Samui Wining & Dining
Attracting MICE

The luxuriant Bandara Resort & Spa is not only a fine place to dine but it’s great for meetings, too!


19The island of Samui is delightful. It’s truly a little paradise, rustic and pastoral and yet with patches of neon and bustle here and there. There’re no city blocks or gridlocked traffic, no crime to speak of, the weather’s great and the sea tranquil. And if you were to stay here for three months you could still eat at a different quality restaurant each night – and for a lot less than it would cost you back home. It’s no wonder that so many visitors chose to come here for their holidays: somewhere around a million each year and rising.

But what’s also rising are the numbers of folks who don’t come for their holidays. The volume of people who come here to work: well, sort of! Because Samui is attracting more and more of the MICE brigade. Or, more exactly, M.I.C.E, as in Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions. These are the guys (and gals) whose benign employers are adding a little spice to the routine. The executives who are being rewarded by the incentive of a working break. Or, simply, a national or regional conference that benefits everyone by being held in a tropical haven rather than a smoggy metropolis. And that’s not even considering the weddings – but more of that in a moment.

The fact is that, as the international community’s awareness of Samui has grown, so more of the big hotels have upgraded their conference facilities and new resorts are being designed with these built-in at the blueprint stage. MICE events are now not only extensive but they’re big-business, too. And one of the up-market resorts who has got this whole arena weighed, measured and sorted is Bandara Resort & Spa Samui in Bo Phut.

‘Bandara’ is one of a number of resorts which have sited themselves away from the inflated prices and bustle of Chaweng. This strategy not only allows better value for money at the building stage but also means that space is not at a premium – just the opposite! Bandara is luxuriously huge, with a web of attractive wooden decks wending their path between the accommodation and the lush tropical foliage that abounds. Everywhere, there’s the sound of tinkling water, with ponds and streams and quaint hump-backed wooden bridges. At any one point between the foyer and the beach it’s hard to judge just how big it all is: there’s no sign of walls or boundaries anywhere. But somewhere, tucked away in all of this, there are 122 rooms, villas and suites. Plus two restaurants, an extensive spa and a conference suite!

Like all else here, this room is big. It measures 50 feet by 30, has a ceiling that seems to touch the heavens and opening glass windows on three sides. It will easily seat 80 people for a buffet or reception, can be fitted-out with ‘theatre’ seating for 150 or divided into smaller areas for smaller groups. One side opens onto a broad terrace on which a buffet or lounge seating can be added. And at this point the clientele divide themselves into two.

Wedding or party groups favour their wining and dining outside: what else on a tropical island paradise! The nearby lawns are simply perfect for this and can readily be set with enough finery and frills to satisfy a courtesan. Plus, of course, the PA system and sound equipment necessary for everyone to hear the Best Man’s speech. There are, happily, three lawns of different dimensions, all of them close to the beachside restaurant, Chom Dao. The resort’s Weddings & Conference Director (who’s also the Food & Beverage Manager), Khun Somsak Sutajit, is well-qualified and highly experienced at orchestrating both the actual event and the associated catering, being both conscientious and thorough. And whether it’s a running buffet or a more individual à la carte approach for smaller groups, he’ll assure that things run exactly to plan.

When it comes to MICE, Khun Somsak is also highly effective. He is the liaison man. He’s the one with whom you (as a planner) will be dealing. His English is as good as his organisational skills and he’ll create exactly the working environment you require, arrange the catering (and accommodation, if needed) and oversee every aspect of your visit.

It’s sometimes hard to keep abreast of today’s technology: things develop, advance and change almost monthly. But Bandara is in line with this. Naturally the whole resort has WiFi throughout, meaning that any reference or access to online information is instantly available. Presentations at seminars or conferences now come stored on a laptop or a memory stick. And all forms of such media can be easily accessed. There’s a big projector screen that can be used, plus arrays of flat-screen TVs that can be linked-in. The heart of the audio system is a Bose 1600 Series power amplifier with a series of six set wall-mounted speakers and tripod-mounted satellites, if needed. And a variety of different audio and visual sources can be mixed and balanced through the time-proven Behringer Pro 24-bit 46 KHz 4-channel mixer, complete with digital special effects.

Time is a well-trodden path. And over the years Bandara and its proven staff and organisation have smoothed that path. Many fretting brides have ended up glowing and just as many CEO’s have left beaming, such as the one from Care Group, the Bangkok-based relief agency that stayed here for a national conference with 90 people in September 2010.

It’s always very nice for MICE at Bandara!


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