Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Fast forward a decade, and here I am tootling toward Laem Sett on a scooter past the glittering IT malls and shopping arcades of Lamai, and further to the Laem Sett turnoff. Signs everywhere pointing to a hundred different offerings herald that this steep and sleepy hollow has been discovered. Indeed, although there is still plenty of greenery around, no sign of those monkeys anymore. Soon I see the Butterfly Garden, almost unnoticeable compared to its new neighbour, the massively sprawling flash new Centara.
Then it's down to first gear as my scooter smokes it way up another hill, round the bend, down, up and around, affording beautiful glimpses through the trees at the lovely blue waters beyond. Finally, a series of smart flag/signs signal Shasa Resort and Residences. Over another crest and ...
WowweeEEE! The 32-suite ShaSa looms out of the foliage. A surprisingly ambitious development for a one-off hotel with no sister properties. The resort cascades down the hill towards the bay.
The welcome is slick yet warm and down to earth. The resident manager is the charming Sam, who used to work at one of my favourite Bangkok hotels, the Dream. A good start. And then it just gets better ...
Our suite is cavernous. A full kitchen here, a dining area, a comfortable living area with a kinky recliner. Massive balcony which affords an overview of the property: pool, pool, pool, lagoon, all visually blended. But while everything feels big, it smacks of a romantic getaway for couples.
Take the door sign, for example. I don't mean literally take it. I mean, the door sign instead of saying Do Not Disturb reads Romantic Time. Practical. Realistic. Reminds me of that cheesy movie Borat and his expression: ''Sexy time."
The bedroom and bathroom are certainly geared for that. Make sure you stay for at least three nights here. Not that you need that long to unwind, but that's how long it takes to fill the world's largest bathtubs here.
A good bathtub is my measure of a great hotel room, and on that scale it scores ... well, off the scale completely. The US Navy's 7th Pacific fleet could hold war-game exercises in this tub and almost go unnoticed. It's that big, jing jing.
But eventually you'll need to surface for sustenance. And Z Restaurant does the trick with a contemporary air and flair, fusing Thai with Mediterranean and seafood.
It's from Z that I spot the hydrotherapy pool with its jets and bubbles and sprinklers and other weapons of delight. An invigorating session in there, and a lounge on the bean bags around. Aah! Bloody magic.
While I might have initially lamented Laem Sett's loss of innocence I am now feeling To Hell With The Monkeys. It's called evolution.
Footnote: Stu Lloyd travelled to Koh Samui with assistance from Bangkok Airways www.bangkokair.com