Conrad is another posh resort in Koh Samui, popular with Americans and Hongkongers alike. It's extremely remote, far out on Taling-Ngam Beach on Koh Samui's south-west tip, and about 45-minutes away from the nearest developed stretch of restaurants and shops. The drive up the cliff on the single-lane access road to the resort alone takes 7 minutes.
Conrad was perfectly lovely, with breathtaking views from just about every part of the resort. Really. There wasn't a single vantage point that wasn't sensational. BUT, for a resort this isolated, its amenities just weren't flawless enough to warrant being so cut off from the rest of the island. The Hubs rightly pointed out: when a resort is this remote, it's all the more paramount that every aspect of it is impeccable.
Like Banyan Tree, Conrad's reception is perched right at the top of the resort. After that twisty 45-minute transfer to the resort, this spectacular view is the surest way to brightening up your day. And quelling the green bile coming up your throat.
The teeny tiny reception that's detached from the other amenities of the resort. Check-in was a breeze though. Speedier than at Banyan Tree.
From the reception's lofty perch, you can look down onto the entire resort and the azure sea beyond.
The villas, all 1-bedroom occupancies, are the same size, face the sea,
and attached to a private plunge pool; the only difference between
them all is how high up the cliff the villas are built; ie. the higher your location, the
more expensive the rates. For larger sized parties, you may want to opt
for the 2-bedroom villas at the Conrad Koh Samui Residences, instead of the Conrad Hotel & Resort, located at the top tier
of the resort. Personally, I thought the views at the lowest level, the King Ocean View, were sufficiently magnificent.
Because the Conrad is designed simply, like a gentle-terrained padi terrace, it's easy to figure your way around, and amenities are accessible on foot, if you want some exercise. For those who prefer to bum around, buggies can be easily hopped on and off, to get around.
King Ocean View Pool Villa
Like the 2nd level Waterfront and 3rd level Oceanview Retreat villas, the 1st level King Ocean View Villa is chic and elegant, designed with a modern feel (S$700 onwards). We spent many hours lazing in front of the telly here.
The bed faces the patio with the 10-meter infinity pool that overlooks the sea.
The bathroom, with its own inset TV in front of the circular tub for maximum soaking pleasure. It has direct access to the pool patio so you can go straight from the pool to the tub to rinse off.
The view from the room
The moon-lit bay...so dazzling it woke us up in the dead of night. Perhaps the most mesmerizing full moon I'd ever seen in my life.
The same moon at dawn
The Conrad gym is on the beach level, so working out in the small-ish gym doesn't seem so depressing when you've got a beautiful view of the sea to look out at. Because the nearest convenience store is miles away, we cheapos bagged as much of their in-house complimentary mineral water as we could carry.
Muay Thai classes were held, open-air, at this boxing ring on the beach. It's a novel concept, but faltered in execution because the dawn class got blazing hot as soon as the sun rose. We quickly scooted off 10 minutes after the sweltering sun rays hit the deck.
Main Pool at the mezzanine above the gym with beach access and a pool bar. Hardly hit up by hotel guests because everyone was busy waddling in their own private pool.
The spa is located at the opposite end of the promontory from the reception. Views are just as dramatic here at the spa reception.
Welcome drinks at the spa - a traditional Bale Fruit tea commonly found and served in Koh Samui - we bought a bunch of these as souvenirs.
We opted for the Traditional Thai Massage (THB3,200/S$126 for 60 minutes), which lulled me to sleep almost right-away. If I had to choose, Conrad comes a close second to Banyan Tree's awesome massages. Even though the massage rooms at Conrad, annexed to an outdoor balcony with that signature Conrad view, are prettier.
The massage huts, just steps away from the spa reception, on the mezzanine level.
The Library isn't particularly well-stocked, so it's easy to see why hardly anyone hangs out here.
It's directly below the Aura Bar, and just across from the meeting/conference rooms.
Meeting / Conference Room
I was tasked to scout out the MICE facilities, and the Conrad's conference hall is well-sized for a medium-ish party of 60 persons, lined on one side with floor-to-ceiling glass windows for an arresting view of the Andaman Sea.
The outdoor terrace that'll make for a perfect cocktail hour.
The fabulous restaurant, the crown of Conrad's dining options, serves up contemporary Thai cuisine. Hits and misses here, but it does make for a lovely date-night. Reservations for a table right by the windows, just before sunset, are required for enjoying the view.
Fireworks the very night we had dinner, courtesy of some wedding reception.
I liked that the resort gave us hotel guests advance notice of the fireworks, so we could make it a point to enjoy them.
The main breakfast spot serving up an international buffet spread, replete with the most awe-inspiring view. Dine early to snag the window seats, or the outdoor deck tables if you can take the heat and humidity. Stick to the ala carte eggs or Thai fare.
We were treated to a Thai dance performance, halfway through our breakfast, at the lawn just outside Zest. This was most kitschy but entertaining.
We went out for a drink at Aura Bar, the hangout place for all things beautiful.
For a resort that's a lot less lush than Banyan Tree, Conrad was swarming with mozzies. We were bitten as soon as we arrived at the bar. It got so uncomfortable we each ordered our cocktails, a Zestini (THB340/S$13.50), a martini of Smirnoff green apple, fresh apple juice and vermouth, and a Mango Fizz (THB340/S$13.50), a tropical blend of Gordon's gin, fresh mango, orange juice and tonic, gulped them down, and went right back to our villa to jump into the pool to soothe the damn itching.
Not even this view was impetus enough for us to stay on to watch the band.
A broken piece of safety pin that was left on the daybed. Luckily, I spotted it, before sitting down, and brought it to the staff's attention. That was an accident waiting to happen!
The room service at Conrad was lackluster and middling, disappointingly depressing. I'm not usually this fussed about room service, but because the resort is so far-flung, we were stuck in the resort the entire time. I thought the room service needed to be a lot better to warrant such isolation from outside restaurant options.
The Tod Mun Goong (THB360/S$14), prawn cakes, was halfway decent, crispy crust yielding a juicy prawn mince.
The Moo Yang (THB250/S$10) of char-broiled kurobuta pork was a little overdone, it got chewy at times.
The piquant Tom Yum Goong (THB250/S$10) was punchy and robust, and generously laden with juicy prawns, straw mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes.
The Kang Jeud Woosen Gai Sub (THB200/S$8), the Thai version of chicken soup, with cabbage, shimeiji mushrooms, chicken, carrots, tofu, and glass noodles, was comforting wholesome goodness.
The Gaeng Karee Gai (THB310/S$12), the Thai renditon of chicken curry, was lovely, rich and creamy and choc-a-bloc with succulent chicken pieces and soft potatoes.
The Phad Krapow Moo (THB300/S$12), minced pork sauteed with Thai basil and chilli, was fiery and juicy. Too bad the egg was fried to a rubbery finish.
The Phad Thai Goong Sod (THB320/S$13), prawns fried with rice noodles, beansprouts, and tofu, had good flavour, but not very finessed; the noodles were all stuck together.
The Phad See Eiw Gai (THB250/S$10) wok-fried flat rice noodles with chicken, cauliflower, broccoli and kailan was flat and saccharine. Not even a drizzle of lime juice could liven this.
The Risotto of Wild Mushrooms (THB750/S$) was cloying, and lacking in depth of stock.
The Mango Sticky Rice (THB300/S$12) was pretty good. Rice was soft and moist, and mangoes juicy and sweet.
The Doitung Coffee Mousse (THB350/S$14), with raspberry coulis and pistachio, was pedestrian and uneven. We didn't finish this.
Conrad Koh Samui