We’re just going to be blunt and say it right here, right now: the best beach on all of Koh Samui is at Vana Belle.
It’s a strong statement to shout out into the world, given that it feels like half of Bangkok flocks to Samui every weekend (and could call us out at any moment), but we still hold it true.
Part of Marriott’s top-tier Luxury Collection, we recently checked in to Vana Belle for the weekend, and beyond an immaculate beach, private pools for every room, and romance at every corner, read on for our two cents on our two magical nights.
[All images courtesy of Vana Belle, A Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui]
There is a special place in our hearts for hotels that are located a short and sweet distance away from the airport. Especially if you’re only visiting for the weekend (and especially since right now it’s only domestic flights), this is valuable time. Vana Belle Koh Samui is located only 7km from the airport, a blissful 15-minute ride away, and still quite well-connected. It lies on Chaweng Noi Beach, close to Chaweng Beach and all its happenings.
What’s the story?
What’s in a name? “Vana Belle” means as much as “Beautiful Forest,” combining the ancient Sanskrit word for “forest” with the French word for “beautiful.” Indeed, the beautiful forest goes beyond just a moniker, as guests who enter the premises turn in from the main road into a tropical paradise of sorts. It is no coincidence, as the resort is inspired by the Himavanta mythical forest, translating into a cool, jungle-like atmosphere. Mystical creatures dot the property at various spots, from a water elephant to a lady with swan wings.
Beyond a dreamy ambience, these elements underpin some of Vana Belle’s key values: it’s a very unique property, and despite being part of the Marriott brand, is proud to exist as the only of its kind. The Luxury Collection has long stood for this sense of ‘hidden gem,’ with only four of these existing in Thailand at the moment. They set themselves apart from other resorts through this precise sense of story.
Suites & Villas
Vana Belle is a suite and villa property, and each and every room type has its own private pool. The “smallest” suites are 86sqm large, clearly underpinning the resort’s design ethos of open space.
During our stay, we called the Ocean Pool One Bedroom Suite our home for two nights, and its layout deserves some acclaim. Beyond the open bathroom concept (a marble bathtub in the middle of the room is very snazzy), we loved that the massive bed faces the sea with a panoramic view. The bed is raised such so that you can watch the sun rise from it in the mornings, and wooden steps to either side lead you down to the private pool area. This is sublime for early risers to watch the sunrise without leaving the comfort of the suite (or the bed), and makes for the best replacement for a television. You won’t need television when you have Gulf of Thailand vision.
Our suite sat within the main building, but there are also a series of private villas that lie along the beach and in the gardens. These come with a few extra perks like butler service and prosecco breakfast, but these are sweet treats that are available to the suite-dwellers at a small extra cost too, of course.
Speaking of prosecco and sweet treats, Vana Belle has two main dining outlets.
Located within the main building is Kiree, the signature restaurant at the resort. This is where breakfast is served in the mornings and dinners are served in the evenings. With a spotlight on international cuisine, it is a restaurant that touches on fine dining but prefers to be cosy, with comfortable armchairs for seating, and a warm environment for conversation.
Down by the sea sits Panali, Vana Belle’s beachfront restaurant. The perfect place to sample Southern Thai cuisine for lunch or dinner, we were really drawn to this alfresco restaurant for its view and ambience, and its food deserves ample mention, too. Something about curry puffs by the pool and nam prik by the beach definitely hits the spot.
Facilities & Activities
For a resort in Samui, the beach and the pool are paramount.
Few beaches in Samui live up to the 180-metre straight Chaweng Noi, with a stunning combination of clear waters and soft, white sand. It’s the classic postcard description of how a beach should be, except we really sat on the beach and swam in the sea, and we can confirm its allure.
The main pool is a cooler place to relax with more shade, with private cabanas for a sense of exclusivity, and a view of the beach just below. There’s also a spa should you prefer to relax and rejuvenate with a tranquil treatment and a fitness studio if you’re one of those people who can’t resist a run on vacation.
Special activities can also be arranged, from a monk chanting ceremony to an island tour. During our stay, we chartered a speed boat to head from Koh Samui to the infamous Koh Mudsum, where wild (but friendly) pigs roam the beach. An absolute must-do and must-see and must-gram, it was the highlight of our trip.
On our last eve, we enjoyed a private beach dinner, dreaming of our own engagement between rose petals and candles.
It’s not an unrealistic fantasy, as General Manager Dieter Ruckenbauer explains that many couples come to Vana Belle to get hitched or to enjoy their honeymoon. Recently, there was a couple that enjoyed the same private beach dinner, before heading out on a yacht where the question was popped. After the bride-to-be said “yes,” the groom-to-be sent a signal to the staff, and fireworks lit up the sky above them a few seconds later. It is a very personalised service and experience, and just one of many.
Touching on its Luxury Collection status just a bit more, Dieter explains to us that this is a big part of the magic at Vana Belle. You’re meant to have a personalised experience. You’re meant to have your needs met, no matter what they are. Slip into conversation that you’re a fitness freak and you’ll find a mat and dumbbells in your room. Mention that you love the local fruit and you’ll find them on your table at breakfast. It’s about details, and it’s about tailor-made laid-back luxury.
If you hadn’t heard of Vana Belle prior to this piece, it is completely understandable, and it is also completely the point.
Vana Belle does not need to scream from the rooftops. It likes being lesser mainstream. It lives for exclusivity. And it caters to the traveller who is an individual with individual needs.
Intimate, romantic, and set in an idyllic little haven, we reiterate: the romance is real at Vana Belle Koh Samui. Even if you’re single. Even if you come as a group. And especially if your idea of romance is to relax, recharge, and rejuvenate.
Vana Belle, A Luxury Collection Resort, 9/99 Moo 3, Chaweng Noi Beach, Surat Thani, Koh Samui, +66 77 915 555.