Island Life at its Best

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The Tongsai Bay is one of the most innovative resorts of Koh Samui.
Here’s why.

The first time you approach The Tongsai Bay (84 Moo 5, Bo Phut, Ko Samui, 077 245 480, www.tongsaibay.co.th), a sense of serendipity washes over you for you are suddenly aware that you are about to enter an extraordinary world.

MainIt is not only because this resort is truly secluded from the rest of the frenzy of development of Samui, with its 200-meter long private beach near pristine in its isolation. It is not only because the sea is free to sing its songs without a background blare of motorized water vehicles. It is not just because the resort’s 25 acres have been landscaped in ways that allow nature to reign verdant and supreme around the inviting architecture of its suites, cottages and villas.

It is all of this and much more.

One can say that The Tongsai Bay is both the oldest and most innovative resort on Samui. For centuries, fish, coconuts and rubber were the island’s mainstay. Its tropical jungle terrain knew no road until the early 1970s. In the 1980s, lured by Samui’s spectacular scenery and laid-back lifestyle, travelers began to arrive in growing numbers and tourism began its ascent into the dominant industry it is today. One of those visitors was Chairman Akorn Hontrakool of The Imperial Group, leading hotel chain, who was captivated by the dream of building Tongsai Bay.

Seeing far into the future, he not only commissioned the development of the island’s first five-star property, but chose to base its foundation on preserving the very nature into which it was placed. Thus The Tongsai Bay has always been committed to working with, and for, the environment. And while today the resort lies only ten minutes from both the international airport and the bustling town of Chaweng Beach, even after over a quarter century The Tongsai Bay is still secluded, a unique idyll hidden away from the traffic and noises of progress.

Bath with a view - Seafront Pool VillaBuilt with respect for the natural inclinations of the land, the grounds of the resort offer a quasi-paradise of carefully preserved and cultivated vegetation. A myriad of blooms, luxuriant trees, and a peaceful lily pond color the palette of landward views. Every turn on the path offers new horticultural pleasures. Part of it is edible, too, for an enormous organic herb and vegetable garden provides the freshest ingredients for the resort’s inspired kitchens. Recycling and composting are also essential aspects of respecting the property. Indeed, The Tongsai Bay is the initiator of the Green Project set up to urge those on the island to be aware of and support the delicate balance among flora and fauna. After all, even an island paradise needs helping hands to maintain its glory.

But of course it is the water and serene seaside that are the other star attractions of any stay at Tongsai Bay. The resort is meticulous in keeping its private beach clean so that your steps are soft upon the sand; your eyes and mind are free to consider the horizon. Or you might choose to watch sea meet sky while you enjoy a characterful cocktail on one of the restaurant terraces or from your own balcony or deck. There is too an intriguing choice of poolsides from which to gaze at the Gulf of Thailand—at sea level or halfway up the hillside, Adults Only for the latter. Then, of course, there are the villas with private pools…

McGuigan Cottage 1As if all this weren’t already more than enough for a brilliant island stay, the resort offers guests an array of activities. Kayaks, Hobie Cats, windsurfers, and snorkeling equipment are available as the weather permits. Closer to shore, foremost on the to-do list is the Prana Spa, set amidst the greenery, where well-being and pampering go hand in hand. For the more actively inclined, there is a hillside tennis court with such a stunning view of the bay that you might miss a ball or two, or three. A fitness room is there for those who prefer indoor exercise, and for those who like a more creative approach, Thai cooking classes with master chefs present a different type of hands-on experience. Then, too, tours of the island itself are on offer. So whether you want to float in the water, read that long-awaited novel on a chaise longue, paddle or hike, or not do anything at all and simply breathe the sea air and be in the moment, there really is something for each guest at The Tongsai Bay.

With such inviting surroundings, accommodations, and facilities, it is not surprising that many of those who come to stay at Tongsai Bay are return guests, both from Thailand and abroad. And then there are those couples who come here to get married, for the resort is expert at arranging gorgeous and memorable weddings, both western and Thai style, on the beach or indoors, intimate or for up to 100 guests. Of course the newlyweds are already on site for the honeymoon…

Po-ladTo celebrate not only weddings but any festive occasion or simply a holiday at the beach, the cooking at The Tongsai Bay reflects the care and attention to detail that discerning diners are accustomed to. The resort’s chefs are noted for their expertise and creativity in the kitchens. Thai cuisine as it should be, traditional and suffused with herbs, spices and garden freshness, is on the menu at Chef Chom’s Thai Restaurant, while Po-Lad Beach Bistro & Bar serve western, Chinese and Thai dishes that accent sea and land in gourmet fusion. Yet there is another venue for the variety of culinary indulgences that are offered: in the privacy of your own accommodation, with a chef presiding over the creation of your meal whether poolside, indoors by candlelight, or on your terrace under the stars.

Days and nights at The Tongsai Bay are meant to be savored.

And when, too soon, the time comes for you to leave this idyllic haven, there is a comforting thought to take along. Perhaps you too will return.

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