Samui Wining & Dining
Many Happy Returns
Santiburi Beach Resort’s Food and Beverage team epitomizes genuine Thai hospitality.


Many Happy ReturnsRegular visitors to Samui have their favourite places. They tend to stay in the same resorts, eat out at restaurants they know are good and maximize their relaxation time. A two-week holiday can fly past if spent searching out the basics. Modern travellers are extremely knowledgeable and demanding. And hotels have to work very hard to ensure repeat business. New competitors appear on the scene every year and visitors to Samui have a wonderful range of choices in up-market resorts.


One of the first 5-star resorts on Samui was the Santiburi Beach Resort Golf & Spa in Mae Nam. And as it approaches its 20th anniversary its reputation for excellence remains intact. With a name that translates as ‘peaceful town’, Santiburi’s 71 luxury suites and villas are set amidst 23 acres of meticulously nurtured tropical gardens. That’s a great deal more space than modern resorts allow and it has the feel of a quiet village with a river running through the gardens to the sea. Even the approach to the reception area is reminiscent of a grand English country house with a wide, tree-lined boulevard giving little clue to the grandeur that lies within.


Santiburi Beach Resort not only enjoys high levels of returning guests, many of the staff easily qualify for long-service medals. Assistant Food and Beverage Manager, Khun Veera Suwannarat, has spent the last ten years there and expects to be welcoming guests into the restaurants for many more years to come. “Our industry traditionally has a high staff turnover rate but vacancies don’t come up very often here. There’s a great camaraderie within the team and it feels like being part of a very large family. I think that’s one of the reasons so many of our guests return each year. We quickly get to know their names, what they like to do, when they like to eat, what their favourite dishes are and give them as much personal attention as they wish. Lots of families stay with us and I’ve watched as children have grown into young adults. It helps to have a good memory as we welcome thousands of guests every year.”


Aside from the occasional day trip around the island, most of the guests tend to stay around the 50-metre pool or on the 300 metres of beachfront. Mae Nam Bay stretches for several kilometres with relatively few resorts. It’s nothing like the wall-to-wall hotels environment of Chaweng, and this gives visitors the space to feel like they really are on a tropical island. And with the panoramic view of Koh Pha-Ngan just across the water, it’s considered by many to be the best beach on the island.


As the resident guests spend much of their time in and around the resort, the team of 65 chefs, restaurant hosts and bar staff have to be on their toes. And there’s a lot of ground to cover between the three restaurants, the beach bar, the pool bar and the Taksin Lounge. Their day begins at sunrise with an elaborate breakfast service in the Vimarnmek restaurant. It has a scenic garden setting with indoor and outdoor seating. And fresh salads leaves from their hydroponic garden are picked each day for the breakfast buffet. They provide every imaginable combination of hot English-style big breakfasts through to continental hams, cheeses and breads, with plenty of Asian specialities, fresh fruits and juices.


Just next to the lobby is the very comfortable Taksin Lounge (named after a former King of Thailand and not a recent Prime Minister!). It’s the perfect place to unwind, with a charming water feature and tranquil setting overlooking the pool. They serve drinks all day and night and delicious afternoon teas and cakes around 4:00 pm. At the nearby Pool Side Bar they serve light lunches and snacks, a whole range of cocktails and have daily happy hours and promotions. And Khun Veera recommends two of their signature cocktails as must-try, ‘Our ‘Santiburi Delight’ is perennially popular and contains apricot brandy, rum, Galliano, lime and pineapple juice. And our ‘Welcome to Samui’ cocktail won a ‘Best Cocktail on The Island’ award. It’s made from Bacardi, Malibu, orange Curacao, Crème de Menthe, orange and lemon juices and coconut milk. And they do pack a bit of a punch without tasting overly alcoholic. They’re perfect to sip on while watching the sun go down.” And during the day they serve complimentary fresh fruit and ice-cream to guests around the pool. Little touches, but ones that have an enormous impact on guest satisfaction levels.


Down on the beach, the Rim Talay Beach Bar is open from 10:00 am until late into the night. Tables, sun-beds and hammocks are scattered amongst the coconut palms providing much needed shade in the hottest part of the day. Executive Chef, Gilles Poitevin, and his team have produced a menu that provides local and international light bites and snacks during the day as well as a comprehensive steak and seafood selection that takes some beating. Alongside Australian beef tenderloin, sirloin and lamb are mariniere-style mussels, grilled squid Teppanyaki, marinated grouper, grilled sword fish, fillet of sea bass, rock lobster and sautéed tiger prawns. And they host regular theme nights including all you can eat seafood barbecues on the beach.


And just off the main lobby is their signature Sala Thai restaurant featuring classical Royal Thai Cuisine. It’s Thai food served in a beautifully decorated restaurant using centuries’ old recipes and presentation styles from the royal palaces. And with more than 75 dishes to choose from you could spend every night of your holiday here and not manage to try everything.


Santiburi Beach Resort continues to excel and exceed guest expectations. And getting important things like perfect food and service right every time will ensure that both the team and the regular visitors greet and treat each other like family. Real success in the hospitality industry is measured in many ways, but repeat business must surely be the most rewarding – in all ways.


Johnny Paterson


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