Samui Wining & Dining
Off the Track

It’s not so well-known, but the splendour of Maenam’s Samui Buri really has to be explored!

 

Page-17Let’s plot the script. You’ve been here for five days now. The first day or so was to clear the jet-lag, and you more or less hovered between the beach and the pool. Then you got your legs back again, and took a stroll outside. The first couple of times it was just within walking distance. And then you hopped in a taxi and went out to look for a nice place for dinner. Now a whole week has gone by, and you’re in need of something more than the pool every day. So you rent a jeep or a motorbike, and set off around the ring road to see what’s what.

      Someone once said that there’s only two ways to go on the ring-road – right or left. But, either way you go, it’s a dead cert that you’ll head towards Bophut and Fisherman’s Village; everybody does! And from here, it’s only a little way into Maenam. The Walking Street here is a big attraction. But, apart from that, there’s also a good chance you’ll drive through Maenam several times, back and forth as you’re travelling. Truth be told, there’s about seven kilometres of not a lot to see – other than end-to-end houses and little Thai shops! And now I’ve got to the point. Because there are actually quite a few utterly lovely places, that can’t be seen from the road.

      One of these is Samui Buri Beach Resort. It’s actually right on the western-most fringe of Maenam Beach, marked by where the ring-road makes a 90-degree bend to the left, with the landmark of a big temple arch (Wat Napralan) over a side-road on the right. The signpost will read ‘Lomprayah Ferry’ so turn right under the arch. Coyly, there are no signs for ‘Samui Buri’. But about 50 metres down this road you’ll see a narrow right-hand turn to Harry’s Bungalows. Follow this slowly around, watching out for the speed bumps that look like shadows in the afternoon sun. When the road straightens, after about another 100 metres or so, ‘Harry’s’ will be right ahead. But slow down and look towards the right. You’ll see an awe-inspiring tangle of exotic Thai roofs standing high above the screening trees. This is Samui Buri – head towards Harry’s and it’s a stone’s throw to your right.

     That probably sounded complicated! But it isn’t. Samui Buri is something of an unsung classic in these parts. It took the best part of 18 months to build; the reason being that it’s actually quite big, having 84 rooms and villas tucked away in its verdant grounds. The other reason was the architecture. The roof-styling is deliberately elaborate, and contains design elements from each of Thailand’s four most prominent regions. It’s one of the most dramatic examples of Thai architecture on the island, and worth a visit for this aspect alone. It’s also 4-star, verging onto the edge of 5-star. Plus . . . it has a simply superb restaurant!

     At this point, right away I have to say that you’ll be welcome here for the whole day, for the afternoon or simply to come and dine – although there’s a cover charge if you want to make a whole day of it. But, unlike some resorts, this is only 300 baht for a “One Day Pass” card! And for this meagre sum you’ll get the use of a big beach towel, sunbeds and sunshades around the pool and on the beach, pool service, shower and changing facilities, free run of the gym and fitness centre, free internet access, plus 10% off the F&B prices in the beachside restaurant, which goes by the name of Seetawaree.

      But this isn’t the only way to do things here, although it’s just the job if you’re in need of a change of scene from your own resort. Let’s try script # 2! You take a light lunch, maybe a nap for an hour, and then head out to Maenam in the mid afternoon. There’s no cover charge now, and you’re most welcome to laze on the beach, read a book, or catch up with your emails. Happy Hour comes into play at 5:00 pm, with local beers and cocktails at discounted prices. The sunsets on this coast are the best on the island – forget about the sun dropping in front of you! Here the whole sky is painted with luminescent pearls and pastels. And then, there are the delights of what Seetawaree has to offer. A few days back I read a comment on TripAdvisor (about another top resort) which applies equally here. It said, “. . . hotel quality food at street café prices.” Not only are the portions surprisingly big, but they’re all astonishingly affordable. Plus the cuisine is way better than the little local restaurants. The meat is imported from Australia and New Zealand, the international offerings are just tip top, and there’s a full Thai menu. There are appetisers (smoked salmon salad with toast and rocket salad), soups, sandwiches and snacks (Italian panini with curried chicken). They make their own pizzas, 11 of them, and with even an ‘Indian’ offering (tomato, goat’s cheese, yoghurt, chicken and potato). The ‘mains’ are super (duck breast with potato gratin, stir fry choy sum, cherries, tamarind, and topped with pink peppercorn). Plus there is a big Thai ‘shared’ set menu for two (just 1,500 baht) of four courses each, a whole white snapper, plus yellow curry and dessert. I could go on . . .

      But then I’d be ignoring the all-day tapas menu – 15 different scrumptious variations on a theme, big portions that get cheaper the more you have – go for the five plates for 420 baht.. Or the desserts. Forget the usual ‘ice-cream and fruit’. Here the Executive Chef, Khun Suraporn, has worked under several international celebrity chefs and will offer you a choice between apple strudel, tiramisu, crème brûlée and crêpe suzettes, amongst others. And there’s one thing more. Most menus you’ll see will have prices without the tax or a tip included. But here the prices are inclusive. What you see is what you pay. There is no ‘plus plus’. This resort is not in plain view and it’s not so well-known but, without a doubt, spending quality time at Samui Buri is well worth going ‘off the track’!

         

Rob De Wet


 


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