The Santiburi Dusit Resort is really a "Samui within Samui," the way the island used to be - before it was discovered by Westerners. But as the Lonely Planet's Joe Cummings says, "There's no going back to 1971, when the first tourists arrived by coconut boat from Bangkok."
Santiburi itself means "peaceful town." The resort is listed as one of the "leading hotels in the world" and it prides itself on offering the most luxurious and secluded hideaway on Samui. Located on Mae Nam beach, on Samui's quieter more traditional northern shore, it is truly the jewel of the Dusit chain.
A peaceful river meanders through the twenty-three acres of lawns, lotus ponds, delicate flowering shrubs and coconut palms. You can basically forget that the world is a nasty place during your stay here, because there is no way to comprehend the horrors of Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia once you've experienced the care and attention of the wonderful Dusit staff.
The architecture of the resort was inspired by Phra Nakhon, in Petchaburi, the summer palace of King Rama IV, with its two-tiered roofs, triangular portals and flower motifs on the stucco work. The owner, Khun Santi Bhirom Bhakdi set aside a US$2 million budget for landscaping and it was well worth it. Khun Santi is indeed a sentimental sort, as he opened the resort on 22 July 1992, on his wife's birthday, Khun Arunee Phiro Bhakdi.
Most guests are couples and they come for at least a week, sometimes two, and many for their honeymoon. While the resort never has too many guests at one time (150 max), its size and proximity to the beach make it seem deserted at times. As a result, you don't have to worry about bumping into people and you don't have to go very far to get away from it all. As one of the Santiburi brochures says, "You don't have to get up at 5 AM and rush to the pool to bag a deckchair for the day, or wrestle over a choice patch of shaded beach."
Koh Samui is Thailand's third largest island (only Phuket and Koh Chang are larger), coconuts are the mainstay of the local economy and people have been living on it for at least 1,500 years. The islanders are fiercely independent. The locals like to refer to themselves as chao Samui (Samui folk) rather than kon Thai. During WWII, the Japanese briefly tried to take it over, but a number of their soldiers were killed while trying, so they left it alone.
Santiburi itself has fifty-nine individual villas, twelve equatorial suites and two Santiburi suites. All rooms are equipped with satellite television, video, CD and cassette players. And the marble and wood bathrooms are absolutely fabulous, you could live in them - and with their circular tubs and full-length mirrors - they are simply every romantic's dream come true.
The buildings are traditionally designed with peaked, overhanging red-tile roofs, decorated with Thai motifs. Each has a wide veranda - the ideal spot to enjoy a cool, al fresco breakfast, light lunch or romantic evening meal with only the sound of the bullfrogs and the waves crashing on the shore to disturb the silence.
The interior decor of the villas has an authentic touch, reflected in every aspect of its design: the bed covers and curtains, the split level floor seperating the master bedroom from the living room, the long wooden bench sofas, the triangular cushions, and most importantly, the use of wood covering the entire floor area, including the bathroom.
Bernd Schillig, the F & B Manager, oversees two world-class restaurants: the Vimarnmek, serving international cuisine prepared by Jan Hollister, and the Sala Thai serving exquisite Thai cuisine by Khun Saowaluck. The resort also has a great beach bar called the Rim Talay.
If you want to do a few laps, the Santiburi has an Olympic size swimming pool (which once a week hosts a floating market) as well as a kiddie's pool and whirlpool as well. Then there are tennis courts, a volleyball court, a fitness center, traditional Thai massage, squash court, and a mini-golf driving range as well. Like water sports? Well, from its gorgeous 300 meter long beach on the Gulf of Siam, the resort offers catamarans, laser sailing, snorkeling and windsurfing under the watchful eye of the resort's Guest Activities Manager, SEA Games gold medalist, Khun Sard.
The Santiburi has a fifty-eight year old teakwood sailing junk called the Tangaroa which was found off the Malaysian coast by Joss Scharaenguivel (the Santiburi rents the boat from his widow). This twenty meter vessel can be rented for a honeymoon cruise or snorkeling trip and the resort provides personalized service and gourmet cuisine under the guidance of Captain Khun Sucharet.
The hotel also a bookstore/bakery where you can purchase the latest best sellers of just grab a quick munch on some luscious croissants and pastries. And it has a video library, so if you just want to relax and watch a film, it has a fine selection to choose from.
The key to this resort is its staff - they are so friendly and nice - not fawning or pretentious. They treat you as a friend and allow you to just be yourself.
One happy guest, Marion Harris, summed it up best when she said, "There's nothing like being pampered by a luxury hotel. Beautiful natural surroundings, superb comfort and discreet but attentive service are an irresistible combination. The Santiburi Dusit Resort offers you an exclusive, jet-setter's vacation without the crowds."
The Dusit Santiburi is one of the finest resorts in Thailand joining that elite group which includes the Amanpuri, the Royal Meridien Baan Taling Ngam, the Meridien Baan Boran, the Boathouse, the Banyan Tree Laguna, the Regent Chiang Mai and the Rayavadee.
Koh Samui is only an hour south from Bangkok by plane and Bangkok Airways (www.bkkair.com) flies there many times daily. The resort is then just 12 km from the Samui airport.
If you are coming by train, you can easily reach the Don Sak auto/bus ferry (two hour trip), or the Tha Thong jet boat pier (90 minute trip), from the Phun Phin train station, which is 14 km west of Surat Thani.
Fax: (66-77) 42-5040