Friday, 15 January 2010

Hotel Koh Samui -- Anantara Lawana Resort and spa: A WORK IN PROGRESS

'Fifty five thousand baht? Per year, or per month?'
'No, that's per night, sir,' replies the hotel staffer showing me around the new Royal Lawana Pool Villa. Choke. Cough. Splutter. Workers and chambermaids are eager to shoo me out; after all the sheik is arriving tomorrow for an extended stay. Which sheik they won't say. Privacy and all that.

And privacy is what it's all about with the Anantara Lawana's 122 villas. At the top end, the 300 square metre Royal Villa features two bedrooms and two bathrooms, plus a bath tub under the stars adjacent the pool. From here, the views are spectacular. Is that Hawaii I see in the distance?

There are delightful Asian antique furniture pieces thoughout, probably Chinese. After all, the local designer (Lawana, daughter of Khun Suwan, the resort's original developer) was after recreating the the old Chinese island lifestyle of Samui in which she grew up.

Even with the standard pool villas, each one is discreetly fenced to afford enjoyable seclusion. To the point where even the bathrooms are the indoor/outdoor type, free from peering passers-by (just don't sing too loud in the shower -- the whole island can hear you!)

But the resort's not quite there yet. You see, it has just been rebadged as an Anantara property in December 2009 and is in the process of a make-over -- something like Queer Eye for the Hotel Guy -- to give it more of that Lost World feeling that characterises Anantara's other properties (on Samui they have another at Bo Phut).

As it stands, it has a charming low-key villagey feel to it. Low-key that is, except for the eight Sky Hug cabanas, glorified tree houses for dining and drinking that soar way above the roofline, affording views to the west coast of America on a clear day. Jing jing! (Trust me, I'm a travel writer!)

In the meantime, I need a serious workout. 'We have a fitness centre just near reception, sir.' No, not that kind of workout. I need to work out how I can afford to stay in the Royal Lawana Pool Villa next time ...

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