Easily accessible from major airports all around Asia, Koh Samui is a small island off the East coast of Thailand. Largely populated with luxury hotels and smaller inns, the island also offers very secluded beaches and detox retreats. Clear turquoise water, tasty Thai food, and local crafts make Samui a top destination in Thailand.
Most of Samui’s hustle and bustle happens on the East coast – Chaweng and Lamai being the two major epicenters – leaving the North coast authentic, preserved and less frequented. Belmond Napasai is located in Mae Nam, a small town on the North Coast. The resort sits on a completely private and sheltered beach facing azure waters and Koh Phangan island. At the end of an alley that seems cut open in the jungle is the guard house, a private gateway to a truly secluded resort. As you drive up to the lobby, be on the lookout for one of the two water buffalos that live in the Secret Garden.
It took a little more than 25 minutes to drive from the airport to the hotel. As the car stopped, we were met by welcoming porters and were immediately absorbed by the lushness of our surroundings. Built on a hill, the lobby offers picturesque vistas of the property and the ocean.
Check in at Belmond Napasai is done from the Lobby Lounge, where guests can unwind after a long trip. Simply asked to provide passports and a credit card for incidentals, there is no need to sit at the front desk while agents are processing you in. Rather, you will be served a chilled, orange flavor-infused towel, water, and a delicate coconut ice cream. Quite a lovely and serene first contact with this exotic paradise.
Belmond Napasai offers 45 rooms and 24 suites and residences with private pools and up to 5 bedrooms. Our Oceanfront Villa is located at the crossroad of the beach and the pool, a central location enjoying unobstructed views of the resort and the ocean, yet feeling private enough to take advantage of the outdoor patio. I remember a beautiful scent in the air as I walked into the villa. The architecture embraces traditional elements of Thai design: cathedral ceiling with exposed wood, indoor daybeds and a profusion of silk accents up to the main mural behind the king-size bed.
The bathroom has a separate toilet room, a large closet, a desk/coiffeuse area and an oversized tub that combines as a rain shower with a window on the beach – you can keep the curtains up, no one will see inside your bathroom. Toiletries are local products displayed in wooden dispensers, both protecting the environment from plastic and giving the bathroom a tropical, unique look.
The Oceanfront Villa comes with daily breakfast for 2 guests. Served at Lai Thai Restaurant, the buffet includes a large and tasteful selection of pastries, tropical fruits, fresh salads and cold cuts, sushi, Asian specialties and an egg station where the Chef can prepare any type of egg, or doctor up to your taste any dish presented. Also available is a fresh juice station for those who want to try unique flavors. Guests will appreciate that the selection changes daily and kids will be attracted by the dedicated Kids Corner.
Belmond Napasai truly is one of the most private and tranquil resorts on Samui, perfect for family or couple holidays. Most of the animation revolves around the immense infinity-edge pool whose color blends intricately with the tropical gardens around. Each lounge chair is equipped with a button to push to call the bar staff and order food or drinks. Around the pool is a bar, a kids corner complete with games, a Wii, and a pool table. Note that smoking is permitted in most areas of the pool deck.
The fitness center is located a few steps down from the beach: very bright, well-appointed and with a smart sound system that allows guests to play their own music on the speakers. Next to the gym is a muay thai ring where instructors give boxing lessons in the morning before the sun hits too hard.
The beach at Belmond Napasai offers both lounge chairs and sanded wood daybeds, all connected to the bar through the call button. Settle into your lounger or chair and relax to the sounds of tropical birds as the waves break on the beach and ebb away. A pure moment out of time.
We enjoyed the morning yoga class at the Sky Terrace – the highest point of the resort. In this beautiful setting and immersed in nature, practice your sun salute and focus on your breathing while exotic butterflies flutter above you.
Parents, enjoy a few hours of rest and give your kids some fun by enrolling them in My First Job activities: an industry-unique program taking your children backstage to discover the operations of the resort through visits and workshops.
In addition, the resort also offers a wide array of complimentary water sports including paddle board, kayaking and hobby cats to be launched on the calm waters of the Gulf of Thailand.
Thai Massage at the Napasai Spa
Originating from Thailand, this full body treatment is great for stretching and maintaining flexibility. As I walked into the Spa, the staff greeted me with a refreshing and tasteful Butterfly Pea tea before filling out a consultation form.
The private treatment room conveyed a direct feeling of extreme serenity and showcased a clean, earthy design. On the table were a bell and a local cotton outfit to wear during the massage. I rang the bell when ready for my masseuse to enter.
My back rubbed with Tiger Balm, she started a 60-minute massage that would leave me both relaxed and energized. The pressure level was perfect and even after many Thai massages, I discovered new movements and techniques.
Dining at Lai Thai Restaurant
We chose to book a table at Lai Thai Restaurant – dinner is also available at the Beach Restaurant – and received a beautiful table on the edge of the deck, overlooking the pool and ocean beautified by sunset. The first round of cocktails ordered, we studied the menu and discovered enticing combinations of flavors: local spices, tropical fruits, and vegetables.
The flavors of our cocktails were subtle and extremely fresh, perfectly blending local spices and fruits, a blessing on this hot April night. Just a few more sips and the chicken satay arrived, beautifully grilled and presented with pineapple, peanut sauce, and cucumber relish.
We continued with the sunburst pomelo salad with prawns and roasted coconut and the crispy coconut rice salad with homemade Laotian lemongrass sausage. Although I would have added more salt or spice to the latter, both starters were tasty and very fresh.
Both the wok fried barracuda fillet with sweet chili sauce and crispy holy basil and the steamed whole
white snapper with lime, spicy seafood sauce and coriander were enjoyable and perfectly cooked. I especially enjoyed the crispiness of the barracuda and the extreme tenderness of the snapper.
I personally enjoyed the off the beaten path location and quickly understood that adventure awaits just a hundred meters past the guard house. However, I understand how the relative remoteness can deter party cravers and those who will want to walk anywhere.
Belmond Napasai is a fantastic resort for couples and families seeking authenticity and privacy. The staff is very friendly, often exceeding expectations without breaking a sweat – they will even transform water bottles into boats for the greatest pleasure of your little ones! Upgrades are being performed constantly: a complete renewal of the Wi-Fi installation to the latest available technology and speed is currently in the works. I am particularly looking forward to flying back to Belmond Napasai to experience the new detox program, offering original healthy food and drink options, meditation, etc.
Where: Belmond Napasai
65/10 Baan Tai, Koh Samui,
Maenam, Surat Thani 84330, Thailand
Phone: +66 77 429 200
Note– The critic was invited by the Belmond Napasai. But all the opinions expressed herewith are his own.
Founder of UNITIATE, Geoffrey is a Marketing Expert, Luxury Specialist and Hospitality Enthusiast. Wherever he goes, his early career and personal interests have always helped him nurture and cultivate a passion for the Travel and Leisure industries. French born, Geoffrey has accumulated an extensive experience abroad, thanks to regular visits to foreign countries but also thanks to years of expatriation. Currently based in Chicago, Geoffrey has already lived and worked in New York, Shanghai, Singapore and Monaco. You can meet Geoffrey on Twitter and Linkedin.