Samui Wining & Dining
Attracting MICE.

Business and pleasure can go together at Anantara Bophut Resort & Spa.


19‘Work hard, play hard, succeed and be rewarded!’ But alongside this most-common slogan of today’s business work, you’ll often find the added lines, ‘… somewhere nice, away from home for the weekend.’ And if you’re a part of a big company and situated anywhere between Hong Kong and Singapore, the chances are that you’ve already been rewarded with a working break on Samui at some time, as it’s less than two hours flying time away. Indeed, over the last three or four years, you can make that anywhere between Europe and America, as increasingly more ‘multinationals’ are gathering their flocks and shepherding them to our little island.


It’s what M.I.C.E. is is all about: Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions. And for a long time now it’s been a recognised incentive for high-achievers, as well as an enjoyable way to have a meeting of scattered or far-flung employees. All you need to do for this is to find a warm, sunny spot and a place to stay that has world-class business and leisure facilities. And that’s just what we’ve got on Samui! One of which being the world-class resort, Anantara Bophut Resort & Spa, close to the ring-road traffic lights in Bophut.


It’s part of a certain breed of high-end resorts that don’t go in for acres of polished marble and gold-plated fittings. Staff here are trained to the highest standards and yet encouraged to be naturally friendly and responsive. And the facilities are extensive, but purposeful rather than showy. This is ‘Anantara’. From the ‘rain forest’ surroundings and the internationally-proven management to the two gourmet restaurants and the lavishly-equipped fitness centre. Then there’s the idyllic spa. And the 106 expansive rooms and 20 executive pool-villas. Plus we mustn’t forget the particularly delightful suite of conference facilities! Anantara certainly has established itself as a desirable place to be when it comes to group activities such as weddings or MICE.


Many other MICE venues are centred on a huge, featureless room, somewhere in the resort, that can hold a lot of people all together. But at Anantara the conference suites are housed in their own separate block, adjacent and attached to the main building. As already noted, the design-features and décor here are subtle and understated. The granite flooring and walkways throughout feature an inset textured fish motif made up of pebbles. And this theme is echoed as you approach the arched entrance to the conference annexe. A small, almost Mediterranean-style, cobbled courtyard diverts your attention half-way up as you climb the steps to the upper floor. It’s surrounded by flowering plants and framed by the rough terracotta of the roof-angles: a popular spot for buffets or coffee even though there’s an outer reception and meeting area specifically for this, directly above.


Entering this upper area you’re faced with the sort of enormous wooden door that’s usually only seen in castles. And beyond this is a room of similar dimensions. There’s a high ceiling and a wall of windows at one side, with enough room to seat around 300 people, banquet-style. This is the ‘Koh Samui Ballroom’ which, not so long ago, hosted nine wedding parties in as many days. But it can be divided into two, forming the windowed space of the ‘Koh Pha Ngan Room’ or the especially-darkened ‘Koh Samui Room’ with its enormous projector screen. And, walking through a connecting area, there’s also the corporate décor of the ‘Koh Tao Boardroom’ with seating for up to 14. With the various permutations of these areas Anantara can accommodate all seating plans, including the popular ‘boardroom’, ‘classroom’, ‘U-shape’, ‘banquet’, ‘theatre’, ‘dinner’ and ‘cocktail’ layouts.


The hardware and equipment that you’ll find is on a par with the best anywhere. Fifty-inch LCD screens can be arranged to your requirements, either stand-alone or in tandem with the digital projector that’s teamed with the huge, main 100-inch screen. Sound comes courtesy of a Crown XLS 402 professional 400 watt power amplifier twinned with a 16-channel Soundcraft 24-bit digital mixer. There are already speakers set into the ceiling, but these can be supplemented by big tripod-mounted JBL monitors, if required. All forms of presentations can be accommodated, whether on a memory stick, external hard drive or residing on a laptop computer.


And, of course, the range of supplementary services is precisely what you’d expect. Secretarial options include translation and dictation services, fax and document transmission, copying and reprographics and, naturally, incorporate complimentary broadband internet-access.


The resort’s energetic Event Manager and Wedding Co-ordinator, Khun Uea-ingkun Sophavachirathavee (Khun Air for short), was keen to point out even more enhancements to the scenario. “We can arrange all sorts of supplementary activities,” she explained. “Meetings can be combined with spa packages or fine-dining alternatives, or can be activity-based right from the start. We’ve got team-building tasks that develop elements of trust, competition, problem-solving or logic, and a range of activities such as golf, tennis, windsurfing, kayaking or sailing. Plus, of course, yoga and cooking classes as well as all the spa treatments. And don’t forget,” she added, “that we have an international-standard gourmet restaurant here with Full Moon. There’s an al fresco Italian menu there with table-side cooking and, together with our other international cuisine restaurant, High Tide, everybody’s always more than happy!


But don’t just take my word for all this. Previous satisfied customers include Pepsi International who were here for four days last year with 42 executives from all over the world and, prior to that, ExxonMobil who similarly enjoyed themselves for three days with an international gathering. And that speaks volumes about the reputation of Anantara and what it has to offer.


Another excellent aspect of the resort (and one that’s only too-often given a back-seat) is their website. It’s crisp and clear and detailed and has extensive information about everything, including the conference and wedding packages and all their options.


Yes, the MICE can indeed play happily here. Whether the cat’s away or not!


Rob De Wet


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