Having previously stayed in Bangkok and Pattaya a few year back we decided to stay on the more relaxing island of Koh Samui as part of our Honeymoon for 10 days after a few days stay in Singapore.
On arrival to Koh Samui we where greeted by our taxi driver in what was a very crowded car park obviously not big enough for the amount of people leaving the airport at one time. However, once we got onto the taxi the journey was just a short distance to Chaweng where our hotel the Amari Palm Reef was located. The hotel is at the top of the strip and is relatively quiet compared to the lower end where the bars and restaurants are. Once we arrived we were greeted by the lovely hotel staff who provided us with a refreshing cool drink and cold towels which was a nice touch. The hotel is split over two sites on either side of the main road leading through Chaweng. This didn't bother us as the hotel had friendly staff attending to the road 24hrs stopping the traffic, ensuring all hotel guests could cross safely. Our room was located on the opposite side of the beach within well kept garden grounds. The room was quite spacious and included a brilliant enclosed power shower and separate bath. We were left a nice honeymoon cake, fresh fruit and the bed was dressed in flower petals which was a nice honeymoon touch. The hotel also has two pools, one located on either side of the road. The garden side appeared more relaxed and included the spa area and gym. The gym was quite good with modern facilities but the spa appeared quite expensive compared to the local beach spas. The rooms were cleaned and the bed changed everyday and came complete with chargeable mini bar (Free local paper and fresh mineral water was complimentary and replenished everyday as was the shower and bath gels). The room also included a free safe and flat screen TV, DVD player (movies could be borrowed from reception I believe). To be honest we spent most of the time around the beach side pool but the garden side pool looked equally clean, relaxing and included a Jacuzzi located to the edge of the pool. Some pool balls and floats are also provided for children by the hotel. The hotel also has an Italian restaurant called Prego which we were told is renowned for excellent food on the island and we were not disappointed. Prego is a very good restaurant and reasonably priced as the service and portions were impressive. Complimentary bread snacks and mineral water was provided throughout the meal with endless top ups. The bill could also be charged to the room and paid when checking out.
On the opposite side of the road (beach side) was the main reception, bar area (Bar C), pool bar, and restaurant for breakfast and evening meals etc. The pool areas was again kept very clean and the staff were equally as friendly, helping us put our towels on the loungers and putting up our sun umbrella. The pool was nice and clean all holiday even though someone did complain about the pool cleanliness the hotel staff came out within a couple of minutes and vacuum cleaned the whole area concerned. The hotel provided clean beach/lounger towels and limited pool toys such as floats and balls. The hotel staff were very friendly and provided an excellent food and drinks service which again could be charged to the room so no money was required round the pool. Day time pool snacks were quite good such as burgers, fish and chips etc and reasonably price considering hotel prices. My new wife really enjoyed the pina colada cocktails especially the banana one recommended by the pool barman 'Down' I think that's how his name is pronounced who was also very helpful and friendly throughout the holiday. Just about every drink was accompanied with a refreshing cool towel and a selection of crisps and nuts.One this to note is that the hotel offers free wi-fi codes to all quests which can be collected from reception and these last 24 hrs. Another good idea is that the hotel provides umbrellas in the room to be used when out and about town and for crossing from one side of the hotel to the other when its rainings.
Bar C is a relaxing area adjacent the pool and bar near the beach. The hotel offers buy one get one free on drinks and also 30% off during certain hours. Breakfast was excellent with just about everything you could imagine being available and served quite late so no need to rush up if you fancy a lie in. The hotel restaurant was also very good which is located above Bar C and has a similar feel to Prego located over the road, however this restaurant does many styles and types of food of which the black pepper steak was gorgeous. The hotel provides theme nights daily weather permitting and ranging from BBQs, Thai Nights (these are held on the beach and set up like a wedding buffet with candles etc - very romantic) If the weather is too bad the themed nights are held indoors and are equally enjoyable.
