Orchid, Elephant, Turtle: Trip Planning
Thai Airways A350 Business Class SIN-BKK
Conrad Bangkok (Executive Corner)
Thai Airways Business Class BKK-USM
Conrad Koh Samui (Oceanview Pool Villa)
Thai Airways B777 Business Class USM-BKK-SIN
Our flight was scheduled to land at 8.30am and so we anticipated arriving at the property around 10am. I had indicated this when doing online check-in the night before and requested they email me if able to accommodate an early check-in. Thankfully they were, so we were able to check in about 5h early – definitely a win for us!
After clearing immigration, we picked up our rental car from Hertz and started heading over to the hotel, about an hour’s drive away. There were a number of small roads, especially towards the end, but if you’re an experienced driver I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough – we really appreciated having the freedom to explore the island (and nearby eateries – more on that later).
So, about an hour of driving later, we had arrived at Conrad Koh Samui.
The arrivals area is essentially an open air lounge where you’re served some iced drinks while waiting for logistics to be settled. It also features a stunning bird’s-eye view of the grounds. It’s beautiful. I spent minutes just looking at it.
(There’s also not that much else to do while waiting for stuff to be settled, but really, it’s beautiful.)
We were issued some vouchers (I only redeemed the four complimentary drinks; the others required a certain levels of spending that I wasn’t quite prepared for) as well as (for the Diamond member) the chance to win something in a lucky draw.
Prizes apparently range from ice cream to complimentary spa treatments. We won for ourselves… a complimentary piece of soap.
Some (other) people just have all the luck.
Another check-in gift (actually delivered later to the room) – an amenities gift set. Given that it’s the exact same stuff they have lying around the bathroom, I was not particularly enthused about getting a complete set like this. It could make a nice gift for some people, I suppose.
Diamond members usually get upgraded, but unfortunately for us the property was fully booked. Having effectively received an extra 5h on the property though we weren’t too fussed, especially since the villas are essentially identical other than proximity to the beach (for one-level upgrades) or additional electronics in the room (for two-level upgrades).
We stayed in Villa 217, which ended up being a pretty good location due to its (relative) proximity to the breakfast restaurant and unobstructed view from the villa (as listed on FlyerTalk).
It’s a villa. It’s large. It’s roomy. It’s nice.
The fruit bowl is more substantial than most hotels I’ve been in. I particularly appreciated the inclusion of a mango. I suppose that actually makes me rather easy to impress – just throw in a mango and I’m good.
Also, free macarons.
There’s also a rather large walk-in closet space…
A rather large bathroom…
A rather large bowl-shaped bathtub (you feel kinda like a wonton in soup, soaking in this thing)…
A shower, and the commode.
Essentially, everything’s large. There’s a great sense of space, especially for the average Singaporean used to living in apartments.
There’s also your private outdoor area (well, as private as it can be – the row of villas above us probably could see us quite clearly if they’d wanted to) with deck chairs and that awesome private pool.
It’s actually a pretty standard (small) private pool, actually – what really made it awesome was the view. There is an almost indescribable sense of wonder that comes upon you when staring out into the vast, boundless ocean. Very calming; almost therapeutic. The fact that you could do so while dipping in your own private strip of water is pretty amazing.
I also made the mistake of not bringing a float to the property – lounging in the pool would probably have been even more enjoyable with one of these things.
Aaron’s post described catching the sunset as the highlight of his trip, so I was somewhat bummed that I wasn’t able to catch an awesome sunset while on the property (it was rather cloudy the evening I attempted to do so), but c’est la vie!
So a large roomy villa is all very well and good, but at some point you are likely to want to go out and explore the rest of the property. In case you want to get into a larger pool, the communal one does offer the same breathtaking oceanic view.
There’s also the gym, which we used primarily as a bypass to get to the beach deck level.
You can probably tell that we are sporty types.
At the beach deck you get access to some hammocks. Fun stuff.
There’s also an area with umbrella-like shelters and outdoor seating furniture. Also, hammock-like webbing suspended over rocks. I was too chicken to stay on those for long (visions of falling to my death danced in my head), but if you are confident enough of the structural integrity of those things it is rather comfortable to just lie there.
