I almost kept my cool. When we drew up to the entrance and caught our first glimpse of the cavernous atrium lobby, opening up to the outside Woo Bar with its infinity pool and the sea beyond, I kept my cool. When we were shown to our villa, with its own postcode-sized king bed and the split level bathroom which boasted two power showers, one inside and one outside (complete with tree), and our own private swimming pool, I stayed calm. But it was when The Sweet Spot was explained to me – a free ice cream station – that my cool melted. “Tell me, “I asked. “Do you have … Magnums?” “Yes! We have Magnums!” “So … that means … there are free Magnums?” “Yes, all free,” our guide cheerfully confirmed. “FREE MAGNUMS ALL THE TIME WE ARE HERE, IS THAT WHAT YOU ARE SAYING?!” She looked a little startled, nodded and started pointing out some of the other features of our villa. We had most definitely arrived.
W Koh Samui is quite simply in a class of its own. The WOW factor is tangible – and lasting. Guests actually gasp as they arrive in the cathedral-like reception space. Its walls are dripping with huge graffiti murals by NYC artist Alec Monopoly (Jack Nicholson, Taxi Driver-era De Niro, the Monopoly character on DJ decks, with angel wings). But your gaze is immediately pulled through the building to the Roo Bar outside, the seemingly adjoined sea and distant mountain ranges beyond. A huge ‘W’ stands at the point the view meets the sea, as if copyrighting the entire vista. I overheard an American asking his wife what she was saying in an Instagram post she was editing and she replied: “so much perfectly executed branding my heart could explode”. Indeed.
Most suites are pretty nondescript from the outside – from the maze of interconnecting lanes, at any rate – but inside they are like luxury Tardises (Tardi?) with every mod con you can conceivably think of – state-of-the-art coffee machine, HDTV, a mini-bar groaning with designer refreshments and a free toffee with mini-hammer (weird but great addition). The private adjoining pool adds an extra layer of luxury – there’s nothing quite like rolling out of bed at 8am, with the temperature already into the 30s, staggering no more than six steps outside before slipping into the cool water for a pre-breakfast enlivener.
We stayed for three days and three nights and never ventured off-site – it’s huge and packed with features and attractions and unless you’re on Koh Samui for a strictly cultural trip (in which case you should probably have done more research), everything you want is here. The breakfasts are epic – trestle tables laden with beautiful cuts of ham, cheese and bountiful fruit, an almost endless variety of bread and pastries and a hot section where cooks will rustle up eggs to complement whatever full English/European selection you’ve made. All this against the panoramic backdrop of the ocean and the hill ranges beyond.
After breakfast, we generally wended our way down to W Beach, where the days loll by you as you laze by the shore in hammocks and outsized bean bags, being brought coconuts and managing to raise the energy to make the short trip to the open-sided beach hut style diner for delicious plates of fish or tapas.
The seascape was fantastic to gaze at but the water not so great to actually go into – you’d need to avail yourself of the free rubber ‘sea shoe’ loan (sorry, don’t know the technical term for these) if you decide to venture in. Because we were there in off-peak season there weren’t too many motorised water craft activities (a good thing, in my opinion) with the balmy calm only intermittently interrupted by the bluebottle drone of jetskis.
Dinners were uniformly great, with menus catering for unreconstructed carnivores like me or health-conscious people like my partner. No tokenism here – a hearty choice for both parties. The W mantra (“Whatever … whenever”) has been thoroughly embraced by the staff; although everyone on Koh Samui seems very pleasant and helpful, people at W go several steps further. The waiting staff were delightful.
On our final afternoon we were treated to a couple’s massage which was as good as any I’ve ever had (please see previous review on Kamalaya, Koh Samui for full riveting details of my anatomical complaints); it easily matched any of the treatments we received at Kamalaya – high praise indeed, trust me.
Our short stay at W Koh Samui came at the end of a two week holiday and ensured we really went out on a high. To be honest, I think if we had started our trip here it would have set an almost impossibly high bar. A true bucket list destination. And did I mention, free Magnums?