimate approach to this island playground, complete with nature-inspired interiors, innovative dining, verdant gardens, and intelligent service.
Time to Disappear…
I make for my room, down cool, quiet paths, past an adults-only pool where a solitary couple gossip on sun loungers, and past the resort’s restaurant, a blissfully al fresco affair overlooking an estuary, with a Volkswagen Kombi van that’s been converted into a cocktail bar to one side. The set up tells of a new era in affordable luxury, of intelligent design for design-savvy travellers looking for experience as well as seclusion.
My Avani Pool Villa is hidden behind tall walls and timber gates. There’s a private plunge pool and a double-sized sun lounger, overlooked by a master bedroom with floor-to-ceiling windows, a wall-mounted flat-screen television, a deep-set couch, and a king-sized bed. There’s a walk-in wardrobe-cum-dressing room, and a shower you could fit a football team in, as well as high-speed wifi, a Bluetooth speaker, and a notice board with my name posted above notifications of specialty dining events and daily cocktail specials.
New Rules for New Travellers
The shy porter tells me there’s no set check-in or check-out time, all you need to do is give the resort 48 hours’ notice so it can ensure you get as much holiday bang for your buck as possible. You’ll spend that extra time with a raft of activities, ranging from complimentary long-tail boat excursions to neighbouring islands Koh Tan and Koh Madsum, where the snorkelling is world-class; to beach yoga sessions and kayaking excursions to local mangrove forests.
For me, the only excursion I have in mind is to the Avani SPA, where therapist Meow soothes my skin with coconut oil during the spa’s soul-soothing, muscle-melting signature massage. The experience is nothing short of bliss and I float back to my villa, ethereal, to change for dinner.
The resort’s restaurant is called Essence and is sublimely laid back, with a handful of tables set under a broad awning and overlooking a family swimming pool and a tidal inlet. At Essence, chef Kian Wagner prepared Thai and International dishes in accordance with the Avani Honest Food concept, one which utilizes local producers and produce as much as possible. From duck confit in red curry to delectable fish cakes with mango chilli salsa, the cuisine is bright, fresh and modern, just like the Avani+ approach to hospitality in paradise.
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