There’re also the floating platforms and hammocks suspended over the sea, but we didn’t really want to get wet at that point in time, so this is as close as we got to them:
Breakfast is served at Zest, the restaurant pretty much at the centre of the property (marked #4 on this map). Happily enough, it was a short walk away from my villa.
We opted to be seated outside, with front-row seats to the the ocean view. Seriously, I couldn’t get enough of that stuff.
Upon being seated you get to order an egg dish. I have no idea if you’re allowed to get a second – one was sufficient for me. I ordered the Thai Egg Benedict, which was (comparatively) unique and pretty enjoyable.
Aside from that, there’s the buffet spread, which though not earth-shaking did offer more than sufficient food to fill you up. Interestingly enough, they had a dedicated section for Korean (breakfast?) foods, suggesting that they form a significant proportion of guests at the property.
We did eat at the property a few times, and though decent enough and not priced as extortionately as you might expect, failed to impress. This is where having the car came in really handy – being able to easily access cheaper tastier food around the island was a luxury in itself.
This was probably my favourite of the places we’d tried. The downside was that it was located pretty much across the island, about half an hour away by car.
Still, the combination of tasty food and scenic view can’t be beat. I suppose it could be cheaper, but it was already very affordable by Singaporean standards.
About a 10min drive from the hotel, also recommended on the FlyerTalk thread for the property, this place was pretty good and affordable. No complaints!
This place was really near the hotel (about 10min by car) and was ranked in the top 10 of TripAdvisor’s listings for Ko Samui, so we decided to give it a go.
My main impression of the place was that it offered a pretty good view of the sunset.
The food was decent enough, if rather home-style (in a good way). However, the dishes really took rather long to prepare (further accentuating the home-style feel, in a bad way). It was also more expensive than the other restaurants we tried.
After settling our bill the owner asked us to rate them on TripAdvisor, which is probably how they ended up there to begin with. It’s not bad, but probably not my first recommendation!
The property offered some complimentary recreation activities – the schedule was accessible via TV menu. We tried out yoga, which was attended by a grand total of 4 hotel guests, that day.
Waking up early to contort my body into various unnatural positions was an interesting experience, but I decided it was not something I was really keen on doing more of in the future.
They also offered ‘luxury boat excursions’ to a nearby island, which we tried out on our last day at the property.
The boat excursion is essentially a ride to nearby (smaller) island Koh Mat Sum. There are generally mixed reviews on this – the island is not a particularly exciting place, so I can see why some might not like it. For us, we found it the experience a nice enough change from just relaxing at the property.
For the excursion, a buggy picks you up from your villa and brings you to the arrivals area, where you are loaded onto a minivan and brought to a jetty. Then it’s onto the boat and off you go!
Towels and water are provided, so there’s no real need to bring anything. They also sell picnic sets, but if that’s what you’re looking for it’s probably far cheaper to prepare your own.
At some point along the way, they stopped the boat and announced that we would be stopping for about half an hour for some snorkelling. No one in the boat seemed interested, though, so we proceeded towards Koh Mat Sum.
If I was better prepared for the snorkelling option I probably would have liked to do it, although it could be pretty daunting to indicate an interest in doing so and having an entire boatful of uninterested hotel guests wait for you to finish having your fun in the water.
I think the snorkelling point was near Tean Island – I took the screenshot only a little later, so the location’s not completely accurate.
A little while later, we arrived at Koh Mat Sum.
We didn’t really explore the place very much, but what we had access to was a strip of beach and some shops selling exorbitantly-priced food and drinks.
Also, the chance to get up close and personal with some rather odd-looking chickens.
You’re able to borrow the snorkelling gear and do it off the beach, but there was really nothing much to see near the island, which made us regret not insisting on snorkelling at the earlier stop.
Otherwise, it’s a pretty nice beach to just relax and chill on. Bring a book or some picnic items and it can make for an enjoyable short excursion.
Many Conrad properties throughout the world offer some sort of stuffed animal and I’ve started becoming a bit of a collector. Conrad Koh Samui’s is a turtle, which they present to you when you check out.
All in all I consider this to have been almost a bucket list experience – so much so that I’m already thinking of returning!