Samui Wining & Dining
Greens Mean Scenes

The Santiburi Country Club means a fabulous view and a great meal – as well as golf!

P17We take it all very seriously. It’s actually quite an art – writing about food. And it’s certainly not all about eating out at fantastic restaurants on an expense account. But, one way and another, here at Wining & Dining, we get to see the best spots on the island to dine in the evening. But that’s only a part of the story. There are also a hundred other great places to go during the day. And this is a story about one of them, and it’s probably got one of the most spectacular views on all of Samui.

It’s the clubhouse at Santiburi Samui Country Club, over on the north coast in Maenam. This is actually a part of ‘Santiburi Beach Resort, Golf & Spa’, to give the nearby resort its full title, and it’s one of the island’s longest-established 5-star resorts. Years ago, when everyone seemed to be grabbing as much of Chaweng as they could, Khun Santi Bhirombhakdi had other ideas. Back in those days, Maenam was a tiny village, and when it was built, there was hardly anything on either side of the resort. But Khun Santi has plenty of experience at anticipating trends – after all he also owns Boon Rawd Brewery (among other businesses) and if that name isn’t familiar, then its most famous export certainly will be – Singha beer.

In 2003, Santiburi opened a tournament standard, 18-hole, par 72 golf course with driving range and putting green, up in the hills a little way away from the resort. And to go with it, there was the Santiburi Country Club. If this brings to mind images of bow ties and cocktail dresses, then just remember where you are! There’s no need for formal dress here, and even the golfers follow a dress code that’s unheard of at most other championship courses. The clubhouse is just as laid back, although you won’t be distracted by its décor . . . because what will take your breath away is the view. The road up to here is twisty but short, and you’ll be quite surprised by just how much you’ve risen. The view is stunning – a complete vista of the whole five or six kilometres of Maenam and Koh Pha-Ngan right in front of you.

And it’s not just the view. The course here is a little unusual in that it’s been built on quite a slope, and it’s all been very cunningly put together by means of a series of descending terraces. The areas around the greens are beautifully wooded and landscaped, and tended with almost as much care as the greens themselves. And this means that, sitting by a window, the prettiest of lushly tropical foregrounds drops away from you into that great panorama we just talked about.

Which brings me to the subject of breakfast. It’s a good guess that the vast majority of visitors to Samui take breakfast at their resort. If it’s not actually included in the cost, then you certainly don’t want to go running about looking for eats, first thing in the morning. But why not? Not surprisingly the golf, and therefore the clubhouse, is geared to the hours of daylight, and the clubhouse is open at 6:00 am each morning. And let me tell you that one of the most memorable of all Samui experiences is sitting with coffee and toast as the sun comes up. Sunsets are ten-a-penny. But in this spot, way up high and with a million miles of sea and sky around you, this just has to be the most spectacular breakfast venue on all of Samui. Early birds take note!

By the way, it’s proper fresh-ground coffee. And there’s also a choice of fruit juices and smoothies. There’s a full à la carte breakfast menu if you want to pick ’n’ mix. But there are also four set breakfasts, too. The ‘Scottish Breakfast’ (the manager here, Derek McKenzie, is a Scot!) is the biggie, with a heaped plateful of goodies to help you loosen your belt. And there’s an American alternative and a matching Euro version, plus a Thai offering too, if you fancy it.

The breakfasts are actually on offer all day, but there are plenty of alternatives on the menu if you don’t make it in time for sun-up. Although, as the affable Derek will point out, this is a golfer’s menu. Everything closes at sundown, so don’t expect to see any up-market dinner offerings. And, of course, being a tropical location, very few people like to eat a big meal during the day – it’s just too hot and humid. And so you’ll find a good range of salads. Likewise the sandwiches are excellent. But the burgers are outstanding – they are specially made, locally for the kitchen, and not bought-in frozen like so many other places. And, not surprisingly, there’s a wide range of refreshing beverages available, including soft drinks, beers, wines and spirits.

By the way, if you actually fancy a quick round of golf while you’re here, as well as the full course and the serious options, there’s also a 9-hole course, and you don’t need to wear golf shoes or be a member. The fees go down after 3:30 pm, and every Wednesday, for the entire day, you can play at these lower rates, too.

If this has got your interest, then give it a go! You’ll find the Santiburi Country Club well signposted from the main ring-road, especially at Soi 5 and Soi 7. Once you come away from the main road it’s easy, as there seem to be signposts every hundred metres or so! It’s not a name that’s on everyone’s lips, and it’s not quite fine-dining, but when it comes down to it, this is one of the best-kept secrets for not just a panoramic breakfast, but a great afternoon out, too!

          

Rob De Wet


 


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