Samui Wining & Dining
Attracting MICE

Getting away from it all with meetings at The Tongsai Bay.


Attracting MICEIt doesn’t get much better. A tropical island. Palm-fringed beaches. Little fluffy clouds. A private bay. Acres of secluded rich green gardens and lawns. And a sea view that lifts your spirit. It’s just perfect: almost too good for words. The only problem is … you’ve got to work!


Well, just a bit! Half and half, maybe. And that’s the big attraction. More and more companies are coming to Samui for MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) events. Our beautiful island is just four hours away from Hong Kong to the north and two hours from Singapore to the south. And it’s an ideal spot for a company to come to take a break for a few days and reward the high-fliers. And to work up some team spirit. Or, simply, to assemble representatives from far and wide altogether in one place. All it needs is some organisational flair and the right venue. A resort that’s laid-back, sumptuous, peaceful and well-equipped. And one place that fits this brief perfectly is The Tongsai Bay, over on the most north-easterly tip of the island.


The Tongsai Bay is something of a Samui legend. Not only was it the island’s first real 5-star resort but it’s also believed to be the biggest; there’re 25 acres of secluded, wooded hillside leading down to a private bay. Right from the start, the natural beauty of the bay was retained and not one tree was felled, or even a rock broken-up, in its development and construction. And this definitive philosophy of ecology and conservation remains firmly at the core of everything at The Tongsai Bay today. There’s actually a total of 83 luxurious suites, villas and cottages tucked away in this unspoiled landscape, but it doesn’t seem like it. Not only are they widely-spread and integrated into the setting but they’re also quaintly positioned to follow the natural lie of the land.


There’s a huge, free-form swimming pool and another one, half-moon-shaped, near the beachfront internet café. There are three restaurants, with the innovative Po-Lad Beach Bistro & Bar representing a much-envied pinnacle of fine-dining. There’s the Prana Spa, with a wide range of healing, restorative and pampering programs. The spacious air-conditioned exercise room contains gleaming modern equipment and there’s a tennis court, plus complimentary sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and fishing facilities. And you’ll also come across the air-conditioned Ga La meeting room – one of the most ‘delightful’ conference rooms that you’ll discover anywhere.


It’s hard to find words which eloquently sum it up. Most of conference areas in the world are big enough to house several light aircraft, with lofty ceilings to match and whole walls of towering floor-to-ceiling windows. They’re huge and impersonal. Well, Ga La is the complete opposite.


The room simply oozes character and charm, and the ultra-peaceful location and setting reflects and complements this. It’s centrally placed; right next to the huge reception area and close to the breakfast restaurant alongside. After about 10:30 am there’s not a soul in sight and no passing distractions at all. The glass-windowed room is actually several steps higher than the arched colonnade outside, and part of a series of cascading terraces which lead your eye down towards the sea. The lower, square terrace, complete with its tables and decorative lotus ponds, is reminiscent of an Italian piazza; which is hardly surprising, as that’s where the inspiration came from for this area.


The first thing that’s seen as you enter Ga La is the imposing teak conference table and seating which dominates this part of the room. The ceiling is low and crossed with massive beams, like something in a castello. This isn’t a venue for the masses. In fact, it’s suitable for a 12-person Boardroom layout; a Classroom style raises this to 18, and the Theatre layout can accommodate up to 24 people. First impressions reveal another room next to this, a cosy lounge area around a coffee table, with another huge teak table alongside. But a closer look reveals a cunning room-divider; a partial, slanted wall with illuminated alcove spaces between the two areas. It’s altogether one of the most comfortable and serene meeting rooms that you’ll ever have the pleasure of coming across.


But there’s nothing in any way ‘quaint’ about the facilities and services that go along with this. There’s a Sony VPL-ES1 3-LCD projector that will handle laptop-based PowerPoint presentations at a crisp 800x600 resolution, and a huge Vertex 100-inch screen. Audio streams are dealt with via a 275-watt Crown CE 1000 power amplifier and mixed with a 12-channel Peavey RQ2314 deck. Speakers are by JBL and tripod mounted for convenience and positioning. And, of course, there’s the expected whiteboards, flip-charts and clipboards. Plus complimentary WiFi throughout the resort.


General Manager, Michael Holehouse, is enthusiastic about what’s on offer to visiting businesses. “Everything’s completely flexible,” he told me. “We’ve kept it simple and if anyone books a minimum of four rooms for at least one night, then they get the conference facilities included at no extra cost. Tea, coffee and snacks can be taken in the Boardroom lounge or anywhere that’s requested; down on the piazza, for instance. And Ga La comes with its exclusive ‘Meetings Butler’ to serve you on your breaks. And likewise with the meals. We had a group here last year who enjoyed the final evening together with their own private chef and tables on the beach. We’ll gladly create a package for you built around your specific needs and our seasonal room rates. We can also advise you on private dining, functions options and island activities (excursions, golf, etc.) as well as motivational ideas and activities. Just ask and it shall be provided,” he concluded with a smile.


It seems that his confidence is shared by the financial division of Coca-Cola Bangkok, who enjoyed their 4-nights incentives meeting in the September of last year and is now planning a return visit.


Mixing pleasure with business has now become a commonplace activity and there are more than a few hotels ready to cater for this niche. Each has their own style. But there are few that can match the charm of Ga La. Or, for that matter, the unforgettable experience that The Tongsai Bay offers all visitors.


Rob De Wet


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