Samui Wining & Dining
Drift placidly towards The Siam Residence – a hidden gem in Lipa Noi!


Drift placidly towards The Siam Residence – a hidden gem in Lipa Noi! Over the last few years, things have changed a lot. Not so long ago, new resorts looked at the areas around Chaweng and Lamai. The result, of course, was that these places filled up and land became expensive. And so, when the big names started to appear, they looked for quieter, more secluded locations. The comparatively undeveloped southern part of the island was the choice. Others quickly followed their lead. Today the result is that this whole area of Samui is quietly and unobtrusively busier.


But, looking at the western coast, particularly that area around Lipa Noi, there’s not a lot of new development. In fact, apart from one beach club, there’s not a great deal there at all. There might well be many people staying in the areas nearby, but they have to head to Nathon for a change of scene or to explore a new restaurant. Except that’s not true! There’s one notable, quiet and pleasant resort, with a great restaurant and a secluded beach. It’s been here for quite a while, although few people know of it. Its name is The Siam Residence.


It’s actually been here in its current location for the last 25 years although the Austrian owners have an ongoing policy of continual upgrading and improvement. The result is that all the bungalows, with their contemporary design and modern layout, look as if they’ve just been built. Everything here looks bright and chic, including the glass-sided octagonal massage sala overlooking the beach. And this semi-futuristic design is echoed in the restaurant and two dining rooms, although you can also opt to sit under the stars if you wish - and many do!


The other delightful aspect is there are spacious lawns at the front of the resort, around the restaurant area and the pool. It’s rare to see such well-tended lawns in Thailand; the constant maintenance is arduous in a tropical climate. And to go with these, the even more splendid sight of neat flowerbeds and borders, truly making The Siam Residence a little bit of home-from-home.


Although there are just 12 villas, there are two styles to choose from. The resort is family-friendly and the larger villas have two large double bedrooms, as well as a gigantic walk-in wardrobe that’s easily big enough to store all the baggage and beach toys of two couples or an extended family. Plus the management will readily add an extra single bed or cots if asked. The only word, really, to describe the quality of the design and fittings here is opulent! The living areas are sumptuously furnished, and come with a big flat-screen TV, a comprehensive satellite TV package, a DVD player and a stereo with an iPod dock. The huge bathroom has fluffy white bathrobes and features a Balinese-style outdoor shower, but there’s also another smaller one for casual use tucked away too, as well as two separate toilets.


All of which makes it just perfect if you want to come to stay here for any length of time. But let’s get back to what we were talking about to begin with. Once you get outside of Nathon, it’s a long and featureless run along the ring-road towards Hua Thanon, down in the southern part of the island. The road is broad, fast and bland, and you’ll flash past garages and showrooms interspersed with big, blank stretches of nothing. Really, the only thing to discover is the landmark of Nathon itself. Well, unless you know about the existence of Siam Residence, that is!


And it’s not at all hard to find. Coming from the direction of Lamai and heading towards Nathon, follow the signposts to Nikki Beach and the Raja ferry, at the major traffic lights. Then look for a turn, signposted on the right. You’ll find a small side turning right into the resort, after about a hundred metres. It’s a bit of a hidden gem! And there are several extremely good reasons to know about it.


The first thing is that there’s not much happening on the beach along that whole strip of coast. Other than the sand at Lipa Noi beach itself, there is little in the way of beach restaurants or places to stop and sit. And the second thing is that you are warmly welcome to come in and spend some time here at The Siam Residence. “We’re very pleased to see anyone visiting from outside,” Benjamin Lehmann, the resort’s Resident Manager, declared. “It’s very easy and laid-back here. You could drop in during the day to take a look around and get the feel of the resort, or sit by the pool and catch up with your emails, perhaps. You’re welcome to use the pool and the sunbeds – there is a shady fringe on the beach if you’d prefer that – there’s towels and a shower available too, if you want. We don’t charge for this. But,” he added with a smile, “we would expect you to take some refreshment or a snack to make up for it.”


And it’s really lovely in the evening too, although it’s best to locate it in the daylight first! The restaurant is first class. There are all the usual suspects on the menu – split into Thai and international sections. There is a big starter section and a wide range of salads, plus more than a few choices for the veggies among you. The mains section offers ribs, steak, fish and pasta, and the mixed grill is excellent, too.


The seafood is outstanding, and is bought-in every morning from the local market. There is usually a choice of barracuda, snapper, mackerel, king prawns or rock lobster – but if you want crab, scallops or shellfish, then please phone and order it the day before. And to go with this you can have your selection barbecued with sweet and sour sauce and vegetables, or deepfried with garlic and pepper. There’s even a ‘healthy option’ of going Thai, with your selection steamed and combined with vegetables, chilli sauce and garlic and with a choice of yellow or red curry, if you wish.


something of an unknown gem, tucked away on the west coast, not that far from Nathon. The Siam Residence is not that wellknow, but once discovered, people come back to it again and again – there are very few havens on this part of the island!


 Rob De Wet


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