Samui Wining & Dining
Double Delight
A spa/dining experience at The Tongsai Bay is a marriage made in heaven.


Double DelightSamui is renowned for its spa resorts. Many visitors to the island come here to relax for as long as they can, maximising massages and treatments, or using the period away from work to kick-start a new health regime. But the island is equally well-known for the vast amount of different cuisines you can try here, often served in the best restaurants by top international chefs. And when you put the two together, you definitely end up with more than the sum of its parts.


This is the case at The Tongsai Bay, the first five-star luxury resort to open on Samui, way back in 1987. There’s as extensive a range of spa treatments here as you’ll find anywhere on the island, whilst the both its international restaurant, Po-Lad Beach Bistro & Bar, and its Thai restaurant, Chef Chom’s, serve up pretty much anything you could possibly dream of. It’s the sort of place that you really could just stay at for your entire holiday and find everything you need without stepping foot outside.


And its location is a major factor in this, as The Tongsai Bay is hidden away on the north-eastern corner of Samui, set in 25 acres of tropical gardens with 200 metres of beachfront. With the beach only being accessible through the resort or via the ocean itself, it remains quiet, private and in pristine condition.


Hotel Manager, Mark Harrison, originally from Preston in the UK, has been at The Tongsai Bay for over ten years and says it’s the combination of all of the above that keep guests coming back year after year, with some of them having holidayed here right from the start. Thirty per cent of guests at any one time have stayed at the resort before, which, as anyone who’s worked in the business knows, says an awful lot about a hotel. And, with the new Po-Lad Beach Bistro taking off under the skilled eye of Executive Chef, Mark Krueger, that percentage could rise even higher.


Chef Mark is passionate about producing the best food under the best conditions. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, he’s worked at Paul Bocuse’s restaurant there as well as opening the new Six Senses Hideaway kitchens in their Hua Hin resort and leading the team at the Coco Palm Resort & Spa in the Maldives. When he came to Samui, he was the executive chef at the Six Senses Hideaway for two years before joining the team at The Tongsai Bay. He’s brought an expertise and innovation to Po-Lad, creating an exciting new menu and building on the resort’s already well-established ‘Green’ policy.


We use fresh, locally sourced ingredients and we’re keen to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible,” he says. “We use Thai rum in our tiramisu, for example, and we’re moving away from olive oil to use rice oil instead. We have our own herb and vegetable garden and don’t use fertilisers on any of the plants.”


This commitment to the best, freshest food also sees Mark running a Thai cooking class at the resort on Tuesdays and Fridays, which is becoming so popular that it’s often solidly booked up. He’s also working on a new ‘spa cuisine’ menu to complement the therapies available at the spa, as well as organising regular beach barbecues and themed nights with special menus, such as an aphrodisiac menu which he created especially for this year’s Valentine’s Day, and a regular Thai night recreating a traditional Thai street market.


The Tongsai Bay Thai restaurant, Chef Chom’s, overlooks the tropical garden and bay and is named after the now-retired Khun Chom who worked for the Thai royal family in Bangkok before spending over 20 years at the resort. The delicious food is all cooked in the traditional way, with Khun Chom still advising on the menu adjustments from her retirement in Bangkok.


Guests at The Tongsai Bay can also try the ‘Specialty Dining’ option, where a personalised menu can be served on the beach itself (or on your beach terrace if you’re one of the lucky residents there) by your very own personal chef. In fact, wherever you decide to dine at The Tongsai Bay, you’re guaranteed that it will be a totally memorable dining experience.


And when you combine that, whether that be before dinner or after lunch, with a special treatment package at the resort’s acclaimed Prana Spa, you can be assured of a truly unforgettable day in paradise.


Spa Manager, Khun Suchada Panomsingha, worked in Phuket before coming to The Tongsai Bay four years ago and is very proud of what Prana Spa offers guests in its three luxurious treatment rooms. “We have so many different treatments available including therapeutic, healing and restorative treatments as well as some to help relieve stress,” she enthusiastically explains. “Plus there’re also several treatments unique to Prana, such as the ‘Samui Dream’, a mixture of coconut oil and herbs rubbed into the skin to help with sunburn.”


We have eight therapists working in the spa and it’s almost always busy,” she continues. “We consult with each customer when they come in and find out exactly what they want, or advise them if they’re not sure, if they know they want something to help them release stress, for example, or want to try something from our aromatherapy treatments. Whatever they want to try, we can advise them.”


The spa also offers a two and a half hour ‘Return to Prana’ spa treatment for couples as part of its wedding package; a perfect touch if you’ve just been married on the beach and want to relax between the ceremony and the reception.


Having a meal at The Tongsai Bay is great. Enjoying one of Samui’s finest spa experiences at Prana Spa is marvellous. But combining the two makes for a day that you’ll remember for a very long time after you’ve returned home and the tan has disappeared.


Lisa Cunningham


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