Samui Wining & Dining
Blossoming Out
Since day one, back in 1994, Poppies Samui has gone from strength to strength.

92 Poppies Samui is one of the most famous resorts on the island. Opened in 1994, from day-one it has earned a deserved excellent reputation as a fabulous boutique hotel with welcoming hospitality and a superb restaurant. And 17 years down the line that view is still shared by those who stay in their wonderful Thai-style cottages and dine by the beach. Both of the owners had a clear vision of what Poppies was meant to be from the beginning and that still holds true to this day.

It owes its existence to a chance meeting in 1985 between Englishman John Taylor and Irishman David Hill. The latter, with his Thai wife, owned the prime beachfront land in the southern end of Chaweng but had yet to put any plans in place for developing it. John and his Balinese wife had created Poppies Bali in the early 1970s and after they all got to know one another a germ of an idea began to surface. Building on his experiences in Indonesia, John took on the challenge of working out the design concept for a luxurious hideaway on Samui. Individual privacy, lush gardens and traditional craftsmanship were paramount. The layout of the 24 cottages and gardens and the design of the natural rock swimming pool were based to a great extent on those of Poppies Bali, although the actual building style was very much Thai. Great emphasis was placed on obtaining traditional building materials, such as teak and other hardwoods, unglazed roof tiles, hand-made ceramics and local fabrics.

All the bathrooms were built with open-air gardens and the restaurant pavilion was built in Ayutthaya, the old capital of Siam, and re-assembled on Samui. To help maintain the overall tranquillity of the property a tunnel was constructed under the cottages which connects the loading bay in the forecourt to the kitchen. This tunnel is used as a walkway for staff and to deliver food and drinks to the kitchen and bar. It’s cleverly designed and most people wouldn’t know that it was there.

Take a stroll through the resort from the ornate reception area and follow the path that winds through the landscaped gardens. Gentle streams, fish ponds filled with carp, waterfalls and teak bridges line the way to each cottage. In between the gardens and the sea lies a spectacular crystal clear swimming pool surrounded by natural rock formations and complemented by a foaming rock-pool Jacuzzi. On Saturday nights they build a stage across the pool and host a traditional Thai dance show and local handicraft market and reservations for dinner are definitely recommended.

John Ens is the General Manager and he believes Poppies success lies in a couple of key areas. “We have a team of 78 at the resort; that’s just over three members of staff for every cottage, a quite phenomenal ratio. And many of them have been with us for a long time; a few have even been here from the very beginning. We all listen intently to our guests and around 35% of them have stayed with us before and returned again and again over the years. As a result, Poppies is quite simply a haven of comfort, personal service and excellent food with a beachside location at very affordable prices. That combination is what our guests are looking for and it’s hard to beat.”

He was keen to point out just how important the team is to the success of Poppies and how guests comment on the service levels. “I wish we could talk at length about every single member of staff. One of the first things returning guests ask for is staff that they got to know and like from their last visit. Knowing that much of the same team is in place gives an assurance to people that the world outside may be chaotic but for the next week or two all will be well and they have nothing to do but relax and enjoy themselves.”

In the kitchen, the Thai cuisine is overseen by Chef Wantanee. She joined Poppies at the very beginning aged just 17 and over the years has built her reputation on ‘Southern-style’ Thai dishes. “She is a wonderfully instinctive, natural chef and I’d recommend trying one of her ‘Kantoke’ menus, they give a real flavour of Thailand and two people would struggle to finish everything.” Johan is equally praising of Chef Noi who heads up the Western kitchen. “Over the last 12 years or so he has served under four very notable expatriate executive chefs here. In 2009, we decided that not only was he ready but also thoroughly deserving of the top job. He’s introduced some of his own signature dishes and I’m particularly keen on the soft shell crab tempura, the nori wrapped lobster and the baked goat cheese in filo parcels. Chef Noi is credit to his craft and the resort.”

Their Chief Engineer, Khun Prasert, is another who has also been at the resort from the beginning and he was an integral part of the construction phase. Head of Housekeeping, Khun Nee, was also in at the start and Accounts Manager, Khun Aksorn, is now in her 12th year at the hotel. In charge of Personnel is Khun Eaat who joined shortly after the opening and John gives her a huge amount of credit. “She is the perfect person for this role and I believe we have the lowest staff turnover rate on the island. More than 50% of the team have in excess of six years’ service which in this business, although highly desirable, is highly unusual. It tells me that our team is very happy here and that shines through in the service they provide to our guests.”

A vision that two men had more than 20 years ago came to fruition in the mid 1990s. And now, 17 years later, that dream of the perfect escape is replayed every day until the hot tropical sun. Even if you aren’t staying there, it’s more than worth the experience simply to dine under the stars and let the wonderful team at Poppies do the rest.

