The newly opened Meliá Koh Samui has given a new lease on life to 31 teak wood merchant vessels that are more than 100 years old and once traversed the Gulf of Thailand, converting 30 of them into elegant two-storey Boat Suites and the remaining vessel into an innovative kids’ club.
Ranging in area from 91 to 100 sqm, the suites each feature a bedroom with polished wooden floors on their upper deck, and a dressing room and impressive bathroom, replete with a soaking tub and double showers, on the lower deck. These suites offer either views of Choeng Mon Beach, on the north-eastern tip of Koh Samui, garden vistas or direct access to a 1600 sqm lagoon pool that loops through the resort’s lush grounds like a river.
Before the boats could be converted into suites, their decayed teak wood structures required extensive refurbishment that was by no means an easy feat. To carry out the specialised task, the resort recruited craftsmen experienced in boat restoration to painstakingly restore the wood structures.
The craftsmen cut out old decayed wood and replaced it, piece by piece. They attended to decayed wood in the keel of the boats, the bottom-most longitudinal structural element of the vessels. They restored the strakes of wood that run along the length of each boat from the bow to the stern on either side of the keel all the way up to the gunwale, the top edge of the hull. Also needing restoration were the intricate ribs that support the hull and give the vessels their shape and strength, upon which the strakes of wood are fastened.
In a method handed down through the generations of boat builders, the craftsmen used a special concoction of ingredients including rubber oil and red lime together with cotton rope to seal joints, gaps and holes.
“These boats were built to last due to the great strength and durability of the teak wood as well as the craftsmanship initially invested in them,” said Meliá Koh Samui’s general manager Ernesto Osuna. “In a fitting tribute to Thailand’s seagoing past, we turned to the tried and true methods of the shipwrights to provide the sturdy foundation of our Boat Suites, that really are one of a kind.”
The Boat Suites are part of the tastefully done nautical theme evident throughout the 159-room and 41-suite luxury beachfront resort. Located 15 minutes from Samui International Airport, the first property in Thailand launched under Spanish hotel group Meliá Hotels International is also home to two restaurants, an executive lounge, a swim-up bar, two-level infinity pool with sunken seating areas, spa, fitness centre, and ballroom. For families, there’s the kids’ club – also housed in a former teak wood vessel – an outdoor playground and a mini water park.
The Boat Suites are among the resort’s rooms and suites belonging to The Level, an upgraded level of service and benefits, that provides access to the light and airy executive lounge shaped like a boat’s hull. The Level Lounge also boasts a vast open terrace with panoramic views of Choeng Mon Beach.
In the lobby, the aptly named Boat’s Bar is shaped like a long boat with a black hull topped with eggshell-coloured marble. Sculptures and installations of boats adorn the lobby, including vessels that appear to be floating on the surface of the lobby’s floor.
Other nods to the seafaring theme include big white ceramic vases, fashioned to look like they are festooned in barnacles, paintings of the ocean, and miniature wooden boats for sale at The Gallery. It is a not-for-profit social enterprise designed to help improve the lives of Thai communities by selling accessories and home décor items made by talented Thai designers and artists.
“We commissioned artists who created sculptures, installations, paintings and more that provide captivating interpretations of a way of life that sustained many in Thailand for centuries, that come together here at the resort to help tell our boat story,” said Mr Osuna.
An educational display in the lobby, comprising miniature boats in glass displays and a wall-mounted timber map of the Gulf of Thailand, outlines the history of the refurbished vessels for guests who are curious to know more about this boat story.
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