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HOT SPOT: KOH SAMUI


THE BEST SUMMER WEATHER APPEALS TO FAMILIES BUT PARTY PEOPLE LOVE IT TOO


T THAILAND


he Gulf of Thailand’s most popular resort has a key distinction from its Andaman Sea cousins – it gets its best weather in the UK summer. This makes it a great bet for families tied to school holidays and honeymooners heading to bliss-out in wedding season. Lamai and Chaweng, with its powdery white sands, are the most popular beaches, with watersports, beach cafes, roving masseurs and buzzing nightlife. Charming Bophut, where old Chinese shop houses have become boutique hotels and cafes, has a more bohemian, romantic appeal. It also boasts great views of Ko Phangan, the easily-reached island famed for its full moon parties at Hat Rin. On the northern coast of Koh Samui is the 12-metre-high Big Buddha shrine.


It takes just a couple of hours to circuit Samui’s ring road by hire car or taxi but numerous secluded coves, waterfalls and tourist attractions will entertain enroute.


Samui has a clutch of off-shore islands with secluded beaches and lagoons – perfect for sunbathing, snorkelling and kayaking. Ang Thong National Marine Park embraces an archipelago of around 40 islands and daytrips here are common.


Thailand’s top spot for beginner divers is Koh Tao, which is also offered as a speedboat excursion from Samui, linked with scenic Koh Nang Yuan.


25 HOTELS NEW OPENINGS GET INVOLVED


• View the Emerald Sea at the centre of Koh Mae Ko on an Ang Thong Marine Park daytrip


• Tuck into great seafood at Bophut or book a deep-sea fishing trip


• See Thais make offerings at the


Big Buddha which towers over the beach of the same name


• Discover quiet beaches like Hat Choeng Mon


• Drop in to attractions dedicated to snakes, crocodiles and butterflies


• Take a selfie at the cheekily shaped ‘Grandmother’ and ‘Grandfather’ rocks


Vana Belle Starwood’s latest Luxury Collection addition is on Chaweng Noi beach (pictured top). It comprises 80 pool suites and villas and gives guests free wifi and loan of an iPod and Samsung tablet. luxurycollection.com/vanabelle


OZO Chaweng Samui ONYX, the group behind Amari, launched a new OZO brand in July 2013. This, its first resort property, opens in spring 2014, promising ‘great bed, great breakfast and great connectivity’. Interactive orientation screens will help guests plan a night out. ozohotels.com


SALA Chaweng


SALA Hospitality Group, owner- operator of seven resorts in Thailand, will launch the SALA Chaweng in summer 2015. It already has Sala Samui at Bhophut, in the north of Samui. salaresorts.com


HOTEL ADDITIONS


Baan Taling Ngam resort This Intercontinental hotel on Samui’s west coast has introduced half-day culinary tours by tuk-tuk. From two to four guests help the executive chef gather ingredients from organic farms before getting the cooking class underway. samui.intercontinental.com


W retreat Koh Samui The W has added the ‘Wooba’ bar, serving up cocktails, tapas and nightly DJ sets. The bar is open to the fresh air on three sides, with impressive views over the Gulf of Thailand and countryside. starwoodhotels.com/whotels


Centra Coconut Beach Resort Samui


Rental bikes have been introduced as part of an upgrade to facilities at this hotel. A fitness centre has also been added and the guestrooms and lobby refreshed. centarahotelsresorts.com


HIT THE ROAD IN SAMUI It’s affordable to hire a taxi for the day to hit Samui’s sights – just haggle on the price first


Koh Samui combines well with...


Bangkok, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan


KOH SAMUI


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