Serenity abounds at Six Senses Samui, where thatched-roofed villas made from bamboo and weathered teak peer out amidst 20 acres of lush natural vegetation. Visitors can soak up stunning panoramic views of the Gulf of Thailand, where nothing but the occasional white-bellied sea eagle soaring overhead interrupts the view.
The luxury, eco-friendly resort features 66 spacious duplex villas that wind down the sloping green headland of the northeastern tip of Koh Samui, 59 of which feature a generous sun-bleached wood deck with a sunken infinity pool peeping over the tree tops, offering guests their own private outlook of paradise.
Designed in a contemporary Asian style and complementing the surrounding natural landscape, the villas have a fuss-free yet high-quality aesthetic, with the architecture and furniture made from materials like teak, rattan, palm fronds and bamboo. The bathrooms are a highlight, designed with a sunken tub in the natural stone floor and an al fresco shower surrounded by tall walls of bamboo, inviting guests to wash with an invigorating sense of freedom out in the elements. In the larger suites, a bed romantically canopied with white muslin (a must to keep away mosquitos) can be curtained off by drawing a thick, folding rattan screen across the room. The high apex of the hand-thatched roof creates a wonderful sense of space, while the floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall glass windows offer unbeatable sea views from every vantage point.
Working with the in-house design team, Bangkok-based architects Metric were inspired by Thai fishing villages to celebrate the cultural heritage of the island, creating low-lying, open-walled buildings, like the restaurants and lobby. The library sports a sense of fun, with a large wall-to-wall woven hammock overhead, reminiscent of a fishing net. In the villas and public bathrooms wooden handles and wall hooks are designed in a simple fish shape, while the hooks that tether the drawstring of the blinds poke out like a fishtail.
In 2015, 11 years after it opened, the resort underwent a refurbishment, rejuvenating the accommodation and public areas with a lighter, brighter palette and renewed natural materials. While accents of zesty green highlight the lush vegetation surrounding the resort, they’re actually inspired by green coconuts, say the resort’s design team. In the lobby, bar and villas, quirky wooden chairs and stools are carved in the uneven shape of a coconut shell, while the green upholstery on seat cushions and sofas is fresh and inviting.
Six Senses Samui is also green in another sense, with sustainability at the heart of its operations. During the upgrade, no material was thrown away or wasted. At the main restaurant, Dining on the Hill, scraps of metal were used to make wall sconces, old copper lamps helped create a copper hood over the live cooking station, while wood was recycled to create a new buffet counter. At the on-site farm, toilets have been repurposed into novelty planters and crockery and glass crushed into concrete. While small, the farm has helped the resort to become known as one of Thailand’s most luxurious eco-friendly hotels. It sustainably ingests a large volume of organic waste to create a nutrient-rich soil for the vegetation, and utilises grey water for irrigation filtered through a natural reed bed system. Guests will also find fresh produce from the farm in many of the delicious Thai dishes on the hotel’s menus. In addition, lemongrass straws ingeniously replace the environmentally damaging plastic alternative, and all drinking water is from the hotel’s own source, served in stoppered glass bottles to reduce plastic waste.
In the UAE where recycling hasn’t yet become common place and plastic waste is high, holidaying with this level of eco-consciousness is refreshing. Combined with the money-can’t-buy feeling of splendid isolation amidst a bounty of tropical plants, and stunning views of the ocean, one feels truly connected to the breathtaking wonder and beauty of nature at Six Senses Samui.