Johnny PatersonSinceday one, back in 1994, Poppies Samui has gone from strength to strength.

Poppies Samui is one of the most famous resorts on the island. Opened in 1994, from day-one it has earned a deserved excellent reputation as a fabulous boutique hotel with welcoming hospitality and a superb restaurant. And 17 years down the line that view is still shared by those who stay in their wonderful Thai-style cottages and dine by the beach. Both of the owners had a clear vision of what Poppies was meant to be from the beginning and that still holds true to this day.

It owes its existence to a chance meeting in 1985 between Englishman John Taylor and Irishman David Hill. The latter, with his Thai wife, owned the prime beachfront land in the southern end of Chaweng but had yet to put any plans in place for developing it. John and his Balinese wife had created Poppies Bali in the early 1970s and after they all got to know one another a germ of an idea began to surface. Building on his experiences in Indonesia, John took on the challenge of working out the design concept for a luxurious hideaway on Samui. Individual privacy, lush gardens and traditional craftsmanship were paramount. The layout of the 24 cottages and gardens and the design of the natural rock swimming pool were based to a great extent on those of Poppies Bali, although the actual building style was very much Thai. Great emphasis was placed on obtaining traditional building materials, such as teak and other hardwoods, unglazed roof tiles, hand-made ceramics and local fabrics.

All the bathrooms were built with open-air gardens and the restaurant pavilion was built in Ayutthaya, the old capital of Siam, and re-assembled on Samui. To help maintain the overall tranquillity of the property a tunnel was constructed under the cottages which connects the loading bay in the forecourt to the kitchen. This tunnel is used as a walkway for staff and to deliver food and drinks to the kitchen and bar. It’s cleverly designed and most people wouldn’t know that it was there.

Take a stroll through the resort from the ornate reception area and follow the path that winds through the landscaped gardens. Gentle streams, fish ponds filled with carp, waterfalls and teak bridges line the way to each cottage. In between the gardens and the sea lies a spectacular crystal clear swimming pool surrounded by natural rock formations and complemented by a foaming rock-pool Jacuzzi. On Saturday nights they build a stage across the pool and host a traditional Thai dance show and local handicraft market and reservations for dinner are definitely recommended.

John Ens is the General Manager and he believes Poppies success lies in a couple of key areas. “We have a team of 78 at the resort; that’s just over three members of staff for every cottage, a quite phenomenal ratio. And many of them have been with us for a long time; a few have even been here from the very beginning. We all listen intently to our guests and around 35% of them have stayed with us before and returned again and again over the years. As a result, Poppies is quite simply a haven of comfort, personal service and excellent food with a beachside location at very affordable prices. That combination is what our guests are looking for and it’s hard to beat.”

He was keen to point out just how important the team is to the success of Poppies and how guests comment on the service levels. “I wish we could talk at length about every single member of staff. One of the first things returning guests ask for is staff that they got to know and like from their last visit. Knowing that much of the same team is in place gives an assurance to people that the world outside may be chaotic but for the next week or two all will be well and they have nothing to do but relax and enjoy themselves.”

In the kitchen, the Thai cuisine is overseen by Chef Wantanee. She joined Poppies at the very beginning aged just 17 and over the years has built her reputation on ‘Southern-style’ Thai dishes. “She is a wonderfully instinctive, natural chef and I’d recommend trying one of her ‘Kantoke’ menus, they give a real flavour of Thailand and two people would struggle to finish everything.” Johan is equally praising of Chef Noi who heads up the Western kitchen. “Over the last 12 years or so he has served under four very notable expatriate executive chefs here. In 2009, we decided that not only was he ready but also thoroughly deserving of the top job. He’s introduced some of his own signature dishes and I’m particularly keen on the soft shell crab tempura, the nori wrapped lobster and the baked goat cheese in filo parcels. Chef Noi is credit to his craft and the resort.”

Their Chief Engineer, Khun Prasert, is another who has also been at the resort from the beginning and he was an integral part of the construction phase. Head of Housekeeping, Khun Nee, was also in at the start and Accounts Manager, Khun Aksorn, is now in her 12th year at the hotel. In charge of Personnel is Khun Eaat who joined shortly after the opening and John gives her a huge amount of credit. “She is the perfect person for this role and I believe we have the lowest staff turnover rate on the island. More than 50% of the team have in excess of six years’ service which in this business, although highly desirable, is highly unusual. It tells me that our team is very happy here and that shines through in the service they provide to our guests.”

A vision that two men had more than 20 years ago came to fruition in the mid 1990s. And now, 17 years later, that dream of the perfect escape is replayed every day until the hot tropical sun. Even if you aren’t staying there, it’s more than worth the experience simply to dine under the stars and let the wonderful team at Poppies do the rest.

Johnny Paterson
 


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