Samujana sophistication in Samui

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Infinity pool of one of the Samujana villas

Samujana, a collection of boutique villas on Koh Samui offers the full luxury experience from wellness programmes to private cinema to a guest experience manager. The only thing to distract you from the relaxation is the abundance of breathtaking views

According to Gary Fell, the sought-after architect behind Samujana, “the views are the stars and the guests bring the colour”. Samujana is a collection of 25 boutique villas set in a hillside on Koh Samui, Thailand.

Fell’s vision was to incorporate as much of the original rock outcrops and mature trees into the villas as possible. “The project is essentially a landscape rather than a series of villas,” he says.

The result is that when we first walk into any one of the villas we are almost knocked out by the view across the Gulf of Thailand. Furthermore, every property is perfectly positioned to enjoy the sun rising and grant access to a private beach.

Fell began work on Samujana in 2003. Back then, this part of Thailand was largely a haven for backpackers and home to all-night parties on the lively Chaweng Beach.

He wasn’t altogether sure if this was the right place to be considering a development for the high end of the market.

The backpackers still come here in their droves and the party is still going strong in Chaweng, but Koh Samui is now firmly established as a destination for luxury travellers too.

And one of the places that has spearheaded this transition is Samujana with its attention to detail and staff who will go the proverbial extra mile to help guests.

It almost goes without saying that this is the sort of place where every residence comes with its own ‘guest experience manager’.

Joy was the woman tasked with looking after us and, when another Samujana group failed to turn up for a dinner reservation in Koh Samui, she rang around the other restaurants to make sure nothing untoward had happened to her guests.

Samujana also delivers on the promise of being a secluded retreat. Once a month, a barbecue is held for all the residents and it came as something of a surprise to discover that we had so many neighbours.

As Fell explains: “No views are blocked by pitched roofs and what can be seen of other villas is confined to the landscaped roof gardens.”

Peace, serenity and wellness

Samujana sun terrace

It will come as no surprise, though, to learn that in among this beautiful haven of peace and tranquillity a wide range of wellbeing packages and soothing treatments are available – from group or private yoga sessions to the Amrita Wellness Programme, which delivers the ultimate in detox experiences.

Possibly against our better judgement, we opted for a spot of Thai boxing with the instructor Kriss, who, at his last count, had fought in some 70 Thai boxing bouts. After one of his workouts we felt our next holiday couldn’t come soon enough.

The smallest – albeit still huge – villa is set across two floors and boasts three bedrooms and bathrooms as well as an extra bed and a crib if required. It can comfortably accommodate three couples. Oh, and there’s a private cinema room as well.

The largest residence is No 24, which features eight bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, a gym, a private cinema, a steam room, Jacuzzi, office/study and a games room. The only thing missing is Uncle Tom Cobley rustling up a fish curry in one of its two kitchens. Each villa also comes with its own infinity pool.

Guests are so well looked after it may be difficult to tear themselves away from the lap of luxury, but it’s worth it. There are boat trips on a variety of vessels to suit a range of budgets.

Director boarded the Kindred Spirit catamaran and took a tour around the local islands. The standout attraction is the Big Buddha Temple on Ko Phan, though the Wharf, a shopping centre-cum- marketplace located at the western end of the Fisherman’s Village, is also worth a visit.

When it comes to dining at Samujana, options include ordering from the in-house menu and having food prepared in the villa by one of the on-site chefs.

Alternatively, those who prefer to self-cater can visit the local markets with the expert guidance of the guest experience manager to source the full range of ingredients. A little local knowledge goes a long way.

We were hardly short of enjoyable restaurants in Koh Samui, but Samujana can provide recommendations ranging from small family eateries to high-end dining. That said, the best meals we had on this trip were served at the resort.

Samujana is located just 10 minutes from Koh Samui airport and that is the only downside to staying at the resort – because, at some point, you have to go back home.

Getting to Koh Samui

Director flew from Heathrow to Bangkok with British Airways and Bangkok to Koh Samui with Bangkok Airways. Economy class returns cost from £612. For more information, visit britishairways.com

Accommodation

The five-star Samujana Resort offers villas ranging from three to eight double beds that can accommodate groups from six to 16 adults. Prices start from £700 per night for a three-bed villa. For more information, go to samujana.com

Samujana gallery

About author

Claire Woodall

Claire Woodall

Picture Editor at Director Magazine, previously worked at Sky and BBC Magazines.

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