Samui Wining & Dining
Purchasing Paradise
The ultimate in secluded tropical luxury villas at The Estates Samui, Four Seasons.


Purchasing ParadiseIt was only a few years ago that Samui was a little bit like the island that time forgot. This was one of its big attractions. And those-in-the-know flocked here to enjoy the simple life on a tropical island. In those days, such adventurers stayed in wooden huts – they didn’t have a lot of choice! But that’s not the way it is today. Samui now has the perfect balance of modern amenities and unspoiled beaches. Life’s still simple but there are motor yachts in the bays. Now you’ll spot luxury villas basking amongst the greenery. There are a number of 5-star resorts in prime locations, mostly tucked away in secluded tranquillity. And one of these is the idyllic Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui.


Samui’s ‘Four Seasons’ first opened its doors in February 2007. As one might expect from one of the world’s leading hospitality brand-names, the eventual site was the result of lengthy research. It took a while to find the perfect spot; secluded, yet not isolated, aesthetically-hilly but without being awkwardly-vertical. As you drive past its very discreet entrance at the top of the hill on the ring-road as you’re nearing Nathon coming from Chaweng, there’s no clue at all as to what lies at beyond this simple pathway. But Four Seasons Resort is filled with surprises, as is quickly revealed when you follow the path upwards towards the summit of the wooded hill above.


The resort is situated on a naturally-private peninsular. It’s splendidly, gorgeously, green and lush with a gently-folded topography that cascades downwards to an idyllic beach below. First impressions are breathtaking. From the elevated ‘lookout point’ of the reception it seems that below you, and for as far as the eye can see, is the resort; a bird’s-eye view of nests of villas peeping out from within the greenery. And this is the dramatic intention. The actual resort occupies 17,000 square metres of this hillside. But there’s nothing else at all surrounding it, only the gentle flow of the slopes. Simply stated, it’s a haven; breathtakingly beautiful, peacefully private and the stuff of dreams.


And it’s actually in two sections, although this isn’t something that you can see; it appears to be a sole and integrated entity. Which it should be, as it was all designed inside out by the internationally-acclaimed architect/designer Bill Bensley … and more about this in just a moment. Sixty of the sumptuous villas are owned by the resort proper. But the remaining 14 are in the professional hands of ‘The Estates Samui’ and are either already privately owned – or will be, as there are a few of them that still remain unsold. And this is where things begin to get really interesting.


The arrangement is that, when needed due to high-demand booking, the unsold private villas can be called into play by the resort. In effect, they are a kind of reserve-pool of luxury accommodation. But it’s more diverse than that. At the moment, none of the private villas have owners that are actually resident. They all tend to stay for a month or so at a time, perhaps once or twice a year. The rest of the time their villas remain empty – except, in actual fact, they don’t!


“These are some of the most delightful and luxurious villas anywhere,” explained James Knowles, the Vice President of Sales & Marketing for the Minor International group that owns and manages the resort. “They’re world-quality getaway homes that are at the top end of the international market. And they’re all lavishly furnished as standard. But what’s so appealing about them is the layout and décor. They’re on several split levels and with detached-but-linked bedrooms, and everything around is intensively landscaped. The overall ambiance is elegant and laid-back. And they’re each knitted-into the resort. On arrangement with the owners, the resort can draw on this ‘pool’ of additional accommodation. It provides an extra income for the owners, if they wish, and also adds an extra dimension to the resort.”


It’s a kind of mutually-beneficial symbiotic relationship that appeals to owners and management alike. Four Seasons frequently has bookings via its global database for excess of its capacity, and has many of its regular guests alternating between one Four Seasons resort and another on their frequent getaways. Several travel to Thailand in their own private jets, and one or two weren’t quite sure of Samui’s location until they actually got here, such is the total confidence Four Seasons’ guests have in the brand!


But what if you own one of the villas and don’t fancy the idea of a procession of faceless jet-setters being in your ‘home’ for months at a time? “Well that’s no problem; you can let out just parts of your villa and close off private sections. All of the villas are on a split-level and have a central ‘living’ area with each of the bedrooms being detached across the levels. As well as the villa’s main infinity pool, every one of the big master bedrooms also has its own plunge pool. Which means that, if you wish, you can lease-out just your master bedroom independently of the rest.


Bill Bensley designed the layout so that each villa is individual, faces a different direction according to the view and can’t be overlooked by its neighbours. The style is modern contemporary Thai, and the décor is simple-yet-bold and is dotted with rustic artefacts and antiques that perfectly complement the high-tech flat-screen TVs, top-end stereos with i-pod docking, kitchen, sauna and other cutting-edge fittings. And the materials used are all top-end, too, from the one-inch thick teak cladding to the 2-inch hardwood pool decks. This is absolute luxury, both inside and out.


And the final word goes to James Knowles. “Phuket has topped-out now and it’s Samui that’s once again on the up. These are the most luxurious and costly properties on the island, but they bring in a proportional return and represent hassle-free home ownership on a super-luxury scale.”


Rob De Wet


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