I’ve just celebrated my 60th birthday. The choice was who to spend it with…it was easy, my family.
So, the next thing I had to do was find somewhere to go.
Deciding what the parameters were
Our three kids all have wonderful partners and I’m now the proud granny of a one-year old grandson, Brooklyn, so we’re a team of nine. With busy, full on careers the kids could only afford a week of annual leave, so we needed to stay reasonably close to home.
Finding a villa
After a little research I came across ‘One Fine Stay’, a company offering top end rentals in beautiful locations.
It all seemed to fall into place as my birthday was in July, the middle of the New Zealand winter. We needed to be warm, so I started to focus on Asia and eventually whittled it down to Koh Samui. We had holidayed in Koh Samui some years back and had enjoyed the food, sun, beach and most importantly the Thai people.
Catering for everyone’s needs
As we had a toddler in our mist, I was looking for a villa with a chef so we could eat in. Most of the villas in Thailand offer this service which was a big draw card.
Eating in, not only made to easier for Brooklyn and his parents, but it was cheaper than eating out when you’re feeding nine mouths for a prolonged period of time. So with our great chef, Bee we ate well at a very affordable price. They shopped, purchasing the ingredients needed for the dishes we requested and added 20%. All in all, it worked very well and they keep the drinks fridge full!
They will also do a ‘shop’ before you arrive so snacks, fruit, wine and beer can all be on hand.
Eating in the villa
Each morning we had a continental breakfast as part of the deal, plus we requested fried rice. Back in the 1980’s before Tim and I had kids we had holidayed in Phuket. With no children we slept in, ordered room service and ate on our balcony. The breakfast called Khao Pad included a bowl of delicious fried rice with a fried egg. With fresh lime and chilli, we thought it was the most delicious thing we had ever eaten.
We choose daily from an extensive menu for lunch and dinner. Bee was happy to whip up our favourites including prawn Pad Thai, chicken satay, green papaya salad, garlic grilled prawns, the odd fantastic curry among many other great dishes.
The villa design
Within 30 minutes of leaving the airport we were at the villa. Our attentive hosts, Bee and Renu greeted us helping us unload the gear. The layout of the villa was exactly as I had imagined, although the attention to maintenance had been a little neglected. Having said that, the house worked perfectly for us all.
The house was on three levels.
Level one had a wrap-around infinity pool, a conversation pit, outdoor loungers, a covered seating area and dining area. There were enough spaces that during the day people could sit, talk or read with a degree of privacy and quiet.
The kitchen was also on this level, although we didn’t spend too much time in it, thanks to Renu and Bee.
Level two had the master suite and another very similar bedroom, although the view was not as good.
There was also an air-conditioned media room and massage room, very important as the Cricket World Cup was on!
Two more ensuited bedrooms.
After a 48 hour stop-over in Singapore we had all congregated from Auckland, Sydney and Melbourne. We flew to Koh Samui on mass. Arriving on the island we were meet by our driver who thankfully had a good-sized people mover. Travelling with less, is more, but not possible when you have a toddler, a pram, porter cot and enough formula to last the duration.
Things to do
As we just had a week together I wasn’t too worried about planned activities, as I knew everyone would arrive tired and wanting to relax. However, these are some of the things we did.
Diving and snorkelling
I’ve dived since my early 20’s so was keen to get out on the water with kids. I hired a private boat (as we were not sure how Brooklyn’s first boating experience would go) so headed off on my birthday to Koh Tao Island. With 5 crew, we were well catered for with four divers and three snorkellers.
We had two excellent dives at different sites, while the others snorkelled followed by a beautifully cooked Thai meal for lunch. We had the best day with an experienced and dive master and helpful crew.
Our wonderful host Renu organised a yoga instructor who came to the villa in the mornings. Overlooking the ocean, I cannot begin to tell you what a great way it was to start the day. With yoga mats poolside, the infinity pool met the ocean and we nearly drifted away.
We also had massage therapists come to the villa. With a massage room set up for couples, we had back to back therapy sessions that worked well. Incredible fingers and hands created some very chilled bodies!
The beach was only about 300 metres from the villa, but it was down a very steep drive. Our hosts drove us up and down to the beach on request. The water was tepid and the beach cocktails were great for 100 Baht ($5 NZD). A lovely way to spend the late afternoon wallowing in the warm waters.
We had a wonderful lunch at the nearby W Resort and Spa. We dined at Namu, a delicious Japanese restaurant. The food was prepared in front of us, with the soft-shell crab sushi being an absolute highlight.
One other night we went to Pepenero, a true Italian restaurant owned and operated by an Italian. Having landed in Koh Samui we passed this restaurant and I thought who would want an Italian meal while here, but we did. The Thai food was fab, but it is great to intersperse it with other cuisine. I’d highly recommend it.
If you are looking to rent a villa in Thailand, here’s a check list.
- How many bedrooms do you need?
- What’s bedroom configuration do you need? (we needed 4 king beds and cot)
- What’s the configuration of living spaces? It’s important to have different living area so everyone gets some time out
- An air conditioned media room is a great additional space to get away from the heat
- What’s the proximity to beach?
- What’s the proximity to restaurants?
- What transport is avaliable to get from the villa to restaurants and other activities?
- Do you want a chef ?
- Ask the chef for a sample list of the food he cooks?
- Do you want a housekeeper?
- Check you have good WIFI
- Check there is no construction close by
- Ask about the age and maintenance the property
- If you want inhouse massages, check if there is a massage room