Samui Wining & Dining
Hansar’s Growing

A lot of the new growth at the 5-star Hansar is in their organic garden!


19Over the last few years, a completely new breed of quality hotel has evolved. For a long time the phrase ‘5-star’ summoned up glittering images of marble floors, oak panelling, and gold trimmings on the doorman and the bathroom fittings. But recently something gentler and less flashy has slid into place. There’s the same quality of service throughout. The restaurants will be fit for visiting royals. The spa will be super and the facilities fab. But the décor and style will have ceased to shout. You’ll see natural timber and fabrics, and subtle modern art. Everything will be elegant and relaxed – as indeed is fitting for a top resort on a tropical island. And one, just such as this, is Hansar Samui.

      Hansar has been around for about four years now. And there’s a very good chance that, whether you’ll know it or not, you’ll find yourself at some point just a minute’s walk away. That’s because it’s situated in the hugely popular Fisherman’s Village in Bophut. It’s not right in the middle, though, rather it’s at the very-furthest bit of the seafront street. It’s an unpretentious building from the road; a squarish block with two wings framing the lawn and pool that’s towards the front, with the elevated

open-sided restaurant, H Bistro, to the right. There are a total of 74 deluxe rooms, ranging from ‘Sea View’ to ‘Beach Front’, and all of them lavishly appointed and furnished. Plus there’s an exclusive spa suite, a gym and fitness centre, a business centre, and a well-equipped banqueting and conference room.

      There are two super restaurants here, H-Bistro is down at beach-level and the laid-back Chill Lounge with its comfortable day-beds and sweeping seascape is on the floor directly above. The Executive Chef here is Stephen Dion and his résumé is nothing short of dramatic, having managed such world-class restaurants such as the 5-star Lebua at Bangkok’s exclusive State Tower hotel, and also having served as the personal chef for the King of Jordan for a year or so. But, despite the fact that he’s producing some of the finest 5-star fare on the island, you might be surprised to discover that the cost of a meal here is very little more than many of the eateries in Fisherman’s Village.

      Then, towards the rear of the main block you’ll discover Luxsa, the resort’s superb spa. This is an essay in tranquillity in its own right. There’s a high-roofed atrium as you enter. And there are six sumptuous treatment suites, plus another separate area for manicures and pedicures. Khun Kantima Chompoolad – nicknamed Khun Jeurn – is the manager here and has been with the resort since it first opened. The approach is holistic, and everyone receives a detailed analysis, with medical and physical conditions being assessed and integrated with personality typing, to determine the specific oils and aromas to be combined together for each treatment. If it’s just a bit of a back rub you want, you can get it on the beach – your treatment here will be light years beyond that!

      The reason that I’ve gone into some detail about the spa and the restaurant is that they are both benefiting from a fairly recent development – well, if something that started up just over a year ago can be called ‘recent’. There are quite a lot of plants and bushes at Hansar, and the gardening department at one time used to propagate these in a strip of land at the back of the resort. It’s actually a big plot, paralleling the entire breadth of the resort, but only one tiny corner was being deployed. This is where the resort’s General Manager, the very down-to-earth and approachable Indra Budiman, comes into the picture. He’s the kind of boss whom you’ll see helping-out in the kitchen when it’s busy, or grappling with a faulty air-con unit. Or, and more to the point here, pottering about in the plot at the back, helping the gardeners.

       “He’s a very hands-on person, and constantly full of new ideas,” Hansar’s Director of Operations, Urip Wiedodo, told me. “He was the one to introduce our corporate social responsibility (CSR) schemes. We’re a part of the local community – not apart from it. We’ve now been able to help and donate to local schools, particularly those catering for handicapped children, as well as helping the local temples to take care of the needy.” And a lot of this sponsorship has been coming from that strip of land at the rear, which is well into the process of being converted into a thriving kitchen and vegetable garden, farmed entirely on organic principles.

      It’s actually a huge chunk of land, about one third of which is currently productive, with the rest in the pipeline. There’s holy basil, sweet basil, and the hard-to-find lemon basil being grown. Along with lemon grass, kale, lettuce, morning glory, galangal, aloe vera, and the prized butterfly pea. The flowers from this are expensive to buy and are extensively used in spa products, both in beverages and treatments. There are also two big fish tanks that supply the resort’s staff canteen. And, throughout, there is a replenishment cycle which feeds the natural wastes back into the soil. “There’s nothing chemical used anywhere here,” continued Urip, “we even recycle our kitchen waste.”

       One of the problems with Hansar is that everyone’s just so modest! So that leaves it up to me to tell you that not only has the resort donated several thousand US dollars to the local community via these schemes, but it’s also generating departmental team spirit via the garden, too. Each of the resort’s eight departments have their own strip of soil with the project being to competitively chip-in and produce the biggest and most lush crop of morning glory. And that means seeing the management, including Indra and Urip, out there with their hoes and hoses, bantering cheerfully, elbow-to-elbow with the other employees. It’s a great team, and it’s just another of the reasons that Hansar keeps on ‘growing’ – in more ways than one!


Rob De Wet


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