The beach wasn't what you call dirty but did have a little algae and tree leaves washed up but this was probably due to the time of year and the fact we did have one or two heavy rain showers during our stay. Other than that the beach was very nice and we regularly left our belongings unattended round the pool and had a wonder up or down the beach to a local restaurant or bar to catch a few rays. Local food was really really good and the drink was cheap with a local bottle of Singha/Chang costing approx 70-90bht. The Ark Bar located on the beach is a good chill out style bar playing house music daily so you can relax there with a drink or two, the food is quite good also for the price.
We decided to see a bit of the local landmarks such as the Ang Thong Marine National Park, Wat Phra Yai, Big Buddha and Wat Plai Laem. The temples are not as elaborate as the ones in Bangkok but are defiantly still worth a visit. We hired a red/yellow taxi from outside the hotel to take us around the temples one by one who waited outside for as long as we wanted while we did our thing and only charges approx £12.
The Marine National Park is well worth the money, cant remember the cost however but we paid the more expensive so we got a speed boat as we were told the regular boat took alot longer to get there. Some of the sights were outstanding. The trip included taxi trip to boat pier (which is quite early) this included free coffee and fruit, the boat trip, snorkelling (snorkel and life jacket), meal on a remote Thai Fishermans island/village and endless amounts of soft drinks. The trip was very hot and extremely wet at times due to the waves crashing against the boat. Don't let this put anyone off because this is normal and you dry off very quickly in the heat but a towel is defiantly required. The trip stopped off in some calm waters were we snorkelled for a good hours and even the tour advisors got in the water and suggested the best places to see the marine wild life. If you're not the best swimmer like us then the boat has life jackets to hand which makes snorkelling very enjoyable. The boat then moves on to the main island where you can wonder round up to the top to witness some breath taking views of the surrounding islands. Please note actually getting to the top involves climbing some very steep steps which may prove problematic for children and almost certainly out of bounds for anyone disabled. The heat can be very extreme during the trip due to the cool breeze so I would suggest a high sun factor for any fellow British tourists at this time of year. The island had a shop selling drinks and a toilet. kayaking was also available as part of the trip however we didn't want that included in our package so we just relaxed on the island.
On returning back to Koh Samui we stopped off at a little fishing village on another remote island and were greeted to a long table of authentic Thai food. To be honest the village was very old and without many modern commodities but please don't let this put you off the food. The food is excellent and is included within the package along with water. Many other boat trips stop off here to have dinner too and to have a look around the village. The village is friendly enough although I didn't enjoy seeing a little monkey chained up and the actual condition of some of the houses was a bit depressing.
On returning back to the island a storm brewed which was unbelievable considering it was glorious weather just an hour earlier, we were advised to wear our life jacket for safety although I think this was just to put our minds at ease. All in all this is a trip I would defiantly recommend and certainly do again. That night we decided to try room service and the food turned out to be spot on. The portions were quite big exactly what was required after a full day on the boat trip.
Chaweng main strip is relatively tame and the street sellers and shop sellers very friendly. The strip includes many local restaurants and bars but also includes Pizza Hut, Star Bucks, McDonalds and Burger King etc to name a few. The drinks are cheap and the bars we found ourselves in most nights were called Solo, Green Mango, Bondi, The Islander (good for live sport) and also the Ark Bar (good for live sport).
The strip also includes a Boots pharmacy for anyone from the UK.
We would certainly say that this holiday is one of the best we have experienced and the Amari Palm Reef Hotel really was exceptional and made this trip even more enjoyable.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Cushioned by soft white sands and sparkling waters, Amari welcomes you to one of the most idyllic islands in the Gulf of Thailand. A gem set apart from the rest of the world, Amari on Koh Samui invites you to live out your days on island time, where there is always time for another dip in the pool or another walk on the beach. Turn off your clock, enter our time zone, and let Amari take care of the rest. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Amari Palm Reef Koh Samui Hotel Chaweng
- Amari Palm Reef Hotel
- Amari Palm Reef Resort
- Amari Koh Samui Ko Samui/Chaweng