Samui Wining & Dining
Into the Setting Sun

If the hot beaches and bright lights are getting to you – head towards The Sunset Beach Resort.

 

wining - dining 7It all depends on what you want. Some folks come here simply for the sun. Some are party people, up all night and flat out in the day. Others enjoy the contrast: the easy choice of a starlit evening or the bustle of noisy neon. It’s one of the great things about Samui, that all these things abound, and none too far from the other. But there comes a point when it’s time to get out. To head towards the quieter life. To explore the gentler parts of the island. Like that huge area of land in the south-west of Samui that the ring-road ignores completely. It’s unspoiled over there. It’s calming. And locally it’s known as the ‘Virgin Coast’.

      It comes a something of a surprise when you move away from the ring road (road 4169) and head onto the 4170 in the region of Lipa Noi. In fact, this road actually continues the coastal circuit (more or less!) that the ring-road manages so well around the rest of the island. But the difference will hit you right away. Whereas the ring-road is fringed on either side with shops and houses for most of its run, here there is . . . nothing. Now and then, there’s a food stall under the trees. A tin shack fixing motorbikes. Here and there, you’ll notice a nice modern house set well back from the road. You’re heading towards the area of Ban Taling Ngam, and you won’t

see much apart from the road and its unspoiled surroundings until you come to the Elephant Gate. This is a huge decorative arch spanning a side road. And that’s where you’ll see the first signs for The Sunset Beach Resort & Spa.

      Follow the signs, go up the hill past the smiling gate man at the InterContinental, and you’ll end up outside one of the most serene resorts on the island. It’s common practice for a resort to try to maximise its accommodation, but here there’s just so much space. The resort is built into a picturesque hillside that endows the reception and upper restaurant area with a picture postcard panorama, and allows a similar vista as you descend towards the beach. There are 11 lofty Sunset Villas up high around the lobby area, six Garden Pool Villas a little lower, and four magnificent Beachside Pool Villas, too. There are a total of 21 suites and villas – and you’d be forgiven for thinking there were hardly any at all, so subtly has their layout been architected.

      Although the main restaurant, L’Ananas, is located above, a great many diners opt to sit a little lower, in the very informal area around the resort’s pool. Here you’ll find another restaurant and bar, Lilavadee, which very effectively replicates the excellent International and Thai cuisine of the restaurant above.

     The unique element here is that the philosophy at Sunset Beach is to orchestrate everything to reflect aspects of local culture, as the resort’s Quality Manager, Oliver Mosching, explained. “I suspect that many visitors to Thailand touch upon the Thai culture but without really experiencing or understanding it fully. So we’ve worked hard at providing our guests with something that’s a bit more than a beach lifestyle. We have a Thai ‘Temple Fair’ beach BBQ evening with games and stalls and sideshows, we offer classes in Thai cooking and in Thai massage, plus other aspects too, such as soap carving. And, particularly when it comes to food, we’ve put our menus together with this aspect very much in the forefront.”

      Alexis Strauss is the resort’s cheerful Executive Chef, and he’s the one putting this into practice. “I’ve made a menu that’s very much a union of Western dishes and Thai elements,” he expanded, “such as a New Zealand lamb dish flavoured with Thai basil syrup, or a Thai-style chutney. But this isn’t a passive presentation; I’m out of the kitchen and sitting with the guests as much as I can, explaining various aspects of the cuisine. And with the Thai food this is more important, as not many visitors understand the differences between all the regional cuisines. But,” he added with a smile, “we’re aware that the idea of ‘spicy’ is a relative thing, so I’ve added a note next to each dish as to how ‘hot’ it is!”

       Considering Sunset Beach’s location, there are two ways you can enjoy an excursion. Firstly, it’s an excellent afternoon out – a sort of mini day trip, if you like. Come for (or after) lunch and enjoy their facilities - the beach, the spa or the fitness centre. And, most important of all, catch the sunset. This part of the west coast is where the sun drops right into the sea in front of you. And sample some of the really good one-off cocktails. Or . . . come for the sunset, sample a cocktail or two, and then stay for dinner. The resort actually runs a limited shuttle service to and from Lamai, so you’ll be able to make your way there easily enough – but please phone first to check and confirm.

      Although, having said this, there are two other temptations to consider. One is that every week there is a special beach buffet, usually on a Friday. This alternates between the Thai Temple fair, complete with all the attractions already mentioned. And the second is the BBQ Night where there’s a full range of all-you-can-eat Thai and International dishes on offer, together with an acrobatic and skilful fire show. These alternate from week to week, so do ring to check first. Plus, of course, one or more of you or your group can opt to choose from the à la carte menu if you don’t want to keep nibbling all night. But I’ve saved the best for last.

         This really is the sunset coast. And to celebrate this, the aptly named Sunset Beach Resort runs a very special romantic dinner-for-two on the beach. There is the usual format of tables and chairs and candlelight, with a private butler serving a BBQ of seafood and meat. Or you can choose to go Thai-style, a low table with cushions around. And finally, if you want an effortless Thai treat, ask for the Thai Khantoke option, with a selection of dishes in little bowls. It’s a veritable line-up of gastronomic treats at The Sunset Beach Resort & Spa – and all you need to do is to follow your nose into the setting sun!

         

Rob De Wet


 


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