Samui Wining & Dining
In Good Spirits

Be transported back in time at Spirit House Village in Chaweng.

 

26Walking over the threshold of the Spirit House Village you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d just stepped out of a secret portal. Strange artefacts protrude from natural rock formations, and thick rope bridges creep over trickling streams. Through slight clearings in the bushes you can spy life-size figurines of traditional villagers, hard at work performing their duties – some ploughing, others sewing silk.

    Built into what looks like the grounds of an old temple, “Spirit House is a journey into the Thailand of old, and an enlightenment of the food, the music, the dress, the culture, the tradition, the lifestyle.” explains owner, Paul McDermid.

      Located just off Chaweng Beach Road (turn right just before the one-way section ends) it comes as a bit of surprise just how quiet and serene the grounds of Spirit House are. There’s not even a hint of traffic in the air – you could just as well be in a remote village in Northern Thailand.

      Laid out like a traditional Thai village, there’s a central temple (now converted into a dining space) surrounded by Thai villas, outbuildings, courtyards, canals and exotic spice gardens. Every element of Spirit House, from the large to the small, adheres to the theme, even down to the furniture, which is all golden teak-wood.

       And the food is in keeping with the theme of traditional Thailand too – it’s royal Thai cuisine, to be precise. And that means it’s food that’s been meticulously prepared the way that it is for the Thai royal family themselves. Fruits and vegetables are intricately carved into floral shapes, and the food is served in crockery that’s hand-painted with gold leaf.

       Entrées include Wild Rainbow Lilies, a traditional appetiser from years gone by, comprised of wild betel leaf filled with sea prawns, shredded coconut, crushed peanuts, spices and a tangy sauce. And then there’s the tantalisingly named Golden Egg Nets, a delicate lacey egg wrap filled with chicken, peanuts, bean sprouts and a sweet vinegar sauce.

       For main course there are some dishes you’ll recognise and others you perhaps won't. Thai staples like Green Chicken Curry feature alongside more specialist dishes like Crispy Fried Whole Fish basted in sweet and sour tamarind sauce. Because royal Thai cuisine is designed to be totally hazard-free, the fish is of course de-boned, but is then put back together again so that when served, it appears to be in its original fish-like form.

       Divided up into numerous sections, the restaurant space itself takes you on a journey of décors and atmospheres – from alfresco dining on a decked platform suspended over a lilly pond, to traditional Kantoke-style seating on red cushions against the backdrop of a huge, double-height, brick feature wall covered with ancient wall paintings. And it’s at night that this village really comes alive, Paul explains, “Spirit House enters into a magical, mystical, fairyland of lights, simmering candles, leaping flames and vibrant ancient wall drawings from a by-gone era. Bamboo flute music and incense clouds tiptoe through the air. The chedi statues light up and stand entrusted with the spiritual well-being and serenity of its surrounding environment.”

      In the pipeline is a regular Thai Cultural Evening incorporating a barbecue under the stars. Nestled amongst the spice garden, overlooking the lotus pond, guests will experience a traditional Isaan barbecue featuring duck, pork and chicken slowly cooked in a 44 gallon drum - the original Weber style barbecue! There will also be traditional Thai dancing by girls dressed in authentic costume, as well as boys performing an exhibition of Thailand's ancient fighting Muay Thai to further liven up the night. To complete the evening's entertainment, one of Samui’s youngest and finest fire dancers will light up the skies, with a breathtaking and exhilarating performance of twirling, spinning and juggling fire. A fantastic evening by anyone’s standards.

      And if you love the food you taste at Spirit House, then you can try your hand at rustling it up yourself in their very own cooking classes. The resident master chef will teach you all the tips and tricks of creating royal Thai cuisine. You’ll leave with a great understanding of Thai tastes and flavours, and the diversity of the country's cuisine, as well as the knowledge and skill to recreate the fantastic dishes at home. In one class you have a selection of four dishes and it costs 1,800 baht per person.

      Nestled into the leafy grounds of the Spirit House Village is a tropical spa sanctuary. Dubbed a ‘garden spa’ because of the natural and rustic vibe that it embodies, you really feel at one with nature here. Meandering paths take you between exotic massage salas and relaxing therapy rooms. And then there’s the pièce de résistance, the waterfall-flanked, rock pond plunge pool and herbal steam room – the perfect place to seek refuge, solitude and tranquillity.

      Whether you dine in the restaurant, indulge in a massage treatment or take a cooking class, any experience at Spirit House will be one you’ll never forget. It’s not every day you get to feel as though you’ve travelled back in time and experienced something truly unique – and that’s what’s on offer at Spirit House.

 

Christina Wylie


 


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