Samui Wining & Dining
As Fresh As

At Fair House Villas & Spa the produce is as fresh as it gets and it should be – they grow it themselves!

 

7Thai cuisine is famously packed full of tantalizing aromas and flavours. And the use of fresh herbs and vegetables in almost every dish is significant in terms of taste and nutrition. Some restaurants will claim to use organic produce – and you have to take their word for it. But for one beachside resort proving it is really rather easy – they have an organic garden the size of a couple of football pitches and ten gardeners who take care of it.

 

Fair House Villas & Spa in Maenam is owned and managed by a Samui family. A broad spectrum of environmental awareness programmes are at the heart of their business philosophy. And that includes water and waste management, recycling and the food they serve to their guests in their signature restaurant, The Bre-Eze. For Executive Chef, Santi Kittikhunphong, having dozens of varieties of fresh herbs, vegetables and fruit right on his doorstep is like a dream come true. “It shapes our menu to a degree and as the seasons change we adapt our dishes to make the best use of the freshest ingredients. Our young chefs also benefit from gaining an understanding of organic agriculture and witnessing the huge amount of time and effort it takes to grow the best produce. We also hold our guest cooking classes in a sala in the middle of the garden. Part of the session is picking the herbs and vegetables that will be used in the dishes they make and eat. It’s unique, educational and lots of fun.”

 

Khun Rinrapat is the Public Relations Manager at the resort and she regularly takes guests on a tour of the garden. “We have different herbs, fruits, vegetables and flowers blooming at different times of the year but there’s always something to see. There’s also a small rice paddy which we cultivate, an Effective Micro-organism system, a worm farm that’s part of the fertilization process, a hydroponic garden and a recycling centre.”

 

Depending on the time of year, you can see and taste: ivy gourd, green gourd, eggplant, tomatoes, wing beans, leeks, water spinach (known in Thailand as ‘morning glory’), long beans, zucchini, Chinese broccoli, cucumbers and a host of different hydroponic lettuces. They also have several varieties of basil, chilies, ginger, coriander, lemon-grass, kaffir limes, green papaya, balsam pears, Chinese bananas and, of course, coconuts. In addition, they grow lots of different plants and flowers, some are edible, others are used in the spa and some are for floral decorations. You’ll come across betelnut, pandanus, bird of paradise, variegated roses, sunflowers, red ginger flowers, gardenias, ferns, aloe vera, bamboo, jasmine, orchids and amaranth.

 

In their integral Pandanus Spa the welcome drink is freshly made every day from pandanus and lemon-grass. They also use the herbs in the steam room and in their luk pra kob herbal compress. Coconut extract is used in one of the body scrubs, aloe vera in their after-sun moisturizing body wrap and pandanus in their herbal masque which helps exfoliate the skin.

 

Everything that happens at the resort is linked in some way to their ‘Green Project’. Launched in 2007, it has seven guiding principles based around waste-management, reduction in the use of plastics, energy saving, tree planting, smoke-free environment, food for health and the use of natural and recycled products. And plenty of initiatives have been put into action over the last few years. At least 90% of all waste at the resort is re-cycled. Cooked vegetables go to a local farm to feed the pigs, unused raw vegetables are used on-site as compost mixed with egg shells, and everything from cans and bottles to cardboard and plastics all have separate bins. Re-cycling is an intrinsic part of the staff training programme, and is as important to them as product knowledge and customer service.

 

They support suppliers who use cloth bags, made by the resort staff from used linen, instead of plastic wrapping. All of the staff are encouraged to ride a bicycle to work instead of using a car or motorbike and the resort provides a budget for that. Every guest is asked to plant a tree at the resort whilst they’re there and they can inscribe their name on a plaque made from coconut shells recording their good deed. They also have special tree-planting days, such as the King’s birthday and St. Valentine’s Day, when everyone at the resort is encouraged to take part.

 

Most of the rooms and villas are non-smoking as is the restaurant and communal areas. And there’s an initiative that helps any member of staff who wants to quit smoking. Produce from the garden is also used in the staff restaurant as well as in The Bre-Eze restaurant. And they make their own candles from recycled wax as well as sa paper from recycled paper and plastic. This is used to make greeting cards, decorations and bags.

 

Khun Suparerk Thongsuk is the son of the owners and is responsible for the family business. He’s a graduate of the Cesar Ritz College in Switzerland where he studied tourism and hotel management. Being born on Samui, he knows the island has gone through many changes over recent years. And the island’s environment, in particular, fared badly through this period of rapid development. That’s why he decided to establish a Green Project that was aimed at environmental management in a bid to protect the island’s ecological system, repair any damage and bring visible and viable initiatives that visitors and locals alike can benefit from. “As a native of the island, I believe it really belongs to nature. The resort is dedicated to using, wherever possible, natural solutions. For example, the resort’s positioning was chosen to maximize the natural flow of air. And to try and cut down on the number of mosquitoes outdoors we use lemon-grass plants, which are known for naturally deterring the pests, instead of chemicals.” 

 

The Green Project has made a great impact, receiving an award for Excellence in the Resort Hotel Tourist Accommodation (South) category from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). In 2009, the resort, which is a member of the Green Leaf Foundation’s ‘Green Leaf Standard’ for hotels, was handed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ‘Green Hotel Award’ by the Office of Tourism Development. 

 

Fair House Villas has gone the extra mile and more. And by stopping by and having a meal or taking a cooking class you are contributing to and supporting the long-term welfare of the island – as well as having a great time!

 

Johnny Paterson

 


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