We stayed for 8 nights at the end of August. Our stay didn't start so well. The resort is even more beautiful than you expect from the website and the rooms are very well done, some of the best we have ever stayed in.
However, the initial disappointments were first the sea: when we were there, the tides were low and water visibility pretty much zero. The hotel does the best it can to mitigate this and you could get out past the reef to the swimming platform using kayaks whenever you want to, but not being able to see anything in the water was a bit disappointing when you have been looking forward to a great beach holiday.
That's outside the hotel's control. The food is not. The first night we ate at the beautiful restaurant down by the beach and really wanted to have good Thai food. However, that restaurant serves so-so, ersatz Mediterranean food in the evenings at double London prices. Struggled to find anything on the menu which we felt like eating and then got stung by a bill for several hundred pounds for two adults and four children. We found out later, when a member of staff told us, that you can have Thai food in this restaurant from the lunch menu in the evenings, but you have to ask specially. The Thai food at lunch time is good, but not great, and the short menu gets a bit repetitive after more than a few days. The Thai food at Lan Tania, the restaurant on top of the hill, was also good in the evenings, but again not great. Given how long Four Seasons has been in Thailand and how good the food is at some of its other hotels in the country, I'm surprised they could not do better here.
Breakfast the next day was also OK, but not amazing, and way below the standard of a hotel like The Oriental in Bangkok, where we had come from. The buffet is tailored to western appetites - good bread, fruit, cheese, bacon, eggs and all that stuff. My daughters ordered some dim sum off the menu, which were OK but cost an extra £10 each. Why charge extra for a few dim sum or a bowl of noodle soup at breakfast when most hotels at this level in south-east Asia would automatically include such things in the standard breakfast buffet?
The next evening, we asked the concierge to recommend a good local Thai restaurant. She sent us to Jun Hong, a place about 20 minutes away. It was certainly cheap - bill for six came to less then one main course at the Four Seasons - but was the worst food we ate during a three week trip round Asia and had chaotic service. After that we stopped asking the concierge for recommendations, and instead asked the hotel drivers where they would suggest locally. The drivers turned out to be much more reliable, and recommended a place called Haad Bang Po closer to the hotel, also on the beach with good Thai food and very friendly if not very polished service. We got there to find it full of other people from the Four Seasons, who had all had similar experiences to us. If you feel like Western food, which we didn't, the other guests/boat operators/dive shop all swore by The Shack in Bophut. We tried The Happy Elephant across the street from The Shack which was fun with average Thai food. Maybe Samui has grown so much and so fast that all the restaurants are having having trouble finding and hanging onto good chefs?
On water sports, the concierge was pretty useless as well. Her only real interest was in persuading us to charter a boat privately, which as we wanted to go snorkelling would have been a waste of time and money if there was no water visibility. The concierge had no idea what visibility would be like and suggested we charter a boat to find out... We ended up going on a shared boat trip to Angthong - meant to be max of 12 people on the boat, but there were 14 on ours - which was a good day out, but not great snorkelling. After that we organised diving ourselves directly with the nearest reputable dive shop. The water visibility up at Koh Tao was good, but it's a pretty bumpy hour and a quarter each way by speed boat to get there, plus 20 minutes by car to the dive shop (The Dive Academy at the Bandara Resort) from the Four Seasons.
They are the gripes. However, the hotel's good features, of which there are many, grow on you. As you would expect at a Four Seasons, the service is flawless: endless fresh towels, cold drinks and things to nibble at on the beach; in our experience buggies were always there when you wanted them, with minimal waiting (and the hotel seemed pretty full while we were there); putting the food to one side, the service in the restaurants was very friendly and efficient; plenty of space on the beach; amazingly well landscaped and maintained grounds.
After a few days in this environment, the gripes fall into perspective, or you forget about them, and it becomes a very relaxing and enjoyable place to be. Our final bill was not as bad as I had been expecting, but then maybe the initial sticker shock about some of the more predatory pricing had made us more careful then we would normally be. So an own goal for Four Seasons.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- An away-from-it-all hillside resort on the mystical Gulf of Siam. Spacious Thai villas are wrapped in tropical gardens, conserved coconut groves and the amphitheatre of sky, sea and islands. Enjoy the forest spa. Dine at hillcrest or beachside. Splash in the private bay. And explore a pristine world of beaches, reefs, rainforest and sunshine. Revel in the many faces of Thailand. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui Thailand Hotel Koh Samui
- 4 Seasons Resort Koh Samui Thailand
- Four Seasons Koh Samui
- Koh Samui Four Seasons
- Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui Thailand Ko Samui - Ang Thong