Spain's largest hotel company, Meliá, has made forays into the Thai market and has converted The Imperial Boathouse in Koh Samui to become their new flagship resort in Thailand. They plan to open Meliá hotels in Chiang Mai in 2021 and in Bangkok on Sukhumvit 15 and in Bang-Na.
Meliá Koh Samui is on Choeng Mon Beach, 15 minutes from Samui International Airport, and is a 159-room and 41-suite property that includes two restaurants, executive lounge, beach club and swim-up bar, a YHI Spa, fitness centre and is centred around families. Event planners can take advantage of conference facilities, a ballroom and three meeting rooms.
The nautical theme left over from the previous resort is completely embraced at Meliá. Renovations have been made around it, though original architecture has been left intact. The lobby is spacious and open air and I felt the tropical beach vibe almost immediately. Do look up at the lobby ceiling, which resembles in the interiors of rice barge.
The lobby opens out to the breakfast restaurant, KoKo Kitchen, and bar, and from it you get a glimpse of the Loop pool, the only one on the island.
There are three, three-storeyed buildings facing each other, while the Loop pool runs in-between them. Also in-between the Loop pool are the original Level Boat Suites. This opens out to a large swimming pool, which further opens out to the beach.
The best thing about Meliá is getting out of your room and into the loop pool, if you make sure to book a room that has pool access. Though the massive swimming pool by the beach is a good way to social distance and get your tan going.
The deluxe rooms have a bathtub on the Maddox balcony, which is the same size as the room itself. Though it faces other rooms across the water feature. Despite having a screen it kind of deflates the purpose of an outdoor bathtub and being one with nature.
The Deluxe and Premium Rooms are ideal for couples, while the spacious Family Rooms feature a master bedroom for parents and in-room games for the kids. Guests seeking extra space and exclusive services can select the resort's suites, which offer access to the executive lounge.
The Level Boat Suites are inspired by traditional Thai vessels and are nautical-themed. This ties-in with the rest of the resort, including The Level Lounge, which is shaped like a boat's hull.
The beachside restaurant, Breeza offers the freshest local seafood and meats prepared on a Josper. Executive chef Azizskandar Awang focuses on the local Southern Thai fare and dishes that are unique to Samui. Breeza also offers a bright tropical setting with indoor or alfresco seating.
Breakfast is a sizeable affair and has everything you may crave for breakfast, including fresh fruit juices and smoothies. There's even a dim sum cart and a noodle cart to satisfy the Asians in us.
The gym is sizeable and open 24 hours, though YHI Spa is small compared to the hotel's capacity. It does have a steam room and a sauna but only four treatment rooms, so advance booking is essential. As you enter the spa, a delightful mix of bleach and Harnn fragrance greets you. Hey, at least you know the place is thoroughly cleaned! Can't complain about that in these times.
Guests can also unwind in two outdoor swimming pools, including a large lagoon pool that loops like a river through the resort's lush tropical gardens. Many of the ground floor Pool Access rooms and suites allow guests to slide directly into the glistening water from their private terrace.
The resort offers a morning yoga class, kayaking sessions, while children can splash about in the mini water park. There are two water slides for the child in you, too!
The resort's Thai cooking classes offer a glimpse into the island's delicacies and you can learn how to cook dishes that are unique to Samui.
If cooking isn't your thing, you can always charter a boat (or a yacht) for a sunset cruise. A variety of catamarans, wooden junks, yachts and high-end speedboats are available for this.
To quench your thirst, do visit the Magic Alambic Rum Distillery, which is an island treasure. It is home to Koh Samui's only home-grown adult beverage.
Though the island's public health department and municipality insist there is a 14-day quarantine, visitors say apart from having their temperature checked at the airport, they have not been subjected to any quarantine.
If you fly Bangkok Airways, you may have to register at the airport and fill in details about how long you plan to stay and where you are coming from. You may also be subjected to a daily temperature check by public health volunteers.
If you're longing for an island retreat but don't care for crowds just as yet, Meliá Koh Samui is the place to be.