Although Koh Samui has developed rapidly over the last five years, it’s still got that cruisey beach feel to it. It’s more “appropriate” than Phuket if you’re holidaying with family, and a lot less busy and congested than Bali – plus, the quaint little tropical airport is a dream to get through, with only smaller planes landing and no visa-on-arrival queues or departure taxes. It makes the more expensive fares worth the money. We stayed in the new setup of resort villas, Lime Samui, on the northwest corner of the island, about 30 minutes from the airport.
On the way to the property, you pass Bophut and Maenam, all with shops and resorts of various kinds. Before you get to Nathon, the major ferry port to mainland Thailand, is the fairly steep and winding road to Lime. Villa number four at Lime, Villa Zest, is just below the larger Lime villas, so you could have a huge party of guests staying within walking distance of each other but still in separate accommodation.
Zest itself has four double bedrooms, each with a different layout and décor, and all with large ensuites – some with outdoor showers and a couple with verandahs, but all with great views of the sea. The fifth bedroom has a clever combination of double beds and bunks that can sleep six easily, so it’s the perfect kids’ room – and with décor to suit.
The accommodation is very well thought out and beautifully finished. There’s a large seating pit for the TV, which can also play music videos, and indoor and outdoor dining areas, plus a barbecue pit, making it perfect for wining and dining with ease. The living areas have free wi-fi, and some of the other rooms have intermittent connections. All bedrooms have TVs, too. With its funky artworks and décor accents, Zest makes you feel like you’re in an actual home and not in a hotel – but you also don’t feel that you’re in someone else’s home, if that makes sense!
The villa fits into the side of the hill, with two bedrooms higher than the living area and three below. Sun loungers and the infinity pool give you the view over the ocean during the day and some pretty spectacular sunsets in the evening. With an in-house chef and hostess Kai on hand, it’s easy to order food the day before or even earlier on the same day, from delicious Pad Thai and green curries to Western choices. Continental or full English breakfasts are available too. Kai is there to look after everyone, but most of the time the staff are behind the scenes and don’t disturb you.
On the opposite side of the island is the larger commercial area of Chaweng with the shopping centre of Central, with some fairly good regular priced shops as well as smaller street markets. For really good Western food, try The Kitchen – we thought it was excellent, with great pizza and bruschetta. The larger and longer beach stretch and nightlife area is here too, though there are obviously pubs and other nightlife hangouts all over the island.
We visited the Bikini Bar at Lamai Beach and had a cocktail with a good Pad Thai and a not-to-be-recommended Cuban sandwich. The bar was almost in the water on the day we were there, and we sat at a table with our feet in the waves at high tide, listening to fantastic reggae music
South of the villa is the Na Muang waterfall with a little market and elephant rides, the famous Mummified Monk and various outdoor activities like zip-lining, go-karting and monkey conservation shows. There are plenty of boat trips on offer, and snorkeling and diving too. In all, Villa Zest is a really well done resort villa in a chilled location but still with plenty nearby to occupy all ages.
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This article first appeared in the January edition of Expat Living. Subscribe.