Samui Wining & Dining
ELEPHANTS AND BEACHSIDE BARBECUES
Impiana does things a little differently.


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From the minute you walk up the stairs past the pretty fish ponds and up into the wide open marble floored reception area of Impiana Resort, you just know it’s going to be a special experience. But perhaps just not big enough for an elephant, but we’ll come to that later …

        Situated in Chaweng’s quieter cousin Chaweng Noi, Impiana has just under 100 rooms, eight superior cottages, two suites and 14 deluxe cottages, but the grounds are more than enough to accommodate everyone, whether it be singles, couples or families with children.

        Impiana is part of a larger group called Impiana Hotels & Resorts Management, which has two other resorts in Phuket and owns three city hotels and a resort in Malaysia. Already accustomed to providing a luxurious environment for their guests, their resort in Chaweng Noi is no different. From the beautifully crafted waiting area furniture, to the softly lit winding path and steps down to their beachside restaurant with staff dressed in their beautifully tailored Thai uniforms, you just know you’re in good hands.

         They like to look after their guests here, and besides having an air-conditioned hospitality room with complimentary tea and coffee available all day for guests to enjoy, they also have a games area with American 8 Ball, table football, darts and board games. Not that it rains often on Samui, but it’s nice to know there are things to do if it does. Tamarind, their lounge bar on the upper level, is an ideal spot to relax with a cocktail or glass of wine, after a hard day lounging on the beach. Or perhaps, you’d like to stop in there on your way down to the beach? They’re open from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm.

          Their popular beach bar is directly on the sand and offers chilled cocktails, beers and wine. You can choose to sit back in their comfy seats or venture out onto the sand and flop onto the bean bags. A recent renovation of the bar yielded some design improvements, but the main change was that the flat roof of the bar has now been turned into a lounge area. A fantastic place to sit and look out over the sea, drink in hand. Keeping nature in mind, the large beachfront tree that is part of the bar, peeks through the floor and provides some welcome shade during the day. Boasting not one but three ‘Happy Hour’s, listen out for the bell as they announce each one. From 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, you can get a ‘buy one, get one free’ deal on all drinks except wine.

          Their main restaurant, Sabai, is on the lower level overlooking the sea and is open every day from 6:30 am to 10:30 pm. They start their day by offering a full breakfast buffet with enough tasty treats to cater for everyone’s tastes. They offer a great lunch menu too and don’t be surprised when your order arrives - the portions are generous. Lunch times also offer a small lunch barbecue on the beach. Burgers, teriyaki and hot dogs are just some of the delights you can sample.

          But it’s dinner time when this whole area really comes alive. We’ve already mentioned the soft lighting that you see on the path down to the restaurant, and when you arrive you are greeted with something quite magical. The cluster of coconut trees on the beach has been beautifully lit from below, and you’ll find a beautiful fresh flower and candle decoration on all the tables. The area has been transformed from the open area used for the sun loungers and beach games during the day, to a beautiful, intimate dining area. Tables are set up on the sand, as well as on the terrace for those who prefer not to feel the sand between their toes.

          The restaurant has themed nights three times a week. Monday is Thai night and besides the many Thai dishes they have on offer, they also have Thai dancing. Wednesday is Italian night where you can have a break from sampling delicious Thai food and enjoy some excellent pasta dishes. On Friday nights, they have a beach barbecue, and as soon as you arrive at the restaurant, the smell of grilling seafood hits you. The wonderful thing about being on an island is the fantastic availability of fresh seafood. Crab, prawns, lobster and various other shellfish are available all year round and Friday nights at Impiana are a great time to sample them.

          A buffet is set up next to the bar with a barbecue at one end creating magic with seafood and steaks, and then long tables stretch out to the right offering a variety of dishes that will have you drooling before you’ve taken your first mouthful. Barbecued steaks, jacket potatoes and grilled corn are the obvious favourites, but also on offer are steaks in mushroom cream sauce, massaman beef curry, chicken and cashew nuts, stir fried vegetables in oyster sauce, mushroom soup, a selection of salads including a delicious prawn and avocado salad, a full range of sushi with all the sauces and trimmings (the wasabi deserves respect), and then a whole table dedicated to desserts. The Impiana brownie looks indulgent but there’s also delicious mango and sticky rice parcels. You’re definitely not leaving here hungry.

          Every night except Sunday, they have a band which plays gentle easy listening music. Judging from the fact that most of the guests had turned their chairs around to face the band, they were clearly crowd pleasers.

          If we haven’t already convinced you to visit Impiana, let’s see if we can convince you with an elephant. You thought we’d forgotten, hadn’t you? Every year around the 13th April, Thailand celebrates Songkran, which is their version of New Year, and the whole of Thailand becomes one big water fight. This day is loved by old and young alike, and tourists travel from far and wide to take part in the festivities. Impiana have made this an extra special event for their guests by bringing an elephant to join in the fun. Yes, a real elephant directly on the beach in front of the hotel. And you know how much elephants love water …

          

 Colleen Setchell


 


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