Samui Wining & Dining
Unseen Treasure!

Another delightful hidden gem – this time at The Sea in Bang Po.

 

5Isn’t the ring-road a great idea! It’s probably the best thing that’s happened to Samui since coconuts were invented. A few generations ago, the only way from Chaweng to Lamai was by boat. But now you can go round and around, and in just about an hour have seen everything. Apart from the mountains, that is. Or the big chunk that the ring-road cuts off down in the south. Or the Muslim fishing village in Hua Thanon. Oh, and don’t forget all of Bangrak and Big Buddha. And, while we’re at it, those hundreds of lovely little beaches, resorts and restaurants you can’t actually see from the road.

      Maybe the ring-road is just too convenient! It’s safe and easy to keep to, yes. Unfortunately, that sort of thinking cuts out so many of Samui’s best bits. For every eye-catching attraction you can see from the road, there are another hundred, hidden away out of view. Unspoiled beaches. Rustic beachside seafood restaurants. Delightful little resorts. And that brings us to the subject of the story. It’s in Bang Po on the island’s north-west coast. It’s an utterly lovely small resort with a top-notch restaurant and spa. It’s idyllic, unpretentious, serene and tranquil. It’s actually right on the ring-road,

although most visitors usually whiz past without noticing. And its name is ‘The Sea Koh Samui Resort & Spa’.

      The Sea isn’t actually hidden away – although it might as well be! It’s on a quiet part of the road where there really isn’t much to look at. Hence, the traffic usually zaps past at top speed. If you check on the map, you’ll see that Samui’s north coast has Maenam in the middle and Bang Po over to the western side, actually the last part of the coast before you begin to head up the big hill towards Nathon. Put it this way, if you get to a sudden sharp Z-shaped bend in the road, just by the landmark of Health Oasis Resort, you’ve passed it! The Sea is on the right hand side, just a little way before this.

       The Sea isn’t big, it’s a ‘boutique’ resort with 24 sumptuous villas and suites, but you’d never know it. The narrow cobbled path away from reception runs down between whitewashed walls, blazing with bougainvillea. There’s a pleasantly Mediterranean flavour to it all. The style and décor is understated, with lots of water features, textured concrete and natural fabrics and timber. It really is a gem!

      Wandering through and towards the beach brings you out onto the resort’s swimming pool. There’s a small thatched bar to the left of this, but also a terrace between the pool and the sand, and the beach is close enough to flick melon pips at the sun brollies (happy hour is from 4:30 pm until 7:00 pm!). But, depending on what time of day you come here, you’ll also see the same sturdy and functional furniture set out on the sand, directly under the dining terrace.

     There are several points to be made here – it being a given that this place is now firmly on the ‘Hidden Gems’ map. First, it’s a great place to come for the day – camping in your own resort 24/7 is not what Samui is all about! Unlike some resorts, there is no cover charge to come here, it’s free. (Although the thinking is that you’ll snack a bit and drink a bit while you’re here – no picnic hampers please!) The second is that, now you know, you’ll slow down and keep a very sharp eye out for The Sea when you’re passing. Drop in, flake out, sip, nibble and catch up on your Facebook and emails. The sunsets here are fantastic, and that happy hour kicks in at 4:30 pm!

      And the third point is that The Sea produces marvellous food at surprising prices. It’s a dining oasis. This is the place to come for an evening out; sunset, cocktails, happy hour and gourmet offerings all included. The à la carte selection is a first class Thai and international menu, with the prime cuts of beef and lamb being imported from Australia and New Zealand. Their in-house crispy-base pizzas are a wow, with fun toppings such as red curry, tom yam kung and phad kapow, as well as the usual favourites. The pasta echoes this – try the spaghetti with spicy northern Thai sausage if you want something to put on your Facebook page! There’s a ‘Surf n Turf’ combo. Also check out the Thai ‘khantoke’ North Meets South multi-dish sampler.

       And then there are the beach buffet barbecues. Every Saturday evening they hold a BBQ Buffet, right on the sand, just a few feet away from the water’s edge. The area is rimmed with blazing torches. The snowy-clothed tables are laden with hot stainless steel servers, salads, dips, breads, tapas, meat and poultry. And there’s a whole range of fresh seafood that’s cooked for you to your preference, à la minute. It’s 1,000 baht for all you can eat, with children either free or half price. But that’s not all.

      You can come here for your very own private beach barbecue. You’ll get most of the above (by arrangement beforehand) plus a personal butler to wait on you. It’s just perfect for a family or a couple of groups of friends. You’ll need to call and personalise everything beforehand, or drop in and talk about it (ask for the manager, Khun Payap). This is special: I know of only two other resorts that offer this, and they’re both 5-star. One last bombshell – they offer a free transfer from your resort (and back again) for groups of four or more. The Sea might be easy to miss – but once discovered it’s a ‘hidden gem’ of the first order!

         

Rob De Wet


 


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