Samui Wining & Dining
Above It All
Chaweng Bay View Resort is a haven of peace, quiet, comfort and wonderful Thai cuisine.

 

Above It AllThere’s something reassuring about the familiar. And in times when the money in your pocket has to go a lot further, most people are ‘risk averse’. It’s why new businesses like restaurants and hotels have to spend large amounts of their start-up capital on marketing. And why established businesses work hard on having repeat customers.

 

And there’re other elements that come into play when deciding where to stay or eat when you come to Samui on holiday. If you’ve already had a great experience somewhere before then you don’t want to waste time, money or energy trying out somewhere that only might be better. And those businesses that have made consistently positive impressions on their guests are the ones that benefit in an economic downturn. Or at least don’t suffer as much as others.

 

Khun Yupa is the owner of Chaweng Bay View Resort and its eponymous restaurant. And since opening nearly ten years ago, she’s welcomed back countless guests who return each year. “We try and treat everyone like a part of the family. Bay View is a relatively small resort with just 22 rooms, villas and suites. And many of the team have been with me for a long time. They get to know the guests quickly because they see them every day and spend time making everything just perfect for them. That’s not a deliberate marketing ploy; it’s just how we are. I like to treat people as if they were invited guests in my house and make them feel comfortable and relaxed. Our rooms are bigger than standard, are kept immaculately clean and are great value for money with terrific views over the small island of Koh Matlang and the Gulf beyond.”

 

Chaweng Bay View is set on the hillside in the northern part of town. It’s not on the beach but that doesn’t seem to matter to most guests. “In reality, very few people staying in beachside resorts actually lie on the beach. Most sunbathe around the pool and perhaps take the occasional walk along the sand. The elevated vista we have here is not something you get at sea-level. And there’s no-one else around us making lots of noise and yet we’re just five minutes or so from the centre of Chaweng.”

 

With room rates between 2,000 baht and 5,000 baht per night, it’s pretty much unbeatable value-for-money. And that higher rate is for the 72 sqm Royal Pavilion Suite. All the rooms are beautifully decorated in traditional Thai style with all the modern amenities you would expect. And the larger suites have huge balconies, kitchenettes and an outdoor Jacuzzi. Plus each suite or villa has a generous amount of space around it to ensure total privacy and peace and quiet.

 

After spending her youth growing up on Samui, Khun Yupa went to university in the capital. She then started several small enterprises and each year she bought small parcels of land. Later she went on to live and work in Switzerland for five years before returning and putting her plans for the resort in place. She’s always been a very good cook, learning from her mother and grandmother and developing her own recipes. And serving great Thai food, including Samui specialities and Western favourites, was essential in establishing Yupa Restaurant at the resort. Whilst she still rolls up her sleeves and gets in the kitchen whenever she gets time, she’s passed on her knowledge to the chefs that work with her. With that, one simple instruction, “Cook from the heart, with love, or don’t cook at all.”

 

And with tables spread around the pool and in two under cover areas, everyone can enjoy the views whilst they dine. There’re around 140 dishes on the menu and many of the vegetables and herbs she uses come from her own farm in the south of the island. The Thai dishes are the most popular, by far. And appetizers like spicy glass noodles with minced pork, herbs and lemon juice and her crisp spicy squid, marinated raw fish, shrimp, cashews, tomato, herbs and lemon just zing with flavours and burst with aromas. Main dishes of pork, beef, chicken and prawns are grilled, sautéed, steamed, roasted and pan-fried with a wide selection of vegetables and sauces. And they have fresh local seafood on ice every day where you can choose your own and have it cooked however you like with a choice of accompaniments. There’re also excellent sirloin, fillet and T-bone steaks, lamb chops and pasta dishes, should they take your fancy.

 

When she’s not taking care of guests or her young daughter, Khun Yupa is inevitably involved with local community projects and charities. When Samui suffered from terrible floods and landslides last year, she was out in a truck handing out aid to those affected the most. She’s currently helping with the construction of affordable housing for long-term residents who otherwise wouldn’t be able to buy anything on Samui, where house prices are very high for the average Thai worker. Over the last few years, concerns about environmental awareness have taken centre stage with government officials, local businesses, residents and resorts all providing input and resources. And Khun Yupa is also involved with the Koh Samui Green Island Project. Launched in 2008, this three-phase, ten-year conservation initiative aims to protect and preserve the environment in order to ensure long-term sustainability so that tourism and the natural environment are harmonious.

 

As a native born Samui woman, Khun Yupa has witnessed dramatic changes to the island. But she is determined that her daughter and others of her generation should be able to enjoy the island’s natural wonders, as should every visitor who arrives on the island. And as an hotelier and business owner, she has actively got involved in all aspects of island life. But what she did on her last birthday really speaks volumes about who she is. Instead of taking it easy, like the rest of us would, she cooked and served lunch, at her own expense, to more than a thousand local schoolchildren. Why? “Because it feels good,” she says.

 

Johnny Paterson

 


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